DM and MM's Germany 2019 Diary

Day 3 - Spiel, Essen

Sunday, 27 October, 2019

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I didn't get a good night's sleep. First I was cold, unable to warm up even under the quilt, so I got up and laid my woollen coat over my feet and legs. Then a bit later I was hot and sweaty and had to toss it all off. I slept for a few hours, but then tossed and turned for most of the rest of the night.

The sun rose at 7:15, but it was cloudy and it was difficult to judge from inside the room. I thought it was still pre-dawn twilight, but a check of my phone showed it to be 08:00 already! We got up and decided it was too late to go out to a cafe for breakfast, so went down to the hotel restaurant.

There we had bowls of muesli with fruit and yoghurt, then I had some scrambled eggs and sausages with a bread roll, and then some still warm freshly baked bread and a mini croissant and a slice of apple cake.

We returned to our room to get ready and then left just before 10:00 to walk to the U-bahn station underneath the Hauptbahnhof to catch a train to the Messe Essen exhibition centre, where Spiel was. When we got there, there was a crowd of about 50-60 people waiting at the top of the steps down to the platform, unable to go down because of the crowds already down there waiting for a train. And more people were streaming into the stations from all directions to join the throng. We realised it might be a bit of a wait for a very crowded train, because so many people were going to Spiel. But first we spotted an ATM and withdrew some more cash, since we'd been told that most booths at Spiel only accept cash, not cards. By the time I got through the queue for the ATM, the crowd had descended onto the platform, and we went down to find people crammed at the far end of the platform, with a shortish train up that end. It seemed that the trains would only pick up from that end of the platform, which was confirmed when the next one arrived. As people piled in, we raced up towards the front where the crowd was thinner and managed to get on.

The train took us four stops to Messe East, where everyone got off and streamed up the stairs towards the entry doors for Spiel. We took the route for online pre-purchased tickets, and were scanned in quickly without having to queue up.

Monkey at Spiel 2
Monkey is amazed at the sheer size of Spiel!

Entering the first hall we were amazed at how big it was and how many stalls were laid out, demoing and selling games of all types. We had some time before meeting Jan, so stopped at one booth where they had an interesting looking Cthulhu-based board game going, called Cultistorm. A guy there was demoing a small card game by the same designer, Cultistorm Face 2 Face, and we played a quick game of it, teaching me the rules. It was marked down from €10 to €8, but the guy said since it was the last day of the show he'd let me have it for €5. I thought it was an average sort of game, but for that price why not, so I bought it. The guy took me over to where the designer was sitting and got him to sign the box for me, so that was cool.

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates
A game of Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates

Further on we stopped briefly at another stall which had City Blox, an interesting looking building game based on Lego-like bricks. We didn't have long to listen to the woman demoing the game because we needed to go meet Jan at the appointed time and place, but the game looked cool and we thought maybe we'd come back later.

We exited the halls to the Galleria, which is a long corridor that was lined mostly with food stalls. This was where we'd arranged to meet Jan, and we soon spotted him. He messaged Thorkell who was apparently in the Galleria too, but down the other end somewhere. Soon he found us as well. Then we left on a big tour of all the exhibition halls.

The King of All Bards
Demo of The King of All Bards

There was an amazing array of stuff to see and do. Large big name game manufacturers had giant stalls with multiple gaming tables set up for people to play their games, as well as a shop area stocked with titles. Smaller manufacturers had booths with people to demo the games and maybe one small table set up to play. There were also retailers with booths stocked with hundreds of different titles. There were dice manufacturers with thousands of dice of all shapes, sizes, and colours. A popular thing seemed to be booths selling rubberised playmats decorated with various types of terrain for miniatures gaming. There were also several stalls by different manufacturers with large modular 3D scenery setups which looked very impressive.

Modular dungeon terrain
Modular 3D gaming scenery

There were giant versions of games, including Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne and giant Rubik's Cubes.

Ticket to Ride: London
Giant Ticket to Ride

There were stalls selling roleplaying games and miniatures and paints. There were antique and retro games, including board games, roleplaying games, and video games, the latter even having a couple of Atari 2600 consoles. Then there were clothing and costumes, including gaming T-shirts, leather boots and belts, steel helmets, swords, and so on.

Monkey and helmets
Monkey inspecting the steel helmets

Speaking of costumes, some people were dressed up in various levels of detail. We saw people dressed as Star Wars characters, fantasy fighters and wizards, elves, monsters, and other things. At one point a procession of people dressed as orcs or something paraded past, carrying a copy of a game they were promoting.

Spiel monster: Last Bastion
A costumed monster advertising Last Bastion

I bought a few smallish games that we estimated we could pack into our luggage to take home, but didn't go overboard. The biggest was Deep Blue, a new game that seemed very popular, with a dozen or more demo tables playing it. We also managed to find City Blox again and bought a copy of that as a gift for Loki and Rach and their kids for looking after Scully. At the Board Game Geek stall I found some promo packs of new cards for Sushi Go Party!, Race for the Galaxy, and Roll for the Galaxy, which I bought to add to my Sushi Go set and to the Galaxy games owned by our game group back home.

Spiel bisected
More games!

We stopped for a drink at a refreshment stall partway through, and then by 15:00 or so we decided we'd seen everything and wanted to get some food. We left Spiel and decided to catch a train one stop to Rüttenscheider Straße, where I'd read there were plenty of restaurants. The train took us the one stop, but we couldn't work out how to open the doors and it departed before we could exit! We managed to get off at the next stop, which thankfully was still on the same street, and went on search of somewhere to eat.

We found an Italian place that looked decent, called Pizzeria Venezia. M. had a Margherita pizza, while I tried the spaghetti frutti di mare e salmone, which had a lemony sauce and was pretty good. Jan had a quattro stagioni pizza and Thorkell had a seafood risotto. During the meal I tipped over my beer glass of Peroni while gesturing, smashing the glass on the table. Jan said that reflected what they thought about Italian beer in Germany.

Spaghetti frutti di mare
Spaghetti frutti di mare e salmone, Pizzeria Venezia

After eating and chatting for some time, we decided to go for a walk to find a pub to sit and have a drink and talk some more until Jan had to go to catch his train home. We walked a long way without finding any, all the way back to the Hauptbahnhof! Jan said Essen was the city without a pub. Crossing to the north side of the station, we found ourselves in the street markets and light festival. We stopped at a beer garden stall near the cathedral and had drinks standing at a table. Thorkell and Jan had beers, while M. and I had glühwein, which was warming and nice on such a cold evening.

Monkey mit gluhwein
Monkey having some glühwein

Around 19:00, Jan had to head back to the station for his train home. M.'s feet were a bit sore and she couldn't walk fast, so we said good bye to Thorkell and him as they walked to the station while we dawdled a bit, heading slowly to our hotel. Only we decided to get something to eat before bed, not too heavy because of our very late lunch. We ended up going to the station and getting a pretzel for M. and a cheese roll for me. Then it was back to the hotel where we showered and turned in for the night.

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