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ESSEN 12 - Day 1, 2, 3 & 4: plays, impressions, and purchases for The Bunker
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Well I hit all the connections just right and made it in late Wednesday night. I'm staying at my usual favorite hotel again, the Movenpick at the Essen train station.

So what I'll do is list games I played, viewed played, read the rules for, purchased, and passed on along with a comment or two on it. If I actually purchase a game at Essen I'll also put it on this list And so it begins (and ends)... My 2012 Game Gains (or the Money Pit part 2), which is also a good place to go and see what games I may have already gotten this year of interest. I'll try to stick with them listed on the days I viewed or got them. I'll add some of my own photos of the games from Essen later.

Again, I only have limited luggage space and am trying to buy ones that will be harder to come by later.

THANKS FOR ALL THE THUMBS. I'VE NOW UPLOADED MOST OF MY PHOTOS TO EITHER THIS LIST OR THE RESPECTIVE GAME.

Just starting day 3. Off we go.

Just wrapping up day 3 and I'm beat. I think I've seen everything I want to see and have purchased the games I really wanted, minus a few that I mentioned either wont fit in my suitcase or I'll wait for a US release copy. I've really gotten as creative as I can in packing games into games and into my baggage. I don't think I can fit anything else in to what I have and will still need to carry one game that came in a tube. So with that said, I might even give the fair a miss Sunday. I've met some great people and played some great games. The crowds were bad today, but actually not as bad as I have seen in the past for a Saturday. I suspect that tomorrow will be the most crowded as that's when the final markdowns happen and lots of families go for that.

So maybe I'll sleep in late, get a good lunch, see some of the town, and get ready for the trip back. If you've read this far, thanks for supporting this geeklist. I hope you've had as much fun reading it as I have writing it. I know when I'm not at a fair or Convention, I'm always trying to read up on the latest buzz from it. To everyone going to BGGCon, you're going to have a great time with all the great new games that have come out.

Day 4: like I could stay away with my dauer Carte. My train for my flight leaves at 14:45 so what else am I going to do for 5 hours. Too bad I have no more room in my suitcases. I'll post a few last items encountered today.

Day 5+: Everything is back home safe and sound in the bunker. Had to do a bunch of box seam repair from damages caused by the airlines which is typical and expected when flying games back home in luggage. Added a final photo of my Essen loot haul.

Cheers and good gaming and may you always be happy in your game.

And one last shameless plug. If your wondering where all the games I got will end up, check out
The ULTIMATE game storage solution. Or, 20 steps to making a dream come true. .
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76. Board Game: City of Horror [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:839]
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Being a Zed game fan I looked this one over. No, it's not Mall of Horror, it's just more of it. More characters and variable board enhance replay value but I didn't find enough to move me in getting this version. It was getting great play in many of the halls and seemed to be going over well with this crowd, but I'm saving my pennies for Zombicide instead.
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77. Board Game: Dark Darker Darkest [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1869]
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Still day 3 here and I'm going to list a few no-shows for Essen. I didn't expect this one to make it as it now shows a 2013 release date. Wishful thinking I guess but I am looking forward to the final version of this and it's high in my purchase list as far as Zed games go. Hopefully it will make it next year.
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78. Board Game: Kampen om Norge [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:6174]
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This was a no show or if I missed it I'm really going to be pissed at myself (that means upset rather than drunk for you Brits reading). Anyway, this one supposedly had a shot at making it this year. I like these Axis&Allies type games. Maybe it's the toy factor in this one that I like. Another one with hopes for next year.
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79. Board Game: Steam Torpedo: First Contact [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:3445]
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Another one on my RADAR that I was hoping would be here in an English version. Word is that it will come out in English now in early 2013. Strange that I didn't see any of the French copies around Essen either.
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80. Board Game: The Mystery of the Templars [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:7191]
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And finally I'll plug this one as a no-show. Nobody here representing it or having any information on it. Too bad as it loos pretty interesting and someone in another thread was asking for information on it. If anyone has anything definite on it, please share.
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81. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:214]
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I would be remiss if I didn't include this one with at least my perception. First off, it's a big ticket game and in your face in hall 12. It's getting lots of press and play, so I watched it a while. Maybe all the Pre-hype put me off the game but it appears to be just another good Euro but nothing spectacular. But without sitting down and playing it I could be wrong. I kind of felt the same "meh" I did last year with Village, and I was wrong there and ended up immensely enjoying that game. So while this one looks good, I didn't see any trough breaking mechanics to make me want to get it right away. I think I'll let this one ripen on the vine and see where popular opinion goes on it down the road.

