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Subject: Essen Myths 2007 rss

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Nick Pitman
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So 2007 was my first Essen, and like a good Geek I did plenty of research before I went, reading as many FAQs and guides as possible (as well as compiling a huge list of games to check out).
Below are what I feel are common Myths of Essen. That is to say that in 2007 they were not true, perhaps they have been in the past. I should also point out that I am in no way criticising those who have written the invaluable guides scattered around the internet. These guides are indispensable for the Essen virgin. I just thought this information might be useful for future attendees planning their pre-Essen strategy.

1. Pre-order like mad, the small games sell out fast.
Obviously I did not check out every single game there but there were quite a few 'hot' titles from small publishers I was keeping an eye on. As far as I could see they were all still available on Sunday. About the only games I am aware of selling out are 1960:The Making of the President and Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, both of which were in very limited numbers to begin with. I would preach a little caution with pre-orders. Unless you know that numbers are going to be limited (eg only 50 copies of 1960:MotP) considering playing before you buy. If the game turns out to be less exciting than you expected you have room/cash for something you really did like.

2. Leave before the weekend.
The weekend is so busy it's unbearable - this is the party line. I heard this not only online but from friends who had been before. So we went into the Messe on Saturday wondering if we had made the right choice. We had. I think I played more games on Saturday and Sunday than Thursday and Friday. We got there in time for the doors both days and walked straight onto a table at a big publisher stand (Queen and Ravensburger). Over the weekend we also managed to get tables for Neuroshima Hex, the Japon Brand games and Kingsburg with no wait and Amyitis after about 5-10 minutes. Moving about the halls was fairly painless too, although crowds don’t bother me that much. In fact I got the feeling that at the weekend the halls further from the entrance where the smaller publishers lived were actually quieter. If you are only doing 2 days I suppose Thursday – Friday is still the best. But if you think you can play games for 4 days solid then don’t be put off turning up at the weekend.

3. Everything gets really cheap at the end of the show
OK, so the party line is that the new games from the big publishers get really cheap at the end of the last day. So I held off and held off, scoping out the prices at all the “shop” booths. In the end things didn’t change much. One or two games got a bit of a discount (maybe 4 euros) some time on Saturday or Sunday. And one of the booths took 5% off everything a few hours before the end of the show, although I still got my copy of Amyitis cheaper elsewhere.

So that’s it then. Maybe I got it all wrong, if your experience was different (or the same) let me know. Maybe 2007 was a freak year and 2008 will be back to normal. Hopefully see you there.
 
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Matt Davis
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I wasn't there, but I understand that attendance was down a bit due to some rail strike or something along those lines...maybe that affected the craziness somewhat.
 
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John Mitchell
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By and large, I agree with you.

Also sold out was daVinci's Borneo, FRED Distribution's Knizia book Blazing Aces, and, I heard, English-language copies of a number of games. Also the TtR Swiss Map, which was going up in price as it got scarcer!
 
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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coolpapa wrote:
I wasn't there, but I understand that attendance was down a bit due to some rail strike or something along those lines...maybe that affected the craziness somewhat.

Indeed. And the same strike almost made me miss my plane home on Monday morning. On the plus side, it did make the convention walkable during the weekend.
 
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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Another myth that got busted for me is the "terrible smoking" amongst Essen attendees. It really wasn't bad. Sure, some people do smoke, but they tend to congregate towards the ashtrays that are set up in the middle of some alleys. Plus, I didn't see one cigarette butt on the ground. Way to go!
 
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Melissa
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:takes notes:

Great advice. Thankyou!
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Michelle Zentis
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I hope you had fun! I'm going to do these in the order in which I agree with you, not in the order you listed them.

I've been to Essen twice, and I'd definitely agree with you on #2. Thursday is when the die-hard gamers show up, so it seemed that Thursday was the hardest day to get around, especially near the booths way in the back selling older games (since people are scoping out the grails). Over the weekend things get really packed in the first couple of halls with the families checking out the big-name companies, but in the back it's actually a bit more mellow.

#3 I think is more true for the second-hand game sellers than for the big publishers. I haven't been able to stay until late afternoon on Sunday either time, but I heard from friends that they got some pretty sweet deals (including something like 20% off McMulti) in the last couple of hours. My guess is that the second-hand game booths are manned by the owner plus one or two helpers, so the person with the authority to make decisions on discounts is also the person who will have to pack up all the unsold games and load them back on the truck.

#1 I have mixed feelings about pre-orders. On the one hand, you get:

- guaranteed availability (though some companies have early deadlines for game pickup, after which you lose your reservation)
- discounts or special bonuses from some publishers

On the other hand, you risk getting stuck with a dud that you could have avoided if you had tried before you bought. The best thing, as you suggest, is to do as much research as possible and only pre-order the very limited releases that interest you. If worse comes to worst and you've pre-ordered a game that leaves you totally cold when it's demoed, you can also talk with the people about cancelling your pre-order. Please note that I'm not advocating doing mass pre-orders and then cancelling them just because you're too lazy to do the research. For the smaller companies, each game sold is a big deal, and they count on those pre-orders to make ends meet, so the game would have to be really awful (EDIT: and either moderately expensive or really heavy) for me to feel justified doing this. Technically you wouldn't even have to tell the demo people that you've pre-ordered, but deciding to bail on a pre-order without letting the publisher know is really bad form. At least if you're honest about it, then they're not losing out on a potential sale if all their open stock is sold out.
 
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Karl
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Myth 1 is in my limited experience generally not true. Usually there are 2-3 games that are very limited and that you can practically only get by preordering and maybe by being there on the first day.
The annual Fragor game is usually one of those.
The currently hot (and not released) Fantasy Flight game is another one (because they only have like 30 boxes total at the fair).
The Age of Steam board of the year is another good candidate.
But basically you know the usual suspects. Its highly unlikely that a new game will need to be preordered.

Myth 2 depends on your problem with too many people. Some guys I know would find even Friday already unbearable. I'd say it is mostly true however. One note: This year IMHO was extremely empty for an Essen weekend. We were actually shocked by the emtyness at see Sunday morning. At least for the first 2 hours or so. There have definitely been busier years for me.

Myth 3 is true, but its working the way you experienced it. The discounts start late and aren't spectacular. There might be one or two exceptions, but its not like there are mass discounts all over the place.
 
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Sven
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kilrah wrote:
The currently hot (and not released) Fantasy Flight game is another one (because they only have like 30 boxes total at the fair).


But they don´t take pre-orders anyways, as fas as I know. These are sold on "first come, first serve"-basis.
 
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Nick Pitman
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Tycho wrote:
By and large, I agree with you.

Also sold out was daVinci's Borneo, FRED Distribution's Knizia book Blazing Aces, and, I heard, English-language copies of a number of games. Also the TtR Swiss Map, which was going up in price as it got scarcer!



I forgot about Borneo, although I am pretty sure it didn't sell out until Saturday.

Also you point about English versions of games is fair. Some of these were selling out on Sunday.

 
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