Today (Friday) is the day that Surprised Stare Games Ltd takes itself and it's latest offering, Ivor the Engine, to the UK Games Expo at the Hilton Metropol Hotel at the NEC in Birmingham.
- Ivors x 'a lot'
- prototypes for Snowdonia expansions, Guilds of London, Dice Ex Machina, Lux Aeterna and Johari
- items to sell at the 'bring & buy'
- clothes and shit
- exhibits for the UK Games Expo Hall of Fame (1829, Gibsons Games goodies etc, things for Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone to sign)
- phone filled with podcasts and earphones
I'll be back later with some pics of setting up...
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for Show/Convention Report
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I broke my weekly working routine with a last-minute trip to London and the January Toy Fair; not to be confused with New York Toy Fair, Spring Toy Fair, some Gift Event thing-or-another and a million other Trade shows that happen - it's a wonder independent shops have any time to actually sell stuff! Anyway, old pal Richard was gracious enough to let me camp at his place and we duly sent the word out to 'the lads' to try and organize a games evening! In attendance were Uncle's Carl and Steve, Little Jim, Iain the Perpetual Student and Richard 'imself. They were stuck in to Lewis & Clark when I finally arrived - a three-hour journey due South from Merthyr Tydfil, then East across the new) Severn Bridge and the M4 then North along the A404 to High Wycombe; sweet cheebus, my eyes were sore when I eventually parked up! We ordered Chinese (not as tasty as I remembered it TBH), played Cockroach Poker (great group-thinky fun) - noisily - and then split for a table of Russian Railroads and a table of, naturally, Agricola.
I'm tired - it's been a long week - so I won't bore you with the details apart from the fact that it was a great game: Richard exploding in a shower of Minor Improvements, Major Improvements and Occupations after misreading a Gamer's Deck card (a Fireplace is not an Oven), me pulling off a couple of sweet combos (and a 16 point card tableau) and Iain just being too bloody good for his own good *seethe*.
The next morning (Wednesday), I still-got-my-rental-car -ed it down to Maidenhead to meet up with Carl, Jimmy and Iain again to drive us all into London for the Toy Fair. Look at us go with our eco-friendly car-sharing, eh? We were mildly-distracted over the last few, slow, miles to Olympia Car Park P2 talking about bitcoins (I knew nuthin' about these things; they disturb and confuse me greatly).
Here are some photos with some commentary:
The (in)famous Cambridge Games Factory
Well, that's a stand I'd not expected to find lurking in the labyrinthine aisles of Olympia! And I certainly hadn't expected to find Ed Carter manning it...I've said many things about CGF in the past - some nice, some rather more brutal - but part of me is eternally grateful for them bringing us Glory to Rome. Their Ikea shelving unit was adorned with blister-packed and garishly-coloured back catalogue along with some siren-calling samples of the "Black Box Edition". We chatted about work, games and Ed giving the whole 'CGF' thing one more proper go (Zombie in My Pocket is destined for the Black Box treatment too, apparently; I suggested zombo minis). I wish him well - really I do - but the poor bastard has a bloody mountain of bloody ill-will to traverse.
The mock-up of the Ivor the Engine box sits, proudly, on an Esdevium Games display...I would return
to this at various times to see if it was getting any love (and would meet Mr Richard Breese there too).
We (Alan Paull, Klemens Franz, Charlie Paull and myself) are all beavering away
industriously getting all of the final art and design files ready for manufacture!
Now, if you will excuse me, there's some goulash waiting for me in the kitchen.
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Once again Winter holds Great Britain in it’s water-in-a-solid-state grasp; turning pavements into skating rinks, car parks into viable Winter Olympic bobsleigh venues and all road users into dribbling, panicked wrecks. Luckily, Tuesday’s journeying relied on the sturdiness of my shoe rather than the 4 wheel of my MPV’s drive, so Carl and I gingerly navigated his ice-box street to the nearby Wycombe railway station for coffee and an all-expenses-paid trip to London for Toy Fair 2013.