After all, I have been swayed by the masses at times in the past.
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82. Board Game: Rattus Cartus [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2424]
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I've walked by this every day, watched the online video explaining play, said I would get it before coming, had it in my hands and had a change of heart. I've got the board game version will all the expansions and promos and just couldn't justify this one. With the board game I don't think I'd get this to the table since it scales well with any number of players as this one does. The box for Cartus is about the same size as the board game so it's just as easy to pull out and play as setup isn't bad.

This seems to be a trend this year that everyone is coming out with a card game version of their base games (Dominant Species, Siberia, CMG, etc). Some ate good but with most, I'd rather just play the base game instead.
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83. Board Game: The Dwarves [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:2308]
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Coop fantasy based on a popular German novel (I think) that's getting lots of play. If there wasn't so much German text on the cards I'd consider it but for the average US table, this one just won't cut it, even with paste-ups. I asked the producers about an English version and they didn't rule it out but it depends on the sales of the German version. There were lots of folks playing this and a cool display with a deluxe edition that came with beer, painted minis, and more kitchen related to the books. Thematically, it looked like it would be immersive into their dwarven world.


The deluxe version with painted minis and BEER!
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84. Board Game: World War II: Blitzkrieg 1940 [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
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One for the mini war gamers. Zvevda had this on display. It introduces the Brits with a bunch of units associated with them. I liked all the Germany/Russia items and scenarios, but I'm not going to get wrapped into getting jet another faction in the war. So with that said, I'm pretty much done with what I'll get for the WWII Art of Tactic games and will focus my time on the Samurai set.
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85. Board Game: Yedo [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:330]
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A few more stragglers for day 4. This is one I had on my Pre Essen watch list so I owed it to myself to check it out. Nice production and graphics with nice big cards that are easy to handle. Game play looks like standard Euro fare. Worker placement and getting resources to complete missions. It's also in English so I may get this later.
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86. Board Game: Drum Roll: Mini Expansion [Average Rating:7.49 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.49 Unranked]
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Day 4: yes, I came back today just to pick this up. I can't believe I missed it over the past 3 days. It's not on display and I had to ask for it.

Well really I had another ulterior motive for one more trip to the halls today. Keep seeing what's posted and you'll see what it is. devil
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87. Board Game: Lancaster: Reward Tiles [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
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One more pass by the Queen stand in hall 5 yielded this mini expansion. There's a big one coming out in December. Another one I can't believe I missed over three days of checking their stand.
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88. Board Game: Alien Frontiers: Factions [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked]
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Yesterday they were sold out, today they had another box of them. They were still sold out of the cool meeples for this game. Still, this set adds another faction and bits for a 5th player along with more tech cards and options. Got this for 25e along with the next item.
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89. Board Game: Alien Frontiers: Faction Pack #1 [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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Bundled with the factions expansion. One more faction and a few more cards. I have the ios version but the AI just isn't challenging enough.
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90. Board Game: Catan Geographies: Mallorca [Average Rating:6.16 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.16 Unranked]
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A quick stop at the Kosmos stand and got this for 2,50e. Nice map with a few twists on where you can put cities. The map supports 6 players but was only in German.
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91. Board Game: Noblemen [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:969]
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Not much to say on this one. A bit pricey for what looks to be a standard Euro. Passed on it but included it because I took a photo of 5 women at a table playing Noblemen. It just struck me as humorous. I'll try to post the photo later.

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92. Board Game: Aztlán [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3217]
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Another one I don't have much to say about other than I nice colorful board and an area control Euro. Promised myself I'd take a look at it since it was in my Pre Essen watch list. Maybe someone else can add their opinions on how it plays. I took a few photos and watched some play but passed on it as nothing exciting.
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93. Board Game: Fallen City of Karez [Average Rating:4.79 Overall Rank:10847]
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Day 4 finale. So this is probably the last game I'll add to this list. It wasn't on my RADAR or even on my Essen Pre watch geeklist. For that matter, I have hardly paid it any attention at all here on BGG. Well as I have discovered, this was a kickstarter game and they had a few copies left from their Pre-order pickups that ended today.

