It’s that time of year again when all gamers of the world flock together to the largest games fair of the world: Spiel Essen! Publishers and retailers show their wares and demo their newest games. Artists and designers answer questions and sign your copy of the game, and many interviews are done by the BoardGameGeek crew. Well-known game reviewers such as the crew from the Dice Tower and Rahdo Runs Through can be spotted amongst the crowd, and you might even be lucky enough to shake hands or get your picture taken together. And so, after having visited the fair last year for one day, and deciding that one day wasn’t nearly enough to take it all in, we went for two days this year.
Day 1: Friday okt 9th 2015
On friday we went with 2 cars, together with my friends Hans (who drove), Paul & Brigit and Guido. My goal was to network as much as possible. I’m planning on starting my own games webshop, so I made some businesscards, and went about handing them to game companies, and asking them where I could order their games from.
One of the first stands I visited was the Plaid Hat Games booth in Hall 3 where I talked to Jerry Hawthorne, designer of Mice & Mystics, a great and beautiful cooperative fantasy game. He was also promoting their newer awesome games: Tail Feathers, Ashes, Dead of Winter and Specter Ops. We had been in contact a few times over at Ye Olde Inn, talking about HeroQuest and Mice & Mystics, and he told me he was coming to Essen, so I had to come and say Hi, and I handed him a pack of stroopwafels that I had brought along as a gift. People from outside the Netherlands seem to enjoy them greatly. He tweeted that the PHG crew loved them 😀
Then I headed for Hall 7, to pick up my copy of Ancient Terrible Things plus expansion The Lost Charter. I had backed it on Kickstarter, and later that day the designer Rob van Zyl would be there to sign your box. I also met the crew from The Dice Tower, and I just had to take a picture with them. Their game reviews are great. They certainly deserved some stroopwafels, so I gave Tom Vasel a pack to share, and he had to laugh because he had heard people telling him that the Dutch were so cheap, but they kept sharing food with them. It was a fun moment! Tom: Dutch people may be frugal and economical, but they would happily share with others!
I also brought a pack of stroopwafels for Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games to thank them, because I was a lucky winner of a copy of Space Cadets: Away Missions with all the Kickstarter stretch goals and extra’s, including a set of 6 painted heroes! We had a nice chat, and then I moved on to the Artipia booth in Hall 1 to pick up another game I had backed in Kickstarter called Project: Elite. My friend Corina was helping out at the booth, and after a little chat, I picked up my boxes. They were HUGE. So Corina told me to go and see her boyfriend Rindert, also a friend of mine, at the Portal booth to see if he could find a place for me to unload all those games for a while. Fortunately, Rindert was able to let me dump my boxes in his car in the garage under the Messe, so that I could continue unburdened. Thanks guys!
Then I went to the math trade, which was crazy, but everything went smoothly, and I traded some great games. I got the Kickstarter edition of Dungeon Roll, Monkey Mission and Heroica Fortaan for our son, two out of print expansions for the classic D&D fantasy boardgame from the early 2000’s that are impossibly hard to find. There I bumped into Richard Ham, aka Rahdo, who does game runthroughs, explaining how a game works, and then playing it on Youtube. He’s a very friendly guy, bumping fists with anyone who wanted to say “hi!”.
Then it was time to go and have my copy of Ancient Terrible Things signed, so I went to the Feuerland booth where Rob van Zyl was kind enough to draw me a cool doodle in my box lid. We had a nice chat, talked about my plans to open up a boardgames webshop, and I also got a card signed for my friend Corina. Their company name is Pleasant Company Games, and Rob certainly did that name justice.
