$10.00
HOW MANY ESSEN GEEKLISTS DOES IT TAKE TO FILL THE ALBERT HALL? or Very very expensive but much better than last year.
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After having a totally rubbish time last year, which culminated with my wishing the show end early on Sunday so I could go home, to my own surprise I returned to Essen again. I'd got very lucky on the stock market and decided to spend my luck on the trip.

Two years back, the exchange rate from the GBP to the Euro was 1.30, that is £1 got me 1.3 Euros. Last year it was 1.2 which was very bad. This year, it was parity. £1 got me 1 Euro. Terrible. My costs were virtually 50% higher than in 2007.

It meant that suddenly I had to make choices. Normally, my limit is around £30 on a game I like. So two years back, spending 10 or 15 Euros on something odd or silly didn't bother me. This year, I was turning down new big games at 25 Euros, or discounts at 10 Euros, thinking I'd pick them up later in the year, when hopefully the rate was improved.
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1. Board Game: TWRS [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
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My trip over on the Wednesday was okay, but I kept missing easy connections and wasted a lot of time. So I finally scrambled into the halls just after 3pm. Straight over to Martyn F who was letting me buy an Exhibitors ticket. I'd helped him with some English rules and cadged the ticket in return. The Exhibitors ticket meant I was able to get in early and stay late and is like gold-dust for me. But Martyn wouldn't take my money and gave me the ticket for free. Superb! Thanks Martyn and his unpronounceable wife!
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2. Board Game: Wadi: The Watchmen [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked]
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I also was given a copy of the Wadi expansion and bought one for BM! I was really impressed that Martyn's game Cities had made the SdJ shortlist. Whenever I came by the stand, they were sat playing games with punters.
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3. Board Game: Sumeria [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1737]
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Whilst I didn't buy anything here, Jackson Pope did me the great kindness of minding my hat and coat all day, each day. That saved me money on the cloakroom, and I was counting my pennies where I could.

Thanks Jack!
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4. Board Game: Affentennis: Die Doppelerweiterung [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
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Up a few metres to collect my expansion to Affentennis. Jurgen wasn't in, but his trusty crew got me my pre-order. And away...
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5. Board Game: The BoardGameGeek Game [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:2786]
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Next task, to scoot around hoovering up the pre-orders, and have a chat to whomever. Quick chat with Richard Breese...
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6. Board Game: Aladdin's Dragons [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3655]
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... and off with my two games.
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7. Board Game: Savannah Tails [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:2547]
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Nip around to Hall 9 to snaffle this one, and had a nice chat with Phillip from Czech Games edition who remembered me. We talked about the games they'd let BM! have last year, and he said I should come by at the end and see what they could this year. Result!

Also had a very nice chat with Alexandra from Zoch, generous as always.

Also had a wee dram with the Scots and got my extra tiles, and away.
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8. Board Game: Schwarzes Gold [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:7132]
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Top of hall 9 for this pre-order with the extra card/tile. This game was made from the bits from Giganten, so presumably that's been pulped now and you should snap up a copy. Giganten is a v good game, and Schwarzes Gold turned out to be my first hit of the show. It seems trivial at first, but quickly developed into a neat game of timing. We only played the easy side, but this is a winner. Result!
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9. Board Game: Toledo [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:1648]
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I didn't bring enough cash money to the halls and returned Thursday with everything. Popped onto the BGG booth, then staright into Galeria Kaufhof to use my credit card. Got this for er 10 Euros I think.
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10. Board Game: Im Reich der Wüstensöhne [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2976]
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Likewise a 10 Euro bargain.
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11. Board Game: Keltis [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1024]
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Got this for BM! shrink wrapped with...
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12. Board Game: Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
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...this for me. 20 Euros I think.
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13. Board Game: Venedig [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:3075]
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10 Euros I think. I'll find the receipt somewhere.
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14. Board Game: Square on Sale [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
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Off to Japonbrand in Hall 4 to get all my Japanese pre-orders. Square On sale, Asukasa, Alice Parade, Greedy Kingdoms, Solar System, Gauss, Let's Catch A Lion, Chronicle, all for 99 Euros. A few years back, that was a bargain at 60 quid. This year, 100 quid, not so funny. But I really like Tak and his team and admire them for making the effort to do Essen each year.
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15. Board Game: BasketBoss [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:2237]
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Got to Hall 12 at some point and snaffled up 2 lots of pre-orders, for me and BM!. BM! doesn't have Factory Fun and I was going to get a copy, only to see Corne's price. 70 EUROS! WOW! That's the price it goes for on the internet, he said. Fair enough. But WOW!
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16. Board Game: Tricky Trek [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:7141]
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Got my Treks and all the extras. And away...
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17. Board Game: Ghost Stories: White Moon [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
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Also in hall 12, got my White Moon pre-order and the cards and the chopsticks! And a surprise. After handing over my cash, they gave my the princess T-shirt. Oh no, I said, I didn't order that. Thomas checked his sheet. It says here, he pointed, with 1 free T-shirt. Blimey!

