The international game days in Essen began in the traditional way in 2017 with the press conference followed by a novelty show. What Dominique Metzler, Hermann Hutter and Frank Zirpins put into the hands of the media representatives present was interesting, confirmatory, and sometimes brave. In our review, we summarize the essential information from the press conference for you and selectively wander through Hall 1A to present some new products. 


Courageous: SPIEL'17 mentioned in the same breath as Gamescom

After an introductory greeting, the press conference began with the presentation of a few selected board games from various publishers. The appearance by Sebastian Fitzek and Marco Teubner was a first highlight of the Wednesday of the fair. The bestselling author presented the thriller board game Safehouse that was developed in collaboration with Marco Teubner and Jörn Stollmann. According to his own statements, Sebastian Fitzek has now settled playfully at board games such as Lotti Karotti or Crocodile what is not least due to the interests of his accompanying children. It was then clear that for him the two toilet games Lightning poop from Megableu and Pee party there was no way around Hasbro. His own board game career began with an absolute classic: The game of life

Just like books, games take you on a journey into another world. This is exactly the feeling that the creative minds wanted when designing Sebastian Fitzek Safe House (published by the moses publishing house, by the way) to the players. For a physical game project, this is not a completely new idea because the game element of time pressure has been used several times in other titles, but one that is welcomed by many fans. You feel like you are in a game Safehouse literally “driven” and finally relieved when you could reach the saving and eponymous safe house at the end of the game. That the moses. Verlag was selected for the implementation of the board game idea is due to the grandiose series of games Black Stories, Sebastian Fitzek is enthusiastic about it. If you follow Marco Teubner's (not very serious) statements, it is only logical that the choice fell on him as a children's game author: after all, it is hardly a surprise when you have bookshelves full of psychological thrillers at home. And those who have children understand the playroom as a crime scene anyway. In this way, what belongs together came together in order to put the story-packed board game together with a pretty pop-up game board on its feet.

It was explicitly mentioned that you don't have to be a Fitzek fan or have read a single book by the successful German author in order to Safehouse to play. A real heartbeat and a good dose of excitement are guaranteed when you play cooperatively against the game at your home game table. What else is behind the idea too Sebastian Fitzek Safehouse the bestselling author reveals in a short interview that we had with him at the novelty show.

A few more game performances later, it was Hermann Hutter who traditionally had the honor of presenting the toy industry's growth figures. Despite the immense range of new game titles being released, the enthusiasm for board games and toys is unbroken. In September, the industry growth (across all product groups) was already 7,8 percent - which can be described as enormous in view of the Christmas business ahead. The winners in the industry are primarily family games, which are seeing double-digit growth rates. 

Another advantage is that we have won back the target group of 15 to 35 year olds. Modern game concepts are primarily responsible for this. “Nowadays, gaming is a kind of slowing down,” said Hermann Hutter, explaining the industry's successes. In addition, "games are also excursions into other worlds in which one can move with creativity and imagination." Due to the popularity of board games, many titles over the 50 euro mark are now in demand, which will not only please the big publishers, but also many independent game developers who rely on escalating material battles and expensive miniature board games.

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The sales figures on the German toy market will continue to rise in the future, which could be proven by a study that assumes that every second German will buy a parlor game for themselves or as a gift in the next twelve months. The large selection of different game titles, on the other hand, is more of a kind of obstacle for around 26 percent of end customers, because it is difficult to decide on a suitable game. Influencer marketing will continue to gain in importance because around 60 percent of buyers rely on recommendations.

Hermann Hutter, Chairman of Spielverlage eV, also has wishes for the future: The opening of Gamescom 1 by Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel was a clear sign for the video game industry. Similar support is also desired for the toy industry, which also has great products to offer. And in fact, more political involvement would do the industry good - also because the worlds between video games and board games continue to merge. Game publishers such as Asmodee, Noris or rudy Games rely on digital technologies to enable players to have hybrid gaming experiences. Especially rudy Games has an excellent understanding of how board game mechanisms can be combined with apps. Nice Leaders - A combined game was a respectable success for the Austrians. With the interactive family game Interaction rudy Games relies on an app that players get to know and uses this information to design the game. This is not only innovative, but perhaps a consistent further development of so-called social games, which place the personal backgrounds of the other players at the center of the gaming experience. In the end, the customers decide on the success of such concepts - at least the generation of smartphone and tablet users will gratefully accept hybrid games as alternatives to purely physical game concepts.

Overall, the industry is becoming more and more international. Around 65 percent of the 1100 exhibitors came from abroad. If it were up to Hermann Hutter, the entire exhibition space at Messe Essen would be used for oneself in just a few years. The SPIEL'17 press conference could therefore also be understood as a declaration of love for the Essen location, which remains firmly linked to the history of the International Game Days.

