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Subject: They didn't let me play it in Essen :-( rss

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Robert
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On Friday, on my third attempt or so, a friend and I finally found the Sands of Time table empty (they supposedly take no reservations), and the friendly booth people told me the explain guy would return from his break soon. Upon his return, he made several attempts to scare us away.

First it was "this game is very complex and I'd need 30 minutes to explain it" - yes, so what, that's the type of game I play and why I'm here.

Second the explain guy said "I have promised a guy and his friends to play the game with them now" (remember: the booth supposedly didn't allow reservations) - so that guy arrives, I ask him how many friends he's bringing, and he says it's just one more player. Great, I say, so we're four players, i.e. no problem.

Then the third "argument" from the explain guy came up: "I want to play it myself". As we know, this game is for up to five players, so that shouldn't have been a problem either, but it seems he only brought material for four players. So at last, he managed to chase us away.

A very dissatisfying experience - why set up a table on a fair if the explain person would rather play himself instead of explaining it to potential customers? I hope others had more luck and will share their insights.
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Mark Gilbertson
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DocCool wrote:
On Friday, on my third attempt or so, a friend and I finally found the Sands of Time table empty (they supposedly take no reservations), and the friendly booth people told me the explain guy would return from his break soon. Upon his return, he made several attempts to scare us away.

First it was "this game is very complex and I'd need 30 minutes to explain it" - yes, so what, that's the type of game I play and why I'm here.

Second the explain guy said "I have promised a guy and his friends to play the game with them now" (remember: the booth supposedly didn't allow reservations) - so that guy arrives, I ask him how many friends he's bringing, and he says it's just one more player. Great, I say, so we're four players, i.e. no problem.

Then the third "argument" from the explain guy came up: "I want to play it myself". As we know, this game is for up to five players, so that shouldn't have been a problem either, but it seems he only brought material for four players. So at last, he managed to chase us away.

A very dissatisfying experience - why set up a table on a fair if the explain person would rather play himself instead of explaining it to potential customers? I hope others had more luck and will share their insights.

Dear Friend,

The only reason "customer service" anywhere continues to be as bad as you describe at that Essen table is because "good people do nothing".

Thanks for being "good people" by sharing your experience. Hopefully you shared it with "... the friendly booth people" there too. If such
behavior has a reasonable explanation I quickly 'forgive and forget' (EVERYONE has a bad day every now and then!). If the person who
was chosen to represent ANY company that wishes to take my money is NOT right for the job, I spend my money elsewhere. Dollars and
Deutsche Marks are votes that must be earned before they're cast, or nothing changes, nothing "good" comes of it...
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Shameful

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Do you now the name of the guy? You should contact Spielworxx and talk to Uli Blennemann because if it happened that way it was IMO not correct and nothing Spielworxx would/should have/support.

Another step into the 'I don't like them anymore and therefore I don't support them anymore' direction... shake
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d0gb0t wrote:
Do you now the name of the guy? You should contact Spielworxx and talk to Uli Blennemann because if it happened that way it was IMO not correct and nothing Spielworxx would/should have/support.


I had a similar experience at a recent StL area convention. There was a crew exclusively running scheduled Stonemaier Games. They were present Friday but Saturday bailed on their remaining scheduled games for the weekend. They did not communicate with the Gaming chairperson and left several registered players unfulfilled.

I contacted Jamey to give him feedback on the representation of Stonemaier Games at this con. Jamey was dismissive of the incident and claimed they were volunteers and not staff of his company. Completely missed the purpose of my message and dodged any association with the volunteers activities.
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Interesting. I also had quite a strange experience at their demo table. I was quite excited to see that it was empty and sat down, then the demo guy came and asked whether I am sure that I want to sit at this very game or whether I just took the first available board game I could find. I told him I would be interested in this game in particular, then he kept asking whether I had played more complex games already. I was a bit surprised, answered yes, and then he asked: "What kind of complexity? Like Catan? Risk? Monopoly?" Even then, when I told him that no, I know more complex games, I want to see this one here, and it would be great if you could explain it to me, he kept on insisting that I tell him what games I like. There were others (strangers to me) at the table, and I thought it was completely silly to tell him the name of a complex game and also the situation was a bit too much for me so that I could not think of any answer. He also told us we could only listen to the rules, not play, because it would be nearly impossible for new players to play it.

Probably my strangest experience at Essen. The game looked really good though and I got a bit of an idea from the explanation (I really stayed for it!). I really hope to play this some time soon!
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Ingo Griebsch
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Me again,

I know it's easy to say if not in the current situation but why did you not asked for the staff of the company?

