Adventures in Essen: Part 5: Tips and Best Practices


Now that I’m not an Essen noob, I have some tips and best practices for those that want to visit Essen in the future. I’ll be sure to re-visit this post as next year draws near.

  1. Book your hotel well in advance. Stay close or at least on the metro/subway line. We spent too much money on taxis though there were 4 of us so we could split the fares. Next year we’re thinking of staying at the Atlantic hotel as it’s within walking distance.
  2. Pack a luggage within your luggage. If you’re planning on buying a bajillion games, then make sure you’re prepared to get them home! Most flights out of Duseldorf (closest airport to Essen) will charge you 50 Euros for an extra luggage, so factor that in you decisions about which games you should pick up. My rule was that if I could get it in Canada, I wouldn’t buy it at Essen, no matter how cheap it was.
  3. Bring an empty rolling luggage with you to the Fair. Carrying games around all day can get tiring. One of the Game Artisans of Canada was smart and brought a rolly suitcase and made it super easy to carry games around. There were many other ‘smart’ people who did the same. I used the bags provided by the vendors and had 2 paper bags rip on me in the middle of an aisle. Boo!
  4. Create a list beforehand of the games you want AND add the publisher name and booth number to the list. It’s not easy finding games if you don’t know the publisher – but it’s super easy if you know the booth number.
  5. Bring a healthy snack if you can. The food options at the Fair are the usual hot dogs, pizza slices and Nutella-filled crepes. And they’re not cheap either – so brings some edibles and come well-fed already.
  6. If you’re going to split up with your friends, make sure the meet up point is very clear. Some publishers have multiple booths so that can get confusing! We had a meeting with a publisher who said to meet him at the Snack Point in Hall 6. After 2 very crowded loops of Hall 6, we couldn’t find any Snack Points. Apparently there was one there last year and he was basing the location from last year’s layout!
  7. No one can tell you which games you should or shouldn’t get, but pay attention to forums and buzz to find out which might sell out before others and plan to get those sooner than later. I really wanted a game called Die Burgen von Burgund and since it was a game that debuted last year, I figured that there would be plenty – however it still has not been published in America so it sold out right away and I never got a copy.
  8. Travelling to Essen from the Dusseldorf Airport will cost you 50 Euros in a taxi or you could take a train for about 4 Euros if you know how to get where you’re going. I actually went a few days early and went to Paris – so I took a train from Paris to Essen and then a cab from the train station, which was only about 12 Euros. On the way out I decided to incur the cost of a taxi because I wasn’t sure of where I was going (poor planning) if I had to take the train, and my foot was sore with some sort of heel spur.

Following some of these tips will definitely ensure a more pleasant Essen-going experience! If you’re a designer then you’ll want to follow these tips as well:

  1. Contact publishers 1-2 months in advance of Essen to book appointments. Basically, the bigger the publisher, the earlier you should be setting up meetings. Email contact should suffice.
  2. Carry all your prototypes around with you – at all times. You never know when you’re going to need them.
  3. Always carry around a Sales Sheet for each of your games. If for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to carry around your prototypes – then at least always have a Sales Sheet on hand. I’ve definitely had to pull out a Sales Sheet at unexpected times at conventions.
  4. Make sure each game is individually packaged. I used a large baggie for each game. When we send a game to a publisher, we’ll always put it in a nice box, but at Essen I was carrying 7 prototypes with me at all times and there wasn’t room for each of them to have boxes. They all fit in my backpack once I put them each into their own baggie. Of course ensure each baggie is labeled with all the pertinent information: Name of game, your name and contact info and even the basic playtime, age range and how many players your game can support.
  5. Know the publisher before meeting with them. Actually you should know the publisher before you even email them. But when you’re in a meeting with a publisher and they reference one of their games, you should be familiar with it.

That should ensure you’re prepared for a solid Essen adventure of your own. Next up I’ll regale you with a post about all the games I got at Essen!

-Jay Cormier

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