ESSEN SPIEL 2012. The boardgame exhibition that pauses every gamer’s October calendar. Boardgamecafe.net was there for our first time this year. Find out what did we do on the Day Before the event as we arrived in Essen via Berlin.
Boardgamecafe.net in Essen Spiel 2012 – The Day Before (17/10)
ESSEN SPIEL 2012
Every year on the 3rd week of October, the gaming world pauses for a few days as everyone converges to the town of Essen (located in the Ruhr region of Germany) for the annual Internationalen Spieltage (or just SPIEL) exhibition, a four-day event where all the old and newly emerging game publishers & designers gather to demonstrate and promote their latest releases.
SPIEL is not just about boardgames, arguably boardgames do dominate the majority of SPIEL booths but it’s also about card games (we broadly include “card games” into our boardgame genre), role-playing games (RPG), collectible card games (CCG), miniatures, children toys and even comics & cosplay! The only very visible absence is computer/video games (yay!)
Boardgamecafe.net’s focus is however on boardgames. Therefore while we’ll attempt to provide coverage to some of the other genres, expect to see our blog report talking mostly about boardgames! I suppose that’s why you are reading our blog. 🙂
We’d planned to do Essen last year but due to some other work commitments, we’d to scrape that plan. This year when I saw there was a nice 10km run (ASICS Grand 10) just a week before Spiel 2012, there’s all the more reason to make this trip.
The ASICS Grand 10 race was held on 14/10 (Sun) in Berlin so our itinerary was to drop into Berlin first, do the run, stay a few days there and then hop over to Essen on Wed (17/10). Sounded like a plan.
How did the race go? Fantastic… weather was a chilly 10C which made for a very refreshing run compared with the humid weather back in KL. Improved my PB (personal best) pace to 5:20 for this run. For more detail race rep, follow my personal blog at jack208.com.
Our preferred airlines is now Emirates Air since Emirates always break up your trip into 2 legs (KUL-DXB and then DXB-EU) of 7-8 hrs flight time each rather than one long 13-15 hours flight. Plus Emirates tend to have new planes in their fleet.
The best international airport for getting to Essen would be Dusseldorf (DUS). Dortmund and Cologne are the next closest but really, you should just land in Dusseldorf unless you’ve other plans that require you to enter or exit via other airports.
Essen is a short 30-min train ride away from Dusseldorf and the train comes like every 20-30 min (I suspect even shorter interval during peak hours). It’s never a hassle getting to Essen from Dusseldorf.
Our route was slightly different since we were to do Berlin first before Essen. Therefore on arrival (Dusseldorf), we took the IC-Bahn from Dusseldorf to Berlin which was a 5-hour journey (and it passed Essen on its way to Berlin).
On Wed 17/10, we took the ICE-Bahn from Berlin direct to Essen, which was a shorter 4-hr trip since Essen lies between Dusseldorf and Berlin.
The difference between IC and ICE is that “IC” stops at small towns while the “ICE” only stops at cities (eg Dortmund, Essen). A nod to 18xx players. 🙂
We arrived in Essen Hbf around 6 pm, in good time to check in to Intercity Hotel. Essen Hbf (their main station) is a very busy station not unlike our KL Sentral. You’ll understand why Essen is ideal as their convention hub as it’s situated strategically in the middle of the Ruhr region.
“Hbf” Stands for “hauptbahnhof” which means a central station in German.
Above: Essen being surrounded with cities and towns; with Dortmund & Frankfurt on its east and Cologne & Dusseldorf on its west. The above is the game map from 18RUHR.
Did I not tell you 18xx games are educational? 😛
Where to stay in Essen?
The first question most would ask is “Where’s a good place to stay in Essen for Spiel?” The most obvious answer would be Movenpick Hotel, which is located just a stone’s throw from Essen Hbf.
There are also a number of less expensive hotels behind Movenpick but we didn’t explore those. You might want to check them out. If you find something good there, do comment here and I’ll post an update to this post for everyone’s benefit.
We did consider Movenpick but it was already fully booked when we confirmed our flight tickets. IBIS was our 2nd choice – as we heard there’s going to be active evening gaming sessions there which was getting a lot of buzz on Boardgamegeek. It was also the cheapest among the trio of Movenpick, Intercity and IBIS (that does not necessarily meant IBIS is cheap).
