Board players from all over the world have been making a pilgrimage to the heart of the Ruhr area for decades - this year too. The International Game Days will take place in Essen from October 24th to 27th. The organizing Friedhelm Merz Verlag expects around 190.000 visitors. 1.200 exhibitors from 53 nations present over 1.500 new games. SPIEL'19 breaks records well before it opens. Aside from the statistics, there are also innovations at SPIEL. We have summarized the most important information for visitors. 

Trends, panels, innovations and a whole host of games: this is what the international game days in Essen stand for. This year, too, is no different. Publishers and authors lure fans to the gaming table with tried-and-tested or completely new concepts. It is clever to prepare thoroughly for SPIEL'19. 

This is new at SPIEL'19 in Essen

Probably the biggest innovation at SPIEL'19 is the so-called "Preview Night", which will take place on Wednesday, October 23rd, from 18 p.m. in the Congress Center CC South of the Essern exhibition halls. Until 1 a.m. into the night, those fans who have gotten a ticket for the game night can play selected innovations exclusively before the gates open. 65 publishers are taking part in the campaign, including many well-known and smaller game providers.

The "GAME Preview Night" is a completely new concept that Friedhelm Merz Verlag has come up with for this year. The idea is well received: all the tickets for the "Preview Night" have long been sold out, and there are only a few remaining tickets through competitions or special offers. 

The Educator's Day on Friday October 25th. Originally geared towards the general public, the International Game Days dare to take a big step further towards the trade fair. Because games are now being used everywhere, increasingly also for educational purposes, the organizers want to help educate the specialist audience accordingly. Discussions and lectures bring experts from teaching and science together with practitioners.

A total of eight events, some of them in English, will be offered from 10.20 a.m.

    • 10:20 am: Games as motive forces of change: education & society [English]
    • 13:15 p.m .: Do board games make people smarter? Two initial exploratory studies
    • 14:00 p.m .: Games in primary school [English]
    • 14:35 Clock: It's your turn! - Psychological reasons for you to unlock the potentials of game based learning [English]
    • 15:10 p.m.: Schools with good play skills! [German English]
    • 16:00 p.m .: Playing goes to school [German]
    • 16:35 pm: Games to promote narrative skills in (history) lessons using the example of Textura [German]
    • 17:10 p.m .: We have to get them while they're young! [German]

In addition, educational professionals have access to the novelty show, which traditionally follows the press conference of the international game days. There, educators can take a look at the board game innovations themselves. 

All-round offer: There are also comics at SPIEL'19. Photo: André Volkmann

All-round offer: There are also comics at SPIEL'19. Photo: André Volkmann

Hall 6 is brand new because it was newly built. There visitors will find everything that has anything to do with role-playing games and comics. In Halls 1, 2 and 3, the focus is on board and card games. In the new Hall 6, everyone who visits SPIEL'19 for role-playing, fantasy and cosplay will get their money's worth. The "Artists Alley" is also located there. Publishers like Panini, on the other hand, will present their novelties from the comic segment.

The program with all the events and offers of the exhibitors can also be found on the official SPIEL website:

This year, the international hall is Hall 4. There will be joint stands in foreign languages ​​and the popular shipping service. Small, independent authors and publishers will find space in Hall 5 to present their ideas. In the Galeria, everything remains the same as in previous years: there are food stalls and lots of play options for children.

More convenience for SPIEL'19 visitors

The ambitious goal of the organizers is again every year: More comfort for visitors. To achieve this, there is a new access concept in which the entrance options have been expanded: instead of being able to buy tickets at all entrances on site, as before, the West Entrance is reserved for holders of advance sales tickets.

Visitors who have purchased their tickets for SPIEL'19 in advance can enter the exhibition halls via the exclusive West Entrance. Important for all other visitors: There are no box offices at the West Entrance. 

There is another entrance via Hall 6 at Messe Essen. Image: Messe Essen

There is another entrance via Hall 6 at Messe Essen. Image: Messe Essen

If you want to buy tickets on site, you have to use the east entrance of Messe Essen instead. There are also around 3.000 additional cloakroom spaces where jackets can be left. This year there is further access to the fair via Hall 6. 

