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Subject: After the SPIEL is before the SPIEL, Part 2 - Essen 2015 rss

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Martina Frohme
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After the SPIEL is before the SPIEL – Day #2: Burn, baby, burn-!

We had a plan. We had a list. We had something called self-control. We had a budget. We are burning through the latter at the speed of a bush fire...

We do not know it yet, but it is going to be a highly eventful and exciting Friday day for our boardgame guild Dice & Mystics (Check us out on BoardGameGeek) at the SPIEL. We gather more pre-ordered stuff and more goodies… plus a few games that had not been on the list but were too enticing to be left behind.

We aim for a chance at trying T.I.M.E. Stories ( Time Stories ) again, with the same negative result; to cut a long-time story short, we do not make it during the SPIEL. Well, you cannot have all you want, right? We will get us T.I.M.E. Stories anyway, eventually. The 7th Continent ( The 7th Continent ) – currently on kickstarter - is also full up, again. Our Belgian member and I get us one of the cool T-shirts each for consolation, and the signatures of both the game creator and the artist who are both present. We would also still like to play the new Conan board game ( Conan ) on one of these cool 3D settings, but despite our rush from the south entrance to the Asmodee both in just 2 seconds – alright, maybe 2 and a half – we are too late. So we continue our new daily tour through all the halls from there and tick more titles off our list.

Another load has been brought to the boot of our car:

Shakespeare
Spirits of the Rice Paddy
Sheriff of Nottingham: Gambler's Risk
The Bloody Inn

Meanwhile we receive a cry of our Frankfurt member via his mobile: “Eric Lang! Eric Lang! Eric Lang!” We - currently in Hall 3 - teleport straight back to Asmodee! Eric Lang, his signing being on for 11 o’clock sharp, is already there and at it; later we see him do some considerable overtime, too. (Mr Lang is going to do the same on Saturday and Sunday.) There are large beautiful cards with the great artwork from Blood Rage available for free which he signs, many visitors have got their own rule books of the game handy. So have we, but some of us also brought a kickstarter exclusive art book with them for just the occasion.

There is politeness, and there is what the German poet Goethe called “a kindness of the heart”. Eric M. Lang is endowed with a lot of the first and even more of the latter. We cannot believe how fast the queue is moving. But at the same time everybody who gets to the front and has the pleasure of shaking Mr. Lang’s hand and talking to him while he signs the cards and rule books seems to have all the time in the world. It’s a kind of magic. He actually enjoys meeting all these fans, looks all of them in the eye and takes them in, finds something personal to say and readily poses for pictures. He even gets somebody to take the photos for us with our mobiles and cameras so that we can be in the picture together with him, and not only allows more than one shot to be taken but comes up with funny ideas of his own and wants two or three or four different ones, just to make us all happy.



We have the choice between a black, silver or gold coloured pen. Every single person goes for gold. Mr. Lang shrugs amusedly, after a while the other pens are put aside. When he sees my book he grins broadly: “You do know I’ not Adrian Smith, right?” “Of course”, I grin back, “but I love the game and the box was way too big to lug it along…” He asks my name and while he signs my art book we talk about his middle name “Martin” and how therefore we share a patron saint. He writes “Sköl!” and also draws me a little Viking’s head with a horned helmet, winking “It’s just to show I’m a better artist than Adria Smith…!” I tell him that for me, personally, Blood Rage is a game of a decade, already a classic from the start, and how much our guild enjoy playing it. When he hears that one of us could not come to the signing because he is at work he grabs a card, asks his name and also writes him “In absentia, to arms!” He gets lots of praise from our other Dice & Mystics members for his genius, too, and modestly replies “I hope I can meet your expectations”. We are quite certain of it and looking forward to his future work.

From that moment on, we are blessed.

The 7th Continent still has no free capacities and the game creator Bruno suffers from a sore throat, his voice beginning to fail. There is a constant cold draft at the booth. We can see how much he hates denying people the chance to play, and when we exchange a few words he volunteers to give us a brief introduction into the quick game saving system unique to The 7th Continent and some other basic mechanisms. The “brief introduction” goes on for a highly interesting 20 minutes, aided by some herbal medication we administer to the poor man’s throat, and attracts an audience forming around us.

The 7th Continent promises a unique and rather exciting gaming experience. The mechanism is complex, but once you get the knack of it becomes easy and well manageable, and there are a number of very clever ideas embedded in the gameplay. The saving system is surprisingly simple and he demonstrates that saving and re-setting can, indeed, be done in the blink of an eye. Photos are being taken from third row behind our backs, somebody has started filming. When we – and the voice – are done, there is a hearty round of applause. Another Dice & Mystic, all enthusiasm, goes in on kickstarter with a full pledge right at the booth.

Time for some lunch from our backpacks. The food on sale at the SPIEL is way better than we remember from previous occasions, but still not as excellent as Tom Vasel claims. For the moment we make do with our own provisions.



The main problem is that more likely than not have to eat standing up in some corner or on the side of a passage between Halls, because the only seats available are in the foyer and at the restaurant in Hall 3 and the capacity is ridiculously small considering the number of visitors. On days 1 and 2 we are luckless, and we do not want to split up our group or waste any of our precious time queueing for Schnitzel, chips or filled rolls, even if, apparently, they are really quite nice. (Mr Vasel may have a point after all.) Others are also squatting on the floor, munching their own sandwiches. Those are brief moments of feeling homeless in a strange environment. They pass quickly.

We hurry up to collect our signed and personalized copy of Celestia:

Celestia

The game is, apparently, selling very well. We very nearly get a regular unsigned copy by accident, but thanks to Conan our senses are still sharp enough to react. The shrink wrapped box gets exchanged by another, and when the lid comes off to give us proof that this, now, is the real thing, we swoon. I feel I need to sit down and stabilise myself against the counter. We got ourselves a piece of art together with the box: Inside the lid there is a truly enchanting original signed drawing:



This is it, now, I think. Our day has been made. How good can it get?
When at the end of a wonderful day Dice & Mystics arrive at the diner for another “eat and greet” with all our friends we decide we will have something lighter today, because we feel satiated with all the goodness we experienced at the SPIEL that day.


Edit: typo
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Alexander Urbanek
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Woohooo! Eric Lang: It was a pleasure and a honor to meet him.

This fair was packed full with sights, experiences and great people interested in our hobby.

Thank you so much for sharing your report with us!
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Betty Finke
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Thanks for another great report. This almost makes me wish I could have gone on Friday, too - maybe next year!
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Alexander Urbanek
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Yeah. We need more agile elves to open the way for our tanks when we are breaking through the ranks of the...
One moment, is this not the annual meeting of Overlord trainees?
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Martina Frohme
Germany
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We can still hear you, Major Tom. Thank you.
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No, the annual meeting of real life SPIEL dungeon crawlers, more like...
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