Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monthly Recap - October 2012

With Rincon behind me I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I am so happy it went over so well! Now to make it more profitable for next time!

The highlight of October for me is definitely my trip to Essen. I spent the entire last week in Germany for the worlds largest game fair! I've always thought it would be fun to go, but until recently I didn't have any real reason to. My current situation would allow it, so I started considering the trip. After mentioning this online I was contacted by Piotr from LocWorks, a Polish distributor that sells Tasty Minstrel products, offering me a free room for the week, and asking if I'd spend a few hours in his booth signing copies of Eminent Domain! How cool is that? Michael wanted to go too, and it turned out there was room for him as well - and a pretty good deal too: only 150 Euros for the week. On the down side, it was a 15 minute walk, a train ride, and a subway ride to get to the convention hall (total travel time: 45-50 minutes) - but it was fairly easy and very inexpensive. If possible, I'd like to try and stay closer next time, perhaps at the Atlantic Congress (RIGHT next to the convention hall), or perhaps at a hotel near the main train station (the same subway ride, but minus the walk and train). Then maybe I can more easily participate in more of the night gaming I hear so much about.

Essen was pretty amazing. It's kinda like Gen Con, but just the exhibit hall, and with 3 times as many people. Michael and I were trying to decide if we thought the space was actually all that much larger than the Gen Con exhibit hall, I think we decided it was probably about 50% bigger - but it was split into 12 spaces. It was kind of a maze to navigate, but I liked the large maps they had above each portal from 1 hall to the next.

There were a bunch of little snack windows as well as a cafeteria, but I wasn't a huge fan of the food options. Waffles (but no syrup - instead they had a lot of Nutella) or hot dogs mostly. I got some pork and potatoes at the cafeteria one day for lunch, and I got a hot dog once - other than that I really didn't eat in the convention hall.

I wandered around the booths to check everything out. Unlike Gen Con, most booths had tables for demoing games. Like full plays of big games. Many booths were stores, and even they had tables to play games. At Gen Con very few booths have that kind of space - Mayfair and Asmodee do for sure, and probably a few others, but most of the demos at Gen Con are just showing the game and maybe the consumer will buy it and go play it elsewhere.

That brings me to the next big difference between Essen and Gen Con... at Essen, there isn't any "elsewhere." The whole con is the exhibit halls. At Gen Con there are many different rooms including a library, open gaming, and scheduled RPGs and seminars and whatnot. None of that here - just booths demoing and selling games.

People attend Essen just to buy games - like a big shopping trip. Seriously, people go all the way to Germany (from the US, for example) with the intention of buying stuff. I've always seen the "Essen haul" geeklists at BGG, people bragging about what they picked up, with photos of games stacked over their head - but I never thought about what that means to the publishers. One publisher told me he easily sells 8-10 times as much product at Essen as he does at Gen Con.

I did not go to shop though. I was mostly scouting it out for a potential future TMG booth. I also met with some publishers and designers. It was interesting being on both sides of a game submission meeting - one time in the exact same meeting!

Since I was going, the guys at Panda Game Manufacturing invited me to play on Team Canada in the Europmasters Challenge - a big team boardgame tournament. We played Village, Airlines Europe, Vanuatu, and Last Will. Two of those games I'd never even played before! I did OK - winning Village, placing 3rd in Airlines and Vanuatu (tied for 2nd even), and last in Last Will (miserable performance there). We finished something like 19th out of 33 teams, which I guess wasn't so bad. It was fun! I've always wanted to play in a tournament like that. And I even got to keep the games! Thanks Panda!

Overall I think the trip was definitely worth it, and I had a great time. I'm really glad Michael decided to go, because I don't think I would have enjoyed traveling like that by myself.

The rest of October will be relatively uneventful compared to that. but next month I'll be heading to Dallas for BGG.con - so that should be good. If we're really lucky, we might even have a super-advance copy of Kings of Air and Steam for people to play!

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