Now, this isn’t the same Toy Fair that I saw calling seductively from the banners of BGG News – no, that’s the New York Toy Fair (Feb) – instead, this is THE premiere event (yadda yadda etc) for Toys in the UK; everyone who is anyone, plus a minibus-load of desperate singletons, is here showing the retailers of our fair (if frozen) Isle what will be the big things for the coming Christmas: cuddly stuff, tiny plastic anime-themed monster alien things, mouldable chocolate, crafts, art, foxy boxers, magic tricks, LEGO (ah – the glorious exclusivity of the Lego stand; all high walls and triple gate entry systems), radio-controlled robots and horrible HORRIBLE boardgames. Yes, because this is a mass-market UK show, the quality of boardgames being displayed for Brit consumption is appalling (what a snob I am!); roll-and-move with 4pt font trivia cards, patience-testing gaudy shite. But…this stuff sells by the sodding truckload! The Esdevium stand may offer the solitary respite for gamers (a chance to compose oneself, to reset one’s hobby compass) but “Mr Jolly’s What-was-it-like-in-the-1950s Trivial Pursuit clone” is in it’s 7th printing and has shifted 20,000+ copies! Yes – I wanna get me some of that action!
Er...did somebody mention foxy boxing?
So, here are some ideas that the podcaster, game designer and ‘lovely chap’ Michael Fox and I discussed over coffee and muffins:
The St John’s Ambulance Boardgame
This won’t mean much to anyone outside of the UK, but the St J’s A organization are a bunch of part-time, volunteer paramedics who turn up to almost ANY occasion - from Village Fetes to Live Aid - with the express purpose of not being able to treat anyone with an injury more serious than a fly-bite. In the SJAB, players set up an elaborate board representing venues, staff and punters and put on an audio track before spending the next 90 minutes with their back to the whole thing. Then they pack it away and go home. If anything at all happens during that 90 minutes, they must call a qualified gaming group to come and resolve it.
Granny Gussett Dolls
We’ve had Tiny Tears, Baby Annabelle and Timmy the Shitting Toddler – now comes “Granny Gussett”: a cabbage patch doll like 16 inch mannequin of an old lady that leaks water over the furniture at chip-controlled random time intervals and farts…a lot. GG comes with an iOS and Android app that remotely-transmits soundbites to the emetic elder: “It wasn’t like this in MY day”, “Would you like a humbug?” and “Black as the Ace of Spades”.
Mon Petit Cheval
French-themed re-issue of the popular plastic equine figure that comes with glossy mane and tail, grooming comb, detachable ‘shoes’ and a scale model of an abattoir-strength mincer for turning it into burger meat.
Hornby’s Wembley Football Express
A delightful recreation of a sporting ‘special service’ that comes with a series of suggested layouts: “Remaining in platform due to a fight”, “Driver nipped out for a piss” and “Person talking in the Quiet Carriage!”.
Warriors of Stone: Sedimentals Series 2
Blister-packed, collectible minis that come – unsurprisingly – with a stats card and a set check-list. Sedimentals Series 2 comprises 24 different characters with a rocky theme (i.e. they are bits of rock with eyes drawn on): Lord Shard, Hardcore!, Unipebble, Lumpy, Gravelaxe and the oblate Skimmer.
Power Rangers: Bukkake!
Now I’m pretty sure someone just picked a Japanese-sounding word without any further research when designing the latest in this range of TV tie-ins? If not, then I’m setting up parental controls on CBBC (and series record on the TIVO). Expect the usual array of “swinging arm”, saddle-straddling martial arts nonsense.
Star Trek TNG-themed junk-modelling accessories from craft experts Old Rope Ltd; people who say this is just a pallet-load of supermarket cardboard boxes with a small sticker of a robot on are missing the point.
Anyway. I was at Toy Fair for one meeting and a general mooch – much caffeine was imbibed early on which leant my P.M. conversations with aforementioned ‘Foxy’ and cerebral Knizia-pal and Keyflower progenitor Sebastian Bleasdale a slightly frantic air (like Hogarth Hughes’ java episode in ‘The Iron Giant’). The latter (Sebastian NOT Hogarth) mentioned he was noodling with ideas for KF expansion (!) and I couldn’t resist but overwhelm him with my own ideas and opinion: he beat a hasty retreat shortly after.
BTW, here’s a random teaser:
Thusly, whence and heretoforth did I wander and drift and ogle and scan and browse and eye-contact-avoid and ablute and snack and sit and sigh and freebie-scrounge and chat and turneth-up-mine-nose until it was spent.
