Author Topic: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)  (Read 1044 times)

Offline danisthirty

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Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« on: October 14, 2022, 06:09:12 AM »
Wednesday...

I was ready and waiting when Tom arrived at my house at 06:30. I loaded my things into the car and we set off on our way to Ashford; the adventure had begun (but not until we'd been to McDonalds)!

Having parked the car, we grabbed our stuff and walked up to where Willem was waiting for us by the entrance to the car park. Tom and I loaded our stuff into his car and we set off again, this time for the channel tunnel! Disappointingly there was almost nothing to report throughout the entire duration of our journey apart from a brief pit stop at a petrol station for lunch. It wasn't for long though, and pretty soon we had arrived in Essen and found our way to the hotel. After checking in, finding our rooms and unpacking our bags we got back in the car and drove to the Messe where we were able to park, then explored Essen again as we walked back to the hotel, stopping at HANS IM GLÜCK for a burger and a beer on the way.

In an attempt to buy a round of beers from a little pizza restaurant-shed opposite the hotel, I did what any Brit abroad would do to break through the language barrier by asking for three beers, in English, but loudly and slowly. I was surprised not to be congratulated for the incredible effort I'd made, but rather the guy just stared at me blankly. Thankfully Willem was there to say almost exactly the same thing as I had done, but apparently they understood him and got us three beers, which I attempted to pay for, but couldn't because they wouldn't take a card. If this was the way things were going to be for the rest of the week/ weekend I might have just sat in the hotel crying, but luckily Willem also paid for the beers and then we sat outside on a park bench next to the empty outdoor seating area that they didn't open for us despite possibly suggesting that they might. Still, at least the spiders loved us. A bit too much in fact.

We didn't like to outstay our warm welcome at the charming pizza place and headed back to the hotel once we'd finished our drinks. The bar in the lobby was open and there were plenty of tables so we sat down and embarked on a game of Phase Ten accompanied by a few beers while we waited for Hector to arrive. And when he arrived, he arrived in style with an entire large suitcase full of Carcassonne boxes for Willem, and gifts for all of us! Our little gang was fully assembled at last, and we were all ready to take Essen by storm over the next few days!




Thursday...

It's worth pointing out that while I had perhaps three or four people who had asked me to collect Spiel 22 and/ or Ukraine promo tiles for them, Hector and Willem had been asked by dozens of people between them to make sure that "spare" Spiel 22 and Ukraine promo tiles were reserved on their behalf. I wasn't quite sure how they were going to achieve this given HiG's "one tile per customer" rule that appeared to be in place, but predictably there was no way of validating which customers had already received a tile and so it became a case of one tile per transaction (provided the transaction was for more than €20) which was much easier to manage. This did however mean a lot of standing in line as the queues at both HiG booths were far longer on the Thursday than at any other point during the Spiel and there was a constant (unfounded) worry that they could have sold out at any point. So while I spent my first morning patiently waiting in line with Hector to spend our money and grab our tiles, while Tom and Willem did the same at the other booth before we switched booths and repeated, I had as much as I needed after four or five visits whereas Hector and Willem spent pretty much the entire day queuing on behalf of so many others who couldn't be there. Please remember this if you received a tile from either of them; they're both very generous people but it was a lot to sacrifice.

Since Tom and I were slightly less committed to buying ALL the Carcassonne, we found some time to try out a new Kingdomino game ("Kingdomino: Origins") which was a fun distraction but not something I'll be rushing out to buy. We also managed to visit the UKGE booth for a cup of tea and grabbed some lunch before the 2pm fan meeting. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces again and to hear stories about what everyone has been up to since we last spoke. So much so that I would gladly have spent the rest of the day there with everyone, but we all had places to go and games to play so it wasn't to be. We took a quick selfie together and then, sadly, everyone was on their way again.

Tom had other adventures on which to embark so I spent much of the afternoon with Willem and Hector who eventually decided to take a break from the HiG booths for just long enough for us to go and play some giant Carcassonne! We hadn't really intended to actually play it, but it wasn't the sort of thing you turn down when asked and before we'd even had a chance to say "Yes, we know how to play Carcassonne" our minds had already begun merging into one super-brain with the sole purpose of beating a random woman who turned up with her boyfriend. This is what we were led to believe anyway, it's entirely plausible that she may actually have been a superior Carcassonne AI robot sent back in time to humiliate us by beating us at our own game in front of a bunch of spectators. But the singularity was unsuccessful on this occasion and the three of us breathed a sigh of relief (and guilt) as we were deemed victorious!