Unfortunately IBIS was also fully booked – I suspect even earlier than Movenpick.
In terms of walking distance (from Essen Hbf), Movenpick obviously is the nearest with Intercity Hotel as next (it’s less than 100m to the left of the exit from Essen Hbf). IBIS (to the right) would appeared to be the farthest to walk.
A plus factor to Intercity is that you get a complimentary all-day travel ticket (valid on all buses and trains including the U-Bahn that takes you from Essen to Messe Gruga) for each day of stay. This all-day pass is valid for the VRR network. Not sure how much a day pass cost but it sure saves you the hassle of having to buy a ticket each morning.
From some forum: This has nothing to do with the hotel (Intercity). When you leave the hotel on foot and turn left towards the trainstation you will soon encounter a road coming from the left going into the main road leading to and from the trainstation. Pay attention here since vehicles are coming from three sides. The drivers drive rather fast and have trouble seeing you.
Distance from Hotel to Post Office
Another consideration is the distance of the hotel to the Post Office. Again Movenpick wins this hands-down as the Post Office is literally opposite the hotel. Intercity would be next given it’s still less than 100m away (but do consider that you’ll be lugging 20 kg cartons from the hotel to the Post Office unless you’ve a trolley / cart). IBIS remains the farthest.
The rooms in Intercity Hotel are surprisingly larger than I thought given this is Europe. It’s comfortable enough for two people having a few luggage bags (we visited Berlin before coming here).
The bathroom was very well kept and has all the stuff you’ll need and expect from a hotel bathroom. No complaints here.
But no matter where you stay in Essen, food is NOT going to be a problem regardless of your budget and choice of food.
ATLANTIC CONGRESS Hotel
A world class expo center cannot be without it’s accompanying hotel, and Messe Essen has her convention hotel in the Atlantic Congress. This hotel is just next to the Gruga Halle. You don’t even have to take the U-Bahn; you literally walk across. 😛
However as with all convention hotels, it’s relatively “dead” after the convention and with not-much happening (though Asmodee did host it’s Asmodee Game Nights here on Thu) unlike the other three IBIS, Movenpick and Intercity where you’ll get to join groups of gamers continuing their gaming session post-exhibition hours. But if you want the closest hotel to the exhibition hall, Atlantic Congress is it.
Links to Hotel Websites
- Movenpick Hotel, Essen – http://www.moevenpick-hotels.com/en/europe/germany/essen/hotel-essen/overview/
- Intercity Hotel, Essen – http://www.intercityhotel.com/en/Essen/?source=NLIC
- IBIS Hotel, Essen http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-1444-ibis-essen-hauptbahnhof/index.shtml
- Atlantic Congress, Essen http://atlanticcongress-essen.hotel-rn.com/?lbl=ggl
Getting to the Gruga Halle (Exhibition Hall)
Getting to the Messe Halls from Essen Hbf is a simple task of jumping into the right U-bahn (the underground train). Essen Hbf houses both the S-Bahn (for longer-distance) and the U-Bahn.
If you enter the Essen Hbf station from the entry/exit point next to Movenpick, you’ll need to walk thru this blink-blink pathway (above) which basically takes you underground across the street to the center of the station.
The U-bahn U11 on Platform (“gleis” in German) 2 & 4 heads towards Messe/Gruga, which is where the Gruga Halle (exhibition halls) are located.
There’s a Kamps Cafe located inside the Essen U-Bahn station which is our cafe-of-choice for breakfast. Kamps is a café chain and they are everywhere in Germany.
Ausgang D (“ausgang” = Exit) is where you’ll use to exit the U-Bahn station onto the side of Movenpick.
Spiel 2012 – The Day Before
After we checked-in, took a quick shower, we left the hotel to head towards the Gruga Halle as we’ve a dinner appointment with Swan Panasia (who’s here a few days earlier setting up their exhibition booth).
Above: This is U-Bahn station where we got off.
A short walk and we are HERE! In front of the Gruga Halle where it’ll just be boardgames, boardgames and more boardgames for the next four days!!!
But for tonight, we were just meeting Yoyo of Swan Panasia for dinner and their booth was in Hall 5. I took opportunity to snap some photos while there’s no crowd yet. Here are some previews of Hall 5.