So a group of 4 of us sat down and had all the rules explained to us by the designer. I was hooked. We were going to play a few rounds when BGG film crew showed up to interview him and get some footage of the game. That didn't matter as we had a good understanding of the mechanics and objectives.

So this is what I'd consider a semi-coop game. Your all rebuilding a city to its former glory but if it doesn't reach city status, everyone loses. Meanwhile, you have an agenda and even hidden agenda that might not mesh with those of the other players. But there's a negotiation aspect that allows you pretty much free reign for trading object, gold, spell items, promises, and pretty much anything but your basic guild card. There's a prosperity level that fluctuates each turn which will change the number of inhabitants versus visitors to the city which in turn could affect some player agendas. Theres heroes and monsters that you'll control and/or fight against. There is dice rolling so if that puts you off, too bad. The board is beautifully drawn with a king of soft watercolor look to it and the cards and bits are adequate and what you might expect from a kickstarter project. I think this is the epic fantasy game I was hoping to find at the fair this year and am pleasantly surprised. I'd say its my surprise game from Essen this year.

Well I got creative with my luggage packaging after getting one of the last copies they had. I think this one wraps it up for me, my purchases, and Essen. I've got a train to catch in an hour and then on to other adventures, leaving Essen in the past until (hopefully) next time.

Purchased and happy about it.

Cheers.
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94. Board Game: Looking Good [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Anyone who's been to Essen knows there's just too much to cover in one geeklist. To see what was really there, or expected to be, just go over to:

Spiel 2012 Preview

But here a bunch of other stuff I peeked at, pick up and looked at a box, or sneered at (not really a lot of sneering though as someones worst effort at creating a game will always top my best effort). Anyway, these titles have gotten anything from mediocre to great buzz and I'm sure to give them a second look down the road if I don't already have them.

- Northwest Passage Adventure Ghenos puts out some interesting games, though fiddly. Small bits to handle.
- Copycat 2F has some hits and misses, not sure about this one.
- Courtier
- Mercante
- Dominare of the AEG triology, this was probably getting the most play and attention.
- Smash Up The German version by Pegasus was in a nice small compact card box, not like the big US monstrosity box.
- Saint Malo Meh
- Colonies Interesting
- Libertalia Good. Already own
- Polis: Fight for the Hegemony Civ Lite?
- La Venise du Nord Nice board, Euro
- Blackrock City Small box Western Theme with bidding
- Air King Want to know more about this one
- Sunrise City Good. Already own
- Sheepland Good. Already own
- Czech Pub Looked like a fun party game with the right group.
- Dungeon Lords: Festival Season No room. Will get later.
- Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion No room. Will get later.
- Goblins, Inc. A cute Meh. Need more info. Game looked okay.
- Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game Big MEH
- Autokrator Looked interesting. Waiting for reviews
- Milestones Another Euro
- Terra Mystica Very good Euro. No room. Want.
- Wilderness Looked twice. Need more info.
- Tokaido Beautiful. Good Euro. Sold out. No room. Want.
- The Last Banquet Interesting. English edition coming
- The Doge Ship Another Euro. Nice
- Rome and Carthage An updated Rome & Carthage
- Fleet Very good. Already own. Passed on the fish meeples.
- Il Vecchio Want. No room.
- Dominion: Dark Ages Good new stuff. Already own.
- Metro 2033 Cool Meh.
- Mythic Battles Will wait for a mega sale price down the road.
- Septikon: Uranium Wars Super cool! Want! November release in Russia, maybe December in Europe; USA??? Don't know.
- Flash Point: Fire Rescue – 2nd Story More of the same, just one floor up. Pass
- Der Hobbit: Eine unerwartete Reise – Das Spiel zum Film Hype Meh. A better game is coming.
- Massilia No time, tell me more.
- Seasons Excellent. Already have.
- Kosmonauts Different but no wow factor for me
- Ragami Put off by angels theme, YMMV
- La Loire Needed more time to evaluate. Very nic.
- Bad Moon Either a no-show or I just missed seeing it.
- Exodus: Proxima Centauri Another big box NSKN game I just didn't trust
- Divided Republic Numbskull was there again. Already own this very good game.
- Antike Duellum Now in a boxed board format. I have the roll from last year.
- Ginkgopolis Put off by the name and ignored it. My loss.
- Crude: The Oil Game Old version bits are WAY better.
- Milestones Another Euro
- Lancaster: Henry V – The Power of the King Will get later in English
- Urbanization Only demo was available. Looked good. Want.
- Homesteaders New verson looked awesome. Have the last version.
- Clocks Not my type game. Nice.
- Karnag What's a back seat driver called?
- Sheepdogs of Pendleton Hill Cute meeples, no room, maybe later.
- Article 27: The UN Security Council Game Lots of negotiation, too much for me.
- The Battle of Red Cliffs Another no-show. Did anyone see this?
- TF22: LOAD! Why?
- Lyssan Already own.
- P.I. Maybe the first MW I'll pass on.
- Ruthenia Interesting but need some reviews
- Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game Again, why?
- Expedition: Congo River 1884 Wanted to spend more time with this one. Oh well.
- New Amsterdam Didn't excite me but probably okay.
- Saqqara Want more info.
- Western Town Was getting lots of play
- Polis: Fight for the Hegemony Caught my attention. ordered from Funagain.