BTW, here's one of the celebrities who turned up at the Show:
It's only Optimus cocking Prime!
Then I went back to my mid-week digs.
Then I rang my wife.
Then I watched Flight.
Then I went to bed.
Then I woke up.
Then I went into London.
Then I had my meeting.
Then I typed up this blog.
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(a possibly untrue) Essen Roundup
Many people have argued that Spiel 2012 seemed quieter than previous years - though if you were suffering from ‘intestinal hurry’ I’m not sure you would agree given the length of the queues for the shit-box. As per, at least half of the sit-upons were clogged to the rim with ‘bangers and mash’ before even the set-up day was done – stand constructors exhibiting the same propensity as their vans when it comes to ‘backing up’. Personally, the whole shebang seemed just as noisy, bustling and claustrophobic as always.
The dead man’s alley that is Hall 7 was open again in 2012 and contained a great number of Spiel virgins from far-flung and new-to-us-all gaming countries (Russia, Tobago, Guantanamo Bay etc) – but also included playtest pals (and fellow Brits) Chaos Publishing (with the lovely Medieval Mastery). Miles, the 12 year-old patriarch of this enterprise (Bless! Someone please buy him a fizzy pop!), became quickly frustrated with the tranquility of his pitch and (rightly) moved into Hall 4 next to us (Surprised Stare Games) – because, as usual, our Stand was proximal to a ‘no show’. Almost immediately - within an electron shell’s worth of a nanosecond - their trade picked up; partly the reflected glory of Snowdonia (Ego!) but, mostly, being in a place where people actually were! Rumours of Hall 7 being completely closed down come Saturday morning went as unnoticed as the Hall itself – you could’ve sailed an aircraft carrier into that gamer-void and even the Crepe sellers would’ve been hard-pushed to give a toss. It's all change next year, apparently, with Halls 10/11 and 12 being knocked down and then rebuilt; the opposite end of the Messe will become the home for the ‘big boys’ and – who knows? – Hall 7 could become the new Hall 9?
In other news, the BGG crew were so numerous that some of us thought they might be reproducing asexually! Video demonstrations, Rio Grande retailing and ‘mobile interviews’ notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure I saw blue football be-shirted lavatory attendants, live role players and (outside the Hauptbahnhoff) the Geekdo alcohol-dependent/shout-at-passers-by contingent. I half-expected to wake up in my hotel room to find a giant American football ‘pod’ next to my bed and end up honking like an air-raid siren in a Donald Sutherland mask...
Pleasingly, the Asmodee stand in Hall 12 – right in front of you as you enter the show – was demoing all of the new games for which it has (at least) German distribution rights; this meant a suspended advertising cube emblazoned with my Snowdonia artwork visible to everyone! The staff, pleasant and helpful as they were, did take umbrage when I stood on one of the tables and ‘did a little dance’; pointing at the graphic panels and whooping like coked-up gibbon.
BTW we weren’t the only company to sell out at the show (there is a geeklist somewhere), though if I had a euro for every time someone cracked a sarcastic gag about ‘selling out’ in that other way I’d have 18 euros – almost enough to cover some paprika chips with a mustardy frikadelle. In a obtuse turn-of-events, one company - Imaginary Numbers – THEORETICALLY sold out as they had brought MINUS FIVE copies of their game “Painful Discharge” only to have five customers return their pre-show purchases demanding their money back; thus, coming away from the show with nothing.
Talking of visitors, the Surprised Stare Games stand was a veritable hub of meet-and-greet activity with the great and the good descending on 4-111 to ask us if we knew where they were selling Spellbound. During the four days, I force-fed Kendall Mint Cake to Stefan Feld (in the manner of a Fois Gras duck); punched both Michael Schacht AND the lead singer of Rammstein in the throat; sipped warm Advocat from Reiner Knizia’s bellybutton and tickled a green-haired F Friese with a retractable ostrich feather. Good times.
Finally, you will – of course – seen lists of all the name games of the show but, as always, there were a number of smaller-print products that proved worthy of attention – here are a few of my personal favorites:
XOBNEDOOW (pronounced “Zob-Knee-Doo”) is a simple, but challenging, abstract where players alternate turns putting a small apple into a wooden box and then take it out again. It came with a limited promo expansion called ‘The Walnut’.