Interesting.. a GO booth? They were even organizing an Atari Go Tournament. Wonder what the Weiqi Boardgamers back home would have to say about this? 😛
Plato Games and their Essen set up.
This is not (technically speaking) an Essen release but given it has just won the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2012 (Gamer’s Game of the Year) award, you can expect Pegasus Spiele to be making a big fuss of VILLAGE in Essen. 😛
RATTUS and it’s new expansion at the White Goblin Games booth. They have their latest game Nieuw Amsterdam and expansions of Revolver.
I suppose ever since football (or soccer depending on which locale you are in) is made popular as the universal game, there have been various attempts to make “board” or “table” version of the game.
TIPP-KICK is the latest table soccer game.. though I’ve to say I remain unconvinced it can unsettled SUBBUTEO as THE table soccer game!
One of the “boardgame” all of us surely recognize. 😛
Looks pretty? Check out our comprehensive sessrep & review of the first play of CO2 in Malaysia!
Yoyo (left) with waiyan (right) at the Swan Panasia booth. Everyone’s so busy preparing the booth for tomorrow, you’ve to literally dragged them out for dinner!
Go la.. I’m hungry :S
One of my fave bidding game – HOMESTEADERS. This is the Masterprint edition from Quined Games and will be available widely as the 3rd Edition. I also bought a few other Masterprint titles – Carson City, Carson City Gold & Guns, El Capitan and Yspahan. Check them out in our coming sessrep. 😛
And the one that’s going to receive the biggest buzz this year, Queen’s KINGDOM BUILDER which won the Spiel des Jahres for 2012. Actually there’s another Queen game that’s getting a bigger buzz that this! Which one? Check out Day One of our report soon.
Wallace & Treefrog. They are pretty “quiet” this year at Essen with just two light new games – Doctor Who and PI (private investigator).
And if you are still looking for the Collector or Deluxe Edition of his DISCWORLD, they are still available at a discounted price… EU80 for Deluxe? It was going for EU120 at one time, no? I saw, I thought, I didn’t buy. 😛
Part of the joy of being in Essen is not just about the new games or striking business deals but about meeting fellow gamers. Dave (above) was a helper at the Treefrog booth (actually I did not ask but he could be their staff). He explained briefly how PI (the new Treefrog game) works, then we talked about the games we liked, and what drew my attention was his t-shirt which marked him as a DIPLOMACY fan! DIPLOMACY – Destroying Friendships since 1959. Yay!
Asian Designers & Publishers
I’m pretty sure we walked almost half of Essen city before we finally settled on CHOPSTIX Restaurant for dinner. Strange indeed for a fellow Chinese like me to travel thousands of miles to Europe so that erm, we can eat in a Chinese restaurant. 😛
Anyway mob rules. So CHOPSTIX it was. Have to say the food is not too bad. Price? Sorry, what did you want to know again? 😛
When you dine with gamers, one of the first things you do when you sit down on the table is – no, not to look at the wine list – to start exploring the various games that’ll invariably be brought to the table.
That’s Martin NA from CAMP GAMES (Denmark) who brought with him a whole box (below) of his company’s card games!
Martin’s ZOMBIE ZEMETERY card game.
More card games coming from Martin’s Box of Games!
We also have Rory O’Connor of STORY CUBES fame with us. Rory’s seen here talking with our Thailand partners (the two pretty ladies).
So we get to see all variants of his STORY CUBES games plus a few yet-to-be-released editions (which I’m asked politely not to post any photos until they are made official).
Yoyo (Swan Panasia) is also a consummate gamer and won’t resist a game when it’s placed in front of him. 😛
Getting ready for Day One
We ended the evening pretty late in spite of an early day tomorrow. Anyway when you are playing games and having fun, time passed by quickly. And Essen Spiel has not even officially started….. Stay tune for DAY ONE of our Essen Spiel 2012 adventure where we should have over 500 photos for your viewing pleasure!
Meanwhile check out the photos of The Day Before in our Facebook album. And if you have just landed here, feel free to immerse yourself in the recent sessreps & reviews of the latest Essen games played at our OTK Cheras:
- Samurai Sword (the new BANG!)
- The Great Zimbabwe (report 1, report 2)
- Crude the Oil Game
- The Lost Sessions (Village, Season, Briefcase)
For more photos of this gaming session, visit our Flickr Album.
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Categories: Essen Spiel