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Nürnberg 2012: Lessons Learned

Rob Harris
United Kingdom
Surbiton
London
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For my last entry about the 2012 Nürnberg Toy Fair, I was going to post a few more board game pictures, but I've just read the pictorial review by Daniel Danzer (duchamp) here on BGG News and his images are so good I thought I'd try a different tack. Thus I present:

Ten things I learned at the 2012 Nürnberg Toy Fair

1. If you are fortunate enough to own an iPhone or iPad, then you must download the free Spielwarenmesse app, which not only allows you to search for exhibitors and product groups, it also shows precisely where they are on a map. The Toy Fair is massive – several times bigger than Spiel in Essen – and it's easy to get lost.

2. Games people are the salt of the earth, and if you are lucky your booth neighbors will become firm friends. One morning we had car trouble in the freezing conditions and found that our fellow exhibitors had generously set up our stand and were ready to demo the games on our behalf.

3. This is related to the previous point, but fellow exhibitors are often the best source of information and advice about products and companies. As with most industries, everyone is linked somehow and most people know each other in some way.

4. An Internet connection at the fair costs €8 an hour to an exhibitor, therefore make sure you have a reliable wifi connection at your hotel so you can stay in touch with emails, etc.

5. During the fair, a huge population of visitors descends on Nürnberg. Always try to book a table in advance at a recommended restaurant. Do not walk around in freezing temperatures, and definitely do not go into restaurants that are largely empty. During the busiest time of the year, the only reasons for a quiet restaurant are poor service, food, value, or more likely all three.

6. Perhaps this should be higher on the list, but always prepare for the worst possible weather conditions. The temperature dropped to -22ºC while we were in Nürnberg, which caused the car battery to seize up as well as our aching limbs.

7. Do go and check out as many of the halls as you can during the fair. The big kid inside you will be fascinated by the huge toy railway displays or the entire space dedicated to fancy dress and balloons.

8. The last day of the show is usually the quietest as some visitors return to work on that Monday, so it's the best day to arrange meetings with publishers and manufacturers if they are still there. You can sometimes pick up freebies as exhibitors decide what they can't take home or can't ship to the New York trade fair the following week.

9. It is important to drink plenty of water and to eat well to maintain your voice during the week.

10. Learn to say a few words, such as "hello" and "thank you" in as many languages as you can. Even if your accent is terrible, the effort is always appreciated.

Additional: It is never too early to start planning for Toy Fair 2013. The booth for next year is already booked.

I hope this post is helpful to anyone who might attend in the future. If you manage to get a ticket, feel free to drop by the Gen42 Games stand and say hello.

The insects from Hive visit a neighboring booth during Nürnberg 2012 (image drawn by our neighbor)
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Wed Feb 8, 2012 6:30 am
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Nürnberg 2012: Vegas and Saint Malo from Alea & ToySmart's Voca!

Rob Harris
United Kingdom
Surbiton
London
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The last three days of the Spielwarenmesse – the annual International Toy Fair in Nürnberg, Germany – have been a blur. Friday and Saturday were the busiest ever at the Gen42 Games booth, with no time at all to see anything else of the fair or to post news. (Bathroom breaks were rationed to one a day.) The consolation for the hard work was meeting so many great people from all over the world, including Hilko Drude from BGG. Game people really are the best people. After those crazy couple of days, we had to have an early night on Saturday to lay our heads on the strangely empty pillows they favor in Germany.

Sunday morning arrived with temperatures below minus 20ºC, and the car wouldn't start until a friendly German helped us to jump-start. During the day, I managed a quick walk around the show to find the alea stand, shared with Heidelberger.

The famed publisher was showing two less complex games that are due out in the next couple of months: Vegas, the new game from Rüdiger Dorn, and Saint Malo from Inka and Markus Brand. The photos are by kind permission of alea, but they made it clear that the games are still in a show prototype form, meaning some changes may occur before the games reach stores.

Vegas has six cardboard casino mats, one for each side of a normal six-sided die. For each mat, players draw money cards until at least $50k is showing, but the amount may end up being a lot more, making that casino more desirable.