Arrival to SPIEL'19 and parking spaces

It can be preached like a prayer wheel, but it is important: When traveling to SPIEL, visitors should prefer public transport. Even if the Deutsche Bahn, the VRR and the Essener Verkehrsgesellschaft are still far from working correctly: the journey to the exhibition halls will again be more pleasant this year by bus and train than by car.

Who with the public transport arrives, get off at Essen main station. From there, the underground line U11 runs directly to the west and south entrances on trade fair days with low frequency. At EVAG that is U11 line timetable viewable online. The journey to SPIEL'19 takes around five minutes, but waiting times at the U11 departure level in the underground of Essen Central Station are to be expected. What always sounds out of the loudspeakers and should also be observed: "Please go through to the end of the platform".

Anyone who made it into the exhibition halls can play, play, play. Photo: André Volkmann

Anyone who made it into the exhibition halls can play, play, play. Photo: André Volkmann

Some impairments in rail traffic are already clear. The railway has announced that points will be renewed on the S1 Dortmund-Solingen and the S3 Hattingen-Oberhausen routes. More information on possibly short-term Construction has "Max Mole" from Deutsche Bahn.

If you still want to travel by car, you can get to Messe Essen directly via the A52, A3, A40 and A42 motorways. Visitors can also enter Messeplatz 1 in 45131 Essen into their navigation systems. The roads to the fair are signposted, as is the parking guidance system.

A total of 7.000 parking spaces are available for visitors. Parking spaces P19, P1, P2, P3, P5 and P9 can be reached at SPIEL'10, while P6 serves as a disabled parking space. The parking costs are six euros per day.
Meanwhile, Messe Essen has published the information for visitors that it is this year no ticket booths at parking lot P10 will give.

There are also two at the University of Essen free parking: in the university car park at Universitätsstrasse as well as in the university car park on Reckhammerweg. The journey from the university to Messe Essen takes just ten minutes with the U11 underground line.

Tickets and opening times 

SPIEL'19 will take place from October 24th to 27th, 2019. The exhibition halls are open every day from 10 a.m., on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 19 p.m. and on Sundays until 18 p.m.

  • Thursday, October 24th: 10 a.m. to 19 p.m.
  • Friday, October 25th: 10 a.m. to 19 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 26th: 10 a.m. to 19 p.m.
  • Sunday October 27th: 10 a.m. to 18 p.m.

This year it will no combination tickets which include a public transport ticket. The necessary contract between Messe Essen and the Ruhrbahn has not been extended. The Friedhelm Merz Verlag as the organizer is also bound by this. The publisher states on its website: "The long-term contract between Messe Essen and the Ruhrbahn, to which we are unfortunately subject, was not extended, so it will not be renewed this year or in the future for any event in Messe Essen give combined tickets for the VRR. We very much regret this.”

Tickets for SPIEL'19 are available in advance. The day tickets cost between 8 and 36 euros, the season tickets between 21 and 37 euros:

Day tickets for the SPIEL:

  • Adults: 15 euros
  • Children from 4 to 12 years: 8 euros
  • Schoolchildren, students, people with disabilities (proof required; an accompanying person is free if the code is "B"): 12 euros
  • Families with a maximum of five people: (max. 2 adults, children up to 12 years or student ID): 36 euros

Season tickets for the SPIEL:

  • Adults: 37 euros
  • Children from 4 to 12 years: 21 euros
  • Schoolchildren, students, people with disabilities (proof required; an accompanying person is free if the code is "B"): 28 euros

Tickets are available on site at the box office and in advance sales at the Essen trade fairs. The ticket shop is under this Link available. The advance booking fee is two euros per ticket. Presale tickets can be printed out or presented in digital form on a smartphone or tablet. 

Tickets for the Preview Night cost 35 euros, but this event is already sold out. Tickets are only available through competitions and special offers. 

Participate now: You can get a VIP package for SPIEL'19 including a season ticket and ticket for the Preview Night > here win.