Tzitz’Oot – The Pirelli Calendar – innovative worker placement / resource conversion Euro based on Motor Racing in the 1970s. Players use their Neeples to build a tableau of car parts, race statistics and ‘score’ with a variety of oiled-up ‘actresses’. Comes with a leery, sexist rulebook.
DOXOT – lavishly-illustrated storytelling fayre in the same vein as Balderdash, DOXOT comprises a deck of over-sized cards, pairs of dice in six different colours and a score chart. Players must utilize these components to fill five minutes of time in any way they can – make it too hard (or, this is the twist, too easy!) and you have to pay a royalty to the manufacturer!
Reiner Knizia’s Esteedeez – more card-based, numerological fun from the legendary designer as 2-6 players compete to pass on a variety of embarrassing inflammations, infections and conditions to the other players. Amusingly, the rulebook recommends that players DO NOT sleeve the cards as this will render the game pointless!
Shit-Cocking Hell! – paranoia- and panic-inducing real-time dice-roller where a nominated referee prowls a darkened room - lashing out with a baseball bat - while the players scurry around trying to find the exit. A real hoot for those watching at the Queezy Games pavilion, but less so if you take a strike to the temple. Came with a number of low-price expansions: “Ha-ha! You missed BOTH my legs!” and “Now I have a chainsaw!”
Tora! Tora! Et Labora! – Monks compete to build aircraft / train pilots for attacks against neighbouring Eurogames. Comes with a set of Friar miniatures with stat-based Perspex stands for 3D play.
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In between times, I managed to odd pick-up/game swap during the show. Slowly, but surely, I'm de-sprewing and baggy-ing each and every delicious one of 'em!
Power Grid - Uk/Northern Europe Map Plus Industrial Espionage promo
Zooloretto - Chameleon promo
Peloponnes - Goat Expansion
Suburbia + Essen Promos
Among The Stars + Promos
Drum Roll Mini-Expansion + Promo
Eclipse: Rise Of The Ancients
Love Letter (Japon Brand Version)
More Buildings For All Creatures Big and Small
Agricola L-Deck Cards (for Me And Dale Yu)
Agricola Belgium Deck
Agricola Pi Deck
Last Will Promo
Tzolkin, The Mayan Calendar
Sheepdogs Of Pendleton Hill
La Loire (swapped for Snowdonia With Emanuelle himself!)
Discworld: Ankh Morpork (Gratis From Julia Wallace - Many Thanks!)
Escape! + Expansion
Uchronia + Promos
Tokaido + Promos
Snowdonia - Italian Edition
Snowdonia - German Edition
Oh, and a Lookout Games 'staff' tee-shirt!
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Home, Sweet Home!
A time to relax, to take a break and review the events of the...
(Tony opens door)
“Two pallets for you” (says driver, putting on gloves)
“Great”, I say, “Do you have a pallet truck to take ‘em to the lock-up in the back garden?”
“I got a truck” says he, “only it won’t work in this gravel”
(one of two)
So much for the lie-in as I spend the next hour, in cool-misty drizzle, taking the pallets apart and sack-trucking the games into the metal box next to my shed; sweat drips from me like Robert Hays in Airplane!
(51 boxes, 306 games - that's all there is left)
First things, first: a review of Sunday:
Another bitty night of sleep – had a couple of distinctly unpleasant nightmares involving bitter confrontations that any amateur psych would put down to obvious anxieties about, well, everything really. Consequently, I saw Sunday morning arise from approx. 0530 until I had to wake Benedict up at 0800.
Because we’d be packing away the stand come 6PM, Benedict and I drove in (taking that naughty u-turn shortcut again) before 9AM and got a nice parking space in P2 (at that time on a Sunday uncluttered by ‘the public’). Ambling passed the Atlantic Congress, we suffered the gloating stares of ‘those eating breakfast in a hotel within farting distance of the Messe’ THEN into the show.
Some of the sights on the way in:
Asmodee's BIG stand at the entrance to Hall 12
Beebs & something Star Wars-flavoured
Run away! Run away!
