SPIEL'6 will take place in Essen from October 9th to 22th. Fans can then play the new board games of the season in the exhibition halls on site. The prices for the tickets are now fixed, as is the hygiene concept. The latter can still change depending on the Corona situation in autumn, but a mask requirement seems to be set. 

The organizing Friedhelm-Merz-Verlag reacted early to the corona autumn and established an obligation to wear medical mouth and nose protection for this year's fair: a surgical mask or type FFP2 protection must therefore be worn indoors. However, as of now, proof of vaccination does not have to be provided. What the situation will actually look like at the beginning of October is uncertain. According to the State Center for Health in North Rhine-Westphalia, the incidence in North Rhine-Westphalia is currently around 300. 

Corona: Organizer takes responsibility

If you look around in shops and everyday life, the mask is hardly an issue anymore. Even where masks are compulsory, many people are no longer so specific – on buses, trams or trains, for example. The rag then sits under the nose, often you don't see it at all. Experts expect the number of infections to increase in autumn. The mask will once again play a central role, whether you like it or not. 

Friedhelm Merz Verlag takes responsibility at an early stage and includes a mask requirement in its hygiene concept. Gamescom in Cologne recently showed how useful this is. Regarding the hygiene rules, Koelnmesse said: "Koelnmesse recommends that you voluntarily wear medical mouth and nose protection throughout the exhibition grounds" - so there was no obligation, it was left to the visitors and exhibitors to take protective measures . In the end, what had to come came: a few days after the video game fair, visitors reported a corona infection in social media in droves. 

Right from the start at SPIEL'22, the focus was on significantly more prevention, especially in view of the late autumn. But the rules are not set in stone. Friedhelm Merz Verlag rightly refers to the possibility of changes: "Visitors should find out more about the hygiene concept on the SPIEL website shortly before the start of the trade fair," says the publisher. On September 23, a new Corona Protection Ordinance will come into force in North Rhine-Westphalia, which could require adjustments. Essentially, this means access restrictions or proof of vaccination or tests - the mask requirement seems to be set. In view of the colder season, there is no reason to relax in this regard. The Bonn-based company is also acting contrary to the most recent board game conventions: at the UK Games Expo 2022 in the Somme there was neither a vaccination certificate requirement nor a mask requirement. 

Ticket prices for SPIEL'22 announced

More than 950 exhibitors from 56 nations meet interested visitors at the largest trade fair for parlor games - there will be thousands. The organizers count around 1.500 innovations. The exhibition area is as big as eight football pitches. There are game explainers everywhere, eager to introduce the new features. Small publishers from all over the world mingle with large, well-known providers. There is laughter, tinkering and puzzles. There is a very special atmosphere at SPIEL. Competitions, tournaments and world championships are just as much part of the program as panels, discussion rounds, the Educator's Day, which is aimed at educators, or the Research Day, which examines board games scientifically. 

Around 650 million sales were made with games in Germany alone last year. The industry is one of the profiteers of the Corona crisis. The fair marks the start of the Christmas season, in which up to 50 percent of annual sales are generated.

A ticket is required to enter the sacred halls of play. This year it costs 19 euros for adults. Tickets for SPIEL in Essen are available at www.spiel-messe.com available. In addition to the day tickets, there are also two-day tickets, a family ticket and, of course, trade visitor tickets. An important note from Friedhelm Merz Verlag: The ticket prices in online sales do not differ in price from the tickets that are sold on site. Advance purchase is therefore advisable in order to avoid or at least reduce waiting times at the cash desks. There are also box offices – but only at the east entrance. However, visitors who purchase their ticket in advance can use all entrances (West, East and South). 

The prices of SPIEL'22 for visitors:

  • Day ticket adults and children from 13 years: 19 euros (incl. service fee)
  • Day ticket children from 4 to 12 years: 11 euros (incl. service fee)
  • Day ticket families: max. 5 people (2 adults, children not older than 12 years or with student ID) 44 euros. Only available at the box office at the east entrance.
  • 2-day ticket adults (Thursday and Friday): 34 euros (incl. service fee)
  • 2-day ticket adults (Saturday and Sunday): 34 euros (incl. service fee)
  • 2-day ticket children from 4 to 12 years (Thursday and Friday): 18 euros (incl. service fee)
  • 2-day ticket children from 4 to 12 years (Saturday and Sunday): 18 euros (incl. service fee)

In the halls there is a colorful program that ranges from games to shopping. Events and information sessions also form a part of the International Match Days. So there is one Meet'n'Play, a mini-event where visitors meet content creators - on Saturday, October 8, from 14 p.m. in the Europa room, you will find numerous YouTubers, bloggers and podcasters who are ready for board games and an exchange with the fans. 

The Research Day on the other hand, illuminates the scene from the light of science: "Boardgame Historian" and SPIEL '22 also invite you to the special event for the first time on Saturday, October 8, from 11 a.m. to 18.30 p.m. under the title "Board Game Research in Germany". . Germany's board game culture is unique. And yet only recently has there been an attempt to network the little research that has been done on modern board games. The Boardgame Historian project has set itself the goal of changing this and has seen itself as a contact point for board game researchers in Germany since it was founded in 2020.

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In four panel discussions, the topics "History in Board Games", "Collecting-Preserving-Playing", "Representation and Diversity" and "Board Game Research in Germany - Current Status and Perspectives" will be discussed with experts from science and the scene. A principle of the scientists at Boardgame Historian is the conviction that research into modern board games can only succeed in cooperation with gamers and game creators. All interested parties are therefore invited to actively participate. After the panels there will be time for questions and discussions.