Visitors who want to enjoy SPIEL'19 to the full should be there as early as possible. Overall, Messe Essen is large and spacious, but with around 200.000 visitors, the hall reaches its capacity limits - also due to the stand structures and gaming tables. In the morning hours, especially when it is opened, there is a good chance of getting hold of a gaming table. If you arrive later, you have to be patient. By the way: The courage to ask about individual free places at the tables is worth it!

Asking for free places is worthwhile: board players are usually happy to see other players. Photo: André Volkmann

Asking for free places is worthwhile: board players are usually happy to see other players. Photo: André Volkmann

With over 1.500 new products, there are enough playful alternatives for visitors. The supporting program of SPIEL'19 can be as innovative and inviting as it is - in the end most of the guests only want to try out new board games. At SPIEL, the portfolio includes everything that touches the hearts of casual and frequent gamers: from strategy game to children's games and family games to those with the "game of the year' award-winning title, everything is there.

In addition to well-known board games, smaller publishers also invite you to play along with great ideas. Our editors have started to collect their recommendations: there is a constantly growing list here .

Panels, discussions and charity campaigns

The European Players' Guild will again make its contribution to the International Match Days. This year with a Exhibition under the motto "spielART"that focuses on the artistic aspects of board games. The works of art can be seen in Hall 5 at Stand A-118.

Games Game designers' guild invites you to one on Saturday, October 26th, starting at 11 a.m. Discussion event into the hall "Rheinland". The panel discussion will then focus on games in toy libraries and libraries. Such facilities in public space are constantly expanding their range of games and are becoming contact points for shared gaming experiences, especially for newcomers to games. The podium guests provide insights into day-to-day work and the challenges associated with it.

This is about digital board game formats Panel on the subject of "YouTube, Podcasts and Co - The digital world of analogue games", which will take place on Saturday, October 26, from 14 p.m. in the "Berlin" room. YouTubers, podcasters and bloggers then talk about their offers and format and offer tips for audience retention.

The "Meet and Play" meeting will take place again this year. You can find us there too. Photo: André Volkmann

The meeting "Meet and Play" will take place again this year. you meet us there Photo: André Volkmann

The proven format "meet and play' will take place at SPIEL'19 on Friday, October 25, from 14 to 18 p.m. in the Europa room, and thus for the first time in a large and international setting. YouTubers, bloggers and podcasters will then be guests in the more than 900 square meter hall and will be available for duels and discussions.

Friedhelm Merz Verlag is also breaking new ground with the presentation of the fair. For the first time, SPIEL'19 will stream from the exhibition halls over four days. If you want, you can stop by booth H-3 in hall 100, visit the studio there and watch the goings-on of the streamers.

There will be autographs on Friday, October 25, from 16 p.m. to 17 p.m. and on Saturday, October 26, from 14 p.m. to 15 p.m. - on both dates, Ian Livingstone will be available in Hall 6 at Stand K-121 to attend games, T- To sign shirts or scraps of paper. The guest star, author and entrepreneur is one of the people behind the Games Workshop, which he founded with Steve Jackson and John Peake.

SPIEL'19: Helpful links and tips for visitors

The international game days can in particular flood less experienced visitors with impressions. It is therefore advisable to prepare well for the visit.

Helpful links for visitors:

  • Game guide from Friedhelm Merz Verlag: Link
  • News list at Boardgamegeek: Link 
  • Event Badger game database app (Android): Link
  • VRR timetable information for the journey: Link
  • Tourist office of the city of Essen: Link

In advance, visitors should think about which games they absolutely want to see and play, which maybe and which not. The information can help to get yourself one Timetable and schedule for SPIEL'19. That sounds like a lot of work at first, but it makes your stay in Essen noticeably more pleasant and more playful. 

The games are explained in detail at the tables and can be tested. Photo: André Volkmann

The games are explained in detail at the tables and can be tested. Photo: André Volkmann

If you really want to shop well at SPIEL'19, you should also buy new ones Check games for completeness. Even with shrink-wrapped games, parts are occasionally missing or damaged. Instead of long service phone calls afterwards, problems can be clarified directly with the publisher's representatives on site. By the way: It pays to compare prices. Not every trade fair price advertised as a bargain is actually as cheap as it claims to be. At the SPIEL trial rounds, which almost every publisher offers at the gaming tables, protect against quick purchases. 