Today I decided I would actually PLAY Snowdonia rather than just talk-point-smile, which is fun but all that standing around has been murder on my ‘plates’. A 105-95-85 victory in the first followed by a bowel-squeezing 135-67-60 win in a second – I know I’m supposed ‘to let the Wookie win’, but how else can I show people the interactions in the game? *goofy face*
A lunchtime diversion
Sunday was pleasingly-steady day of activity ending in a frenzy of the to-ing and fro-ing of retailer and distributor trolleys that cleared everything away.
Come the ‘everyone bugger off home: the Spiel is over!’ klaxon at 1800HRS, there followed the usual frantic rush to drive in, pack up and get the flip outta there – in a whirlwind of dirty cardboard, empty bottles and re-sealed boxes, we left the Halls behind for another 12 months.
Still damp from the sweat of the take-down, Team S.S.G (with honorary member Carl) bimbled our way down to the Mexican restaurant – a regular haunt for us on the Spiel Sunday evening – for a company-paid-for slap-up supper! Pressing our way around an amateur Salsa class, we all choffed our way through burritos, nachos and fajitas until our bellies were bursting. Benedict got a copy of Escape: The Curse of the Temple from the Alan & Charlie (it’s his birthday on the today), and Carl a bottle of Mead as a ‘thanks for everything’. Back to the Ibis for a final sleep – the place noticeably MUCH emptier now that all the gamers had flown home; it felt a little melancholy.
Monday (the long drive home):
Ugh! What an unholy hour to have to be up given how we just spent the last 5 days! Carl taxi-ed over from Martinstrasse to make my exit from the City a little easier (I have gotten quite lost in recent years) and, as planned, we were on the 40 to Duisberg before you could spell Haupbahnhoff! The drive through Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France is long, flat, straight and VERY boring; Carl and I went through a complete autopsy of the Spiel while Benedict watched Studio Ghibli movies on my (old) iPod. Stopping frequently to buy energy drinks, souvenir choccy biccies and take comfort breaks didn't hamper our overall progress: we arrived at Dunkerque a good 75 minutes before the due sailing. We spotted Mr Richard Breese, Tony and Gavin Cubiko during embarkation and, with the ferry sleepily-warm, we partook of a quick Escape! then onto a more sedate couple of Fundstuckes. We drifted into the UK - half-awake and hazy - to greet the usual parade of miserable, sour-faced Borders Agency staff and Customs Officials.
Tuesday (the day after)
No chance to be lazy: Mrs B had to fetch eldest son from a school trip to Paris at 0500 (!) and the younger boys (Benedict and Arthur) would be up around 0700 because, well, that's what children do. Even my first cup of tea of the day was interrupted...
(Tony opens door)
“Two pallets for you” (says driver, putting on gloves)
...and we're back where we started.
After all of the noise and pain and anxiety and exhaustion, Essen 2012 for Surprised Stare Games has boiled down to this simple statement: on Wednesday 17th October we received 1050 copies of Snowdonia and on Sunday 21st October NONE of them came home with us.
When I finally recover from feeling so tired, I can enjoy feeling really REALLY REALLY happy!
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Ow! Ow! Ow! My feet ACHE, they THROB...the bloody well hurt!
Saturday at the Messe is a mad affair with the main Halls (10,11,12) soaking up insane quantities of people. Rumours of Hall 7 being closed down (the Hall next to us in 4) saw lots of companies moving their wares in the 9AM-10AM 'getting ready' period - including our pals from Chaos Publishing (Miles et famille) - with the luscious 2nd edition of Medieval Mastery - who moved in next door.
We had reorganized the tables to prepare for a couple of pre-booked Snowdonia games - one for a German group who couldn't get demo space on the Lookout stand and one for such Benelux guys whom I recognize from years passed. This is the great thing about Spiel - and the 10 years we've been coming here: those friendly fan-faces who always stop by to see what SSG have been up to next! I do feel, though, that while we have a company goal to be interesting and innovative it may be time to build on the fantastic reception of Snowdonia by settling in to a more conventional groove...what do YOU guys and girls think? The problem with 'being different' is that this seems to be an off-puter for many gamers rather than a 'come hither'.
Oh, I don't know.
