I feel I should preface this letter with a small explanation. The Small Furry Creatures (and the associated Small Furry Creatures Press and Games, Games, Games magazine) represent something of an alternative to the Sumo view of gaming in the UK. The term 'fluffy games' is somewhat derogatory and is used to describe any game which neither leads to migraines nor simulates the deaths of one or more individuals.
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 95 16:03:58 GMT
Subject: Essen Games Fair '95
What I did at the Essen Spielfest
The Small Furry Creatures, so called because they are both tall and clean shaven, (or at least they used to be) took a stand at Essen this year with the intention of promoting their magazine, Games Games Games, selling some "fluffy" games and doing some deals with the German games companies. I was enticed into helping out, with the promise of a free Press pass, representing a saving of ~30 DM. God, I work cheap!
( 1 pound ~ 2.2 DM, so 1 US dollar ~ 1.4 DM )
Four of us flew in on Wednesday 18th October, the setup day, while Paul Evans, the less furry of the SF ones, drove across Germany with his girlfriend Rosie, the stock, and the collapsible stand. Under the direction of our glorious leader, Theo Clarke, we set to work papering and painting the wooden alcove a fetching shade of purple, which almost matched the royal blue of the stand. Recriminations followed :-)
We were in Hall 10, along with the flea market and a selection of smaller games companies. On the other side of our alcove was Ludolire, with a selection of Formula De racetracks and other games, while across the aisle was a juggling shop selling rubber chickens.
Between shifts I was able to explore the fair. The flea market stands had enormous quantities of 2nd hand German "fluffy" games, but smaller numbers of US board wargames. On the top floor, in Hall 13, there was a vast echoing MTG pavillion filled with card players, where the Wizards were launching Homelands, but there were also plenty of wargames companies, doing good business. Columbia Games were there, and so were Flying Buffalo. I picked up The Triumphant Fox and Ring of Fire from the Moments in History stand for 80 DM. (the special Messe Preis!), plus 5DM for the Famous Victory cassette. At the other end of Hall 13 was the Battletech area, where the banners of the Great Houses hung from balcony. There wasn't much playing of wargames going on, apart from Battletech, who along with the Wizards had most of the tables.
In general, Essen, and presumably Germany as a whole, is not a good place to bargain hunt for wargames, although on the last day prices tend to collapse. I picked up Speed of Heat and Ironclads Expansion for 40DM each at that stage.
On the Saturday of the fair, our team, The Broadway Weekenders, took part in the Intergames tournament. This is an international "fluffy" games competition, sponsored by various German games companies, played in four rounds. In the distant past we finished 3rd, but this time we came well down. Two other British teams came 2nd and 3rd, winning armfuls of games, but the Intergame winners were The Legionaires, already German champions. On Sunday, the individual best player was carried around the main hall in a sedan chair by a selection of losers, including Christian Garrilowitz, all time greatest loser, and game designer, while Agne Somnia (aka The Girly Team) were interviewed by Steve Jackson for the Daily Telegraph.
No, not that Steve Jackson, the OTHER Steve Jackson, co-founder of Games Workshop. One of The Girlies is herself a journalist, so it was all a bit incestuous.
The Intergame games themselves were a mixed bag. Maulworf Company, a simple game with brightly coloured pieces was painless and quick. Nomadi, a camel racing game played under extreme time pressure caused mental overload in many, including your correspondent. New York is a Sid Sackson designed real estate game set in The Big Apple.
The best game was Sternenhimmel from Gold Sieber, a clever little abstract game. Each player takes it in turn to place his/her pieces on one of the constellations in play. When a constellation is full, the value of the pieces played is totted up, the first and second placed players score some game money, and everyone gets their pieces back. A new constellation is then brought inton play. Some of the stars allow pieces to be played face down (ie. hidden), and each player has a black hole piece that eats all adjacent pieces. Bluff, double bluff, despair and triumph. This game has it all. In the competition, one of games played featured the Slowest Player in Britain and The Slowest Player In Germany going head to head, but it generally plays in ~45 minutes.
Then, suddenly, it was all over. Back to the world ...
Not to poke fun, Peter, but isn't complaining about the lack of wargames at Essen a bit like attending a motorcycle show and complaining about the lack of four wheeled vehicles? Perhaps you should make the trek to Origins, here in the States, where the mix of games may be more to your liking.
In all fairness, I suspect your view of the show would be shared by many American readers and I can heartily recommend Games, Games, Games to them.
I'm still disappointed that the Electronic Telegraph (the Web based incarnation of the Daily Telegraph) does not carry Steve Jackson's column. Perhaps a write in campaign is in order?
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 95 12:59:16 GMT
I never thought of 'fluffy' as derogatory. I like fluffy games. Its just a piece of verbal shorthand.
I should perhaps have added that the report was my own opinion, and did not represent Small Furry Creature's official position, which is that Paul or Theo will be writing an Essen Report for the next issue of GGG. GGG is largely fluffy in nature, but does include wargames reviews, as well as other things. (But not my report of What I Did at the 1995 World Science Fiction Convention. Sulk!)
I wasn't really complaining about the lack of wargames. Just an observation. I originally posted the text to the consim-l mailing list, which is wargames related. Hence the fact that I mentioned them at all. There were actually quite a lot of wargames on sale. I have never seen so many wargames on sale in my life. (Or at least not since last year) They were not particularly cheap, but that is to be expected when they are mostly, from the German point of view, foreign language imports.
The point about Essen is that it includes everything game related, including, bizarely, rubber chickens for juggling. Personally, I am interested in a large part of the content.
( except for juggling. Jugglers should be stood up against a wall , next to the white faced mimes, and shot. READ THE WORDS!)
I don't think your analogy really holds up. Essen is pretty much like the Motor Show, with bikes and 4 wheel drive vehicles, and RV's and trucks and kit cars as well as family saloons and sports cars.
Verbal shorthand, eh? Sort of like referring to the first all female team in the Interteam competition as the 'Girly Team'?
(Sorry, Peter, I couldn't resist and Annie would have killed me the next time I saw her if I didn't say something.)
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell