The last day of Essen was short for us, we arrived late and many booths left early, but we tried to make good use of our time there. For the most part, that consisted of trying Sit Down!’s Karnag, a game with some very interesting ideas that we unfortunately had to abort. It’s a kind of action selection game about druids defending the forest from the dark creatures climbing forth from a hole in the ground. There are many different things coming together in Karnag: the order in which actions are resolved is randomized every round, there are a couple different ways to score points, you can level up different abilities to better fit your strategy – it’s really too much to figure out in three rounds of playing. It seemed like some of the rules could be more streamlined – especially monster movement – but I’d still be interested in trying again.
I’m certain now that Essen was fuller this year. I’m not sure if the fair got to 200.000 visitors, but it certainly exceeded last year. Nevertheless, it was easy to find a game table for almost everything, players and explainators both were doing their best to accommodate more people, trying to find passers-by to fill up their game tables, even if they were total strangers speaking a different language. Boardgamers just rock. There were more international publishers at Essen as well, enough that some had to share booths to find a spot at all. We saw many games, talked to many people, walked approximately three marathon distances in the halls – and still we didn’t manage to talk to everyone we wanted to. Apologies to everyone that was expecting us and didn’t see us, we were trying our best, but the fair was still too short. We’ll certainly see you next year!
Speaking of next year, some people were worried about the future of the fair because the Messe Essen will go through some pretty extensive renewing, according to their website. But the fair organizer, Friedhelm Merz Verlag, assures us that the SPIEL will continue in Essen. We might see everything in new halls next year or the year after, but the show will go on, and it will go on in Essen.