Our first day at the Spiel ended with a few more trips to the HiG booth for Willem and Hector and then a game of "Dorf Romantik". I didn't know what a Dorf is (and still don't), but it certainly wasn't very romantic either so overall it was a very misleading title. The game was awesome though, and we all enjoyed the simple tile-laying combined with the co-operative, goal-driven mechanics that led to an exciting game that we were all very much involved in. I didn't buy it, but Tom and Hector tried to before learning that it was already out of stock and would return the following day. It was time to leave, and there were burgers waiting for us at Burger Heart. We celebrated a successful first day with some amazing food and plenty of beer to wash it down with, then made our way back to the hotel and went to bed.





Friday...

It was Tom who had the idea that we should take some biscuits to the people behind the HiG booths as a token of our appreciation for all their patience and hard work on Thursday. This did however mean buying not only two boxes of biscuits, but two "Thank You" cards that we also needed to write before we could present our gifts to their delighted recipients. Tom was a man on a mission though, and if the future of our planet ever comes to depend on giving biscuits to someone, I know exactly who to go to (spoiler alert: it probably won't).

Since the four of us continued to liaise and stay in touch using our small Discord group chat, even when we were standing next to each other, it's useful now being able to scroll back through old messages to get a picture of everything we did each day. Or so I thought. But since around 75% of our messages amount to little more than "I'm in Hall x, where are you?" with no responses, it can be difficult to determine what exactly was going on. By contrast, the other 25% of our messages were either "Food?" or "Beer?" which usually seemed to warrant an immediate response of "On my way" or "See you there" which doesn't help much either, other than to provide the insight that we remembered to both eat and drink while we were there, which I already suspected we had done anyway.

As well as giving biscuits away, a highpoint of the day was meeting Linksux/ Edwardo and spending a while catching up with him. We went on to have another team game of giant Carcassonne where Edwardo and I took on Willem and Hector in an epic clash that was decided by just one point. It doesn't matter which team won though, so please don't ask. Really. It doesn't matter. Nobody cares, it's over. Alright?

It wasn't a popular choice among the others, but I quite enjoyed playing "Trending Kittens" which Willem, Edwardo and I sat down to play mostly because we'd rather be sitting down than standing up while we waited for Tom to come back with drinks. Somehow though, and assisted largely by the fact that I was inadvertently ignoring my phone whilst trying to help the vampire kittens thwart the evil zombie and alien kittens, Tom struggled to find us when he got back even though we'd only moved slightly to prevent people from queuing up behind us for something that we didn't want to be in a queue for. But we were all so happy to finally be reunited again that we had to have another game of Trending Kittens to celebrate and I came last again. "Stupid Kittens" more like...

Tom and I played a particularly competitive game of "WeyKick" which is almost certainly still being analysed by professional WeyKickers over at WeyKick Central, and will be for some time. Despite being a fun game, I felt at the time that I only had 66% of the required number of hands to fully grasp the subtle intricacies of the game's strategy and so mostly ignored my goal-keeper as my other two footbally people were good enough by themselves to snatch a massive 1,234,567,890 vs 123,456 victory for the blues! Our final game of the day was "Hiroba" which I didn't really grasp on account of not caring to listen when the rules were being explained as I wasn't expecting to play it. I might have enjoyed it more if I'd known what I was doing, but that's always the case for me. So much so that I should probably have it written on my headstone. Profound.

We rounded off the day with an adventure into the centre of Essen by train, and then walked up the highstreet to FrittenWerks where we dined on a variety of awesome chip-based delights. My dream of playing a full game of Super Mario Carcassonne was short-lived when I received word from Melvin that his train was nearby, so Willem and I dashed back to the train station to meet him. Melvin is a very dear friend of mine, and someone I've been looking forward to meeting for years so this was certainly another highpoint of the weekend for me. Willem and I met Melvin and Theus at the train station and helped them to find a nearby hotel where some of their friends were staying. We stayed for a while and exchanged gifts, boxes, tiles, meeples, cameras and large sums of money before bidding them farewell until tomorrow. But as we were leaving, we met up with Tom, Hector and Edwardo again so they came in to meet our new Brazilian friends and we did it all over again!