Each player has eight dice of a different color, which they take turns rolling. When you roll your dice, you can choose to place them on the relevant casino cards; for example, a die showing a 1 will be placed on the casino mat marked "1". You must place at least one die per turn, although you may place more. All players take turns doing this until all the dice have been used. Finally, the player with the most dice on each casino card takes the money associated with it. In case of a tie, the next non-tied player takes the highest-valued money card at that casino. It is such a clear, quick and simple design that it makes you wonder how no one has thought of it before. Perfect for a more casual gaming crowd.

alea rolls toward the easier side of the gaming table

Saint Malo is another dice game, with players rolling five dice to gain various resources; this aspect of the game reminded me a little of Roll Through the Ages. Combinations of the rolled dice may create enhancements like characters or buildings, which can provide additional victory points, money, or special actions, such as altering the outcome of a die roll. The unusual aspect of the game was how players draw symbols on a wipe-clean grid of their city with a felt pen to create an individual town. For example, players could build storehouses on squares, then place a merchant nearby to gain money each turn. Another important character is the soldier; players must acquire these to defend themselves from pirate attacks that can decimate their town. It's a great game and seeing your town take shape is very enjoyable.

Preproduction version of alea's Saint Malo at Nürnberg 2012; tablecloth not included


Individual player board in Saint Malo; note the big "This is a rough draft!" warning.


Preproduction, non-final cheat sheet for dice rolls in alea's Saint Malo

Another game that impressed me was Voca!, a clever party/ family card game from ToySmart, designed by Avraham Yoffe and Sargit Ben-Yehuda. Players must try to memorize a sequence of face-down cards by making the appropriate noises. There are cards for animals, everyday objects like a telephone, or people actions like sneezing or snoring. For each incorrect answer, the player must take a card from the front of the card sequence, thereby altering what needs to be memorized. Additionally, a new card is added each turn. The game ends when one player collects six cards. It was a lot of fun to play and simple to learn. They kindly allowed me to take photos even though the game is still in (very good) prototype form.

Non-final versions of the box and cards for Voca!

Another early night to escape the cold Nürnberg streets and to write this delayed blog post. It's difficult to believe it is the final day tomorrow. Where did the week go?
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Mon Feb 6, 2012 4:50 am
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Nürnberg 2012: Days 1 & 2

Rob Harris
United Kingdom
Surbiton
London
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Outside it is minus ten degrees, but inside day one of the Toy Fair is hotting up. The world has come to Nürnberg and business is good. The hours pass on fast-forward. There is no time to check out other stands, but we do get to meet many great people, including Scott Reed and Chad Krizan from BGG. The first day ends with the Toy Night, a party for exhibitors with free food and wine. The theme is "Celebrity" and the crowd are entertained by the cast from We Will Rock You before a disco until the early hours.

Even in Europe, the smokers now have to stay outside the building. (All captions courtesy WEM)

Day two and the hangover cures seem to be working as everyone appears bright and ready for another busy day. During the afternoon, I head upstairs to check out some new Euros on the Queen Games stand and they kindly allow me to take some pictures, even though the displays show prototypes. Urbanization looks particularly interesting.

Do you agree that it looks interesting? Discuss.


Kingdom Builder: Nomads, not being very nomadic at the moment.


Ri-Ra – a holdout from the list of 2011 releases from Queen Games.


Kairo in the Queen Games booth at Nürnberg 2012; I see the players
have completed a few more turns from the game state at Nürnberg 2011.
Five more years, and we'll count the endgame scoring!

Next, I head to Hans im Glück, where Michael gives me a explanation of Marcel-André Casasola Merkle's new game, Santa Cruz. The game is finished and will be out in Germany shortly, and the artwork looks fantastic. Players are each given a different hand of cards, comprising traveling cards and scoring cards. They then explore a board showing three islands, which have tiles laid face-down representing buildings and places, such as churches and lighthouses. On a turn, players must play either a traveling card to explore and place buildings in their color or play a scoring card to score a particular type of building, resource, or other game condition for all players. Spaces near the central volcano are more valuable, but are vulnerable to a negative eruption scoring card. It has gone straight to the top of my want list. Straightforward to teach, but with interesting decisions and a little bluffing towards the endgame.

Rob, we don't pay you to go to Nürnberg to take pictures of the demo crew!
(NB: We don't pay Rob at all.)


Ah, that's more like it...

With thanks.

Best wishes,
Rob
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Fri Feb 3, 2012 6:05 am
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Nürnberg 2011: Pics of the Queen Games line-up

Rob Harris
United Kingdom
Surbiton
London
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(In this Nürnberg 2011 report from Feb. 3, 2011, Rob Harris ran down what to expect from Queen Games in 2011. Rob has now sent photos from the show, so I'm reprinting that section below with photos in place a few extra details gleaned from the images to give you a better idea of what to expect in the months ahead. —WEM)

These are all 2011 releases from Queen Games without specific release dates, and yes, the descriptions are sketchy for many of these. The titles are:

Castelli, by Günter Burkhardt – nothing else known at this time.


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Sat Feb 5, 2011 4:35 am
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