Then I moved on to Sandy Petersen’s stand, where they were selling and demoing his amazing game Cthulhu Wars. His sons Arthur and Lincoln were there, as well as his wife, and all of them were very friendly and welcoming. I had backed their previous games Orcs Must Die the boardgame and Dicenstein, and for both I tried to bring in more backers by blogging about the games, and for Dicenstein I created some microbadges on BoardGameGeek to help promote the game. Both projects were successfull on Kickstarter, and Arthur thanked me for the help. He showed me the Dicenstein prototype dice, and those looked fantastic! It was great to talk to them about their games, and of course I brought more Stroopwafels. I also had a nice chat with their German friend Fabian Küchler, who talked to me about his yearly roleplaying event where a lot of Cthulhu themed games were played, and Sandy Petersen himself also attends. I got to roll a die to win a miniature figure from the game, and I got me a nice Hunting Horror mini! 😀
The rest of the day I spent visiting booths and networking with publishers. I also got some cool litho’s signed by game designers and artists, to put up on my game room’s wall. I talked to Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau, designers of Pandemic Legacy, and I met Eric Lang the designer of Blood Rage, Naïade who does great art for lots of games, and many more. Time flew by, and at the end of the day, I was exhausted, and all my business cards were given away, so it was a good time to go home. I picked up my stuff from Rindert’s car, met up with my friends, and we walked to the garage where our friend Hans had parked the car. As we got in, one of the rear doors didn’t lock, and a light kept blinking on the dashboard. Hans got out and tried to close it, but all attempts failed. He had just recently got the car from his work, a Peugeot 308, and it was brand new, so this was quite strange. He called the number for road assistance, and though the booklet stated help would be there in half an hour, the person on the phone told us it would take an hour and a half for a mechanic to arrive. Big sigh. After having waited for 2 hours, no mechanic had shown up, se Hans called again. They told us the mechanic had come, but hadn’t seen any cars with a Dutch license plate, and se he went home again. His excuse was that he wasn’t able to call a foreign number on the phone. Apparently, he wasn’t clever enough to simply call his own central and relay the message. Angrily, we told them we had seen no mechanic at all, and we were standing by the main road, so we would certainly have seen a road assistance car. They’d send the mechanic back asap, and it would now take another half hour. An hour later we were so tired from waiting for three and a half hours now, that we just got in, and drove home. We simply needed to hold the door from the inside. We got home okay, but we all decided never to buy a Peugeot ever. Worst customer service ever.
Day 2: sundag okt 11th 2015
On sunday my wife also came along, and Guido and his girlfriend Moniek also joined. This time I drove, and my trusty Ford Focus Wagon did not let us down. It also has plenty of space for games in the back! I had more time to look around and try out games, and my wife wanted to have a look at the Haba stand, to see if we could find a fun game for our almost 3 year old son. We tried out several games, but our favourites were Feuerdrachen and Obstgarten. We decided to buy the latter, as the first is a game we felt was a bit too advanced for a 3 year old. Maybe next year
I took some more pictures of games in play, and we also tried a game of Celestia, which looked nice, but was sold out. We met up with Rindert & Corina, who were having a day off, and we had lunch together.
Guido and Moniek played a game of Rush & Bash, a racing game reminiscent of Wacky Races and Mario Kart, and my wife and I went by the Japanime booth to check the prices on Krosmaster Quest. They were heavily discounting their games in order to empty the booth, so we ended up with Krosmaster Quest, the Frigost expansion for Arena, two character boxes (Multiman and Dark Heroes), a box full of single figure blind boxes and a playmat. We went back to Guido and Moniek, who decided they’d buy Rush & Bash, and I tried to fit all those boxes into my suitcase and bags. The many hours of playing Tetris in my childhood finally paid off.
After visiting all the halls and taking our time to see what new stuff there was to see (we tried a game of Curse of the Black Dice too, and saw people playing a very interesting looking game of Heroes), I went back to the Petersen Games booth to see if they had sold out their Cthulhu Wars games yet. They had about 10 boxes left, and I decided to pick up two signed copies for my webstore. Sandy was kind enough to also sell me his demo copy for a steal, and he also signed the box for me. I am thrilled to finally have a copy of my own! I will definately be demoing that at my game club. The boxes are about 5kg each, so lugging three boxes back to the car along with all my Krosmaster games was quite the workout for my wife and myself. But Guido and Moniek kindly offered a hand, and without any car trouble we headed back to Maastricht.
It had been a fantastic two days at Spiel Essen, the biggest games fair in the world. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it. I only hope they’ll have more English versions of games available in the coming years, as a lot of (mostly older) games are only available in German. New games are generally available in English though, so make sure you read up on what’s new on BGG before you plan your trip!