When I put in my pre-order, I complained to Repos that my Wu Feng shirt from last year had gone horrible and baggy in the wash. I didn't like to wear it now and would pass on this year's. Cedric replied and apologised kindly, and offered to replace it, but I said, no bother. So to make up, he'd popped a free one on my order. I met him later in the halls and thanked him. The Repos bunch are very nice people, what a kind gesture!
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18. Board Game: Eine gegen Eine [Average Rating:5.11 Overall Rank:9419]
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Everything becomes a bit confused after this, so...

Sometime, near the cafeteria, I bump into the delightful Marcel Andre Casasola Merkle, pulling a suitcase trolley. Whatcha got this year, Marcel Andre Casasola Merkle? I ask. He pulls out this little packet. Oh yes! I had this on my list to buy. Ka-ching! It's a game where you don't know how the game works until you start playing. I've been thinking a lot lately about rules design and process flow, so this was very interesting. You are not meant to look at the contents at all until you start a game. Marcel gave me a sheet of English paste up stickers, but I was even prevented from seeing these. So I have to give the game to somebody else to prepare. Fascinating, to me at least.

It was this kind of stuff that cheered me up this year. As time went by, i got happier and happier. Little gems, that's why I come to Essen.
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19. Board Game: Schinderhannes [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:3506]
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Another surprise find for me was this detective game from Clicker. I think detection/deduction was the Essen theme this year. Tobago was the big hit in show, but there's some other stuff. Again, last year so many games were the same old same old. This year, finally some fresh ideas!

So I got a copy and the bloke hands me a jar of jam. What's this for? You eat it, he says. The jam was the freebie with the game! Apparently, it is white cranberry and chocolate jam. I was given a bunch of other papers too.

Result!
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20. Board Game: HysteriCoach [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:4700]
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Just over the aisle, Scribabs! Two years ago, I was delighted by Hystericoach, and bought it along with Star System. I paid my money, had a good long chat with Walter Obert, lovely fellow, and left without my games! I only realised when I got home. Last year, I tried to find Walter to get my games, but failed. This year, pre-show emails and he said, talk to Paolo. Paolo said, if you have the games and forgot to pay, you can pay. If you paid for the games and forgot to take, you can take! Excellent! Two more games in the bag.

More on these chaps later.
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21. Board Game: Abriss [Average Rating:7.08 Unranked]
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On the Bambus stand in Hall 12, there was Spiellabor. They had this rather basic looking game, with tiles and cards. You are demolition workers, tasked to knock down various buildings. You need the workers with different skills, and disposal of waste. if you can't get rid of all the waste, you pay the Russians to take it! Not cheap, but I liked it and got one.
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22. Board Game: Fackel+Keule [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked]
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He also had this card game. You're Neandertals hunting wild animals. You need the right numbers of spears and axes and such like, and you must each bring cards to the hunt. But being Neandertals, you cannot speak! You can only grunt in the game! Brilliant, sold!
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23. Board Game: にゃんこあーてぃすと (Cat Artists) [Average Rating:6.58 Unranked]
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This is a place holder because I have no idea of the correct name for this game. Thanks Lorna!

Somewhere in Hall 4 was a small booth with a couple of tables, and some whacky guys selling games with no posters or hullaballoo or anything. They were literally selling a variety of weird stuff from Finland?? Sweden out of bags. Nice chaps, but weird. Longships was one, some game about Dictators was another.

Anyway, the bloke had this odd Japanese card game in a small low brown box. It was only 10 Euros but he didn't know what it was, so I waited. 2 days later, he said it was called something like Cats Want To Paint. Apparently, cats want to paint, but they can't because they have paws, so you must help them.

SOLD!
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24. Board Game: HFP: Hard Furry Pets [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked]
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We still haven't hit the highlight of my show. This is the second best game I found.

So I'm going through hall 9, trying to find the Matagot stand. Never did, but I found these Italians selling this.

It's mental.

So there are these woodland creatures and something like toxic waste turns them immoral and the immoral bunnies are trying to pick up women and the moral bunnies are trying to stop them.

So there are these cards and values and symbols at the bottom. A heart, obvious, a star, yes. What's this fist symbol for? Well, sometimes, you must be a little harsh with the woman. But it's not a violent game! Oh and this panty symbol is the number of panties they must collect.

20 Euros.

SOLD!
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25. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:161]
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One of the stands I was very interested in was Swan PanAsia's, in hall 5. They were the guys with swan hats. Very nice to talk to, they were there to show off their production sKiLlZ as well as a few games.

Swan Panasia had Chinese versions of all the big games. Settlers, carc, HTMF the lot. They have the legal licenses for the Chinese market.

Woah. There's what, about a billion people in China? 4th biggest GDP and growing year on year?. Good luck to Swan Panasia. I wonder how much they had to pay for those rights.

And on the stand, I got this! This is the Capcom version of Settlers. They'd been at Essen several years back, and being naive then, I didn't realise you could ask for demo copies. So I missed getting one. But i snagged a Japanese copy here for 22 Euros.

RESULT! Still not the best highlight though...
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