The Educator's Day is aimed at specialist staff from teaching. On Friday, October 7th, the campaign will take place for the second time as part of SPIEL. It is aimed at educators, teachers and other interested parties. In the Berlin hall, practical lectures and discussion rounds show how board games can be used in the classroom and in community and senior citizen work. A panel hosted by Asmodee Research will showcase games designed for people with cognitive disabilities and present current research in the field. With further training to become a specialist in parlor games, the board game academy offers well-founded knowledge transfer from the first games in the day-care center to games with seniors. On this day in the Europa room, publishers will be presenting games that can be used effectively in the classroom at specially provided tables.

The cultural aspect comes in addition to the one exhibition to wear, which honors great board game designers: Alex Randolph, Reinhold Wittig, Wolfgang Kramer, Klaus Teuber, Rainer Knizia - these are the names of five great game designers who have enriched the cultural heritage of games in a unique way. They have all influenced the way games are played and changed the way we see what games can be and do. An exhibition of the European Game Collectors Guild (ESG) in Hall 4, Stand 4E102 is dedicated to their works. The 24 up-and-coming authors who present their prototypes at SPIEL'22 and get feedback from visitors might want to tie in with their lifetime achievements. 

Innovations from SPIEL'22

With around 1.500 Innovations from SPIEL'22 there is so much for visitors to discover and try out. Belongs to the category of connoisseur games Ativa penned by the well-known author Uwe Rosenberg. The game is dedicated to the respectful treatment of nature in Ghana. The Atewa Range is a range of hills in southeastern Ghana. A huge forest reserve with 17.400 ha of evergreen forest. In this worker placement game, where players take on the role of fruit growers who work symbiotically with fruit bats, the useful little creatures are kept as pets to help grow farms faster. Tall trees are left as roosting sites and sheltered, rather than hunted for their little flesh. The rules of the game provide useful background information. Did you know that a single colony of 150.000 flying foxes can help reforest 800 hectares of forest in a year? And this almost in passing. (Publisher: Lookout Spiele, 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up). 

Kosmos brings Inside Job, a fun card game for 3-5 players, ages 10+, in which the players try to unmask the insider. Actually, an order should be fulfilled with each trick, but the insider tries in his secret role to hinder the others and win as many tricks as possible.

There will also be games for children, such as a logic and hidden objects game for children aged four and over, which is designed like a doll's house. In the new solo game Logic! Games - Where's Wanda? The mischievous Wanda, who loves to hide, is wanted from the house of Haba. Precise inspection, initial combinations and spatial allocation are required. The level of difficulty of the 60 tasks increases from round to round.

GAME 22 Hygiene

Friedhelm Merz Verlag is proactive in organizing SPIEL'22, because Corona is likely to be an issue again this year. Photo: Volkmann/Archive

Dreamquest, on the other hand, is a cooperative parent-child adventure that is experienced together. Both slip into the role of two heroes. The dreamer is a child with magical powers. The Guardian is a powerful beastman who protects the dreamer on her journey. Together you play an adventure in which you defeat dangerous creatures, find treasures and make decisions together that affect the course of the story. What is special about Dreamquest is that a separate book is written while playing, which the players can then save as an e-book and thus experience their story over and over again. (Publisher: Space Cow, 2 players, ages 6+).

And for families? Traditionally, there are a large number of board games for them – this year at the SPIEL'22 in Essen. Pegasus Spiele sends 2-4 players, ages 10+, on an intergalactic adventure with a very special action game. In 5 episodes we experience a story and try to keep the galactic peace through our commitment. Spaceship Unity offers a truly innovative gaming experience in which the entire apartment becomes a spaceship. For example, the players can use the vacuum cleaner as a jump drive, the roller shutter as a protective shield and a handful of spoons as a supply shaft.

3-7 players, ages 8+, contort their voices at the same time or creatively use objects lying around when the task is to guess sounds in the cooperative game Lautsalat by Schmidt Spiele. Ravensburger brings the cult game Scotland Yard from the 90s with the Scotland Yard Sherlock Holmes Edition as a new variant. The chase takes 2-6 players, ages 10+, through the whole city and the detectives have to work together to catch the mysterious criminal Professor Moriarty. Which game variant do the players choose? The classic Scotland Yard version with the original rules or the version with exciting new skills for the detectives and Moriarty?

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Written by the well-known game designer Richard Garfield dice heroes, a fast paced family game by Amigo Games. With Dice Heroes, the players slip into the role of a hero or heroine and, together with their group, take hold of the villains who are up to mischief in the kingdom. With the luck of the dice, they secure rewards or find valuable treasures. (2-4 players, ages 8+)

Learning through play how an ecosystem works or how climate change works: That Gaming collective Gaiagames from Saxony-Anhalt has been developing ecological board and card games about nature and the environment for a few years. Gaiagames also focuses on sustainability in the production of the games. At the SPIEL '22, the publisher is presenting its latest game Fish'n Flip for 1 to 4 players, ages 7 and up.

At the “unidice” stand you can discover a digitized, intelligent cube with 6 digital displays that you can actually roll! It can be adjusted using the unidice app. For example, it simulates multiple dice sets, or you can use it as a new kind of game console.

This year's innovations are colorful and diverse. Whichever way you look at it, the games are becoming more and more sophisticated, more beautiful, more graphically complex and, in some cases, more demanding. The choice is huge. The international game days in Essen reflect the industry and the scene and are the starting signal for the Christmas season as well as the new game season. 

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