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Subject: My Essen 12 Report, Or: Mein Kamps rss

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William Bussick
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You want to know something? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all.
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Matt Fullenwider
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joined me in going back to Essen this year, my first time in five years (his first). It's always an experience and I'm going to document mine here.

MONDAY

I stayed up late last night packing, and woke up early (5am). We got the United flight to San Francisco, but it ran late, so--even though I allotted enough time for a layover--we ended up having to run for our connection to Frankfurt. I was starving on the flight until we were served beef with mashed potatoes and salad. I had 2 glasses of wine. It helped me get a little bit of sleep. Later on the long flight, we were served ice cream sandwiches and pretzels. Shortly before landing, we also got a croissant and fruit.

TUESDAY

We landed in Frankfurt at 10:45am. We picked up cash at an airport ATM and I got a butter pretzel. The ICE train to Essen took about 2 hours. We got to our hotel room at the Hotel Essener Hof. (I liked this place even better than the Moevenpick the last time I visited.)

First thing we did was go and get convention tickets at the visitor authority. Then (for a sense of symmetry) we got some currywurst at the same place I had my first meal in Essen five years ago. We then walked around downtown Essen. At Toys R Us, I bought Wanzen tanzen and Piraten kapern. Holy crap, there way more Kamps (German bakery chain) here than even Starbucks! We had döner for dinner at the Haupbahnhof (Hbf). On the way out, I grabbed a pastry to go and we called it a night around 7pm. (I did some research until 9.)

WEDNESDAY

We woke at 5. Did some more research. Didn't take long to figure out that Apple's new iOS 6 Map app wouldn't be of any use here. I ended up using the DB Navigator program almost exclusively to get around. We had breakfast downstairs at the hotel at 8.

Went to the Hbf and bought a day pass (we did that the next 3 days too) and went out to see the town. First, we went to Messe Gruga, but it was raining when we got out of the station. We retreated back to the hotel, I got my umbrella, and Matt bought his own at the Hbf (his first!). I stopped and got a couple of treats at Dunkin' Donuts there too. We also made the first of many stops at the Galleria Kaufhof.

Now, prepared with umbrellas in-hand, we headed out to walk the town. (Of course, the rain had stopped and never started again for the duration of the trip!) We walked the down; we used the subway, buses, and streetcars. We found a couple of smaller toy stores, but nothing of real note, as the larger game shops we setting up booths at the convention. We made our way to Zizou Brasserie, a restaurant serving French food. I had beef roulade. They spoke no English there, and when I asked for the "WC" (water closet), the waitress looked at me like I spoke Martian. I then abandoned German and asked for the "restroom", to which she said "Ah!" and ran over to the cash register. I followed and said "restroom, not rechnung" (the bill). She then pointed to some stairs that led to the restroom--whew!

We got back to the hotel afterwards and took a 3-hour break/nap, before heading out again at 8:45pm. We bought a bunch of junk food at a supermarket, came back to the hotel, gorged on the crap, and watched weird German TV (Bernd das Brot was one) and MTV reruns until about 1:30am.

THURSDAY

We woke about 7:30am and had hotel breakfast at 8:30. (We repeated this same drill the next two days.) The show started at 10am, and we met up with
Paul Allwood
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right as we got in. First stop was the Japon Brand booth, where I picked up BraveRats, Love Letter, Master Merchant, and R-Eco Recycle. Then, we walked around and I grabbed Shark Attacks!, Taschkent, Samurai Sword, Jackal & High, a recent issue of Spielbox containing the 7 Wonders: Leaders – Louis, PRRRT..., We Will Wok You, King of Tokyo: Power Up!, Arche Extra Mix 2, Take It or Leave It, Kingdom Builder: Caves, Siberia: The Card Game, Sticheln, Qwixx, Peloponnes: Goat Expansion, and Among the Stars.

We quit the show around 4pm to drop our stuff back at the hotel. We met up with Paul at 5pm and went to Nordsee for a fish dinner. Afterwards, we found games at a couple more local stores, and I bought Piranha Pedro, along with some toys and treats for my daughter. We headed back to the room to BS and punch cardboard until we called it a night around 11pm.

FRIDAY

At the show this day, I picked up Kosmonauts, Goblins, Inc., Last Will: Messenger Promo Card, Last Will: Plan Order Board, Saint Malo, used copies of Flowerpower (a real find!) and Formel Fun, Air King, Food Chain, Construction Zone, Central Market, and Infarkt. We then stopped at the hotel to empty our bags.

On the way back to the convention, I grabbed a donut at Kamps. Two odd things about Essen are that people take their dogs everywhere and that the cell signal in the subways is excellent! On the second run through the halls, I picked up Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland, Unexpected Treasures, Oh no... INVASION!!!, The Cave, a used copy of Bunte Runde, Rattus Cartus, Rattus: Spiel 2011 Bonus Cards, Expedition: Congo River 1884, Crazy Creatures of Dr. Doom, Keyflower, and the huge box of Spellbound. On the way out, I caught Antoine Bauza and got the 7 Wonders: Leaders – Esteban from him. I had two bags and my arms filled on this trip back to the hotel!

Matt and I then ate at Pfefferkorn (I had schnitzel). We bought more junk to eat on the way back to the hotel, and we stayed up eating the junk, punching cardboard, fitting boxes, and watching German-dubbed Family Guy. We hit the hay at about 11pm.

SATURDAY

The first thing we did at the halls was get in line to have Richard Garfield sign and customize our promo cards for King of Tokyo: Power Up!. The convention was much more crowded today, which made ice cream seem all that much better for a late-morning snack. We knew by now how much space we had left in our luggage, so I was able to pick up a few more: Northwest Passage Adventure, Yamunda, Rondo, Jäger und Sammler, Tea Time, and Hinkel & Stein. Matt and I went back to the hotel to punch cardboard and pack more.

We met Paul and some of his friends for dinner at Drago at 4:30pm. (I had the Land, Sea, and Air.) Afterwards, we made a quick detour back at Messe. We said goodbye to Paul and I picked up Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes, Schotten Rennen, Power Grid: Oracle & Industrial Espionage, and Freeze. After little more shopping and packing, we watched more German-dubbed Family Guy and South Park, before heading to bed at 11pm.

SUNDAY

We got up at 7am and took our time checking out. Our ICE train out of Essen was just before 1pm. We had a 12-hour flight from Frankfurt back to San Francisco, and I watched Wrath of the Titans (meh), Dinner for Schmucks (meh), Dark Shadows (meh), and Angels & Demons (good, my second time). We got home pretty late that night.

OVERALL

Another purely purchase-centric trip, I played no games. It was disappointing to have so many fewer used game stands; I had quite a large list of out-of-print games to look for, and I was only able to get a few. Becoming such a large Stefan Feld fan in the last few years, I was sad that he didn't have any new games premiering here. (I even missed out on the The Castles of Burgundy: 2nd Expansion – New Hex Tiles at the alea stand!) But I was glad to visit more of the city of Essen.
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