Well that about wraps up my one-liners. If there's anything you absolutely can't live without me giving a plug to, let me know and I'll add it to this list. FWIW, it's all my personal opinion anyway which doesn't get me free coffee at Starbucks.
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95. Board Game: That's A Wrap! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ubergeek
United States
Camas
Washington
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Indeed, I'm now at the airport and managed to get my two x "thousand pounders" checked in. I don't think I could have been more creative in repackaging and padding stuff as good as possible. Even so, I know there will be some banging and bending of boxes in the trip. That's the nature of air travel. Here's hoping for the best.

So I'll throw out my overall impressions from this year's Essen adventure. IT WAS AWESOME!!! I think this is the fifth or sixth time I've made it and I've pretty much got a routine down to include bringing lots of small plastic bags for meeples and a marker to annotate what goes with which game. Anyway, I made full use of my time this year and got a lot more games in both played and explained. I met some great designers and players in the process. Today I even made use of speaking German, Italian, and French. And making use of the full four days allowed me to update this list as I went along and again in the evenings.

Travel. Fairly smooth. I fly into Dusseldorf airport and take the train or S-bahn to Essen Hbf, though I have flown through both Frankfurt and Amsterdam and taken the train from there. I stay at the Movenick Hotel or Essener Hof right outside the Essen train station. I usually end up booking late after I'm sure ill be able to make the time to get here so this year I paid a bit more than I like for the room, but it was very nice with a king sized bed. It's also close to lots of city activity and the downtown city walk if you bring along a partner that isn't as crazy as games as you might be.

Packing: I travel with 2 suitcases, very light on clothes and bare essentials. I guess it depends on how long your stay will be. But with two large suitcases I get on average 20 games into them. How? Magic. You need to punch out game bits, pack games within games, and bring along lots of bags to sort and label so later you'll know what goes where. Many games come with a simple cardboard insert that you can take out and re-fold flat if you want to keep it. Maximize every bit of space in a box. This year I had three square boxes that were just a bit bigger than the next. Voila, three games fit into the smallest box while the boxes went together like Babushka dolls. I really pressed my weight limits though and unless your a premium flying customer with your airlines, expect they'll charge you for any excess weight. There is a post office right outside the hotel at the train station and its open Saturday. If you get a big box at the fair from someone, you may be able to get a bunch of games in it and mail it out but expect the price of shipping to be around 60+ euros if your really fill it. Of course if your driving, bully for you.

Weather: Along with the whole packing thing, it's nice to check the weather for the week before you leave. I lucked out this year and it was in the high 60's all week with only a few drops of rain. You're going to be indoors most of the time so don't pack for an expedition to the North Pole. I have been there in past years however when it was in the 40's and 50's, so one good sweater should take care of that. It also acts as good packing buffer in your luggage.