“The game publishers are ready to come up with new ideas,” concludes Hermann Hutter. We have nothing to add to that.  

For the first time: Award of the innoSpiel 2017

Game publishers and authors love awards. In order to fill the cup shelves, the organizers of the international game days have therefore developed an additional award, which was presented for the first time this year: the innoSPIEL 2017. 

In the future, the new jury prize will be awarded to board games that use a particularly innovative play element. Last but not least, the award serves as a decision-making aid for customers to find their way around the market for board and family games. The innoSPIEL prize was launched by the organizing Friedrich Merz Verlag and the city of Essen. 

The winner of the innoSPIEL 2017 is not an unknown title. The jury of the Spiel des Jahres eV already paid increased attention to the winning title and put the game on the nomination list for the 2017 Game of the Year: Magic Maze from Pegasus Games. The author Kasper Lapp was able to convince the jury of the innoSPIEL with his idea. Four icons of classic fantasy (elf, dwarf, barbarian and mage) gather at Magic Maze in a mall to find gear for their next adventure. Chronic lack of money seduced the group to theft. Finding the right equipment in the winding corridors of the shopping center is just as difficult as the subsequent escape. The fact that all game actions have to be carried out under time pressure is what creates at Magic Maze additional tension. Even if the background story is morally questionable, Magic Maze is considered a cooperative real-time board game, which the jury of the Spiel des Jahres eV must have already viewed as promoting culture. And the game mechanism actually works extremely well when 1 to 8 players move the figures together through the maze - whereby certain rules of movement must be followed. Verbal communication is undesirable for a large part of the playing time, so that each individual player has to make tactically wise decisions as soon as special promotions are pending. Magic Maze becomes an innovative board game that combines clever mechanisms with a constantly changing shopping center. The enormous replay value contributes significantly to the success of Kasper Lapps' idea.

Overall is Magic Maze* A recommended board game by Pegasus Spiele - and a worthy winner of the innoSPIEL 2017.

Visually impressive: the board games of the novelty show

There was a lot to discover at the SPIEL'17 novelty show in Essen. In addition to maple bacon chewy candies, there were mainly board games such as Roller Coaster Challenge, A Game of Thrones - Catan, When I dream or Vikings go Wild - The board gamethat caught the eye of visitors. In any case, visual stimuli seemed to have been particularly important to game manufacturers this year. It was all the more difficult for the individual titles to stand out from the crowd. The majority of all board games at SPIEL'17 had one thing in common: the graphic quality was consistently great. 

Not Ken Follett: Michael Rieneck on the foundation of eternity

In contrast to at least one American colleague, we of course immediately had Michael Rieneck as the author of the board game Ken Folletts: Foundation of Eternity recognized and seized the opportunity to talk to him about the third part of the board game trilogy. The game for the new Follett novel was published by Franckh KOSMOS and continues the story of the Kingsbridge saga. Now in the 16th century, it is Queen Elizabeth I who ascends the throne. The players slip into the roles of merchants to run their trading houses, but above all to make them profitable. Ken Folletts: The Foundation of Eternity was conceived by Michael Rieneck as a strategic board game that combines several game mechanisms. Underneath is a clever dice mechanism that enriches the hybrid of worker placement and majority with a noticeable element of happiness. You don't have to know the books in order to Ken Folletts: The Foundation of Eternity to be able to play. “It makes sense to read it for all fans who want to delve deeper into the details of the board game,” recommends Michael Rieneck. The author is especially grateful for the great illustrations by Michael Menzel, who was already involved in the graphic development of The legends of Andor caused enthusiasm. And the illustrations actually make a noticeable contribution to the gaming experience.

SPIEL'17 in Essen: Review of the press conference and news show

Micheal Rieneck understands his concept as a strategy game compatible with the masses, whose playful values ​​only fully unfold after a few “introductory games”. Getting started with Ken Folletts: Foundation of Eternity make it comparatively easy. Developing strategically meaningful actions, on the other hand, is a thoroughly ambitious task for players. As far as the author of the game has its way, it is above all conflict-prone players who add tension to the third part of the Follett trilogy. In games of around 90 minutes, the participants play through several game rounds, each of which is divided into two half-years. While the actions of the existing people are always carried out in the first half of the year, in the second half of the year the players receive new characters - also known from the novel - and carry out free actions in the spaces provided. For Michael Rieneck is his Ken Folletts: Foundation of Eternity* a good mix of beginner-friendliness and demand. Not all players see it that way. Above all, those who expected the board game to deliver a maximum of strategic action assume that the title is too lucky due to the dice mechanics. 

As a player interested in the title, you will not be able to avoid getting a picture of yourself Ken Folletts: Foundation of Eternity close. A games fair offers the perfect setting for this.

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