And so it began.
From our hotel in Berlinerplatz, myself and Paco from the splendid GMS Magazine rose at a ridiculous hour, cleaned ourselves up and hopped on the train that took us the few stops to the Messe, the home of Essen Spiel 2011. It actually was a ridiculous hour; we’d been warned by Rory O’Connor (of Story Cubes fame) that if you didn’t get there early, you’d be queueing for an age. Naturally we thought we’d arrive pretty ahead of the line…
…we were the fourth and fifth people in the queue.
Admittedly we weren’t waiting that long to get in, only about ninety minutes or so, but here I learned Lesson One about Essen: lines to get in don’t mean a damn. If you’re in front of someone who wants a limited edition copy of something the moment those doors open, get out of the way or you’ll be trampled underfoot.
After adopting the strategy of keeping my elbows OUT Paco and I decided on wandering about a bit to take it all in. This was scuppered a little by us stumbling into Travis from Indie Boards and Cards who was at Spiel to show off Flash Point: Fire Rescue – as soon as it cleared customs, that is (thankfully it arrived around 3pm and was selling pretty healthily).
More wandering led us to the Ravensburger area where – again in the company of Rory – we tried out the rather fantastic Schnappt Hubi. One of the games I really wanted to check out and we weren’t even hampered by the language barrier; the lady who demoed it spoke Spanish, Paco translated to English… Convoluted, but it worked. Here’s hoping the game makes the translation jump – its utterly charming and very fun to play.
More wandering. A few grabbed interviews. Some brief demos (including a cracking little card game called Touareg – more info on that tomorrow as I can’t recall the company name). I met up with Gil d’Orey from MESAboardgames to discuss his excellent new release Vintage (a solid family game about the production of Port – seriously). He was very complimentary about a game I’d picked up earlier on in the day, Dungeon Fighter from Cranio Creations which looks a total winner; a dexterity based dungeon crawl? How can it be bad?!
Other notable games from today:
Cave Evil: a dark and nasty dungeon exploration title that really impressed.
Space Maze: the cutest little puzzle game with a devious twist that you’ll ever see. Well regarded by Tom Vasel and you can see why.
Panic Station: looks like this will be the hit of the show. It’s already sold out (and no, I couldn’t grab a copy). Generating a lot of buzz, here’s hoping it lives up to the hype.
And that’s about it for day one. It’s been an interesting experience but we’ve barely scratched the surface. Tomorrow will be more exploring, more interviews and a lot more playing. Come back then for another update – for now, I’m heading to bed!