Pictures from the novelty show

The official start of the International Match Days will be given on Thursday – from October 6th to 9th, Essen in the heart of the Ruhr area will become the capital of games. Visitors can discover, try out or buy more than 1.800 new products. 

After the restart last year, the number of exhibitors has increased noticeably. In addition, more innovations than ever before will be presented at the fair. Over 1.800 titles await the board game community over the four days of the fair.

SPIEL in Essen: visitors from all over the world

Around 980 game publishers from 56 nations gather in the halls, the world's leading trade fair is more international than ever. A few weeks ago, the organizers astounded with a world map: visitors come to Essen from almost every country in the world. Africa alone is largely left out. That's because it's much more difficult for people there to get visas, as SPIEL boss Dominique Metzler explains.

In addition to the innovations themselves, there is something new this year - or different than in 2021: You don't need proof of vaccination or a test to gain access. the Mask requirement applies this time as well.

The organizing Friedhelm Merz Verlag announces the International Game Days in Essen as a "big festival of innovations". And that's not too much of a promise. The extent of this year's fair is already clear at the innovation show, which traditionally follows the press conference at the International Match Days: authors and publishers have innumerable innovations with them. Fans can try out the titles on site, pick up pre-orders, buy board games, talk to authors – or just let them drift.

GAME Guide is a systematic way through the halls, this year it works even better with an app for smartphones or tablets. Download the program for Android devices and Apple iOS a long time ago.

Colorful supporting program

SPIEL is a highlight in the annual industry calendar. Thanks to many new topics that have been included in the supporting program, it underscores its importance as the most important platform for professional exchange. “Visitors should see and understand the importance of games as a cultural asset. We provide the proverbial look behind the scenes and outside the box,” says Florian Hess, who has been acting as managing director alongside Dominique Metzler since this year. A highlight is the EDUCATORS' DAY on the Friday of the fair.

It is aimed at educators and all teachers and deals with the use of board games in the classroom, in community work or with senior citizens. In addition, Research Day will premiere on Saturday, October 8th. In the form of several panel discussions, the Boardgame Historian project offers a targeted look at board game research in Germany.

No clear trend this year

In addition to the award-winning highlights at SPIEL '22, there are many other exciting new products among the 1.800 titles on display. There is something for every age group and every type of player. A real eye-catcher among the children's games is, for example, "Hilde's wild clothes dryer" - a fun and turbulent challenge for 2 to 4 players, ages 4 and up. In the game from Megableu, items of laundry are hung on a three-dimensional rotary clothesline until someone triggers the tornado. He twirls the rotary clothes dryer and Hilde properly and in the worst case all parts are off the line again. The first person to hang up all the laundry in their color wins the game.

Among the new family games this time, there are some classics and bestsellers in a new guise. "The crazy labyrinth", an evergreen from the Ravensburger publishing house, has been given a cooperative version with "Labyrinth Team Edition". The 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, are held captive by Daedalus, the spirit of the labyrinth, and must now find and uncover the way to the magical portal together. The popular family game "Splendor" by Space Cowboys/Asmodee gets a sophisticated adaptation in autumn with "Splendor Duel".
for 2 players, ages 10+. The offshoot offers new actions and strategic possibilities.

“Terra Nova” is a connoisseur game for 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, which is based on the internationally successful “Terra Mystica” and is published by Kosmos. In the game, up to four races face each other and explore new areas in peaceful competition, construct buildings and find the best strategy to own the largest part of the playing field. Each of the ten races to choose from has special abilities that need to be used cleverly. Who can best optimize the player rounds, play the smartest actions and best use resources? Special mechanisms such as power shells and the transformation of landscapes do this
Kennerspiel to a unique adventure.

In the area of ​​expert games, Pegasus Spiele is bringing out the title “Skymines” by Alexander Pfister and Viktor Kobilke. The Eurogame for 1 to 4 players, ages 14+, takes place in a not too distant future in which mankind is successfully mining for raw materials on the moon. However, unrest brought this project to a halt and players are now attempting to revive the old mining network. The card mechanism, among other things, is exciting here, because with the help of action cards, the moves of a round are planned by all players at the same time. Right timing, good advance planning and the clever use of resources are the key to success. In addition to the basic variant, the game offers a campaign mode, consisting of four modules, and a second side of the game board, with which the
games become even more challenging.

