Sorry that the news from Essen is running so late but I came down with ear infections in both ears in the wake of our return to the States.
On our way to Essen we stopped off in Amsterdam for a few days. In between visiting museums and touring the canals I squeezed in three visits to game shops.
Compendium was a very nice shop but a bit disappointing. Aside from a few copies of Ian Livingstone's games, such as Automania (one of Siggins' favorites), it could have been any random American game shop. They were fully stocked with all things American and English - wargames, trading cards, miniatures, that whole Games Workshop scene. Sigh. Not what I was looking for.
Intertoys seems to be a chain of toy shops. They had a nice selection of games but mostly mass market stuff - Ravensburger, MB, Jumbo titles from the last year or so.
Games Paradise was much better but only offered a few of the top selling games (such as Die Siedler). I bought one Dutch game, Virus from Blue Zebra Games.
Virus features very nice bits (a personal weakness) and English rules. The playing pieces are fully sculpted, painfully cute viruses with small colored rings to denote who owns which virus when. However, the rules look almost unplayable but include a note (in Dutch!) which may clear things up.
Amsterdam features several bars which promote games play on the premises. These folks mostly play traditional games such as chess or backgammon but they are fierce game playing fanatics with a tight schedule of events throughout the week.
Essen was, as always, great fun. You'll find complete reports from a number of sources in The Cabinet.
Finally, if anyone translates any of the new games be sure to drop me a copy of the translation. Everyone is chomping at the bit to get good rule translations for this lot.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell