Thematic Solitaires for the Spare Time Challenged

A blog about solitaire games and how to design them. I'm your host, Morten, co-designer of solo modes for games such as Scythe, Gaia Project and Viticulture.
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Essen SPIEL 2019 is over – sign me up for 2020

Morten Monrad Pedersen
Denmark
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After three days at SPIEL in Essen I’m on my way home. While I got to meet all the people whose location I knew and I bought the games I wanted, I’m regretting that I didn’t have all four days this year.

From gallery of mortenmdk

The day before it starts.


The pandemonium

As always Essen was a pandemonium of huge halls, huge crowds, and colorful booths with tons of new games. At one point I was going to a meeting at one end of Messe Essen and started out from the other end 14 or 15 minutes before the meeting. I thought that I had more than enough time particularly since I know outside areas where you can go to get around the crowds on parts of the way, but I arrived at the exact minute. It was Saturday, though, which is the most crowded by a significant margin.

From gallery of mortenmdk
From gallery of mortenmdk

The crowds of Essen 2019 on Saturday. In both cases the photo is taken from the end of the crowd where there are the least people.


As an introvert it can be quite overwhelming, but after a total of 12 Essen days over 4 years, not only is my ability to cope with the pandemonium getting better, my nervousness about walking up to strangers and thanking them for demoing or buying one of our games is also going away.

From gallery of mortenmdk

Step counter from my phone for the days I were away. Yes, there’s a lot of walking to be done there – and if not for all the meetings those numbers would have been much higher.


From gallery of mortenmdk
From gallery of mortenmdk

At the top marketing for Last Bastion. I’m not sure which game (if any) the guy at the bottom was advertising.


The loot

I kept my number of purchases very low this year:
From gallery of mortenmdk
From gallery of mortenmdk

My Essen 2019 loot on the left compared to my Essen 2016 loot on the right. I also got Terra Mystica: Die Händler (Merchants of the Sea) from Feuerland because we’re working on an Automa for Terra Mystica and the mammoth Western Empires from my friends and business partners at 999 Games – the latter is a mammoth that weighs in at about 5 kg.
Getting Die Händler and Western Empires on the last day turned my easy packing into a game of board game box Tetris.
My son is currently very into LARP and particularly fighting with LARP weapons, so given what’s in the logo of Scythe, I couldn’t not buy that scythe (well, sickle but let’s not go there).


Better than the loot were...
From gallery of mortenmdk

... these treasures. Thank you to Nick Shaw, Orlando Sá, and Shadi Torbey for signing the rulebooks of your games.


The people

The best part of it all was meeting people whether friends, fellow 1P guilders, or business contacts. Each year the number of people I know there increases – I hope that trend continues next year.

Here’s a list of those on the non-business side I talked to (leaving out those whose usernames I don’t know):
A.J. Porfirio
United States
Thompsons Station
Tennessee
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David Turczi
Netherlands
Leiden
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Elizabeth Hargrave
United States
Silver Spring
MD
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Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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Lee Broderick
United Kingdom
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Lines J. Hutter
Germany
Munich
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level II - If I have seen further, it's only by standing on the apex of other's dice.Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level V - My God! It's Full of Stars!Microbadge: The Geek Citizenship Recognition Program Rolls On!
Mikolaj Laczynski
Poland
Warsaw
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Nick Shaw
United Kingdom
Plymouth
Devon
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Microbadge: ("In Soviet Russia, Table Flips you!")Microbadge: Rahdo Runs Through 2019 Super Fan!Microbadge: The Dice Tower fanMicrobadge: Blue Peg Pink Peg - Pegs LogoMicrobadge: Rome & Roll fan

Orlando Sá
Belgium
Brussels - Belgium
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Microbadge: Porto fanMicrobadge: Parent of a Boy and a GirlMicrobadge: I am Portuguese!Microbadge: Sporting Clube de Portugal fanMicrobadge: San Francisco Giants fan
Jeppe Norsker
Denmark
Copenhagen S
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Roger BW
United Kingdom
High Wycombe
Buckinghamshire
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level V - My God! It's Full of Stars!Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: I print my own components.Microbadge: QUILTBAG allyMicrobadge: Black Lives Matter

Shadi Torbey
Belgium
Bruxelles
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The geek-out moment of my trip was a one-and-a-half-hour cup of coffee with my favorite game designer, Shadi Torbey. Not only are three of his games, numbers 2, 4, and 7 on my top solo games list they’re also some of the best help I have when depression rears its ugly head. So, as you might imagine meeting him was special to me and as it turns out he’s a super nice guy.

Finally, if you’re reading this Scott Allen Csysz, I went looking for you at the Word Forge Games booth – maybe you’ll be there next year?

From gallery of mortenmdk

Patchwork Automa challenge host Bram Kok with half of Team Automa. Left to right Nick Shaw, Bram Kok, Lines Hutter, Lieve Teugels, and the guy looking stupid with his eyes closed is yours truly. The photo is yet another piece of evidence that it’s impossible to have five people in the same photo without at least one closing their eyes or making an unintentional grimace .


Hope to see you at SPIEL 2020.







Oh, I forgot to say that I got Belgian chocolate from Lieve, which obviously beats everything else mentioned above. I mean, it’s chocolate, right? Unfortunately, I can’t take a photo of it, since it’s already eaten.
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