Well if you're a regular reader of my blog for a start, you know I love board games, and they offer a much broader feast than wargaming, even if they cannot match the latter for spectacle or the ability to represent battles and skirmishes in detail.
But that aside, being the biggest store-front for the wider hobby in Europe, arguably the World, major players in the Wargaming hobby have to take Essen seriously and have a presence. We'll see them crop up as we go along, but especially for fantasy gamers, all the major players are there. It is not a place for display games particularly (unless you count a twelve foot wide version of Catan), but rather it is all about demoing games.
Anyway, enough preamble.
Special thanks go to Jet2 for arranging something akin to an endurance test of a flight out to Germany, a 6 hour delay was at least compensated for by extended time to chat with the pretty passenger sat next to me (and in due course with a full refund). German airports seem to have very variable hours of flying, and so eventually we ended up in Munster, some 120km north of our intended destination. Eventually arriving at our hotel at three am, this led to a slow start to our Thursday morning - the first public day of the show.
|Opening panorama, for room one, of seven...|
One of the first things I spotted were these enigmas, that I've mentioned on the blog before. Not available in the UK, my will to resist would slowly crumble...
|Recycled T54 parts?|
|Art straight from 'Archer' it seems|
Wondering around the huge halls on the first day I had to draw the attention of one - a massive wrestling fan - of our group to WWE Superstar Showdown. Neither of us expected much, though I had heard if you wanted a wrestling game it was the one to go for.
Annoyingly, this turned out to be a fantastic game. If thought of as a one on one skirmish or brawling system, it is really well presented and conducted, and thanks to ingenious card play and loss mechanics, really supplies the theme of wrestling in buckets! I spent the next three days giving the stand a wide berth, to avoid buying the game. I am no fan of wrestling, but it was that good.
As stated, Essen is an enormous show, attracting 150,000 attendees, many attending for all four days, as we did. None of these however seemed to be flocking around the Games Workshop age of Sigmar stand.
|Tumble-weed not pictured|
|both this and GW out in the sticks of the smaller massive halls|
|Steam Robot deathmatch|
|Yes, hand painted|
Osprey were there with their gaming arm, selling plenty of Frostgrave and showing off their upcoming Arthurian game and a game based on submarine hunting:
|Um, C4? Nope, wrong game...|
Both looked intriguing, but even more so was the large anime character on their back wall, what are they planning on next?...
Our last game of the day was The Bloody Inn; a French game about gruesome murder and hotel management.
|The Monk helped me bury a corpse, the Gardner was having nothing of it!|
Chinese food, a mooch around the centre of Essen and an early night finished off the day for all, and we hit it early doors on the Friday.
First up was a run in with Kings Forge at the Game Salute stand:
|Dice! So many dice!|
Being Germany it was completely acceptable to wonder around the halls with a beer, so I did.
The day rolled on, several of us were in full-on buying mode, and various other games were played; including Trains - a Japanese take on a Deck Building game with a a board game of railway building attached. Actually pretty good. Later the whole group reconvened, having split in two earlier and we agreed to go wait for one of the major draws at the show. Mysterium.
|Queues worse than at a theme park|
|I proved to be a very good spiritualist|
On last round of the hall and I spotted something I should own soon, the Ares Games reprint of the Conan Strategy game is due any day now, and the expansion is soon to follow.
|Maids - the game|
So that was days one and two.
Half way through the show.
Coming up in part two more games, more models, something that constitutes an actual wargame (kinda) is played; and perhaps much more besides.