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Pieter
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This year I went to Essen for the sixth or seventh time. I always go on Thursdays, because that's the least busy day, and everything should still be available then. Often I go also on Friday, and sometimes in the weekend. This year, and actually last year too, I have been really disappointed with the fair, and I am seriously considering skipping it next year. These are the things that bothered me:

1. Essen is getting more and more German-oriented. It seems that the big English-language publishers start to give Essen a miss: FFG was notoriously absent this year (they had a big stand last year, and while some of their games were still at that stand, it was no longer an FFG stand, and ONLY sold games in German). It gets harder every year to get games in English. And games in English are considerably more expensive than their German counterparts. One of the games I specifically wanted to pick up in Essen was Mage Knight. I saw one -- just one -- English copy of it for sale, for the ridiculous price of 88 euros (naturally, I did not buy it). The German version cost 55 euro's at the fair. German games at the fair can be pretty cheap, while English games are usually more expensive than their online price-points.

2. Lots of games which are present are not for sale. I actually SAW a big stack of English versions of Mage Knight, but they were just there to be handed out to volunteers. They also showed the expansion, but you could only see the box, with contents. Another game I wanted is the expansion to Eclipse, and while they had many boxes which were labeled 40 euros, you could only buy them if you had pre-ordered them. The salespeople even had the audacity to suggest that I return on Sunday, because then they may have some copies left -- I thought you had to be there on Thursday to get the rare stuff, but now it is Sunday. I go to Essen to experience a game before deciding to buy it; if I have to pre-order a game to be allowed to buy it at Essen, I can just as well let them send it to me by mail.

3. It is almost impossible to get to play a game if you are on your own. Essen is packed, even on Thursday, and sitting down at a table is getting problematic. If you are on your own, don't bother at all.

So, my impression is: if you are German and can take the time to explore Essen for several days, specifically to play some new games with a couple of friends who accompany you, and maybe pick up a few cheaply-priced German games, then it is a great place to be. If you are mainly interested in quickly checking out some games for a day before buying the English version, then don't bother.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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I've never been there but
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The salespeople even had the audacity to suggest that I return on Sunday, because then they may have some copies left
where is the audacity in that? It sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me. Did you ask if they were willing to put you on a backup list for extras?
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Pieter
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kvenosdel wrote:
where is the audacity in that? It sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me. Did you ask if they were willing to put you on a backup list for extras?
The audacity is in the fact that they assume I can do the four-hour drive to get there just to check whether they are willing to sell the game to me by then (and also in the way they made the suggestion -- they acted like they had been having to give that answer thousands of times already, which is probably the case). And no, they did not ask me to put me up on any list -- in fact, they responded rather indignant when I asked them for a copy -- I mean: they were there, huge stacks, with a label "40 euros" (and NO label "only for preorders"). Am I the one who is being out-of-line when I think I can then buy the game for 40 euros?
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
kvenosdel wrote:
where is the audacity in that? It sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me. Did you ask if they were willing to put you on a backup list for extras?
The audacity is in the fact that they assume I can do the four-hour drive to get there just to check whether they are willing to sell the game to me by then (and also in the way they made the suggestion -- they acted like they had been having to give that answer thousands of times already, which is probably the case). And no, they did not ask me to put me up on any list -- in fact, they responded rather indignant when I asked them for a copy -- I mean: they were there, huge stacks, with a label "40 euros" (and NO label "only for preorders"). Am I the one who is being out-of-line when I think I can then buy the game for 40 euros?
No, I'm not saying that. It sounds like their display wasn't clear, and that is their fault. But in their defense they have no idea how far away you live or are staying so they have no reason to assume that you can't come back on Sunday, and maybe even thought you already had plans to go on Sunday as well. In my mind you shouldn't have the audactity to think they would know that.

The asking you to check back on Sunday was fine, but despite them being likely fed up with answering the same question they should have been polite. Also, if they were having to answer the same question over and over they should have realized that their display is misleading and fixed the situation. Sounds like poor customer service but hopefully it was just a result of overworked and underrested at the outset of the fair. Hope you find a copy.
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I have been going for several years to.

