Some background on this massive games show and a walk around one of its hallsSpiel for short. This is a mecca for gamers who come from all over the world to buy, sell and play games of every type - except computer and internet games. It runs annually over 4 days in Essen, Germany attracting around 150,000 people with this year 810 exhibitors from 34 countries. With it attracting so many families (this should really be stressed, it is not a geek thing) and friends looking to play, there are tables in all of the 11 halls where you can just pitch up sit down and play, or buy a game. With so many people it is not surprising that it is also a key event for designers and this year's show saw 750 new games being released (some of which appear on this list)
What follows is a set of photo’s taken on the Saturday walking around just part of the main hall. It starts with
some images from two games that hopefully give a small sense of the diversity of game available to sit down and play as these games where being played next to each other on one stand.
Here we see an example of the many games available to sit down and try. Takenoko is a game themed on players growing bamboo to feed the Panda with an attractive board and playing pieces.
A close up of the board in Takenoko that the players create through the course of the game
This next game is a card game with a renaissance trading theme with beautiful artwork, called Mundus Novus.
Step across the aisle and you have an area with trestle tables where you can see Mondo (an attractive environmental themed game with a playing time of 20 minutes), Merchants and Marauders (a much more involved game based on pirates in the Caribbean with a playing time of 3 hours), Pandemic (a very highly rated cooperative game where players work together to stop a worldwide pandemic outbreak with a playing time of 1 hour), Strasbourg (a 15th century themed game of political power through the craftsmen's guilds, again with a playing time of an hour).
Face in a different direction and you see the large Gigamic stand with the high quality largely wooden games.
Walking around the corner you come across a crowd gathering around a demonstration of one of the hits of last year’s show 7 Wonders, that accommodates up to 7 people and plays in 30 minutes. Not surprisingly this is a game themed around the civilisations at the time of the 7 Wonders of the ancient world.
Puzzle’s are the thing at this stand around the next corner whilst opposite them is yet another area for playing more games.
Further along we come to a large area devoted to the ever popular Days of Wonder games Ticket to Ride and Small World.
Behind the divide between the stands there are still more tables to play games.
Whilst around the next corner yet more tables for an entirely different set of games.
All the while you are surrounded by the buzz created by thousands of people moving around the halls.
Why do people come every year?
It’s fun, it’s incredibly social and you meet some great people; you don’t have to know anybody to sit down and start playing a game. Over the course of the four days I played games with an Australian lady, a couple from Austria and people from Italy, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. There are games for every age and a special play area with bouncy castles etc. and at EUR26 for a family day ticket the price of the ticket is incredibly good value.
More photo's from my trip to Essen Spiel 2011 with Paul Grogan and his Road Trip Team can be seen here