INTERNATIONAL FREE SHIPPING on me - Results !!!
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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First of all, for those of you who don't know what these results are for, please see the following geeklist: www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/32274

Secondly, let me sincerely apologize for this long overdue report. I have gotten back from Germany since 7/2, but had too many personal and business related things to catch up with to finish this update. Also, I had to upload a lot of pictures for this geeklist, which is why the dates on many items has different posting times. However, I do have an interesting story to tell, so I hope you're all still eager to read the final results.

Bad news: I brought back as many games as I could, so some of you won't be receiving what you had asked for.
Good news: I brought back as many games as I could, so many of you will receive what you had asked for.
Sad news: My girlfriend is on the same project in Frankfurt till the end of the year. No more daily gaming partner for me. cry
Happy news: My loss is your gain. It appears that I will be in Germany a couple more times. Anyone need games? laugh

In addition, I would not have been able to accomplish this goal without the help of my wonderful girlfriend. Lisa is not just an enabler, she is the ultimate enhancer ... ... and I love her for letting me be who I am, no matter where my passions take me or how crazy my ideas may be. Unfortunately, she flew out today for Germany again. Don't worry babe, I'll be out there soon.

Lastly, nothing to do with the trip, but I want to give a quick shoutout to jgrundy for my cool new avatar. Cheers buddy !!!

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1. Board Game: Utopia [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2069]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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Let's start off by talking about what we all care about most: board games

The game department in the malls of Frankfurt are geek heaven. These photos are all from Galeria Kaufhof. They carry many games that our local retailers don't. Unfortunately, this city does not have any FLGS that I'm aware of, but most major German cities supposedly do.

While I was there, they were heavily promoting these two Spiel des Jahres and Kinderspiel des Jahres award winners. Unfortunately, Keltis wasn't available yet. Maybe I can find it when I go back next time.

On this shelf was a bunch of great kids games like Nacht der Magier, Chateau Roquefort, Das Kleine Gespenst, and Chicken Cha Cha Cha. But since Ingenious is my favorite, I was really glad to see a junior version that can start kids off early on this great game.

Besides this wall display, Milton Bradley and Ravensburger games are both very well represented throughout. I picked up two copies of Looping Louie from MB and the last copy of Fluch der Mumie from Ravensburger. Wahooooo !!!

Haba games are everywhere in the kids section of the game department. From large to small, there are probably over 50 choices from this great publisher. I have never seen many of these games being offered by online retailers selling Haba stuff in the US.

For those of you who love card games like me, there was a decent selection that our malls won't carry as well. My game group developed over negotiations in Bohnanza. Well, they have tons of choices for bean lovers (many not pictured).

Most of the games in this aisle are American imports that are way overpriced for our side of the Atlantic, especially the Game of Life - Generation Now edition that is on sale for over $80. Ouch! Are there actually people in Germany willing to pay this price?

My microbadge says that I'm a huge Ubongo fan, so seeing four different kinds available in one place was incredible to me. For you Catan fans, choices aren't so bad either. Atlantis expansion anyone (bottom left bundled w/ the 10th anniversary edition of Settlers)?

Plenty of Spiel des Jahres winners in this aisle, including one of my favorites - Carcassonne. Almost every version or expansion I could think of was here. Btw, did anyone notice that they still have lots of Carcassonne Big Box edition available?

For no obvious reason, all Queen games seem to be on sale and they have lots of them. Not pictured here are Airships, Rat Hot, Aton, Robber Knights, the Alhambra series, etc. Some of them go as far as 50% less expensive than our online retailers.

Can you believe it, they even have tables for you to try board games or just sit and play all day (I think)? Also, one of the people working in the game department kindly offered to teach me some opened games. If I only had the time ... ...


Note: If you would like to see all 35+ pictures of the games available at Galeria Kaufhof, please feel free to browse through my personal gallery (link below). Also, these pictures are just a represntation of what was available, but by no means is this everything that they had. Enjoy the view !!!

