Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Show Review - SPIEL, Essen Germany 2015
SPIEL 2015, otherwise known as Consumer Con 2015...
The above photo was about 10 minutes or so before the doors opened. We, Fabian and myself, were already impressed by the sheer size of everything that was happening at the convention. As it was the Friday before SMC that we arrived to the show, we were not quite sure what to expect. Seeing this crowd, so early in the day ( 10 am ) and not knowing the sheer size of the hall, we were to be frank a bit scared of what the inside would look like then.
Once inside we could see just how truly massive the place was. If I were to state size comparisons, it was like several football pitches had been strung together to make the hall. Utterly massive!
Once inside it was more than we thought really. Large.. yes.. but then there were also the large spaces of demo tables available for people to try out new or existing games. Complete with some demoers at some, where others were more of a free for all ( but that was quite rare ).
Some were more active than others though... ;) Though in all fairness the last photo above was in the first 30-45 minutes of opening for the day.
We were lucky enough to find the Guild Ball stand within the first hour ( yes.. hour.. it took that long to walk through the halls! ).. and were able to get in a quick demo game between us with a demoer there to run us through the steps a bit further.
Was a good refresher really, and a quick game ( I got some lucky rolls, and scored quite early on to win it ). Had also a great chat with Mat about how it was going for him and how he was liking the event. Heard nothing but great things from him about it, and the mega success they were having alongside the event.
And if you did bring your kids ( though I would recommend not to unless you have patient children and a huge stack of cash ) you could also go and play with them in the massive hall between halls that were full of activities for little ones. I think if I had taken junior with me, we would not have left this section of the hall, and not seen anything for the remainder of the day.
Saw a couple of other places that I recognized though.. such as this coin vendor, whose Kickstarter Fabian and I had both backed.
So many coins!!!! If I didn't have a mountain of them at home then I would have picked more up!
We were also able to find time to catch up with a fellow painter who was chilling with the D&D section of one of the halls.. a Mr Dirk Stiller! Great chap there, painting ( albeit infrequently due to all the questions and people coming to shake his hand ), and having a chance to see some of his works up close. That and some of the other pieces on display as well!
Some great work here all around for sure.. sadly no Selfies with Dirk, well not on my camera at least..
Now at the beginning of the article I write not just Speil 2015, but Consumer Con 2015.. and the 2 photos above give an example of why I say that. And these were some of the tame carrying cases that we saw while there!
We saw 3-5 people walking around as a group with massive cardboard boxes full and overflowing. People with the trolleys filled and strapped in with bungie cords. People with full on roller suitcases! the above guy with the IKEA bag was just the funniest for me though, and couldn't stop laughing at how he was carrying it, but honestly I can see why once it start to fill up.
In all honestly I was shocked that I spent so little at the show overall considering all that was on display. In the end I only picked up a few pieces.. something from Warzone games where I got to meet one of the main guys from Prodos who helped to bring Handsome Jack to reality..
Some dice that were for junior on how to work on his math skills.
And Koasmaster Junior.
We had seen the full range up and at a couple of stalls throughout the convention but it was this stand that was purely Kaosmaster that really pulled us in.
You can see the stacks of them, and the shiny figure case above. The game I wanted was the junior one, as it was more aimed for the younger crowd. it was after seeing the case though that I thought it looked really familiar.. and realized it was actually an anime from France that my son has been watching called Wakfu! And is quite the fan of!
So it was easy to say that I would like to pick up a copy, wandered over to the huge stack of boxes, found the junior game and started to look for someone to buy it from.
Now this is where I have a weird incident.. while holding the box, someone came up, grabbed it out of my hands, and explained quite clearly that he had reserved this one, it was the last one, and that it was his. I would need to find it somewhere else.
If anyone who knows me were to see this, they might have had to restrain me for clobbering said person for their rudeness. But honestly I was so stunned to see such a mentality here that I did not know what or how to react! No German Suplexes came to mind. No up and over the wall like a ragdoll. Just stunned silence while I tried to understand if what just happened was real...
It reinforced the notion of Consumer Con though.. at least from a visitor stand point ( and maybe some of the vendors as well? ) but thankfully this vendor was not like that.
Soon after this happened, it seems one of the sales guys saw the entire thing. Quite calmly took the box once more, and explained to the gentlemen ( let's be nice here ) that there are plenty of copies, and that he would add one to the other boxes that he already wanted. Handed the box to me, and apologized for the other persons behaviour. He then began to chat us up on if we knew what the game was, and if we were in fact looking to purchase it or not.
After a quick discussion about how junior is liking the show, and that this might be a good gateway game for him to start to play such things, the salesguy asked a question to which he answered himself, and walked away for a minute. Only to come back with a Hugo ( the main character of the show ) along with the box in a bag. Asked for only the cost of the game, with the character ( normally 5 euros ) being free and thanked us for supporting them. Again apologizing for the experience and hoped that we enjoyed the rest of the day.
Have to say, this was both the low point but also the highlight of the day as far as the convention itself went. And to be honest, we have played the game a few times since the event to great success, and have purchased the bigger games and expansions due to how much my son enjoys playing it! Great customer service led to a great user experience and a long time customer for sure. I wish I had gotten his name or a photo with him now, but I was still a bit stunned to be honest :)
In the end we were 2 happy geeks who got to have a pre-SMC side show to begin our weekend of models and convention going.
Would I go back though? I can't say that I would. Unless you are a hardcore boardgamer, or have a huge hole in your wallet that can just absorb the cash flow happening, I would not recommend it. Not for a repeat anyways.
But if your near by already, or have never been once.. then sure.. go and have a look! I mean it is massive and huge and crowded and exciting and and and.... well.. pretty epic.. but at the end of the day it was a trade show, with some nice shinies. If I had more money, time or passion for board games than I might have been pulled into it further. Though for now.. not so much :) However never say never.. do not know what the future will bring for this show and how it might evolve.. they have the space for it afterall!
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