Essen 2014 - A little taste

No games this week, however for those who have never been to Spiel I have written a brief introduction, it is just a short article to give a bit of flavour and to showcase some of my Spiel 2014 purchases.

Spiel in October is one of those special times of year when gamers flock to Essen in Germany and games companies from around the globe present their newest games to the public. This year (2014) was no exception with I believe around 850 different products being presented to the public and although I was unable to attend and had to follow events from afar this did not mean I could not enjoy some of the hype that accompanies this event.

Spiel is held in the Grugahalle which has similarities to Olympia, with 800 plus stands filling 4 Halls, stands vary in size from one man booths for the small independents to large affairs for the major companies such as Ravensburger and Amigo, each stand has one or more games on show and most will have seating where you can sit down and play the game, try before you buy.

The major problem with Spiel is that it only runs from Thursday to Sunday so how do you get to try everything and decide what to buy in only 4 days?

We all have our particular passions, some prefer Fantasy games others Science fiction or historical themes,  there are various mechanisms such as deck building, dice rolling, worker placement and  many more, some players have their favourite companies some are passionate about particular authors; anyway you get the idea – whatever your gaming passion there will be something to feed it at Spiel and it is not just board games, Role Playing Games and Live Action Role Playing are also represented as is comics, but it is primarily boardgames that is promoted.

If you are thinking of going to Spiel yourself, there are numerous ways to travel, some of my friends fly and some drive, when I first went I used to travel by train. My last few visits though were by vehicle, the extra carrying capacity provided by a car cannot be under-estimated and the journey is quite easy with the route being fairly straightforward and  (for those of us in Kent) being shorter than a drive to Gretna Green.

Once you get to Essen there are plenty of hotels to stay in, but booking early is essential if you do not want a long walk to the Grugahalle each day.

So how do you whittle the list down from 850? For the avid gamer there is a lot of research to be done, fortunately there are several sites which try to assist the researcher, Spielbox is my first site of choice with a full listing of what is on offer, Boardgamegeek provides some extra background, this year I also used 2 other websites Cliquenabend and Bordspeler .

It is amazing how much information can be gleaned, but it all takes time. Most of what you get tends only to be company blurb and with the case of the geek there is a certain amount of uninformed opinion to wade through too. So to actually find out about a game I go hunting for photos, rules and informed reviews, the latter being scarce with unreleased games.

Sadly I have missed the last few years, but this has not stopped me enjoying the excitement surrounding this event. First off I have been fortunate enough to have a couple of friends who have been willing to do some purchasing on my behalf, secondly I had the joy each day of the event of reading through the highly recommended Kulkmans Gamebox  Blog of the event. Lastly for those who are a more modern than I there was boardgamegeeks live video feed, but I found that this was not “my cup of tea”.

Spiel is the event where several awards are announced and confirmed, this years Spiel des Jahres  award (family game) was Camel Up with Istanbul winning the Kenner prize (gamers game), the German game of the year was Russian Railroads, all good games but Russian Railroads is my favourite of the three.

Boardgamegeek reports the three games with the most buzz at Spiel as being Historia, Alchemists and Deus. I am happy to say I managed to obtain 2 of those games Historia and Deus.

The photos in this article are of my Essen 2014 purchases, if anyone wants any feedback on any of them please let me know. Some of the games may seem “odd” choices but with my collection I am interested in a variety mechanisms and in games which are just a little different from the norm as well as the popular ones.