Who buys a lot can Shipping service use SPIEL'19 in Hall 4. Every kilo too much makes walking through the exhibition halls difficult. Those who have calculated their budget too tightly and have to realign themselves financially will find one ATM at Messe Essen: Sparkasse Essen - ATM Messe Essen-Süd
Exhibition center south. The organizer provides further helpful information on the website Games fair ready.

Here there was Memoarrr in XXL - and with prominent support. Photo: André Volkmann

Here there was Memoarrr in XXL - and with prominent support. Photo: André Volkmann

It's worth keeping an eye out for the board game celebrities at the publishers' tables. It is not uncommon for publishers to invite authors over several days, who then present their games themselves and sign copies. In this way, fans can also use the opportunity to talk directly to their favorite authors.

Even in the crowd, the following applies to all visitors: be attentive, polite and considerate - there are also children in the halls. Be patient and do not rush. Everyone can go where they want, but sometimes it takes longer. 

SPIEL'19: trending topics and game highlights 

Board games are no longer just played on the gaming table. Well-known publishers are also conquering digital worlds, some hesitantly, others with a true pioneering spirit. The strict separation between analog and digital is disappearing; authors and publishers nowadays regularly rely on app support to add new experiences to board games. 

Not only that: entire brands suddenly find themselves in worlds in which one would not have expected them. The Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive has announced the implementation of several board games, Crusader Kings: The Board Game has already been published, and the German publisher KOSMOS is also bringing the adaptation of the urban planning simulation Cities: Skylines to SPIEL'19. Discussions are less and less about board games or video games, but about gaming itself - regardless of the form.

There are new ideas and innovations on every corner at SPIEl. Photo: André Volkmann

There are new ideas and innovations on every corner at SPIEl. Photo: André Volkmann

Conversely, there are more and more cross-border products: Asmodee subsidiary Asmodee Digital brings adaptations of major titles such as Gloomhaven, Munchkin, Pandemic or Lord of the Rings - and it is not uncommon for players to grab them. Board games and video games have long since entered into a kind of symbiosis, they benefit from each other. Experts and hardcore fans still prefer the "good old table game" and they can do that again this year at the world's largest trade fair for parlor games - despite the available digital outliers.

miniatures in all colors, sizes and shapes remains one of the central themes in the high-priced board game segment. But not only that, other trending topics from the past few years are experiencing a revival at SPIEL'19: They are still popular Escape games, Kosmos has expanded the EXIT series, opened up a completely brand with "Escape Tales - The Awakening" and dared to step into the analogue-digital intermediate world with the publication of the "Adventure Games", in which fans can discover the story behind the game step by step have to discover.

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There are topics that appear with almost penetrating regularity in board games. It's not innovative, but it's clever. In particular, board games with the following settings are selling well and are still in trend:

  • Crime / Detectives
  • Mars colonization
  • Underwater World
  • Pirate and island adventures

Board games such as Detective by Portal Games (Pegasus Games) or Chronicles of Crime by Lucky Duck Games (Corax) show that the "played crime scene" is not a service for old men, but means cross-generational evening entertainment.  

Chronicles of Crimes brings the crime scene to the table. Photo: André Volkmann

Chronicles of Crimes brings the crime scene to the table. Photo: André Volkmann

Also this year there will be a wide variety of crime games and expansions for crime games that have already been published - some of them even with app support. Crime games in particular seem to be made to catapult gamers into the middle of the story with the help of their smartphones and tablets. In virtual environments, snoopers can then explore environments, search for evidence and transfer their results into the analog world - and thus onto the game board. That works very well most of the time. So good, in fact, that publishers have invented their own genre with their interactive crime games. 

Pirates are always a theme, as are island adventures and survival stories. Some representatives of this genre will also find their way to the publishers' stands at SPIEL'19. The best known titles are probably "Cooper Island" by Frosted Games (Pegasus Games), "Maracaibo" by dlp Games or "Palm Island" by KOSMOS. 

Because our game editors not only write about board and card games, but also play them themselves, each of them has a personal one Highlights at SPIEL'19that we have summarized in a list. 

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