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Essen, behind the scene, part 3 (final)

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Day 2 – Friday, 03:00 PM. Going green
At some moment of the day our booth is visited by His Green Majesty Friedmann Friese. He buys Robinson. I congratulate Friedmann that Friday finally found his master and we have a good laughter. Then I have this crazy idea - Let's make a photo together! Robinson and Friday!

Friedmann has sense of humor. He immediately agrees. My Merry takes a photo of us. Few days after Essen I upload it on BGG. Immadiatelly we are on #1 place in gallery on BGG. We have a nice souvenir from Essen.

Day 2 – Friday, 06:00 PM. Android Jan
In previous post I mentioned that on Thursday we decided that we need not only tables for play. We also need at least one table to talk about Robinson, to explain it, to present it in a just few words. This was a hardest spot, it was most exhausting part of the job, it was place where work was so hard that we had to take shifts. I mentioned that in a previous post.

Czech Games Editions had a beautiful big demo version of Tzolk'in. Always crowded. Always busy. Since 9:00 AM till 7:00 PM. No break. No single pause. Always crowded.

This demo version of Tzolk'in was managed by one person. One. Just one.

I am not sure if he was a human. I'd rather say he was some kind of android. Terminator. Cyborg.

At the beginning we were working hard and he was working hard. But then, we died (all 3 of us) of exhaustion. He didn't. Czech android.

Some about 4:00 PM it was getting ridiculus. It was his 7th hour of talking about Tzolk'in. Without a damn break.

At about 5:00 PM Merry came to him and give him a chocolate. We were afraid that he will – sooner or later – just faint. He said 'Thanks', but he couldn't eat it. He had to explain Tzolk'in. Without a break.

It was about 6:00 when we spoted that Tzolk'in demo version is empty and Czech android is gone! OK, he died we thought. He was damn good. He worked for 9 hours without a break. Let him rest in peace... Few second later we realised he sits with a group of players at the table and he teaches them how to play Tzolk'in... This was really crazy.

After the fair, on Sunday we came to the guy and congratulated him his work during Essen 2012. His name is Jan Kudela. He is the hardest working demo guy I have ever seen in my life. And man, trust me, I saw a lot. Jan, if you read it, once again I'd like to say: 'You did an awesome work this Essen'

Day 2 – Friday, 09:00 PM. Winter has come
Second evening in the hotel. Hungarians against Poles. 51st State competition. Krisztina and Gabor against Merry and Hubert. I am going to watch and be judge if there are any problems with rules.

They look at me. They want me to play. They don't need judge. They want to play with me.

I am tired. I don't like to play my games. But what the hell, Essen is once in a year. I play.

Krisztina plays well. Gabor plays very well. I play with Merchants and I have difficulty to burn him down and stop him. Other players are either blind either stupid not getting him and kill him. In round third I finally do my best and my peacefull Merchants visit Gabor and start burning. It is at least one turn too late. He is already damn strong.

I am pissed off. I won't let some Hungarian player kick my ass! No way!

60 minutes later it turns out that I will. Gabor is fuckin' good. He kicks my ass. And Merry's, Krisztina's and Hubert's ass too. At the end of the game Gabor has more points than Merry and Hubert together. This is knock out. I am second, but far away from Gabor.

Merry invites Gabor and Krisztina to Poland. They will visit us again. Kicking ass is on the way. I don't think I can defeat that guy...

Day 3 – Saturday, 06:00 PM, Marvin Gaye
I start to sound like Marvin Gaye. For 3 days we were taking all medications we could to protect our throat and voice but now, after 3 days of presenting Robinson on our stand they don't work anymore. Because of that noise in the Essen's halls you have to shout when you present or explain the game.

You can't shout for 3 days in a row without consequences.

Se here they come. The consequences. I sound like Marvin Gaye. I kinda like it. Merry likes it too...

Day 4 – Sunday, 08:00 AM, It will be hard day
Half of our team has to go back to Poland. They were our supporters, but they don't work in Portal, they have their normal jobs and they have to go to work on Monday morning.