Crowds. Surprisingly not bad! In fact, Thursday seemed to be more crowded than Sunday. Someone remarked that there m use have been a holiday for it to be so crowded on a weekday. Friday/Saturday were about the same but overall this year it just felt like there were fewer attendees. Maybe it's the economy, maybe it was just my imagination. Regardless, I didn't feel as overwhelmed or shoved around as I have with the crowds from previous years.

Food. A few as about five years ago, you couldn't find a food stand to save your life. Now every hall has them as well as between halls. Prices were reasonable and you could always find brats, drinks, or a quick snack. I had my favorite bratwurst stand in hall 6.

Smoking. Gone in the halls as it has been for the past few years. The areas between the halls an just outside some are smoker central areas. It's amazing the number of young Europeans that still smoke. At least it's all out of the halls.

Money management: this is an important topic if you go to Essen. Both plan and beware or you can get "nickel & dimed" to death. A few promos here for 2 to 4 euros, maybe 3 or 4 expansions at 5 to 15+ euros, maybe a Spielbox magazine or two with promo items, a stop by the meeple or dice stand for a few of those hard-to-find bits, insatiable urges to buy a bunch of games on sale for incredible prices, and befor you know it, you've dropped a few hundred euros in change on little bits of meat but no full meal. Budget the little stuff as well as the big ones. I know a bunch of games by Z-man, RGG, FFG, and more will find distribution through US online retailers. You'll be able to get those later at a significant discount if you can just wait a few more months. Even then I sometimes fall prey as I have this year to the cult of the new, gotta have it now syndrome. I try to save the big bucks for those one-off games that I know won't see release in the US and online retailers like Funagain games are going to make you pay through the ass for them. Bide your time. Often on Saturday you start to see prices drop on less popular games. By Sunday you might even be able to haggle with a seller to get a discount as they don't want to carry game stock back home with them. So whether your budget is big or small, plan it well to get hue most for your money. Remember you will need to eat at some point while you're there as well. That usually costs money too.

Theme. Well this one is hard to pinpoint. There were still lots of games centered around the Mediterranean representing different eras. Lots more space themed games this year also, probably cashing in on the popularity of Eclipse. Giving it even more thought, there were lots of games again about or set in Italy. But I'm going to go with what I've been saying is the theme for this year, and I'm dubbing it "Year of the Kickstarter". Hall 7 was expanded and seemed to have even more presenters than last year with one-off games that were kickstarter supported. It seems like they're out of the closet and published now and were finally seeing the fruits of labor in the European market that has already come alive in the US market. This is all a good thing since a lot of interesting games are being released that would otherwise never see the light of day with a major publisher.

Games. There no shortage of new themes, types, and mechanisms. Sure there's a number of clones or rehashed mechanics that make it into new games. Sometime they yield a winner, other times a JASE. But there was certainly something new for everyone to sink their brain into. Don't let anyone tell you that board games or ideas are dying. It just isn't so. One trip to Essen and you'll know it. Also remember that Essen is primarily about board games, not RPG, minis, or CCGs. Yes they're to be found here, but this is a boardgame fair. The designers I met were all enthusiastic and friendly despite the hours they put in every day and I can't imagine how exhausted they get explaining their games. I saw Reiner K next to me talking to a few folks at one point and Friedeman F a few times just wandering around. The Lamont brothers are always a hoot as well and it was a pleasure to meet Richard Breese and Phil Eklund as well as a bunch of new designers from Italy, Switzerland, Israel, and France. Sorry to those I met and can't remember the name of without going back and checking my game boxes. One item of note, the Italians came on strong this year with some great titles that were very playable and fun (Swordfish, Al Rashid, Legend of the Mille Miglia, and more). If there were a boardgame Olympic event, I'd have to give it to the Italians this year.

So pardon any spelling errors as this was typed from my IPad, but with this I'm ready to close the chapter on another Successful Essen trip. Time to start hosting game nights again and get these to the table. See you in the Bunker.

So thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting me with your thumbs. Hope you enjoyed the reports.

Cheers and good gaming.

Walt "the Ubergeek"
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96. Board Game: Loot [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:1307]
Ubergeek
United States
Camas
Washington
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One last entry with a photo of my Essen haul with everything home safe and sound in the Boardgame Bunker. Two suitcases, at 42Kg and 46Kg respectively.

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