I can understand what pieter says.

Its indeed more and more german oriented lately. FFG not being there this year will be disappionment for me to.(still have to go, going saturday and sunday).

I also see a trend more and more preorder and even worse preodering without knowing anything about the game(cfr spellbound soldout without any knowledge of game except for the indeed beautifull playing pieces).

Its indeed very crowded.

I still go because i like running around there and we are with 4. I like the cult of the new, although i try to not buy to much. We also make it a weekend to go out and have some fun. Have a nice meal, a drink and a chat.

But i sure am enjoying the little conventions like spel nederland(which is organized again) and spel in belgium alot more. More titles in english and dutch. More occasions to play. Even better prices and discounts.

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I also see a trend more and more preorder and even worse preodering without knowing anything about the game(cfr spellbound soldout without any knowledge of game except for the indeed beautifull playing pieces).
This would be frustrating. Especially if the norm used to be they sold games at the booth.
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This will be the third year for me (going tomorrow). I can also relate to Pieters post, altough I haven't experienced that it was more international before.
The main attractions for me were GMT, Sierra Madre and Eagle games in the last two years, because they only sell english games. The first year I was confused a big publisher like Wizards of the Coast was not present (it was always one of the bigger stands at the local Spellenspektakel in Holland).
This year I will be happy if I just walk out with Sentinels of the Multiverse and the expansions, and I was happy to read on their team is present in Essen this year. I just hope they brought enough copies so that I will find one of my own tomorrow!

I see 9-108 is Fantasy Flight Games / heidelberger on the map provided here.
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I hope so to. Sentinels is one i am after to.
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Quote:
I also see a trend more and more preorder and even worse preodering without knowing anything about the game
That was my main frustration last year. Lots of the games I wanted to buy after seeing them "in action" I simply could not get because I was not on the preorder list.

If I cannot buy them in Essen, I no longer see the point of going there and fight the crowd.
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I went for the third time as well, yesterday, and will go back tomorrow. I cannot relate to Pieter. I got to play quite a few games, even finished most of them. I was too busy looking around and browsing shops to try my hand at some other games, even though there were opportunities.

The preordering problem was well-clear to me beforehand, even though I am not your typical gamer. I just prepared by checking the sites of the publishers I am interested in. Also, going to Essen doesn't mean you are entitled to pick up everything you had wanted to pick up. Things run out. Also, the industry is trying to provide, and some times protecting the collectibility of a game or expansion is also providing. The market is huge, these days. First editions, rarities, signed copies etc. Don't forget, finally, that having "Sold Out" signs will make a few people interested who weren't interested before. BTW: The Eclipse expansion is easily available and has been for a while.

I also don't really understand nor recognize the comment about it being more German oriented. I didn't speak anything but English and that worked out fine. I found quite a few games that did have English rules or whose English rules were easy to download. But in the end, it is in Germany. Can you blame them? Really? Gaming is big in Germany. I think a vast majority of the visitors will be German. So THAT's their core business. Then, again, having paid to get in does not mean you therefore will automatically find everything you want. You can browse and order online (if you don't want to support your local dealer) later, can't you?

Don't get me wrong, I was disappointed in certain aspects too. It sounds, however, as though your high expectations might have been a recipe for a let down...
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Clem Fandango
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AernoutMJC wrote:
... I found quite a few games that did have English rules or whose English rules were easy to download. But in the end, it is in Germany. Can you blame them? Really? Gaming is big in Germany. I think a vast majority of the visitors will be German. So THAT's their core business .....
That was my thought as well. I totally get your frustrations but modern Gaming is bigger in Germany per head of population than anywhere else.

Germany produced Settlers, bohnanza, Carcassonne.
The English speaking world, Monopoly, The Game of Life and Risk.

My impression is Settlers is owned by at least around the same percentage of German houses as Monopoly is in the USA and UK.

I'm amazed at how many games are produced in English out of Germany. If it was France that was preeminent we'd have to do the translations ourselves


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Pieter
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@AernoutMJC: I am disappointed because Essen has been changing in recent years.