After a looooong HeroQuest hiatus, the heroes of the Empite finally take up arms again. This time, The Emperor has heard rumours of a new army under Morcar’s control: Ogres! It seems Morcar has sent a chaos sorcerer to find and subdue a band of fiersome ogres, in order to lead them against the Empire. And so our heroes must go out and find the secret ogre fortress, and thwart Morcar’s evil plans.
Thus begins the first part of “Against the Ogre Horde”: the search for the Ogre Fortress!
Our heroes find themselves in a forest bordering a mountain range, and somewhere hidden in the trees they find three stone slabs blocking some caves. Time to inspect! The heroes have brought their best equipment and a healing potion each.
Morcar has also prepared! The caves are filled with monsters and traps. He has also taken care of some beverages and candy. A wizard musn’t get hungry or thirsty while fighting off pesky heroes.
The heroes pick the eastern door. The woman all fail their strength roll against the door, even the mighty Barbarella.
“Step aside lassies!” the dwarf shouts and opens the door. The ladies at the table are not amused. Not much to see there, so they try door number two.
Once again, the dwarf needs to help the ladies and opens the door for them. Five nasty goblins leer at them from the darkness.
The dwarf takes up the front position as Barbarella returns from inspecting the dead end cave.
The goblins soon fall to the attacks of our heroes. They didn’t stand a chance.
But then the elf trips over a loose stone in the darkness, and in her fall, she breaks her only healing potion!
They discover a hidden door in the room, which opens into a foul smelling dark cave.
A hidden tomb filled with undead! Three skeletons and two mummies rise up from the floor and shamble towards the elf.
She shoots down a skeleton with her crossbow and takes a few steps back.
The dwarf walks up to the door, valiantly defending the women. He takes out one undead monster after the other.
Morcar’s minions try to hit the dwarf, but he defends well.
Soon, the last of the undead falls, and the tomb is cleared.
The elf ventures inside to look for traps and secret doorways, but finds none. The dwarf and sorceress head to the next door.
The dwarf spots a deep pit trap behind the door, and as it can’t be disarmed, they decide to try the other door.
But as soon as the elf steps through the doorway, a band of four gonlins ambushes her! Fortunately for her, she is in a tight corridor, so only the first two can attack her.
The other two retreat deeper into the cave while the elf needs to step back to allow room for a crossbow shot, but having no clear shot, she just lets the dwarf do the job for her.
He happily hacks at the hapless goblin, and as they pass the next corner, the remaining two goblins try to kill the weaker sorceress.
But she is not without defense. Her sturdy wooden staff crushes th skull of one goblin, and the dwarf takes care of the other one. Enraged, Morcar casts another chaos spell on the heroes, causing two of them to lose a turn.
Another door leading to a larger room reveals a cupboard and a weapons rack guarded by a fierce looking gargoyle! He growls at the heroes and cracks his whip.
It advances to attack the elf, forcing her to retreat, because her crossbow can’t fire in close quarters. It manages to do some damage to the elf!
The dwarf and barbarian take her place and both attack the gargoyle. It is soon defeated and falls to the ground.
The heroes do a search in the corridor and spot some loose rocks in the ceiling that may collapse. So they wisely choose to backtrack to the last of the outside doors to see if that leads into the same cave safely. The elf searches the room for treasure and finds a healing potion. Huzzah!
But as she joins up with the barbarian, a log trap is set off, and rolls over both heroes! Morcars smirks with glee as more body points are lost.
The dwarf opens the western door into the caverns, and spots two small glowing eyes at the back of the dark corridor… It looks like a gargoyle statue!
The wizard boldly steps up, to see if it is magical and cast a spell on it.
She casts Genie, but only manages to roll one skull, and the statue is unharmed. It seems magical spells have no effect on it!
Morcar doesn’t want the heroes to meddle with his construct, and prevents the heroes from casting anything at all the next turn. Perhaps his statue can kill a hero if they can’t use healing spells! The dwarf steps inside and asks if he can search for traps, as the statue doesn’t seem to be alive.