There are only 3 of us left on the stand. We are – however – not scared. For many years Sunday was boring day for us. On Sunday halls are always crowded with avarage German families not geeks. Games like Neuroshima Hex, Pret-a-Porter or The New Era never atracted them. On Sunday we were always bored and had nothing to do.

Soon it turns out that Robinson is interesting for German families. We have as much work as every other day. We are crowded. They want to play. They want to listen about the game. The theme is very interesting for them.

And there are only 3 of us. One is selling. One is explaining. One is teaching. No coffea break.

Day 4 – Sunday, different hours, Prototypes

Before Essen I set meetings with different authors for Sunday. I was going to play prototypes and see if there is something interesting out there.

On Sunday I was going to have spare time.

Situation however is different. Our stand is crowded. We are selling Robinson, we are demoing Robinson, we have hands full.

No chance to play prototypes. I have to say big big sorry to authors who had a meeting with me. I have no chance to play. I feel awfull. I feel guilty. In a fact I am guilty. I should feel awfull.

I promise them I will play these prototypes as soon as I am back in Poland.

Day 4 – Sunday, 04:00 PM, Fatality
I am extremely tired. We have no shifts on demo table. Piechu sells, Scorn teaches how to play, I have this demo table. I feel like Czech android – whole day talking again and again...

I have moments of weakness. People come to the table and wait for explanation and I have no strenght to come ther and explain the game. They walk away after looking just on components of the game. I feel guilty. But I am terribly tired.

At some moment another group of three people comes to the table. I take a deep breath. I look at them. And finally I come to the table. I am pissed of on myself and my weakness. I motivate myself in my mind. I promise myself to never ever give up. And I start again: 'Robinson is a cooperative game. You are castaways of deserted island and your goal is to survive. There are 6 different scenarios in the game and I will talk about them later on...'

I do my best. I find every bit, every single piece of passion I have left and I use them.

From among these 3 people that listened me, all 3 decided to buy Robinson. And what is more, one gamer who was just walking by and saw that they are very excited after my presentation and they all buy the game... He decided to buy the game too.

Three people listened. Four Robinson boxes sold.

I am very tired. But I am back in action.

Day 4 – Sunday, 06:00 PM, The End
On 6:00 PM lights dims. Essen 2012 is done. Whistles and applause fills the hall. Every publisher here is extremely tired. Every publisher here is happy that this is the end. This is tradition since few years. Lights dims, and hall burns into whistles and applause.

This is for short moment. Than we have to go to work. Every published here has to clean the stand.

All games not sold have to be packed back into boxes, then on palletes and then on trucks.
All games sold to distributors need to be packed on palletes and moved to their stand.
All furniture, banners, stuff have to be packed into boxes and put on trucks.

I think that if I did a poll right here and ask you how much time we need to do all that stuff, no one would know the right answer. Let me show you...

It's 07:00 PM, you are probably taking shower after great fair. First hour of moving heavy boxes...
It's 08:00 PM, you are probably at home already eating dinner. We are packing games.
It's 09:00 PM, you are tired after fair, but you are very excited and you are unboxing games you bought. We are packing games. Still.
It's 10:00 PM, you checked all games you bought. You search internet for news after Essen. We are packing games. We dream about lunch. We had no time for lunch today.
It's 11:00 PM, you are tired. You go to sleep. We are packing games. It's 15th hour since we left hotel. We dream about anything to eat.
It's 11:30 PM. Yes, we are still there working...

It is hard to believe, but this is really really true – when I reached our car on Essen parking it was exactly 00:01 AM. Very symbolic moment. After these all days of work during fair we needed to find strenght and pack all these boxes of games for another 6 hours. Without a break.

We reached our hotel at 00:40. Would be 00:20 but I was so tired while driving that I got lost in Essen. At 01:00 AM we ate small lunch. At 08:00 AM we drove back to Poland...

That's my friends Essen behind the scenes. I hope you enjoyed this ride...
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