Known to gamers worldwide simply as “SPIEL” or “Essen”, the Internationale Spieltage, the annual German games fair is the largest in Europe and arguably the world. The fair is of particular significance as many new releases are scheduled to coincide with the event just in time for Christmas sales. In 2020, like many other events, SPIEL was cancelled. The online event that replaced it was not as successful, and in 2021 there was a return to the in person fair albeit with restrictions and much smaller than that in 2019. Today is the first day of this year’s SPIEL which runs from Thursday to Sunday every October.
|– Image from spiel-messe.com|
Although many of the Covid restrictions have been lifted, medical grade surgical masks covering mouth and nose are still mandatory for all visitors and exhibitors. So while SPIEL will likely be larger this year than last, it probably won’t reach pre-pandemic proportions. The maths trade is back though, a crazy event where hundreds of people agree multiple trades and sales online in advance and then all meet up at 3pm and try to find the people they have made contracts with and make the exchanges. Remarkably, it works, and very well too, with some people selling hundreds of euros worth of games through this means.
|– Image by Friedhelm Merz Verlag|
Despite the number of people involved, the exchanges only take a few minutes and it is usually almost all over in half an hour making it a surprisingly efficient way of making space for the new arrivals. In addition to the Maths Trade, there will be the usual exhibitors showcasing their wares. The Spiel des Jahres and Deutscher Spiele Preis winners will also all be available and there will also be lots of games making their SPIEL debut. These include Uwe Rossenburg’s latest game, Atiwa, and the top of “The Essen Hotness” games: Tiletum, Revive, Woodcraft, Lacrimosa and Hamlet: The Village Building Game. Games like Flamecraft, Turing Machine and War of the Ring: The Card Game will be for sale too.
|– Image by BGG contributor W Eric Martin|
There will be re-implementations, like Richard Breese’s reworking of his 1998 game, Keydom’s Dragons (formerly Keydom), Clever 4Ever (extending Ganz Schön Clever), Skymines (a redevelopment of Mombasa), Amsterdam (formerly Macao) and of course, Ticket to Ride (San Francisco). Expansions will also be on show for games like The Red Cathedral (Contractors), Galaxy Trucker (Keep on Trucking), Meadow (Downstream), Sagrada (The Great Facades – Glory) and two of our favourites, Viticulture (World) and Wingspan (Asia). Sadly, no-one from boardGOATS will be there to see them though; maybe next year…
|– Image from stonemaiergames.com|