mignon;;spiel essen;;boardgames;;event Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee

SPIEL 2016

By Mignon Schichel on October 24, 2016

Hello there, nice to meet you! Before we start, I have to admit that I am quite a game-noob and also a games fair-noob. Sure, I like playing games and have recently become rather addicted to playing Escape Rooms, but most games I play are the board games that my boyfriend buys. And although I check out Dumee Gamer occasionally, I will have to admit that in most cases it's the first time I've even heard of the games reviewed on this site. So there is that. And yet, here I am to tell you how Essen Spiel 2016 was! Well, although I cannot compare this fair to other game fairs, surely it would be interesting to read what a games fair-newbie thought about it, wouldn't it?

Well then. Thanks for sticking around! Firstly, for those of you who, like me, were only aware that there IS such a thing as Essen Spiel, but not how big and busy it is: it is truly gigantic and PACKED with game enthusiasts! My friends, boyfriend and I left home a bit before 9 AM since it would be roughly an hour and fifteen minutes drive to get to the venue, and the fair would open at 10 AM. We would be there just a bit after the first wave of people running into the building... or so we thought. What we hadn't expected was that, from the highway exit close to Essen Spiel on, there was a traffic jam. And we also did not expect that when we arrived at the venue of Essen Spiel, which was about half an hour of slow-driving later, the first nine (you read that correctly) parking areas would be full already. To get to the tenth one we had to drive back about 3 kilometers, and of course we missed the turn two times (three is a charm!). Luckily, since Germans organized the parking situation it was rather well organized, and there were shuttle buses taking us to right in front of the fair's entrance.

In the end it was almost noon when we entered, and the first hall we walked into was hall number 3, which was enormous. And crowded! As far as you could look, there were little stalls lined up next to each other. Most of the stalls at Essen Spiel represented game stores (such as Adriaensen Speciaalzaak Gezelschapsspellen from Belgium, who told us about the following games fair "Spel" in Antwerp) and start ups, alternating with towering and more exuberantly decorated stalls, which belonged to larger board game brands and often included spacious areas in which as many tables and gamers were hosted as possible. Whereas several international shops and companies were represented, I think it is good to mention though that many games were available in German only and the English and Dutch versions of popular games often sold out quickly.

It didn't matter whether you visited the famous large companies or smaller and lesser-known game companies; there were so many people on every square meter! After all, this is the world's largest fair for board games with over 160.000 visitors. I noticed some sellers and buyers even wore earplugs, which was quite useful given the fact that the halls were rather noisy. And I went there only on the second of four days, which is not even the busiest! It was very impressive to see all of this and at first, when I entered, I was a bit overwhelmed. But hey, even though this was the largest hall, there were about six more to discover! Behind Hall 3 there was the food area, where we had some hot dogs before we continued our journey. Two of the halls mainly hosted stalls with merchandise, varying from dices in all shapes/colors/alphabets/numerics (glow in the dark dices anyone?) to game-themed homeware and clothing. Contrary to what I expected, and was told, I did not see so many cosplayers, but I did manage to get a picture of a Stormtrooper, but I didn't dare joining him in the picture. There was also a nearly naked man (I don't know what cosplay that was) but the camera couldn't handle his picture. Maybe next time...

In Hall 3, IELLO games (which you may know from our 2014 review of King of Tokyo), had reserved an enormous area and was apparently doing great business, as there was constantly a line in front of the cashier. They had several tables with their games set out and about 10 staff explaining the rules to the gamers. The staff handed out tickets to everyone finishing a game, and by entering those tickets into a little slot machine you had a chance of winning discounts or even entire games for free. Very clever! I won an art book, which I thought was quite cool since the artwork is what attracted me to their games first. In another hall, CCE (Czech Games Edition) crammed even more tables onto one little square and all seats and games were continuously occupied! That was to no one's surprise, though, since they are the publishers of the game of the year 2016 (Spiel des Jahres): Codenames. I'll try to provide you with a review of that one soon!

We met our old acquaintances from Revenge of the Dictators in Hall 6, who evidently recovered well from their release party, as they were busy recruiting many new wannabe-dictators. We also had a little chat with the guys from Red Eyed Rabbit, whose game Hypnose and accompanying Kickstarter was featured on our website most recently (http://dumeegamer.com/specials/redeyedrabbit.html). Hall 6 apparently was the place to be for discovering cool Kickstarter compaigns, successful or yet to be launched ones, and of course Kickstarter had its own stall as well. We started talking to Rodolphe Gilbart from Origames who together with La bote de jeu will release the deck-building game Clash of Rage, which looked promising. We will have to wait until April for their kickstarter to go live. Such a tease! Unfortunately, they did not have any flyers but as soon as we find out a bit more about their game we will update you. In several halls we also saw some escape rooms and escape room board games, but unfortunately for me those were all fully booked already. Next time I will be better prepared!

That's all for now, there is plenty more to tell but I don't want to bore you, and I can truly say: as exhausting as a full day at Essen Spiel is, if you are into board games you should visit this fair at least once in your life! If you LOVE board games, I recommend you take quite a bit of cash money, and a pro tip: I have seen the die-hards drag suitcases, acting as shopping bags, with them...

SPIEL 2016
Spiel Website
October 13 - 16, 2016