So, that was Essen 2013. The big change this year that you couldn’t help but notice was the location: usually the Spiel was housed in the smaller halls four to x, which are being renewed this year. Instead, everything took place in the giant, enormous, humungous, spaceship-hangar-like halls one to three. In available space, those three halls together are even bigger than the usual fair area, but I’m not sure if that translated to more booth area as well. A lot of the additional space went into wider corridors, and while the halls were still full, the crowds actually kept moving thanks to that, unlike for example the notorious Hall 9 the other years. Since there were even more visitors than in previous years, that sure was welcome. On the flipside, all those hard-earned navigation skills from the last years were completely useless this year, no one could walk the Spiel 2013 with the familiarity of an old friend, with absolute certainty where your favourite publishers have their traditional booths. Maybe next year we can get the old place back, plus one of the other halls – it shouldn’t be too hard to get the space rented out.
One thing that’s tough this year, thanks to the changed layout of everything, is to spot changes from last year. For example, my impression was that LARP and cosplay was a smaller part of the fair this year – makes me a bit sad, I like to see a good cosplay. But was it really, or was that just my impression? Maybe they were just spread out more. And if there were fewer booths selling LARP equipment, is that because Essen is not as attractive to them any more, or could they just not get the space they needed? Difficult to answer this year. Another impression was that the already big booths – Asmodee, Pegasus, Heidelberger, Queen … – were even bigger this year. But again, I can’t say for sure, unless someone has the numbers.
In games, trends were also harder to spot this year. We had years were deck-building games dominated everything, or free interaction games, or whatever else. This year, all of the above were still present, but nothing stuck out as much. We saw – and tried – many great games, there just wasn’t the one mechanic that everyone used. We met many great people, old friends and new alike and had a lot of fun. If you were expecting to meet us but didn’t, then I’m sorry – the sad truth is that even if Essen lasted a week, it would still be too short to see everything and talk to everyone. And lets face it, some of you guys are pretty elusive. We hope to meet many of you next year, or maybe before then, you never know.
For more – way more – detailed information on what we saw and tried in Essen, hop over to our Flickr gallery where our epic Essen saga is documented in word and photo.