"innoSPIEL" 2022: Hey Yo!

Another item on the program is of particular importance for the exhibiting publishers: the presentation of the innoSPIEL. The prize, which is awarded in cooperation with the city of Essen, is characterized by its focus on quality and innovation. A jury nominated three games that stand out from the current game year thanks to innovative concepts: The "Echoes" series from Ravensburger Verlag offers not only beautifully designed cards but also an excellently produced app. What is innovative is how the game becomes a radio play that can be assembled and creates a very special mental cinema. In the audio mystery series, the player is given the ability to hear fragments of sound from the past in objects. From these snippets, a story is piece by piece. The handy boxes contain large-format cards that are scanned using a specially developed app to elicit sounds from the images. In order to decipher the case, the audio fragments must be put in the correct order. The nominated Echoes series currently includes four games: The Dancer, The Cocktail, The Microchip and The Ring. A fifth part will be added in autumn.

In "Hey Yo" by Oink Games, the players are members of a rap band that wants one thing above all: fame! They achieve this when they crack the high score with their rhymes and beats. As soon as the included beatbox is running, the players have to take turns laying out their cards to the rhythm of the beat. It is important to build up the punch line with the cards, because only that gives points. Cards are drawn and played until the beat dies down. Whoever has collected the highest number of points then becomes the biggest rap star. The games from Oink Games are as compact and puristic as the contents of the boxes. Sometimes all it takes is two lines, four different symbols on the cards, and a little rhythm machine to set the beat. In addition to the loudspeaker, the game also has a cleverly designed scoring block that guides the player in the distribution of points and relieves a lot of work.

The third title nominated takes players to Oniria, the land of dragons. The former paradise is threatened. To stop an ancient force from destroying Oniria, players must go back in time and save the dragons. The cooperative "Wonder Book" by Abacusspiele is played on and in the book of the same name, from which a striking pop-up tree protrudes. More pop-up elements are gradually coming into play and allow interaction in a variety of ways. The six-part story is driven by card sets. Thanks to simple rules, getting started with the game is very easy. An absolute eye-catcher in Wonder Book is the tree, whose mighty pop-up crown towers over the gaming table and is not an optical end in itself, as it has many active functions. The six chapters to be played also offer a varied gameplay that thrives on the great variety of decisions made by the players, which have a clear influence on the course of the game and the story.

In the end, Hey Yo! by Oink Games. A game in the traditional mini box, which - as revealed by the author Takashi Saito - started without a theme. "Hip-Hop" was then put on the mechanics - simply because it fits well, says Saito.

German Games Prize: the winners

The German Games Award is considered the most important audience award for parlor games worldwide. It is therefore a special highlight at SPIEL when the two prizewinners are chosen. In the category "Best Family and Adult Game" this year, first place goes to "Arche Nova" by Mathias Wigge. In the game from the Feuerland publishing house, each of the 1 to 1 players, ages 4 and up, plans and builds a modern, scientifically managed zoo. They create enclosures, house animals and support species protection projects worldwide in order to build the most successful zoo. "Arche Nova" inspires with its great playing depth. Nevertheless, the moves are quickly explained. If you're in the mood for an epic gaming experience, you'll get your money's worth with "Arche Nova". For newcomers, the publisher Feuerland recommends starting decks with a selection of cards and tips for the first actions on its homepage.

"With Quacks & Co. to Quedlinburg" wins the prize for "Best Children's Game". With the title, the author Wolfgang Warsch has succeeded in creating a wonderful child-friendly variant of the connoisseur's game "The Quack Doctors of Quedlinburg". 2 to 4 players, ages 6 and up, organize an animal race. The children try to move their animal (cow, donkey, pig or sheep) with the help of food chips. Among the chips that you randomly draw from a bag, there are also dream herbs that put the animal to sleep. With rewards, the player improves the starting position. So the race picks up speed as the game progresses. "With Quacks & Co. to Quedlinburg" offers game elements that are great fun for children. It is also a child's game that "grows with you", because it has a slightly easier beginner's version and the level of difficulty can be increased later.

Information and background information about SPIEL'22 in Essen is always available at or on the Friedhelm-Merz-Verlag website:


Last updated on 3.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API