He spots two pit traps down the corridor. As soon as the sorceress enters the hallway, the gargoyle statue’s eyes flare up and it spits a fireball her way! It does two damage to her!
She quickly steps aside to safety, hoping the others can clear the way for her. The elf cocks her crossbow…
… and scores three solid hits! The statue fails to defend against such an expertly executed attack, and crumbles to dust. The barbarian hands her rabbit boots to the elf, asking her to go ahead and scout the corridor.
Suddenly a hidden pit trap is set off, and the poor sorceress finds herself at the bottom! She is down to one body point now! Time to cast a healing spell on herself.
With her rabbit boots, the elf nimbly jumps over all the pit traps and finds a hidden door around the corner. More skeletons await! But there is also a treasure chest in the room, so the heroes decide to check it out. It might hold a clue to the whereabouts of the Ogre Stronghold.
The barbarian tries to jump over the first pit trap, but falls in and loses a body point.
The elf tries to attack but her crossbow is very inconvenient here, so she must retreat again. The skeleton attacks!
The dwarf jumps over the first pit trap but falls into the second one. He also loses a body point!
The skeleton pursues the elf and attacks again, scoring a hit!
But now the elf can strike back and destroys the skeleton. She heads back to the room, followed by the others. The barbarian falls into the second pit trap and loses more body points…
The skeleton tries to lure the heroes inside, but the elf shoots it down swiftly. The heroes search for traps, and spot a trigger in front of the chest.
As the dwarf tries to open it, Morcar casts another spell, turning the chest into a Mimic! It immediately attacks the dwarf.
The dwarf heaves his mighty bastard sword and smashes the Mimic into pieces. The elf finds 50 gold pieces that were inside it. The room itself has no treasure though.
Seeing no exit, the heroes must backtrack once more. Grumbling, they try to jump over the pit traps again, and more body points are lost as the dwarf and barbarian fall in again, due to their heavy armour. This time, the heroes decide to explore the only remaining door with the pit trap behind it.
The elf tries to jump to the east, and finds herself in another pit trap! She does a search for traps and hidden doors, and spots a secret door. Her keen elvish ears notice the sounds of four large monsters and a fire!
The others catch up slowly, limping in pain after having crawled out of the pit traps.
The heroes dare not enter the room, afraid to be attacked by all those monsters, but Morcar’s cunning minions aren’t dumb enough to walk up to the door with the heroes standing at the ready either… It’s a standoff!
The elf uses pass through rock to sneak past the monsters and see if she can attack from the rear entrance of the room. But she finds a fimir waiting for her in the corridor!
It attacks her and then flees back into the corridor. The elf decides to ignore it, as it may purposefully lead her into a trap, and instead opens the door. The others have gone in and killed the green chaos warrior.
After a few turns, all chaos warriors are dealt with as well as the fimir in the room. The other fimir mocks the heroes and taunts them, daring them to come at it. So the elf turns around and shoots it. “Bah!” cries Morcar.
The dwarf spots another trap, and manages to disarm it before it goes off. Morcar is disappointed he can’t spring those new shiny swinging axe traps… Barbarella opens a door and finds six orcs at a table. They swarm the door.
She uses her bastard sword to kill the orc on her right, so the elf can enter the room. The elf has switched to her shortsword in the meantime, having learned that these cramped caverns are not always a good place to fire a crossbow.
The heroes continue to fight the orcs and clear the room.
As the elf wonders what’s behind the western door, the impatient dwarf opens the eastern door and spots two chaos warriors and an ogre inside! “Finally, an ogre! We must be getting close!” he says, and kills the first chaos warrior.
The second chaos warrior soon falls to the dwarf’s sword, and the big ogre steps up, blocking the entire door with its bulk.
But it too is no match for the fiersome dwarf, who gets a bit of help from the barbarian.
The heroes find a pit trap and a hidden door in the room, and a corridor with a door at the far end. They decide to ignore the unexplored room and head towards the exit: the door to the Ogre Fortress.
What dangers await our heroes next time? Stay tuned for more adventures!
