Saturday, 1 December 2018

Roller coaster of Life

The Essen Spiel starts the same way every year: you arrive in a busy hall filled with vans, forklifts and pallets. The aisles are filled with packing material and other trash. It takes several hours to get your booth ready, then a quick dinner and some sleep. The next morning is the “run and fight for your table” -competition in the novelty room. Every year over 1300 new board games are published, and most of them are presented in Essen Spiel. This year we presented Darwinning!, The Revised edition of Perdition’s Mouth and the Hideout expansion. My hands were shaking when I tried to set up all components for the press to wonder. I was sweating and cold at the same time. Once the novelty room set up was done, instead of staying at our booth, I went to see a doctor. The stubborn Spanish ‘flu was still making my life miserable.

The doctor’s appointment wasn’t as smooth and quick as in Spain. I had to fill up several forms: permission for saving my personal data and an affirmation that I haven’t arrived in Germany just to get medical care. They photocopied my passport and made me wait an hour. This time the doctor did speak English, and after listening to my lungs, he wrote a prescription for the same antibiotics I got already in Spain. In addition to that, he prescripted several herbal products and an extra dose of zinc and vitamin c. In Finland, you never get any prescription for herbal products. I bought all the stuff and hoped they would help me to survive hectic Essen Spiel.
Our booth was filled with players during Essen Spiel. 

Novelty Trashes

Lee is showing Dwarf prototype for I-Play-Red.

I know that the best medicine for a ‘flu is rest. But that was not possible to arrange. This year our booth with six tables was filled with gamers, all the time. All of a sudden it was already Saturday, and I remembered our games were still in the novelty room. I was supposed to pick them up on Friday evening. I soon learned I was not the only one who forgot the deadline. On Sunday, after closing time, I entered the novelty room with some other publishers. We found a massive pile of game components, tablecloths, roll-ups and brochures. Novelties were just waiting for a trash bin. I was lucky and found our games at the very front of the pile, some components were a bit crushed but mostly ok.

Novelties on their way to the trash bin...
The room had been locked and not used after Friday. Why the organisers had just to swipe everything to a huge pile of trash? Is it really that difficult to create some system to serve exhibitors with a bad memory? On the other hand, if so many publishers just do not care about the material they put out to novelty room and don’t bother to pick it up, perhaps they should pay some extra fee.  I felt awful when I left the room. I really hope Friedhelm Merz Verlag would do something to improve the practical arrangements of the novelty room in Essen Spiel. Not only for the benefit of small publishers with a lousy memory, but also for the environment.

Stop and Go Punishment

The Friday after Essen I was driving a German autobahn towards Leipzig. We had had a couple of relaxing days with a proper sauna at the Camping in Naumburg, which have become our second home during this year. All of a sudden the car started shaking, a lot. I thought a tire exploded and drove to an exit. On the ramp, the car just stopped. I tried to turn on the engine. Nothing.

The membership of The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (ATCF) proved again to be worth every euro. The car was towed to VW repair store and our caravan to the other side of the street. Our not-invited travelling companion Mr Murphy had clearly thought to stop our tour by busting the car engine. How wrong was he! Already on the same evening, we had organised a rental car to pull the caravan. We created a Quickstarter fundraising campaign and asked for the help of the board gaming community. The community replied, and our campaign was funded within some hours.

Potato Peeling And Steaming Advocaat

30 tons of games arrived
after 6 days of waiting.
The following days were quite a rollercoaster, with events and emotions. Of course, we had allocated that time as vacation time. Instead of relaxing we ended up solving one problem after another. In addition to the car issue, we had 30 tons of games stuck in German customs, due to a missing hyphen in freight papers. When Kickstarter threatened to suspend our Quickstarter, and one promising car turned out to be a fraud, I sat by the kitchen table shedding tears and writing an update to campaign backers. I had to remind my self that I shouldn’t try to solve everything at once. A huge pile of potatoes can be peeled only one potato at a time.

It’s important to ask for help when you need it. We contacted all our German friends with the car issue. They offered translation help and searched and other car sales platforms. Most of these friends we have met for the first time on this tour. Like Sven and his family, who we learned to know during the hot summer, at a beach by a German lake. When we had promised a place for a night with sauna in Lapland to Sven and his friend on their tour to Nordkapp next summer, we didn’t know how important that connection would be. During this crisis, we found out he is the most amazing, good-hearted man in Germany. He promised to help us with the registration of the new car.

We also had unforgettable, good moments during those days. We visited a spa, Leine Bad. They had several saunas. Unlike in many other spa saunas, these were unisex and still, people were naked. The only difference for Finnish sauna was that people were not allowed to throw water on the stove. It was the saunameisters task. German saunameister is a profession, and throwing the water is a half an hour show. We were lucky to experience one of these shows. The guy poured to the stove some advocaat mixed in water and spread the löyly with a big fan. The seats were covered with red-faced, sweating and puffing Germans and some Finns, smiling widely and clearly enjoying themselves.

Our new car and caravan at our warehouse in Leipzig.

Anti-Stress Surprise

Väinö was teaching Perdition's Mouth
for boys his age in Spielwiesn.

Ten days after the engine suddenly died out, we bought a car, Mercedes Benz Vito with automatic gears and 4-wheel driving. It is always risky to buy a used car, but we were really out of options. We filled the van with our games and booth equipment and drove to Munich.

Spielwiesn turned out to be a great event with many visitors. Yet again, we were the only foreign exhibitor. Besides of boardgames and delicious snacks, the fair offered an exhibition of Lego constructions.

So many Legos, so neatly placed...

I was explaining the rules of Darwinning at our booth when a woman came with a surprise present. She had read about our problems from Spieleschmiede’s Facebook update and wanted to meet us and help us. She gave me a yellow “DDP” car and an Anti-Stress postcard. I shed some more tears, but now because of joy and sentiment. We are not alone on this tour. There is a whole community travelling with us.

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