I’ve been to Gen Con many, many times including when it was in Milwaukee so I don’t want to count. The last four I’ve worked or volunteered in the exhibit hall.
I was very happy and excited that I got to attend Essen. It was a bucket list thing that I knew I would do someday. I am so blessed and thankful I got to go. If you’re into board games it’s one of those trips you must make someday. I have always felt that Essen is the heart of the board game scene on planet earth. So many new games get released and make their debut at Essen many of which will not be available in the U.S for many months.
The Crowd enters Essen 2018!
Here are some things that are amazing about the Essen Spiel Game Fair.
Gen Con has lots of space dedicated to events while Essen uses all the space for exhibitors. It’s probably the biggest difference that struck me was this really is all about vendor hall I mean halls. Essen Messe turns into the largest game store on earth for few days. And with so much exhibitor space you get a wide variety of game offerings. All the big publishers are there along with small ones. You can find rare games including used games that are hard to find gems.
Seeing the difference between the German market and the here in the states was fascinating. At Essen many families take part in the fun. I saw several young kids wearing a Catan logo. The sheer volume and variety of games available at Essen was eye opening. Gen Con has made efforts having a family day on Sunday but there is still many more families that attend Essen together.
Some Highlights of the Convention Game Wise:
Designer: Marc Paquien
Artist: Vincent Dutrait
Designer Uwe Rosenberg
Artist Klemens Franz, Lukas Siegmon
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Teotihuacan: City of Gods
Designer Daniele Tascini, Dávid Turczi
Artist: Odysseas Stamoglou
Publisher: NSKN Games
Another difference I noticed was that playing games at Essen was different. Not much space for open gaming at Essen. You basically need to play a demo at a vendor’s booth to get in some games, but they tend to run full length games rather than a few turns. It’s really a shopping Con where people show up to buy games and then bring them home or to hotels to play.
Highlights for me –After spending the day at the con getting back and playing games at our Air B&B and one of the nights with Quality Beast was a highlight! We found a great place Döbbe Bakeries in the morning that made some good cappuccino. The Hans im Glück restaurant had a great atmosphere and good gourmet burgers. Not only did I get to go to Essen I had several business meetings our language partners that will be publishing Leder Games titles. It was amazing to get to meet all of them in person!
Hans im Gluck
I don’t remember who but I remember seeing posts on BGG of people that would go to Essen, buy a ton of new games and then throw a party where they invite people to play some of the new games they bought. I always thought that would be such an amazing thing to do. Now I am living that dream.
A special thank you to Quality Beast! They were very gracious hosts. They helped us find our lodging, got badges for us, let us hang out at their booth and gave us free coffee!
Clay Capra is Head of Operations at Leder Games. You can find him at Game Conventions running game demos! Follow on Twitter: @Clay_Capra