For me it sounds a bit like a little boy wanted to show you his muscles. And IMO someone needs to tell him that he is wrong...
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Jeff Warrender
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I'm very sorry to hear the rules explainer was keeping people away from the game. I wasn't at Essen and don't know the specifics of how the booth was run, but I nevertheless feel bad that people who wanted to play weren't given a chance. What I mostly want to say, though, is that I'm perplexed that the rules explainer gave the impression that the game is so intimidatingly complex that it shouldn't even be attempted by mere mortals. I can teach the game in fifteen minutes. It's not that bad.

Of course, the game has a fair number of rules. It's built to allow players to create a wide range of civs, and so consequently there are a lot of things you can do -- build, migrate, fight, advance, build trade routes, institute reforms, and more. And of course each of these actions has a couple of rules that govern how it works. But they all fall into a similar framework and so, if the actions are explained in the right order, there's quite a straightforward logical flow to it.

It's a new game and I'm not surprised that they weren't able to have an expert rules explainer on hand, as there simply may not be many such people yet! But the idea that the person running demos was trying to scare people off the game is disheartening. I really think that people who are accustomed to heavy games -- i.e. Spielworxx's usual fare -- will feel quite at home here. And of course I'll be keeping a close eye on the rules forum here to answer questions that come up, and am also maintaining an official/authoritative FAQ to help with this also.
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Mark Gilbertson
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jwarrend wrote:
I'm very sorry to hear the rules explainer was keeping people away from the game. I wasn't at Essen and don't know the specifics of how the booth was run, but I nevertheless feel bad that people who wanted to play weren't given a chance. What I mostly want to say, though, is that I'm perplexed that the rules explainer gave the impression that the game is so intimidatingly complex that it shouldn't even be attempted by mere mortals. I can teach the game in fifteen minutes. It's not that bad.

Of course, the game has a fair number of rules. It's built to allow players to create a wide range of civs, and so consequently there are a lot of things you can do -- build, migrate, fight, advance, build trade routes, institute reforms, and more. And of course each of these actions has a couple of rules that govern how it works. But they all fall into a similar framework and so, if the actions are explained in the right order, there's quite a straightforward logical flow to it.

It's a new game and I'm not surprised that they weren't able to have an expert rules explainer in hand, as there simply may not be many such people yet! But the idea that they were trying to scare people off the game is disheartening. I really think that people who are accustomed to heavy games -- I.e. Soielworxx's usual fare -- will feel quite at home here. And of course I'll be keeping a close eye on the rules forum here to answer questions that come up, and am also maintaining an official/authoritative FAQ to help with this also.

Thank you Jeff,

I'm very interested in your game and look forward to learning a lot more about it here soon!

Take care,
Mark G.
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charrm wrote:
Interesting. I also had quite a strange experience at their demo table. I was quite excited to see that it was empty and sat down, then the demo guy came and asked whether I am sure that I want to sit at this very game or whether I just took the first available board game I could find. I told him I would be interested in this game in particular, then he kept asking whether I had played more complex games already. I was a bit surprised, answered yes, and then he asked: "What kind of complexity? Like Catan? Risk? Monopoly?" Even then, when I told him that no, I know more complex games, I want to see this one here, and it would be great if you could explain it to me, he kept on insisting that I tell him what games I like. There were others (strangers to me) at the table, and I thought it was completely silly to tell him the name of a complex game and also the situation was a bit too much for me so that I could not think of any answer. He also told us we could only listen to the rules, not play, because it would be nearly impossible for new players to play it.


Wow! That's crazy, his purpose there to demo a game not ask for "gamer credentials"...
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charrm wrote:
Interesting. I also had quite a strange experience at their demo table. I was quite excited to see that it was empty and sat down, then the demo guy came and asked whether I am sure that I want to sit at this very game or whether I just took the first available board game I could find. I told him I would be interested in this game in particular, then he kept asking whether I had played more complex games already. I was a bit surprised, answered yes, and then he asked: "What kind of complexity? Like Catan? Risk? Monopoly?" Even then, when I told him that no, I know more complex games, I want to see this one here, and it would be great if you could explain it to me, he kept on insisting that I tell him what games I like. There were others (strangers to me) at the table, and I thought it was completely silly to tell him the name of a complex game and also the situation was a bit too much for me so that I could not think of any answer. He also told us we could only listen to the rules, not play, because it would be nearly impossible for new players to play it.

Probably my strangest experience at Essen. The game looked really good though and I got a bit of an idea from the explanation (I really stayed for it!). I really hope to play this some time soon!


The more I hear about this guy the more astounded I am. I sure hope it wasn't Uli himself behaving this way.
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Uli Blennemann
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I´m very sorry that you had a bad experience.

The supporter is a great guy.
Note: Things can happen at Essen, in this loud and stressful environment - noone is running at 100 % all the time.

Again, my apologies.
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Robert
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Thanks Jeff for chiming in! While waiting for the explain guy, I leafed through the rules and felt that I could teach the game to myself from the rules in an hour or so, but obviously hoped that I'd save time and effort by somebody with prior knowledge explaining it to me.