Yes, I know the preordering problem, but that is a relatively new problem: it used to be that you could get new releases on Thursday and Friday, and they might be sold out in the weekend. But if you were early, you would have a chance to play a new game and then possibly buy it. Now, for many games you must have preordered it to be able to buy it, even without having seen the rules (and no, I have not seen any copies of Rise of the Ancients at Essen that you could buy without preordering, and I have looked for them).

As for German: yes, you can manage in English, but the games themselves are the German versions, and the few English copies that are available are much more expensive than the German copies. That also used to be more balanced. I do not "blame" anyone for that. That's the way things are, and I agree that it is logical. But it used to be different.
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Clem Fandango
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
@AernoutMJC: I am disappointed because Essen has been changing in recent years.

Yes, I know the preordering problem, but that is a relatively new problem: it used to be that you could get new releases on Thursday and Friday, and they might be sold out in the weekend. But if you were early, you would have a chance to play a new game and then possibly buy it. Now, for many games you must have preordered it to be able to buy it, even without having seen the rules (and no, I have not seen any copies of Rise of the Ancients at Essen that you could buy without preordering, and I have looked for them).

As for German: yes, you can manage in English, but the games themselves are the German versions, and the few English copies that are available are much more expensive than the German copies. That also used to be more balanced. I do not "blame" anyone for that. That's the way things are, and I agree that it is logical. But it used to be different.
The preordering system does sound like a pig though. I thought the idea was try and then buy. Mind you ... I've been to one con, here in NZ, and there were no publishers and certainly no new releases.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Quote:
Germany produced Settlers, bohnanza, Carcassonne.
The English speaking world, Monopoly, The Game of Life and Risk.
...and Descent, and Magic: The Gathering, and Netrunner, and Dominant Species, and Ticket to Ride, and Age of Steam, and Dominion.

Sorry, that's absurd cherry picking - you list three english language games that are over 60 years old and three German games that are less than 20 years old?

It is probably true that there are more people (especially families) playing games in Germany, but that list of games doesn't really have anything to do with it.
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Pieter
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I should add that there are still many new games in Essen which you can try and buy without preordering. But the hyped-up games, most of those are unavailable without preorders. And I in particular do not want to buy a hyped-up game without trying it, because my experience is that more than half the hyped games are not really that good. So I won't preorder them.

I am really afraid that the preordering trend will continue with other publishers. It is, of course, the easiest for them: if people get used to preordering or even kickstarting new releases, that takes away the burden of investment. But yeah, in that case, does Essen really have a purpose any longer?
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You should try to see the other side of the coin. Preordering allows people to get their highly hyped games even if they can't make it on Thursday. Granted they might try to bring more games to the fair than the preorder amount but presumably that might have been logistically difficult.
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cferejohn wrote:
Quote:
Germany produced Settlers, bohnanza, Carcassonne.
The English speaking world, Monopoly, The Game of Life and Risk.
...and Descent, and Magic: The Gathering, and Netrunner, and Dominant Species, and Ticket to Ride, and Age of Steam, and Dominion.

Sorry, that's absurd cherry picking - you list three english language games that are over 60 years old and three German games that are less than 20 years old?

It is probably true that there are more people (especially families) playing games in Germany, but that list of games doesn't really have anything to do with it.
Usually I think I agree with you Chris but.....
No. When I talk to English speaking people (not the ones that frequent here) they nearly all own Monopoly, maybe Cluedo, checkers and a deck of cards. When I meet people from Germany I ask them, and they all seem to own one or two modern Eurogames, usually settlers, Alhambra, or Carcassonne. Yes Bohnanza is a long bow, but when REM wrote a song that mentioned board games: monopoly, 21, checkers and chess, twister and Risk. The modern game industry has a few outliers, Diplomacy, Kingmaker... But the Eurogames are called Eurogames for a reason, and for a while they were known as German games.
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the original poster is claiming nothing except that the convention is changing to more and more german oriented and more and more preorder oriented for the hyped up games. Some people are misreading what he is saying by trying to explain or even claiming he is wrong.

He does not like it, thats all there is to it. No other side of the medallion no other viewpoint.