Gisteren was het International Tabletop Day! De dag waarop mensen wereldwijd de bordspellen hobby vieren. We hadden café Thembi gevraagd of we die dag daar konden komen spelen, gecombineerd met een lekker diner. De reguliere leden hadden zich aangemeld, en via via hebben we een boel nieuwe mensen mogen verwelkomen.
We begonnen om 14.00u toen het café opende, en de tafel met spellen was al gauw gevuld!
We verdeelden ons in 2 groepen. Eén groep begon met King of New York, waarin grote monsters vechten om bezit van de stad, en probeert zoveel mogelijk punten te scoren. De vormgeving van dit spel is erg leuk.
De groep waarin wij zaten speelde Mysterium, een coöperatief spel, waarin de spelers onderzoekers zijn die een oud moordmysterie moeten oplossen middels dromen die ze ontvangen in het huis waar de geest van de vermoorde persoon rondspookt. Ook een erg mooi, thematisch spel. De speler die de geest speelt, gebruikt atistieke kaartjes om de dromen over te brengen. Een soort mengeling tussen Cluedo en Dixit.
Thembi heeft ook een huiskat, die even binnen kwam wippen en zich op haar eigen kleedje ledge, en alles goed in de gaten hield.
Na Myserium speelden we Lords of Waterdeep. Dit is een spel waarbij je werkertjes op het bord plaatst die bepaalde acties voor je doen, waarmee je punten probeert te scoren. Normaal niet zo mijn ding, maar het rijke Dungeons & Dragons thema, de mooie vormgeving en de redelijk eenvoudige regels hielden mijn aandacht gelukkig wel erbij.
Aan de andere tafel werd Roborally gespeeld. Hierbij heeft iedere speler een robotje, dat je met richtingen programmeert, en vervolgens loslaat in een fabriek, in de hoop dat ze op de juiste plek terechtkomen.
Naast ons speelden twee mensen Qwirkle. Hierbij moet je gekleurde blokjes aanleggen om een rij dezelfde kleuren of vormen te maken van maximaal 6 stenen. Je scoort een punt voor elke steen in de rij die je aanvult.
Toen was het al tijd om te eten. Gezellig aan een grote tafel gezeten, kregen we saté, zuurvlees en hamburgers. Heerlijk! Bovendien heeft Thembi een ruime keuze uit speicaalbieren, dus zeker de moeite van een bezoek waard!
Na het eten hebben we ons weer in groepjes verdeeld, en ik had Escape meegenomen, dus dat wilde ik graag weer eens spelen. Hierbij speel je een groep ontdekkingsreizigers die gevangen zitten in een vervloekte tempel, nadat ze daar alle smaragden hebben gestolen. Je moet zorgen dat je binnen 10 minuten deze edelstenen weer terugplaatst, en de tempel ontsnapt, of de hele groep verliest. Dit doe je door tegelijkertijd continu 5 dobbelstenen per persoon te gooien, en daarmee nieuwe kamers aan te leggen, je mannetje te verplaatsen, en edelstenen terug te leggen. Een heel hektisch, snel, maar supergrappig spel!
Naast ons werd een veel rustiger spel gespeeld, genaamd Tokaido. Een spel met hoge zen-factor, waarin pelgrims langs de kust van Japan reizen, en daar verschillende locaties aandoen om er te eten, van het uitzicht te genieten, dingen te kopen etc. Deze dingen verzamel je op kaartjes, en daarmee scoor je punten.
De derde tafel speelde Among the Stars, waarbij iedere speler een ruimtestation bouwt met kaartjes en zo punten scoort.
Na Escape speelden we Takenoko. Ook een Japans geörienteerd spel, waarin je een tuin aanlegt en bamboe laat groeien voor een hongerige panda, die aan de keizer van Japan werd geschonken door de keizer van China. Een leuk, simpel spelletje, met heel mooie onderdelen (een heuse tuinman, panda en bamboe-scheuten!).
Verder werd er nog Smash Up! gespeeld, een kaartspel met vanallerlei monsters e.d. uit films, strips etc. en Yellowstone Park, een kaartspel in een bordspel.
Het was een groot succes! Volgend jaar weer!