Regarding charrm's experience of being quizzed about complex games: in my encounter when the explain guy made his first scare-away attempt via "this game is probably too complex for you", I showed him my bag with my freshly acquired Gaia Project and expansions for Terraforming Mars, so I guess that saved me from the "prove me that you're worthy of this game" inquisition.
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Uli Blennemann wrote:
I´m very sorry that you had a bad experience.

The supporter is a great guy.
Note: Things can happen at Essen, in this loud and stressful environment - noone is running at 100 % all the time.

Again, my apologies.


The experience was not really bad for me, just strange. I can see why he would not want to explain the game to somebody not really into complex games - that would just be a waste of time for everybody involved. He just inquired a little long and wanted me to name complex games which I just couldn't so spontaneously and it turned into a weird situation.

As I said, he explained the game in the end and he was nice about it and the explanation was good (albeit a little slow, but that was better than too fast).
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A bad experience for me too;

A friend and I visited the stand on Friday afternoon and found a table where the prototype for SoT was laid out. There was a guy in blue Green (Edit: I am told it wasn't blue by the friend with me) demonstrator t-shirt talking to a German couple by the table but no one was playing so we slid in and started to have a look at what was there. To be blunt this 'demo' copy looked like it had been a rushed job on a very cheap inkjet printer. It had been scattered over a small table with cards and counters in an untidy heap and first impressions were that it looked a bit of a mess. The 'board' consisted of sheets of A4 paper which had been partially stuck onto thin card and the joins were unstuck and gaping. Ditto the counters which were on roughly cut card and the cards were paper copies in sleeves. They did have some wooden cubes etc though.

We spent 5 mins shuffling through the bits but the guy was still talking to the German couple and seemed to be very deliberately not making eye contact with us. My German is non existent but it was clear that they weren't talking about the game but having a friendly chat. We just stood there looking at the demo guy and the couple kept glancing over to us and eventually seemed to get quite embarrassed and were gesturing towards us and making moves to shake hands and wave cheerio. The demo guy seemed to want none of this and just carried on completely blanking us. After about ten minutes they did peel off and he turned to us as if we had just arrived. He spoke good English so we asked for an overview.

He talked about the turns and when generations end and the unrest situation but gave little information about what happened on the board or what happens with the cards so we had to ask question after question to draw the information out and at this point it was clear that he really didn't want to run any sort of demo at all.

I said I was disappointed that the game had just missed the Spiel and when could we expect to get it. He did a shrug and said 'I don't know, maybe December or January'. I was stunned and said that all the reports were that it had only just missed the show so obviously the game wasn't anywhere near finished. Another shrug.

I asked a question about the rule book and he dug out another bunch of stapled inkjet printed papers and flicked through. He turned to a page and pointed at a gap, 'Ah we haven't actually covered that bit yet so it's not in the rules'.

I asked about price, another shrug, 'Don't know yet, it's a bit like Arkwright so I guess the same price as Arkwright.'

At this point I was beyond depressed. From my point of view it would have been better not to have seen anything at all so we got up to leave and a man standing behind me went to take my seat and asked if he could play one round. The demo guy just cut him dead, 'No I'm not doing any demos, I'm just answering questions'.

IMHO it seemed like the demo guy did not want to be there but judging by the evidence at the show, the game was never going to be ready to sell there and is no where near finished. They didn't even have a half decent factory prototype to show. To be blunt what was on offer and the minimal effort allocated on the stand left a pretty poor impression. At least it did for us.
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Robert
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My (not-)explain guy on Friday afternoon (about 4:05 pm) was a big bald-ish guy in a green t-shirt and blue jeans, whereas most (all?) of the other the booth staff had indeed blue t-shirts, so yours must have been a different one than mine.
 
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I am sorry to say that I had a bad experience with the demo as well

The explainer seemed very disinterested and was explaining the rules very... very slowly and in an illogical order. I've also noticed the low quality of the prototype. We weren't even looking for a demo game, just an overview, and it was pretty painful.

This whole thing made me less excited about the game. Here are a few pics for anyone interested:




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DocCool wrote:
On Friday, on my third attempt or so, a friend and I finally found the Sands of Time table empty (they supposedly take no reservations), and the friendly booth people told me the explain guy would return from his break soon. Upon his return, he made several attempts to scare us away.

First it was "this game is very complex and I'd need 30 minutes to explain it" - yes, so what, that's the type of game I play and why I'm here.

Second the explain guy said "I have promised a guy and his friends to play the game with them now" (remember: the booth supposedly didn't allow reservations) - so that guy arrives, I ask him how many friends he's bringing, and he says it's just one more player. Great, I say, so we're four players, i.e. no problem.

