Monday, 17 October 2005

Essen 2005 Report

I visited Spiel 2005 in Essen last weekend. Spiel is probably the largest convention focusing on boardgames. I never went before, and because Alan got the wagon rolling, I decided to join this year. So on saturday at 7am, 5 of us got into our cars and departed for Essen.

The fair is pretty large, and the halls are filled with publishers and shops. One can play a lot of games at the various publishers booths, try out new games, etc. I have to say I didn't play games -- after so many years of attending conventions I don't have the patience anymore, so I spend my time walking around the booths and picking up as much merchandise as I can.

So what did I buy?
  • Conquest of the Empire: a huge boardgame from Eagle Games, focusing on the Roman Empire. Although I have been dissapointed with games from Eagle Games in the past, I decided to give this one a try. It looks very stunning and has a lot of components!
  • Descent (Fantasy Flight Games): a new dungeon-crawling boardgame. It has been eagerly awaited, and this was the first opportnuity to buy it in Europe. Our group got 3 copies total. Yes. we're crazy ;-)
  • Burning Drachens, the new expansion for the excellent WW1 dogfighting game Wings of War.
  • Some Axis and Allies miniatures boosters. I also saw another WW2 game, Panzer Squadron (, which looked pretty promising.
  • I also wanted to get the expansions for Memoir 44, but they were sold out.
Anyway, Essen is a day of fun. There's not that much to see if you're only interested in historical miniature wargaming (although most of the big SF/F miniature publishers are present), but for boardgames, it is the place to be!


  1. Essen was, as always, great fun. Part of the attraction is being able to go to a games event and finding thousands of people also doing the same. Even ordinary families, because of course gaming is not a clique hobby in Germany. And this did prompt Phil to mock complaints that "he wanted an �te hobby".
    Like Phil, I spent happy hours wandering around the 6 halls and bought a number of new games.
    Byzantium - the new Martin Wallace game, from Warfrog. A 2-4 player power struggle over the Middle East (a timeless theme) with player vying for control of both or either the Byzantine or Caliph's armies.
    Caylus - an economics game set around a theme of castle building.
    Power grid - a fascinating looking game about buying raw materials that in turn fuel power stations and then building supply networks. Two maps are provided, germany or USA.
    Tatata - a silly but amusing race game of dogfighting aircraft.
    Plus an excellent abstract game in the Gipf series.
    We'll have to organise some decent board gaming sessions soon.

  2. "We�ll have to organise some decent board gaming sessions soon."
    I could maybe make some table space available after the WEC games on the 29th? BUt I agree with you, I have unpunched copies of Dday and Beyond and Bomb alley sitting on my shelves and I should like to use them for more than robbing out scenarios.

  3. Hi all,
    I also went to Essen and a blast. This year I went on thursday and the Memoir '44 expansions hadn't not sold out yet. :-)
    I share Phil's enthousiasm for the hexbased movement/range system used in battlecry and Memoir '44, though not to the extend that I'm writing my own variant rulessystems. :-)
    I played the game of the year 'Niagara' but it's definately a family game and since the wargamer in me is not totally exterminated, I didn't like it that much.
    I'm also amused by the fact that Phil couldn't resist the Conquest of The Empire game (*). The Eagle Games booth always draws my attention too, but luckily I can resist buying their somewhat elaborate games you only play once in a lifetime.
    Oh no, my weak spot for that category of games is the point-to-point hex wargames from GMT.
    my purchases (mostly used classics):

    bought the 8 painted Shadows over Camelot knights. (still not into painting)
    Settlers of Catan (used)
    Jagers en Verzamelaars (used)
    Druidenwalzer (used)
    Romer (chariot cardgame)
    Bohnanza (a long time ago introduced to me by Alan! I lost the game horribly fitting my mood during the Kortrijk DBM tournmanent)

    * as Phil must have been amused when one day he took advantage of my drunken state and sold me his 'world in flames' box.

  4. Hi Maarten
    It was a good idea to go on Thursday, I think. Two games I was looking for apparently sold out on Thursday morning. But I'm still pleased with the ones I bought. Powergrid and Caylus have turned out to be quite excellent.
    Actually Phil's game 'Conquest of Empire' is probably quite manageable, as it is a reproduction of Martin Wallace's 'struggle of empires', which isn't a bad game at all and takes about 3 hours to play.
    And have you played World in Flames yet? I've always wanted to try it.

  5. No, I have never played it, neither has the previous owner :-)
    I did read the rules once. Took me 2 days.
    In fact, I only have it to awe die-hard wargame addicts.
    Since my image as a serious wargamer is kind of blown now, you can have the game. I won't play it anyway.
    Let me know how I can get it to you.

  6. That's kind of you, maybe if you ever see Phil or BV you can leave it with them?
    We were talking about two player games yesterday. Currently our faavourite is Caylus. Also good is Take it Easy, Alhambra, Puerto Rico (download two player version from Boardgamegeek). War of the Ring is my favourite two player game, but may not be suitable for your girlfriend. Alan

  7. Hi Alan,
    If it's ok with Phil, I'll drop it off at his place. He lives in Leuven so it's quite easy for me. But I guess you don't meet Phil that often too?
    If you manage to organise a Wold in Flames game, I hope I get invited to join in :-)
    Thanks for the 2player game suggestions and in fact I do play War of the Ring with my girlfriend, though it's not her favourite game.