Among the many very good gaming events of a given year, there are three events that I only miss under the most dire of circumstances. The Nuremberg International Toy Fair in February and the Spiel in Essen in October seem to be self evident. The third of these is the game author’s fair in Göttingen, which since time immemorial, takes place in the city hall in Göttingen on the first weekend of June. I have written something about this (German) on my Blog already, which I don’t want to rehash right now (editor’s note: we have published an English article by ourselves last year).
This being the oldest and still biggest event of its kind world wide was extremely well-attended, with about 350 people this Saturday (the tables were sold out for the first time, even though some tables stayed empty due to cancellations in the end). The city hall hit its capacity limit, but it’ll be renovated next year so we’ll have to move into the notably bigger Lokhalle anyway (which is the reason why the meeting will be moved to July – at least it probably won’t be running parallel to the UK Games Expo then, which most likely has forced some publishers to do a split this time around).
This year I could especially enjoy the meeting, due to the fact that I didn’t have any prototypes ready that I would have wanted to present. So I had quite a bit of time to look at exciting stuff from other people and even play quite a bit. Of course in one and a half days there’s never enough time to try everything, but it’s a bit like in Essen: It’s mainly about getting to know new people and meeting old friends again, which you only get to meet during such events. Naturally it was a special treat for me, that there were even two authors from South America who took on the long journey. I had invited both of them to come to the open game circle on Friday to be sure to have enough time to play their games. Up first was Corruptia, designed by Fernando Casals Caro together with Camila Muñoz Vilar (who sadly couldn’t be there herself). Corruptia is, unsurprisingly, a game about politics. As a politician you try to use the mood of the people to get your projects through the parliamentary votes as unimpeded as possible. The game scores with some clever and new mechanics, and went down very well in our group of five people. For me personally three rounds instead of the five would have sufficed (I am a fan of very short games), that aside it was gripping until the end. Corruptia is scheduled to be released in Chile in September, and judging from how many people attended Fernando’s table on Sunday, I can very well imagine that it might land over here as well some day (editor’s note: it will be available at NiceGameShop before Essen).
Leandro Maciel from Brazil even brought a whole cabinet of games with very appealingly designed prototypes. Sadly we only had time to play one of them, more specifically Loony Races. The name is telling, it’s a race, where you can never be too sure of your success. It is a back and forth with foul play involved, in which I mainly only got second place due to the fact that I sneaked up too close to the finish line. A little more restraint would have been smarter, given the cards I held. So I learned something again. On Sunday I then got the opportunity to play a bit of Fire in the Hole, in which a team of rabbits and a team of moles literally undermine a farm and work towards getting the carrots to tumble down. If you’re not careful though and drill into the cowshed less appetizing cow droppings will fall down into your own hole. Since both teams are intent on manipulating the labyrinth in their own favor there are nice take-that moments. Leandros’ games are easily accessible and make you laugh – his table was also well-visited and he was not only able to just gather interest from publishers for pretty much all of his prototypes, but may possibly be sitting down to finish others right now, to send them as well.
I experienced some relief there, since of course it’s never the case that every author can garner that much attention. That being the case, I’m pretty happy that at least the ones with the longest journey managed to do so brilliantly.
Apart from that I still managed to play prototypes from Michael Luu, Sophia Wagner and Torsten Landsvogt, which were in different stages of completion and included some clever ideas all around that I would definitely like to play again. We’ll see which of those will end up on the market.
Another small treat was that I had a talk with Michael Kiesling just at a time where there was nobody else at his table and he instantly invited me to play a game of Azul with him. It’s probably not a surprise that it wasn’t a very close match. What mainly fascinated me, was the fact of how quickly he took his decisions as a veteran player, while I of course had to think way longer. Azul is just an awesome game, that only very few people that I know don’t like.
In the evening we sat in a jolly circle with Reinhold Wittig and found out, that three of the five people in our room had never played The Mind. Since we didn’t have a copy with us, we improvised a game of five with Take 6! cards, some screw-nuts as lives and something else as throwing stars. It was really, really great, there was tons of laughter and legendary scenes and we really managed to clear level 6 first try. I think that the three newcomers didn’t really understand why I was so excited (third win in my 52th game). On the next day one of them told me, that they later played some more and only then realized how hard the whole thing really is.
When I look at those two gaming experiences in the space of a few hours, I get reminded why I keep my fingers crossed for The Mind as choice for game of the year so much. Azul is a cool game, very balanced and with a nice level of interaction, that’s neither too confrontational nor too much of a hug box. I would play it again any day. The Mind, however, brings up emotions and that’s what I especially wish to get in a game.
On Sunday evening I hosted Rustan Håkansson as a guest. At least his game Nations should be known to many of you. We sadly didn’t try any of his games, but it was simply a very stimulating evening with a bit of gaming and good conversations. That’s also a strength of the meeting in Göttingen: I take more time for individual people.
So, overall a really fantastic weekend for me and I’m very much looking forward to next time.