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/images/user/140082


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2. Board Game: Café International [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1583]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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I was introduced to a cool little place named Cafe Vorspiel (pictured below) by the Frankfurt Gaming Guild. If you're ever in Frankfurt, check it out. Here's the link: www.cafe-vorspiel.de

Lisa and I, along with her co-worker, met up there with my newly found German friends for some gaming one night. They had hundreds of games for the patrons to play for free and we had a blast. I would like to thank cookieeemonster, B_Scheuert, and onkel_eklig for their hospitality. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to game with you guys again soon.

The view from the front door towards the bar on the right side of the cafe.

The view from the front door towards the dining/gaming area on the left side of the cafe.

The jam packed shelf of games by the bar.

The other loaded shelf of games in the back room.

My newly acquired friends overseas. Thanks for everything.


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3. Board Game: Traveler Traders [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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Before traveling to Frankfurt, I had made some offers to BGG'ers in Germany and five trades were accepted. Bringing the games along with me was no problem since I had way too much empty space in my suitcases. I had told all my potential traders to hold off on sending the games until I arrived at my hotel and geekmail them a room number. This worked out great and I received most of my games within one or two days. However, please read the warning below.

From my experience on this trip, I would say the number one thing to remember is to ask questions about everything and preferrably have it all written down. Don't allow miscommunication or your assumptions from the US lead to mistakes and problems like the ones I have experienced.

Hotel pickup would be the first of many issues (more to come later). In the US, packages are usually picked up in the hotel as if you had delivered it yourself to the post office. In Frankfurt, DHL collects the packages and then deliver it to some headquarters for redistribution. Because of this and the weekend, it took my packages almost a week before arriving at their destinations. Not bad enough, the Hilton I stayed at told me the total price of the DHL pickup for my five packages were 15.90 Euros (roughly $26). When I got back to the US, I noticed that my credit card was charged 5x from DHL at 15.90 Euros each ... ... that's about $130. I guess the communication barrier between us and the people there are obviously still quite substential. Well, there's not much we can ask for from DHL, so Lisa and I are currently trying to work out something with Hilton for our next stay.

Look on the bright side, the ordeal allowed me to be in touch with my trade partners quite a bit. As a result, many of them have become my geekbuddies. Cheers!!!

Btw, check out some of the cool games below that I traded. I aimed for mostly games that are hard to get here in the US, or versions I can't find.

The Great Balloon Race - Lisa's gonna love the cute bits

Dschunke - A hard to find Michael Schacht game here in the states

Atlantic Star - Got two copies from trades on this trip

El Moondo - I wanted this version which allows four players


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4. Board Game: International Soccer The Game [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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Well, so far I have told you how great shopping for games at a department store can be, as well as the wonderful people in Germany I have either encountered or traded games with. However, I guess my geeklist won't feel complete unless I touch upon a few other subjects. And since I'm a huge sports fan, yes even soccer, it's not a bad place to start.

While being in Frankfurt, I had the chance to experience a once in probably my lifetime kind of event. Two days after I arrived, Germany was playing Turkey in the semi-finals of Euro 2008. How lucky am I? Knowing how crazy European fans are about their soccer, I always wanted to experience the action in person. Now, I happen to be in a city where the country has made the Euro Cup semi-finals. Wow!!! With that in mind, Lisa and I found a nice restaurant with a large outdoor seating area and a huge screen. It may not have been, but it sure felt like the whole city had stopped operating except restaurants and bars for everyone to enjoy the game.

With anxious anticipation, the crowd was emotionally charged for every single moment of the game. And boy what a game it was, with so much drama and suspense, the atmosphere was utterly intense. Turkey took the early lead but had too many missed opportunities in the first half including a shot off the goal post and wound up being tied going into the break. Then Germany took a 2-1 lead and looked to be the winner. When out of nowhere, Turkey tied the game up with 4 minutes to go in the 90 minutes of regulation, only to lose the match by giving up a German goal in the last minute. Weather decided to add some more drama to the game by causing a hurricane near where the feed was coming from, which left some of the exciting moments in complete darkness with just the commentaries. I don't think anyone appreciated that, but thinking back now, it sure added to the tension. To quote a non-soccer fan like Lisa, "It's one of the best games I've seen in any sport."

As a pure sports fan (and NY Giants fan), this has been one of the best sports years of my life. The superbowl started things off right for me, then followed by enjoying the NCAA men's backetball finals while sipping on tropical drinks in Costa Rica. Not to mention the great performance Tiger put on in the Masters, only to be topped imho by the finals of Wimbledon. However, celebrating the German victory with all the people of Frankfurt in the town square/streets may very well be the most memorable.

The crowd in front of the restaurant where we watched the game.

The crowd cheering and singing while the game was in progress.

Let the celebrations begin as more and more people are congregating in the town square.

Insane traffic followed with every vehicle honking and cheering.

Unfortunately, we could not enjoy the celebrations a second time as Spain defeated Germany in the finals of the Euro Cup few days later. However, after this awesome experience, I can understand why people of Europe are huge soccer fans.


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5. Board Game: FoodSmarts [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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One of my other strong passions in life is food. I love everything about it: trying new ingredients, tasting local specialties, enjoying fine dining, trying to recreate dishes, and cooking for my family/friends.

While in Frankfurt, I was able to experience some scrumptious food. If you're a meat lover, then you may very possibily die and go to heaven. I'm sure you have heard of their ability to produce excellent sausages. But for me, their ability to make the most tender and juicy roasted pork outshines everything else.

As for drinks, in Germany, it starts and ends with beer. The quality you ask? It's German beer, 'nuff said. I did find something interesting in the supermaket though, check out the cool Jack and Coke can in the picture below.

Juicy roasted pork sandwich with super crunchy skin, sold by the pound during lunch.

Ready for grilling - the yellow ones are the popular new trend of curry flavored sausages

Frankfurt specialty - a yummy creamy Green Sauce

My favorite dish in Frankfurt (Lisa too) - Roasted crispy skin pork shank with gravy

Need I say more. Look at the beautiful color of this beer. Ummmmmm.

Let's kick it up a notch. Jack and Coke in a can. Sweet !!!


Note: If you ever plan on being in the Frankfurt area and need some suggestions for restaurants, feel free to geekmail me anytime.


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6. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:564]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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There's no way a person can visit a city without noticing its distinct architecture. I have always appreciated the beauty of different cultures expressed through the incredible designs of their builders. So here's a quick peek at some of the most gorgeous sights in Frankfurt that I had witnessed.

Römerberg - central square in Frankfurt's Altstadt (Old Town)

The Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) at the center of the square

Zum Römer (Town Hall) - Holy Roman Emperors were coronated here

Saint Bartholomeus' Cathedral - main church of Frankfurt


Note: If you're ever in Frankfurt, sitting outdoors at one of the many restaurants in Römerberg enjoying a nice meal is absolutely magnificent.


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7. Board Game: Evo [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:513]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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I have a soft spot for animals, but especially dinosaurs. So when I heard that Frankfurt had a evolution museum with a large dinosaurs display, we had to check it out. The photos below are just a glimpse of this interesting place with so much to see.

The dinosaurs display room at the Evolution Museum.

Watch out! Lisa's about to attack. GARRRRR !!!

Don't turn around. Just stay still. It doesn't eat meat.

The evolution tree in the background depicts the ancestors of the elephant.

Not what I wanna see when entering the water. Holy cow, it's huge !!!


Note: The museum also contains wonderful evolutionary displays of birds, insects, mammals, etc. If you're a fan of how living things evolved over time, especially if you can read German, I highly recommend a visit.


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8. Board Game: Treasure Hunt [Average Rating:6.12 Unranked]
Gordon Yu
United States
Rego Park
New York
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Ok, ok, let's get back to board games ... ... that is why you're reading this geeklist after all. Let's talk about the entire process, with all of the obstacles and the final results.

When I got to Frankfurt, I immediately checked the prices of games at the local department stores and Woolworth (didn't know they still existed). It appeared that most games were cheaper at the online retailers, so I started calling them in order to figure out the shipping speed. Definitely don't want to place an order that won't arrive on time.

What I found was that some of the German online retailers are simply FLGS that carried very little stock. Some of them didn't speak English, while others didn't even pick up the phone or return calls. I did end up placing a large order from Spiele Offensive. Thankfully, Robert and Frank at Spiele Offensive were very patient, as well as friendly to work with. We were able to complete the order, and I got some more games from the department stores.

The fact that my Hilton hotel charged roughly $43 a day for the internet and $3 a minute for outgoing local calls made this process much harder. I had to walk to a local internet cafe few times a day in order to make calls and check the order status online. The internet was reasonable at about $6.50 per hour, but those phone calls cost a arm and a leg. The pay phones in Frankfurt eats coins up like Pac-Man. I must have spent well over 30 Euros (about $48) just completing the order.

The main reason why I needed to make so many calls was because Paypal kept holding up my payments. For anyone from the US buying from any European online retailers while in the country, please be aware that Paypal will automatically freeze your account for security purposes. Unfortunately, you can't even fix this problem unless you can recive service on your mobile. Not knowing this ahead of time, I got both mine and Lisa's Paypal accounts frozen. Worst of all, Paypal accidentally charged Lisa's bank account twice, which resulted in a $10 finance charge for insufficiant funds. The best way to get around this problem may be contacting Paypal ahead of time, or even better, just have a family member or friend make the payment in the US.

Not being able to use Paypal, I was getting low on time and short on options. So, I decided to use cash on delivery, which was an additional 5% fee. Here's the kicker, Lisa and I couldn't take any cash out of the ATMs in Frankfurt for no apparent reason. We called the banks, who stated that the cards should work, but they didn't. Luckily, our hotel said that they can receive the package and charge it to the room. What they failed to tell us was that they charge a 5% fee for the service. Those percentages are just adding up quick, eh? Maybe I'm accustomed to the hotels in the US, but they tend to tell you when there's a fee involved. Oh well.

Btw, there's a thing called VAT which you should know. It is suppose to be a tax rebate for foreigners which I was hoping to collect in order to offset some of the costs. However, when I was checked in at the airline and asked how to use the service, the agent failed to tell me that I would need my luggage to redeem the cashback and sent them through to the airplane. Hence, if you want to collect any tax back, don't give up your luggage when getting your boarding passes. Instead, after receiving your boarding passes, take your luggage to cashback/customs and show them your merchandise, they will then send your luggage to the plane from there. With what little I had in my backpack, I decided to redeem what I could. Unfortunately, the airport ripped me off by taking more than half of my tax rebates, saying it's a service that they are providing. Then the agent tells me that if I didn't want the service, I can get it all back by visiting Frankfurt again within the next four years and going back to the retailer (note: doesn't necessarily apply to online retailers), but it's too late now b/c she has already stamped my forms. Do you see a pattern? I'm starting to learn that I better ask for all my options in this country before committing to anything. One last thing, airport exchange rates are horrible, so don't ask for money back in US dollars like I did. Dohhhhh !!!

Bottom line is, I (along with a lot of help from my better half, Lisa) achieved what I had set out to do, which is to bring back a little joy for as many BGG'ers as I could. Unfortunately, as I have warned, the larger items were left of the shopping list. By doing so, Lisa and I were able to bring back a combined total of 88 games from Germany. Removing the dozen or so games I had traded for, plus some games I bought for myself, we were able to return with more than 50 games for my friends and the BGG community. I have to admit that this goal was a huge undertaking which may have costed me some out-of-pocket cash, along with moments of anguish and frustration, but the sense of accomplishment was worth every penny.

All the games I brought back from Germany before being organized.

All 88 games from Germany displayed on a queen-sized bed.

Now that the first portion of my project has been completed, I will be spending the next week contacting everyone who I have purchased a game for. Please be patient, but if you haven't heard from me by next Monday, feel free to contact me about your request. Most likely, I wasn't able to attain what you were looking for, but maybe I can pick it up for you on my next trip to Germany in August.

Once again, I am very sorry for the delayed update. From the amount of geekmails I was receiving, I can see that many people were anxious to find out the results. However, between catching up on work (my own business), July 4th with friends, my godchildren's birthdays, their mother's new baby, and preparing for Lisa's long stay in Frankfurt ... ... life took over first. It also didn't help that BGG was down quite a bit whenever I seem to have time, including earlier tonight when I was gonna post this geeklist. Regardless, now that it's finally up, there is a true sense of relief. Hopefully, I have brought some happiness to a few fellow BGG'ers during your daily grind through life.


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