Then the third "argument" from the explain guy came up: "I want to play it myself". As we know, this game is for up to five players, so that shouldn't have been a problem either, but it seems he only brought material for four players. So at last, he managed to chase us away.

A very dissatisfying experience - why set up a table on a fair if the explain person would rather play himself instead of explaining it to potential customers? I hope others had more luck and will share their insights.


I had a similar experience with A Touch of Evil a few years back at Origins. I was interested in picking it up but after that experience, never played the game, never bought it.
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3EBC wrote:
I am sorry to say that I had a bad experience with the demo as well

The explainer seemed very disinterested and was explaining the rules very... very slowly and in an illogical order. I've also noticed the low quality of the prototype. We weren't even looking for a demo game, just an overview, and it was pretty painful.

This whole thing made me less excited about the game. Here are a few pics for anyone interested:








Yeah, add me to the list of people with a poor experience with this guy.

I realized too late that I'd had a bad demo experience with him last year at the Spiel when he was demoing Star Trek: Ascendancy for Gale Force Nine. It was also a game that was too complex and lengthy to play at the fair.
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I stopped by the table too to look at the game. I wouldn't have even known that it was there except for the fact that I knew what the game board was supposed to look like. There were no banners or signs indicating that this particular game was setup. The demonstrator was keeping his set of rules down by his feet. If I was a dog, perhaps I could have glanced at them. Overall, a poor piece of advertising - if advertising was ever the actual intent.

UGG did a better job displaying their demo versions of Era of Tribes. That one looks interesting...

Even the folks doing the remake of Endeavor were better prepared to deal with the masses...although their inability to actually explain why they are making the changes to the game that they are left something to be desired.
 
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grogers64 wrote:
Even the folks doing the remake of Endeavor were better prepared to deal with the masses...although their inability to actually explain why they are making the changes to the game that they are left something to be desired.


Since the changes will not prevent owners from playing the original Endeavor I'm not at all concerned with rationales one way or another.
 
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Since this last Essen I am wondering about the primary reasons why publishers are demoing games there. It was my 6th or so Essen, and this year there were quite a few booths were booth folk clearly were not interested in demoing their game to the public.
I wonder wether Essen is becoming more about publishers networking, than demoing games to 'the common visitor'. If so, in a few years I won't make the effort anymore to visit.
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I am tempted each year by a friend to go, and each year for the last 5 years, I have been unable to. And I now know why: exactly because I do not see the use of these fairs. If I want to see a game played, I go to youtube. If I want to buy a game, I go online. I cannot see the reason to spend money (which I could spend on games) on travelling to a fair. And the reports above are just appalling.
 
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Kallisto wrote:
I am tempted each year by a friend to go, and each year for the last 5 years, I have been unable to. And I now know why: exactly because I do not see the use of these fairs. If I want to see a game played, I go to youtube. If I want to buy a game, I go online. I cannot see the reason to spend money (which I could spend on games) on travelling to a fair. And the reports above are just appalling.


I've been to Essen a couple of times and this was my only negative experience. If you are looking at it through the economic lens, then definitely don't go. It is not the place to buy cheap games (although there are always many bargains to find) because of the travel costs you have mentioned. You go to Essen because of the experience, to meet the designers, to see what is new, hot, to find some hidden gems, to meet people... it is the yearly pinnacle of boardgames. From that lens, it is very well worth it and a place I will be going back to on a yearly basis.
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3EBC wrote:
Kallisto wrote:
I am tempted each year by a friend to go, and each year for the last 5 years, I have been unable to. And I now know why: exactly because I do not see the use of these fairs. If I want to see a game played, I go to youtube. If I want to buy a game, I go online. I cannot see the reason to spend money (which I could spend on games) on travelling to a fair. And the reports above are just appalling.


I've been to Essen a couple of times and this was my only negative experience. If you are looking at it through the economic lens, then definitely don't go. It is not the place to buy cheap games (although there are always many bargains to find) because of the travel costs you have mentioned. You go to Essen because of the experience, to meet the designers, to see what is new, hot, to find some hidden gems, to meet people... it is the yearly pinnacle of boardgames. From that lens, it is very well worth it and a place I will be going back to on a yearly basis.
What Uros wrote. I've been visiting the Spiel in Essen since last millenium , and 99% of the experiences while getting to know a game are great. Obviously not all games are great, but the people are usually friendly and make an effort to teach you the game etc. Which is why my experience with this game stood out so very negatively for me. If this was a common experience, I'd not have bothered to share it. This was a very bad outlier.

Of course, coming to Germany from Ireland just for a game fair, however great the fair might be, is a time-consuming and expensive thing to do - I'm doubtful that I'd fly to Ireland for a game fair, even if it was the greatest in the world. As it happens, Essen is just a few hours of driving away from me.
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