Today was a half-day for me and Benedict; demos and sales were steady and we had a lot more people coming up and telling us about their plays in Hotels! This is brilliant because why else did I design the game but for people to enjoy playing it :-) With all the stock checks, finance, anxiety about deliveries and everything its easy to forget that we're fundamentally in this to entertain and divert! Beebs and I mooched (the soles of my feet unable to support anyhting more than a painful shuffle) through Halls 6 and 8 scouting for gifts for the family, through Hall 9 (hi, Felix! and Uchronia pick-up), Halls 10/11 and 12 (Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients? You...are...mine!) and the U11 (Messe Ost) to the Hauptbahnhoff. After a snack, I left Beebs watching Cosmo and Wanda (in Deutsche) as I had a sleep - feeling REALLY bloody knackered! I woke 90 mins later with a massive fuggy headache, so we wandered into the town centre for supper and White Chocolate Mocha.
Back at the Ibis, we met up with Pete and his crew and played LOADS of games of the riotous - and utterly brilliant - Escape: The Curse of the Temple! A frantic, dice-rolling co-op with an Indiana Jones/Temple Run theme that had six of us howling and cheering in equal measure - totally mad and a proper winner!
Early to bed - still seriously-short of the recommended Zeds - and ready for the last day of the Spiel: how the HELL did it come so quickly?
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No photos today on account of having to manage my pockets more carefully - SSG cash in two, 'games get list' in another and wallet/phone in the last. The volume of material is in severe danger of pulling my trousers down to my ankles mid-demo and probably leading to one of those 1970s sit-com confusions...with a vicar...and a border collie...and tea.
After a couple of episodes of Spongebob Schwamkopf and a wilting breakfast, Beebs and I decided to avoid any more 'troubles' with vehicle-navigating from the Ibis to the Messe by taking the U-Bahn instead - a far more civilised method of travelling that misses out rapid sign-reading and tram-peril. Circa 0915 I tried to collect the last few pre-orders (Eclipse: RotA and Uchronia) and was once again greeted with a curt 'come back after 10'...so, given I was let in BEFORE 10 I'm probably NOT a punter but an exhibitor and with the show OPENING at 10, how knob-slappingly available do you think I'm going to be then?
Answer = not available at all.
Michael Fox and I retired at 0930 to the empty stand, adjacent, for a Little Metal Dog Show chitty-chat then it was into the demo fray. Paco from GMS Magazine popped by later for a filmed interview and I also got an invite to a convention in Bologna in January!
Fridays are, traditionally, the bird-doings on the barbecue quiche; after the mad fray of 'geek thursday' comes the ominously-lonley no-eye-contact 'ignoring Friday' - a bewildering combination of people looking fixedly ahead marching to goodness knows where and listening to the demo then walking off without a sale. By lunchtime, I was feeling quite dejected with everything and then along came 2PM; suddenly, Hall 4 seemed to have been injected with exhibition steroids and it was mad-ass busy for the rest of the day. My personal demo script now runs at a lean 2 minutes and one demo followed another followed another followed another! I must've done 30 presentations in 90 minutes - pausing for sips of water or a munch of Kendall Mint Cake: Snowdonia was fair flying out of the Halls!
After a frenzied re-working of the stand layout - ready for tomorrow - myself, Benedict, Carl and pal Pete wandered over to Martinstrasse for supper with Olle and Anders and their mates from Sweden; I met these guys last year and it was a great way to bring a busy day down to a genial close. Benedict was in fine form - confident and jokey, sugared up to the eyeballs and having a whale of a time!
At a rough count we're down to around 60 or so cases of Snowdonia (that's 360 copies) - almost 2/3rds of the Essen stock gone with two days to go...oh, and we're on 'the list' at the Fairplay stand too!
On the flip side: my feet ache like crazy and my nose seems to have grown white hairs that make my nostrils look like Shelob's Lair from The Return of the King!
Tomorrow? More business of the same, an afternoon off (!) and a chance to watch the Spiel LARP-ers beat seven shades of fantasy-themed shit into eachother...good times, good times.
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Not such a good night for sleeping last night – woke at 0430 after a weird dream about some players in a game of Snowdonia with me all ganging up and beating me and swearing and being all aggressive and stuff. Luckily, this wasn’t a Nostradamean foretelling but the probable result of a wonky wonton at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet (the one with the toilet in which I was trapped last year).
