Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, often called the Essen Game Fair, is one of the oldest and most popular board gaming conventions around. It's also one of Europe's only local ones to us on our little island. Tournaments, releases, sales, developers, seminars and some delicious German delicacies too. What more could you want?
What is SPIEL?
SPIEL is a highly popular convention and gathering of board gamers, developers and the sorts. The fair was established way back in 1983, where its attendance would have no doubt been a slither of today's numbers. It's steadily grown in popularity as our little hobby has become more and more mainstream, and I think that's fantastic! More gamers to game with. For clarity, there was a jump of around 40,000 people from 2011-2018, and this year will undeniably encourage more visitors!
If you're on the hunt for a huge discount, you may have gone to the wrong con. This isn't about selling the most games. It's a celebration of the hobby! Of course, that's not to say there won't be exclusive materials, merchandise and such. And not only that, the early access to those games released across the ocean is a great temptation. What more could you want?
Notable unveilings are endless, and the hype behind the expected games is well received. It's incredible how quickly these games became staple gaming additions to collections. Essen appears to be the birthplace of many additions to wish lists and other wants. The annual releases are different year on year, but there's still an awesome selection available. As an example of something that appeared at SPIEL from each year...
- 2012 saw Terra Mystica rock everyone's boats with its Euro style asymmetrical play.
- 2013 was our first chance to trade gold for Concordia!
- 2014 saw RED7 splash some colour our way. Whereas Abyss dragged us to the depths with its deck building elements.
- 2015 allows us to drop in and out in of ancient periods in T.I.M.E. stories.
- 2016 allowed us to cycle to victory in Flamme Rouge!
- 2017 was the shocking moment we found out The Captain is Dead and needed to manage the U-Boot ourselves!
- 2018 allowed us to build cities in Carpe Diem, and also let the younger generations take on My Little Scythe!
Essen 2019 has many, many releases in multiples of varieties. Flavours left, right and centre! The 50 Clues trilogy is an escape room-esque game with extra dark themes. Paupers' Ladder follows you as an underdog on your journey to prove your worth to become king! But that's just what we're keeping an eye on. On top of that: Sierra West, The Artemis Projects, Magic Maze on Mars, Battlestar Galactica, and an insane amount more!
Why is Essen Popular?
Essen SPIEL is undeniably popular and one of the most prominent conventions for the hobby. If you can't find it anywhere else, you might find it at SPIEL. Many small board game developers and publishers struggle to get their game to retail due to their presence in the market, so SPIEL is often their best port of call. On top of that, there is the standard hype behind what the big publishers are going to announce/do each year!
With more than 190,000 visitors last year, one can only anticipate it's going to be a bit busy! If you're interested, in the area, or already wanting to attend, you can find it at the Messe Essen. It'll be held from Thursday 24th October to Sunday 27th October. That's right, four days jam packed with board gaming and the likes!