We walked back to our hotel, considering where we might be able to buy beer along the way with increasing urgency as the walk continued. At one point we stopped outside what appeared to be an Indian restaurant but were told it was closed, despite being open, and so then visited a dodgy off-license where the two proprietors quickly hatched a dastardly plan to murder us before taking pity on us for not being able to work out how many beers were required for four people to drink two each. I knew that being bad at maths would save my life one day, and today it did. Although we never actually drank any of the beers we'd bought as we were all quite tired by the time we got back to the hotel and so decided to go pretty much straight to bed (but only after we'd all helped Hector to create a future Quiz of the Week of course).






Saturday...

Saturday was a great day all-round. Shortly after arriving at the Spiel, Willem and I taught Hector how to play Next Station: London. I wasn't sure I'd done a very good job of explaining the rules, but thankfully he enjoyed it so much that he went off to buy it almost before we'd finished working out our final scores! Soon after, we met a couple of Koreans at the "Lucky 6ix" stall who were absolutely delighted to meet Willem. They also had a very cool tile-dispenser which looked a bit like a vegetable slicer (but wasn't). It was love at first sight for Hector who spent the next infinity billion years demonstrating the elegant simplicity of this wonderful device to anyone who came anywhere near the stall. In fact I'm pretty sure he'd still be there now if we hadn't dragged him away...

Tom had booked us a demo of a game named Village Rails which we went over to play next. It seemed like a very neat game with a lot of strategy, and I loved that it came in such a small box, but it took me a while to feel as though I'd got the hang of it and time was short so we had to rush off just as it was all starting to make sense. I'm glad we did though as our next stop was the CarcC/ CarcF/ CarcX fan-meeting which was another huge highlight for me. I won't list names (or nicknames) as there were so many people to meet and greet and our time together seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.

Shortly after the fan-meeting I realised that it was now getting quite late in the day and I'd forgotten to remember to eat anything. Hector was hungry too, so we paid a visit to the burger vans outside the Galleria (a street between the main halls and the smaller ones) for a burger, and since they were selling them, a beer too. When Tom joined us we all had another beer, and when Willem joined us we did the same. Then UK champion Chris Wallace (@wallaceprime) joined us, as did Melvin Quaresma and Brazilian champion Theus, and the pattern continued. There were of course other things I had wanted to see, but in that moment there was nothing I wanted more than to be sharing a special few hours with some very special friends, and so that's pretty much exactly what we did #essenhighlight.

Understandably, the rest of the day was a bit of a blur. We had made plans to eat at another burger place and so headed there from the Spiel, stopping at another little bar along the way (the one where I tried to pretend to be 13 so that the waitress couldn't serve me another beer, but she did anyway, even after I showed her my driving license {which proved that I'm 42 so I'm not quite sure how this was supposed to have helped, but whatever}) before meeting up as a group of ten, or eleven, or twelve for food.

After the meal, we somehow managed to organise enough space in the back of Willem's car for both Hector, me and our combined Essen haul between the four of us so far, and drove back to the hotel (kudos to Willem for not drinking) for a particularly challenging game of Carcassonne that consisted largely of Ukraine tiles, Spiel 22 tiles and a selection of other random tiles that had been signed by friends at our fan-meeting earlier in the day. The game was complicated by the fact that we only had two meeples between us, and further still by the fact that Tom and Willem insisted on introducing new rules that always seemed to work in their favour every time they placed a tile. This aside, it felt important enough not only that I should take a photo of it but that Willem should take a photo of me taking a photo of it, and that Tom should take a photo of Willem taking a photo of me taking a photo of it. Downside: Hector and I lost (probably). Upside: I didn't accidentally tell any random Germans in the lift that I loved them (don't ask).






Sunday...

I've come to realise over the years that as much as I enjoy boardgames, especially Carcassonne, I'm much more of a people person than I am a boardgame person and while everyone at the Spiel had their reasons for being there, my own reasons were largely about the people I was looking forward to meeting rather than the games I was looking forward to playing and perhaps buying. So, the Sunday was a big deal for me thanks to one thing alone: the Carcassonne world championships! I haven't quite given up hope of representing the UK here one year, but the opportunity to meet so many excellent players, many of whom I'd already met online through Boardgame Arena, along with the likes of Klaus-Jürgen, Moritz Brunnhofer of HiG and Thomas Moder who organises the world championships every year was always going to be the high point of the trip for me, and I certainly wasn't let down!