Found the right road to the Messe but did so via a slightly-illegal u-turn (luckily unobserved by the Polizei); Benedict and I were able to wander about collecting a few pre-orders before the first proper day of Spiel. When it kicked off at 10AM, boy! did it kick off! I’ve never been so busy for so long EVER at the show – wall-to-wall explanations, box signings and requests for my L-deck card! There was even a shiny orange Lookout Games tee-shirt with Tony on the chest waiting for me! God, I love my hobby!
Benedict was being a star helping to fetch games, sort and give out promo cards and, generally, being a cheerful (and well-behaved) little bud. A few customers reported seeing his ‘antics’ on the BGG video yesterday – I may get to see it in the next few days if the hotel Wi-Fi holds out!
I managed a couple of trips away from the stand for 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there, but mostly I talked railway building up a Welsh mountain and nurtured a gradually building headache. Met up with Swedish game designer Olle and his pals (whom I first met last Essen) and we’ve arranged to meet up for supper tomorrow – such a busy (international) social life one leads! Talking of which, Mr Hiyashi popped back to pick up a copy of ‘the game’ as he has kindly agreed to design a scenario or two based on famous Japanese railways (!).
By 1830 I was done-in; Carl continued his between-meetings Herculean help-task, and we all (SSG-ers and non) mucked in at the close to re-order the Stand, prepare for tomorrow and generally clean up da place.
Tomorrow: hopefully just as busy with an early AM interview (Little Metal Dog Show) and – fingers crossed – half a day off?
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Someone else’s mother told me to always start the day with a hearty breakfast, so this I attempted in the grey Deutsche morning at the Hotel Ibis:
My wobbly, excited tum prevented much of it getting off the plate however – though the ‘pork slice’ did a pretty good job of avoiding mastication on account of it smelling like a pig’s arse*. A chirpy (but brief) chat with the gents from Gryphon Games was followed by a confused Nissan Elgrand tour of the Ibis environs as I tried to find at least ONE sign that mentioned Messe/Gruga. Eventually we stumbled upon one and made it securely to the edge of Hall 4 after the 50 euro deposit handover; the car had only a few bits and pieces, albeit heavy bits and pieces, so I was out again and safely parked in good time.
Benedict and I wandered off for a quick ‘locating everything’ tour because the game hadn’t arrived yet – bumped into Doug & Shelley on the BGG stand, a very tall Klemens Franz on the Lookout stand and a brief chitty-chat with the Lamont Brothers. Upon our return 30 mins later, the first two pallets had arrived – huzzah! Quickly, I set my son to work...
Almost all of the stand was constructed by the venerable (and very strong) Mr Elizabeth Crook (aka Carl), who lifted/stacked/unpacked/arranged and generally ‘did’ – I’ll post up a full panaroma shot tomorrow but, for now, here’s a glimpse:
I got a little tetchy about stand layout right before I had to nip off and do the BGG demo, so I stopped by the Lookout guys (again) to pick up the English language Snowdonia promo cards PLUS my ‘L-Deck’ card(!). My ego was getting rather swollen at this point, so I had to get it down before appearing in front of the live stream - a brisk walk in the drizzling outside sufficed. The demo schedule was a little shot but I finally got to sit with Shelley Garrett and speak my explanatory mind; I forgot to mention final scoring due, partly, to nerves and (partly) to Benedict mugging like a madman to my left – bless ‘im :-) I stopped by the Bezier Games stand for a chinywag with Ted Alspach – both of us enjoying the privilege of working with Lookout Games this year.
As if finally seeing my game in its printed glory (and it IS glory, believe me – it’s wonderful!) wasn’t enough, I got a short visit from a Hisashi and Ryoko Hiyashi who have come over with the Japon Brand crew to promote the excellent Trains (picking up my pre-order copies tomoz!) – they are, of course, the brains behind String Railway and – consequently – indirectly responsible for Paperclip Railways! Such a delightful surprise and an honour!
I might remember more at some point but TBH it’s been a bit of a blur today – bouncing from stand-to-stand, from personality to personality and from emotion to emotion.
God, but I sound like SUCH a lovie!
*go on then: ask the obvious question
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