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Essen 08 list, booths, and prices - by Haggis, a virgin attendee
Rob Corn
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Due to a happy coincidence (details here), I've found myself able to attend Essen 08! With about a month of planning available, I had a lot to do:

1) Figure out what Essen is.
2) Figure out where Essen is, and how to get there.
3) Create a short list of games to try/buy.
3a) Realize a short list is impossible and create a long list of games to try/buy.
4) Figure out how to buy and play as many games as possible in just one day (Friday).
5) Figure out how to fit all these games into two suitcases.
6) Learn German.

Item 1 was easy. Essen FAQ- Essen, what the gosh darn heck is that all about?.

Item 2 was half easy half difficult. The where was straightforward thanks to Google Maps. The how took some learning, and please correct me if I'm wrong. Luckily, the German public transit system looks outstanding. The links here, here, and here were particularly useful in plotting my stops.

It is important to note that Hbf (Hauptbahnhof) means central station, where most of the major transfers will occur.

Google Maps will show all of the subway stations, so from there it was relatively simple to enter my start and end points (I'm staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Essen, and the Berliner Platz stop in Essen is right down the street, at least according to Google -- from there I just stay on the U11 train about five stops until I get to the Messe Ost (Gruge-Halle) stop, and bam! the main doors are right there).

It's also important to note for those flying into Frankfurt (like me) that the train stop in Frankfurt is Frankfurt Main (for the nearby river and only a coincidence that the English word is appropriate), and that there are two train stations at the airport -- FE (Fernbanhof -- for distant stops, i.e. outside of Frankfurt) and RE (Regionalbahnhof -- local stops in Frankfurt).

So, with that information in hand, I was able to determine that I could buy tickets (and stamp, you stamp them in little machines at the stations to validate before getting on the train) and with only a few transfers get from my work place to Essen. And then I get to take the high-speed ICE train from Essen to Frankfurt (Main) FE directly which should be pretty awesome.

It looked daunting but after some homework and traveler testimonials I'm a lot less intimidated. Supposedly the ticket machines speak excellent English now, as well.

Item 3 was quickly abandoned after only a few minutes' work, after which Item 3a was born. After many days of homework, I had a list of games that had my interest for various reasons.

With limited time, but fortunately a large budget due to the "free" airfare and hotel, I had to optimize my day. I took my large list and broke it down by priority, price, and booth location where available.

The top priorities went to games with a high likelihood of being good without needing a pre-play and/or Essen exclusives that I won't be able to get later (games I will almost certainly buy). Middle priorities are games that look good but I'd really like to try before buying. Low priorities are games that if the play is fun, the price is right, and the luggage space is available I'll pick up.

Item 4 I think I'm going to have to wing. I know about where I want to go in each hall, but I have no idea what I'm getting in to and time management will be important. It's like a live-action boardgame -- Essen 2008 The Game! Should be fun.

Item 5 will be difficult I suspect. I've seen people talk about punching the bits (since space it not the only factor, weight will probably come into play), discarding spacers, packing games inside of games, flattening boxes (the horror!), using bubble wrap to cushion games, etc. I'll just have to watch what I buy and put a priority on smaller boxes. I'll figure it out Friday night.

Item 6 is underway thanks to Rosetta Stone disks from the local library. I would like to know enough German not to embarrass myself, since it seems only polite to at least make an effort to speak a little of the language of the host country. I have read that visitors can do just fine with almost no German at all, so that's reassuring.

Edit: The exhibitor list and hall plans are now online! Thanks to quatsch7 for this thread, direct link is here (English).

Edit 2: Added items #31 through #38.

Guten Tag! Ein groß Bier bitte!

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26. Board Game: Rice Wars [Average Rating:5.37 Overall Rank:9697]
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: Kuźnia Gier
Booth: 4-226
Price: 35 €
Rules online here.

Economic game set in feudal Japan, I'd love to see this.
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27. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:456]
Rob Corn
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Columbus
Ohio
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Low Medium priority
Publisher: Fragor
Booth: 9-19
Price: 35 €
Rules online here.

I don't know much about this one, but it's getting a lot of buzz. Will definitely check out.
 
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28. Board Game: Supernova [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3386]
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: Valley Games
Booth: 5-22
Price: 40 €

Beautiful art and the game looks interesting. I'd like to try it, but it won't be difficult to pick up after Essen I don't think.
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29. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:534]
 
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: Valley Games
Booth: 5-22
Price: 50 45 €

Not sure if this will be available at Essen, and it'a a reprint of a fondly remembered game. I never played it, though, so I'd like to see what all the fuss is about.
 
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30. Board Game: Sutter's Mill [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3170]
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: Phalanx Games
Booth: 9-118
Price: 30 €

Not much information yet, but the build-up vs. tear-down sounds novel.
 
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31. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:76]
Rob Corn
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Columbus
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High priority
Publisher: Czech Games Edition
Booth: 4-310
Price: 35 €
Rules online here

After reading the rules, I really liked the look of the game and the style of the rules. Pre-ordered.
 
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32. Board Game: Wolsung: The Boardgame [Average Rating:5.46 Overall Rank:9279]
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: Kuźnia Gier
Booth: 4-226
Price: 35 €

Steampunk theme, building crazy inventions for a World's Fair, sounds pretty good. The art looks great.
 
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33. Board Game: Yukatán [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:9024]
Rob Corn
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Publisher: Wolf Fang
Booth: 4-225
Price: 40 €
Rules online here

Pyramid building with a bluffing element.
 
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34. Board Game: Duck Dealer [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2505]
Rob Corn
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Medium priority
Publisher: Splotter Spellen
Booth: 5-105
Price: 45 €

Not a lot of information about this game, but a bunch of people are very excited about it. I'll definitely take a look.
 
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35. Board Game: 2 de Mayo [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:682]
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: Gen X Games
Booth: 6-55
Price: 25 €
Rules online here.

Looks like a good, short, historical game with a very specific time period.
 
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36. Board Game: Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination [Average Rating:4.13 Overall Rank:10684]
Rob Corn
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Columbus
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Publisher: Balls Out Entertainment
Booth: 9-108 (Heidelberger Spielverlag)
Price: 25 €

Sounds a little like Populous, controlling a god to wreak havoc on the followers of your enemies. A whimsical look at godhood. Buddha with a minigun?
 
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37. Board Game: Comuni [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1241]
Rob Corn
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Low priority
Publisher: TenkiGames
Booth: 12-56
Price: 35 €
Rules onling here (German only).

City building in medieval Italy. Looks heavy.
 
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38. Board Game: Giants [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:601]
Rob Corn
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Columbus
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Medium priority
Publisher: Matagot
Booth: 9-53
Price: 40 €
Rules online here

Easter Island theme, fantastic art, and Essen-only exclusives plus extra bonuses for the first 500 copies sold. Great!
 
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