There was a palpable "buzz" in the air at the championships that made me wish I could have been a bigger part of it, and an atmosphere of intense focus and concentration during games that made me glad I wasn't! I was excited for Chris as his campaign got off to such an incredible start with three wins from three games before they stopped for lunch, but tried to remain calm on behalf of the other players.

When I met Klaus-Jürgen in 2016 I had a gift for him; a framed Carcassonne landscape which you can read more about here and here. This year I had another gift for him, something in a frame again, but not a Carcassonne landscape. Short story long, Klaus-Jürgen and I have had an ongoing correspondence via email since I met him in 2016 and as we share news of what we've both been doing from time to time, he's always very keen to hear how my kids Jess and Ben are getting on. Jess in particular has always been quite artistic, and he has always taken an interest in this. When I recently showed her a photo of Klaus-Jürgen taken at the French fan-meeting at Carcassonne in August, with a familiar backdrop behind him, she decided she was going to draw it for him, and I decided to put it in a frame and take it to him. So I did.

Meeting Klaus-Jürgen was as magic as I remembered it being six years ago and I'm glad he either liked or did a very good impression of someone who liked receiving a framed picture drawn by an obsessive fan's 11 year old daughter. We chatted for a while and he signed some tiles and a little sachet of some random energy powder that happened to be at the table we were at, but there were a lot of other people, including Tom, Willem and Hector who wanted to meet him so I tried to avoid taking up too much of his time even though I gladly would have done. I also met with Thomas Moder and gave him a grand total of 36 Mr Kipling apple pies. None of them were framed, but he still seemed grateful...

My blood sugar let me down a bit in the afternoon so my recollection of events besides watching most of the quarter-final, semi-final and final games, taking lots of photos and having a slightly awkward chat with Moritz Brunnhofer during which I repeatedly said the opposite of what I'd meant to say, is a little disjointed. I do remember the sad moment we had to say goodbye to Hector though, and then seeing him again half an hour later still saying goodbye to people in the hall. I also remember a sad trudge back to the car, another swift reorganisation of everything inside so that I could fit in, and then saying goodbye to Essen as Tom, Willem and I began our long journey home.

Our long journey home wasn't quite as long as it might have been as we'd decided to stop at a hotel in the Netherlands to break it up a bit. We also broke it up on the way to the hotel by visiting Willem's parents' house to eat apple pie and collect yet more Carcassonne stuff to cram into the car. It wasn't hard to imagine that in the event of a car crash, anyone coming to my aid would have to dig through actual tonnes of boardgames to get to my mangled body, and there was a real possibility that I could have suffocated under a pile of thousands of Carcassonne tiles. But as harrowing as my imaginary near-death experience had been, the worst was yet to come, upon arrival at the apparent safety of an innocent-looking hotel somewhere in the Netherlands...

Truth be told, it was actually quite a nice hotel with a bar that was as open as I required it to be and complimentary ladybirds in every room. The only thing that let it down was that the room Tom and I were sharing was haunted by the ghosts of about two dozen old-fashioned people in a picture that had been positioned deliberately so that they could flash rare Carcassonne tiles at us and lure us into their ghostly dimension in the middle of the night. Neither of us were up for that, so after a couple of beers we slept so soundly that the ghosts couldn't wake us up or tempt us to our doom even with a Spiel 14 and complete set of Russian promos for just 10 GD (Ghost Dollars)! It was certainly a night to remember, but also one to forget. I tried to do both and the resulting confusion caused me to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Or possibly before.









Monday...

I couldn't quite decide if I was more relieved or surprised when I woke up on Monday morning to find that the ghosts hadn't taken me in the night. But then I realised that I was probably stuck in some kind of loop and that the ghosts didn't want me to know straight away that I now belong to them. Crafty things!

We went from the hotel to a nearby shop to stock up on supplies such as sweets for our kids and baked goods for ourselves, before embarking on the next part of our trip which saw us going to visit a fellow Carcassonne collector named Ringo in Belgium. He was an awesome guy, with an awesome dog, and the three of us were in absolute awe of his collection that had gradually taken over an upstairs bedroom over the last 15 years. He certainly hadn't started collecting yesterday! After a thorough examination of everything on his many, many shelves we all had lunch together before he and Willem shared some obscure bits and bobs and we were back on the long and winding road, this time heading for the channel tunnel.

