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Essen, behind the scene, part 2

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Day 1 – Thursday, 11:00 AM. Frank.
I have a demo game of Robinson scheduled with Frank Kulkmann. For those of you who may not know it – Frank is one of the most famous and respected German reviewers. He runs an amazing website at and year after year he reviews tens of games that are released in Essen. His Essen reports are extremely popular in Germany. During this 4 days of Essen Trade Shows he plays tens of games and reviews them right during fair.

How is it possible?

Frank reads rulebooks before the fairs. He doesn't waste time for publisher to explain him the game. He just sits and plays. He's prepared. He's a professional.

So, Frank comes to our stand. He sits to Robinson with two other gamers who were also interested in testing Robinson and... starts to explain them the rules. Just like that, he sits and he teaches them how to play. I try to help, but Frank says that he can handle it. I go to the second table to present Robinson.

Yes, Frank is a pro.

Day 1 – Thursday, 01:00 PM, Tables, tables!
We have two tables to play Robinson, 8 people at one moment can play the game. Is it enough? OK, try to guess. We are under a storm of gamers. I made a huge buzz and now I am in trouble – we are crowded with gamers who want to test Robinson.

We need to react. We need to redesign our stand. We move tables, we take one table from Rebel, we put it all in new order. Now we have two tables to play and one table to explain the game - short explanation just to give a glimpse of the game. From the moment we make it available, till the very end of Essen fair it is crowded with people. We talk about Robinson all the time.

Three people are assigned to this table. It'a a very exhausting work, you have to talk all the time, you have to talk loud because of the noise all around, you have to repeat the same monologue time and time again. We take turns every 30 minutes. It's tough.

Day 1 – Thursday, 06:32 PM. BGG BUZZ
I receive a SMS from a friend from Poland. You are on the 7th place in BGG Buzz ranking. Woow. We were so busy, I forgot about it. I forgot that BGG is making this poll to check which game is the most popular. Our hall and our booth is far away from BGG booth. I am so happy that despite of that some players went there and voted for us.

I am very tired after 9 hours of explaining Robinson. However, this BUZZ news gives me new adrenaline boost. I am happy that people like Robinson.

Day 1 – Thursday, 09:00 PM. Hotel tournament
Before Essen my wife Merry scheduled a little tournament with gamers from Hungary: Gabor and Krisztina. Gabor states that he managed to have 128 points playing Winter (he is one of our testers and had Winter many months before its release in Essen). My Merry couldn't believe it. She said she will meeet him in Essen and kick his ass.


Merry convinced our friend from Gdansk, Hubert, to join the game. Two players from Poland, two players from Hungary. They were waiting for that for a few weeks arguing on FB chat who will win.

So they meet in the hotel. They sit at the table, ready to show who is best 51st State player in Europe. Ready to rock. I smile. I ask them: 'BTW, anyone has 51st State with him?'

They look at each other. I start to laugh. No one has the game. Brilliant.

Day 2 – Friday, 09:00 AM. Fluency
It's the second day of the fairs. We no longer have problems with English, our demo games and presentations are smooth and fluent. Number of players wanting to test Robinson is ridiculous. We decide that we have to shorten the demo games. We ask players to finish after 4th round of the game. They understand. They see queue of other players wanting to test the game. We were afraid how players will react when we ask them to stop after the 4th round but players act awesome. They understand the situation. They test the game, and then they make space for other gamers. Geeks play fair. Respect for all of you!

Day 2 – Friday, 01:00 PM. Interviews
During Essen many people want to do make an interview with me, want me to talk about Robinson. They don't know it is a risky business to talk with me about Robinson. For Friday I have scheduled interview with Paco from G*M*S Magazine. Paco asks me about Robinson so yes, I talk about Robinson. And you know, when I talk about Robinson this is like 'Fatality' in Mortal Kombat series. You can't defend. You can't resist. You are unprotected.

Paco didn't know that. This lesson costs him 45 euro. We finish the interview and then he buys Robinson. 24 hours earlier the same mistake was made by John Knoerzer from BGG crew. He sat with me when I was presenting Robinson on BGG live. He shouldn't let me talk about Robinson... Yeah, 45 euro from his pocket to mine...

Never, ever let me talk about my games.

To be continued...
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