I’ve been a regular at BoardGameGeek.com for a few years now, and people there have the coolest ideas for storing and upgrading their games. I came across pictures of people using “foamcore” to build their own box inserts for games that don’t have a decent insert.
Foamcore is a cheap light material, made from 2 shets of thin cardboard glued to a foam board. It’s available in black or white, and in 3mm and 5mm thickness. It cuts really easily, and can be glued with simple PVA glue (the white milky kind kids use in school). So to make an insert you need these materials: some foamcore, a cutting mat, some pins, a box cutter knife (make sure it’s sharp), PVA glue (I use a brush to apply it, as my bottle is too big to handle), a cutting ruler and a pencil. Plus of course a game and an idea of how you want to arrange your game items. It’s always a good idea to make a seperate tray for tokens that you can take out of the box and place on the table, saving setup time and taking stuff out of ziplock bags.
You take the measurements of the inside of the box, subtract 1mm, and cut out the bottom of your insert. Place it in the box to see if it fits. It should fall in easily without any friction. Turn the box over and let it fall out again. Then use that sheet as a template to measure the length of the sides. Cut out 4 sides in the desired height, and cut 2 of those 6mm shorter (or 10mm if you’re using 5mm foamcore). Glue them on the edges of the bottom board. You can use pins to keep them in place. You can even leave them in. Then go from there!
Here are a few of my inserts. The first one I did was for Zombicide. I have masses of miniatures, and this game has no insert at all, just coardboard boxes with plastic trays. A nightmare to set up. So I made a token tray, a card box, 2 dice trays and some space for minis or other accessories. On top of the token trays I placed the rubble boards from the expansion Toxic City Mall, and on top of that the player dashboards. I made the sides of the main insert tiered, so that it keeps the dashboards in place. Same with the tiles that are placed over those. And lastly the rulebook is placed on top. I used the same idea for the expansion box, only with just the main insert (lower this time, as the expansion box is lower than the main game box), and no trays. I used the 4 quarters for different types of zombies from all my games (I also own Prison Outbreak), and there’s also room for more dashboards if needed. Then the 4 tiles from the expansion, plus booklets. The only thing I can’t add are the 9 tiles from Prison Outbreak. But I simply swap tiles if I want to bring my games somewhere and want to play a scenario from that game.
Then I did one for Claustrophobia. I’m not 100% happy with it yet, because I didn’t think to make the card tray removable, because there was only room for 1 stack of all the different cards. But I think I can change this so that I have 2 stacks of cards back to back in a removable tray, with a token tray on top of that. I own the base game and the “De Profundis” expansion, and there should be enough room for the extra tiles from “Furor Sanguinis” too when I get that. The extra mini just goes in with the rest. I used a bit of ribbon that I glued onder one of the dividers to make it easier to pull the tiles out. They are quite thick and heavy.
The third one I did was for Betrayal at House on the Hill. I got the idea from Mike Holzman, and changed it a bit. I felt there was too much empty space in the box, so I decided to add space for a custom dice tower. Entirely in theme of course
My latest insert is for Elder Sign, a game I just recently got. Everything inside was in ziplock baggies (I got it secondhand in a math trade), so this really needed a good insert. And with all those little tokens, I wanted something quick to set up. I also wanted room for the two expansions, should I decide to get those as well. I usually sleeve all my cards, so I took into account that I needed extra space for my cards as well. I searched BGG, and found several good solutions, but this one was the easiest, cleanest and it’s totally functional. So I copied that.
Op oudejaarsavond hebben we ook weer wat spelletjes gespeeld. We moesten deel 2 van de “Eyes of Chaos” quest nog uitspelen, dus kwam HeroQuest weer op tafel. Ik had snel nog enkele extra ogres afgeschilderd, die ook nu weer ingezet werden. (Uitgebreid Engels spelverslag hier)
Op het eind van de avond, vlak voor 12 uur, hadden we het spel uitgespeeld, en zijn we aan het raam gaan kijken naar het vuurwerk in de straat. Onze zoon Pieke werd wakker, dus die hebben we ook even uit bed gehaald om mee te kijken. Hij vond het prachtig