Our onward journey was fairly uneventful in that Willem drove us back to the car park where Tom's car was, Tom and I got out and then met Willem again at a nearby supermarket to make sure we all had everything we were supposed to have. We bid Willem a sad farewell before he headed back to the Carcassonne Museum, and Tom and I headed back to my house where he dropped me off before making his own way back to Wales.




I could conclude my "short" writeup by mentioning that my son had asked me about what German McDonalds were like four times before I'd even got out of Tom's car, or I could conclude it by mentioning some of the little things I forgot to mention earlier but which I can't now be bothered to go back and add (like the super-tight exit door security wristband uber-Police who I fell foul of). But I can't conclude without devoting a few sentences to my wonderful fellow adventurers who made the trip everything that it was; a long weekend filled with gaming, fun, laughter and occasionally being more than a little bit silly. But the main thing that remained constant throughout the adventure (despite our sore feet) was the companionship of my traveling partners and our shared love of all the things that Essen came to stand for while we were there. I count myself very lucky that they're part of my Carcassonne family, and while we weren't quite complete in that Rich wasn't able to join us too, I already feel confident that any trip away with these guys will always be something that I want to be a part of! Thanks so much chaps; it was an honour to be there with you.



"No word left unwritten"


Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=6121.0
« Last Edit: October 14, 2022, 06:23:46 AM by danisthirty »

Offline Willem

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2022, 06:33:02 AM »
Another great write up Dan!

I do really like to read your stories, as we have spent the weekend together, but also apart.
We had some great conversations on Discord trying to work out who was where, and things like 'Beer in Garden, when?' came by many a times!

Thank you for sharing the weekend/experience! Of course a +1 merit is in place here!
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Offline danisthirty

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2022, 06:44:42 AM »
Thanks Willem! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

We had some great conversations on Discord trying to work out who was where, and things like 'Beer in Garden, when?' came by many a times!

I think our Discord chat of the entire event could almost be turned into a new write-up of its own!

Offline wallaceprime

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2022, 07:39:53 AM »
Great write-up, Dan. +1 from me.

I'm glad it's not just my son that can focus on the most irrelevant details from certain situations!  :)
(to be fair, I can't remember what those situations were, so he might have grown out of it by now)
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Offline Challa007

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2022, 08:34:29 AM »
Thank you for this sum up, Dan!  :)

+1 merit from me

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2022, 09:12:05 AM »
Thanks for the write-up! It’s been interesting reading all the different perspectives from each person.


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Offline kettlefish

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2022, 02:12:18 PM »
Hi Danisthirty, I like your report. And I think all the members at the members-meeting were so happy to see each other again after so long time without the Spiel.

Greetings
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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2022, 09:00:36 PM »
Amazing report! Thanks

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2022, 06:09:22 AM »
Lots of text, lots of photos, lots of smiles from participants  ;D
Thanks for sharing this with us Dan  :(y) +1
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Offline Linksux

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2022, 01:28:38 PM »
Hey Dan,

Thanks for the storie; I had a very good time reading it !

And I am glad I made an apparition on Friday and Saturday, it was so great to meet all the team and to share thoses days with you :)


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Offline Den Ozzy

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2022, 01:24:09 AM »
Hi Dan,

Also nice to read your story about the trip to Essen.

It's really nice what your daughter has made for Klaus-Jürgen, a new talent is growing :)
What strikes me about your story is that Klaus-Jürgen has also remained a normal man who is close to his fans, very nice to see.

It was a pleasure to meet you and we will definitely see each other again, hopefully at Essen 2023

Offline danisthirty

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2022, 02:03:12 AM »
Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone. It's very much appreciated! :) :(y)

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2022, 09:45:46 AM »
Great write-up!

It's a pity you had such a hard time in Essen ;D

+1 merit from me.
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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2022, 08:39:16 AM »
Glad you took the time to write up all the memories, because a week later I'm already starting to forget what happened.  I'm glad to know the ladybirds didn't suck or blood to be used in sacrifice from the room ghosts.  I won't be forgetting that in a hurry!

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Re: Dan Goes to Essen: An Adventure Story (2022)
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2022, 08:52:57 AM »
i honestly don't know what you guys were talking about. I had a great night's sleep at that hotel, helped by this lovely chat with some people. Their accent was a bit weird, they talked very old-fashioned, but that didn't stop us from chatting  ;D


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