I have the same feeling but still enjoy myself, one day that maybe wont be the case and then i better stop going to.

Now for myself i dont get in the least how a preorder with nothing except some components can get sold out, before the rules or anything else is show. I love the hype of the new, try hard to resist. But resisting a thing like that is easy for me.

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Pieter
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Tekar wrote:
You should try to see the other side of the coin. Preordering allows people to get their highly hyped games even if they can't make it on Thursday. Granted they might try to bring more games to the fair than the preorder amount but presumably that might have been logistically difficult.
Indeed, it shouldn't be either-or. If you have 500 preorders, then bring 750 games to Essen. But now some publishers simply use Essen to distribute preorders and are not interested in selling copies there. Perhaps they want to train us to make sure to get those preorders in or missing out. Well, I'm sorry, but I won't be trained that way. I want to hold a copy of the game in my hand, examining the contents, and perhaps even playing a game with them before handing over my money.
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Essen was distinctly underwhleming as a first-time attendee. I am perplexed that posters here make such a fuss about it. I don't think I'll ever bother to go again.
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Tekar wrote:
You should try to see the other side of the coin. Preordering allows people to get their highly hyped games even if they can't make it on Thursday.
See the various discussion threads on the Netrunner game at Gencon...
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What are some of the hot games? Is Tzolk'n an Essen launch? That seems like its pretty buzzy.
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Flyboy Connor wrote:


1. Essen is getting more and more German-oriented.
Wow, this is interesting. I posted pretty much exactly this on another forum. I went to Essen yesterday, with 2 gaming friends. One of which has problems reading/understanding German and he can't really play games with too much German text. The three of us came to the same conclusion at the end of the day. No FFG, just the German distributor/publisher (?) of FFG games, with only German language games. Rio Grande Games was on the exhibitor list, but missing. Unless the three of us collectively went blind and overlooked the booth, or the booth had moved somewhere totally different than what was announced on the ground plans.

To add to this, quite a few games on each of our 'immediate buy list' weren't available at all (not ready in time for Essen), were only available in German language editions (and too much ingame text to be ignored), or were simply more expensive than in our local gaming shops. I ended up with buying none of the games on my 'immediate buy list'.

It's not all negative though
The result of this was, that we spent a ton more time at the booths of small indy developers, booths with former kickstarter projects, etc. Pretty much all of my gaming budget went to these people this year. I don't think I ever PLAYED so many games in one day at Essen either.

I'll definitely will be going again next year, but my expectations will be just different than, say, 10 years ago.
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I think this is a fair point. This is how he feels and he isn't per-se saying that this is wrong and should be changed but that he is likely to stop going.

However, by posting his feelings here, it is expressly allowing people a right to reply, especially if allow comments was set.

I think it makes a bit of a nonsense for there to be not enough games but:

1. How does a publisher know how many to bring or how many they can get printed in time (most work towards this deadline as opposed to producing at the beginning of the year and sitting on them until Otober)?

2. Whilst people in jobs may still have a lot of disposable income, markets are shrinking and Essen will tell the publisher just how well the game is received, either by selling out of games before they get there (!) or by feedback from the games being played out at the fair.

They might not have the financial backup to produce oodles of copies which could end up unsold and in a warehouse.

I personally would rather there was more access to English games, coz I am English but as someone else said, as long as language independent, English rules can be downloaded off the net.

I was interested in the large number of Korean, Chinese and ever expanding Japanese games announced and hoping that they had translations to English, as, in my book, the more the merrier.

Just my two-penneth.

M B

Baelrath wrote:
the original poster is claiming nothing except that the convention is changing to more and more german oriented and more and more preorder oriented for the hyped up games. Some people are misreading what he is saying by trying to explain or even claiming he is wrong.

He does not like it, thats all there is to it. No other side of the medallion no other viewpoint.

I have the same feeling but still enjoy myself, one day that maybe wont be the case and then i better stop going to.

Now for myself i dont get in the least how a preorder with nothing except some components can get sold out, before the rules or anything else is show. I love the hype of the new, try hard to resist. But resisting a thing like that is easy for me.

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