The "SPIEL 98" Games-Convention at Essen / Germany



The final report

- The "SPIEL ī98"-report -

With the same procedure as last year the 16th "SPIEL" games convention at Essen / Germany has started into a new year....

On wednesday evening the time had come - as in the years before the "Deutscher Spiele Preis" was awarded to authors who had published outstanding games during the last 12 months. After a greeting for the audience by Essenīs mayor Anette Jäger, Dominique Metzler from the Friedhelm Merz Verlag was congratulating the winners. This yearīs winners are:

"Euphrat & Tigris" by Reiner Knizia

2nd: "Ursuppe" by Doris & Frank

3rd: "Elfenland" by Alan R. Moon

The following ranking was:

The "Deutscher Kinderspiele Preis 1998" for the best childrens game went to "ZICKE ZACKE HÜHNERKACKE" by Klaus Zoch.

Finally the special award at Essen for the best game rules, the "Essener Feder" was awarded to Karl-Heinz Schmiel for the rules of his new edition of "Die Macher".

After seeing all these games awarded, I think itīs very interesting to observe the fact that actually the graphics of all four games which were awarded the top rankings in "Deutscher Spiele Preis" and "Deutscher Kinderspiele Preis" were designed by Doris Matthäus. Today, Doris is the most sought german graphics artist, and I think it was a great view to see actually four of her games sitting in top positions.

During the evening, a representative from Hans im Glück brought up quite happy moments from his life, actually from his first visit at the Essen Games Fair in 1983. This was the time when Hans im Glück presented their first game at Essen ("Dodge City"), and they were quite happy to present it in a number of about 100 copies. He remembered that they were sold out on the afternoon of the first day - and after this they were free to roam the convention themselves. Actually it was also the last time that they could visit the con with some quiet hours to play games - in all later years business at Hans im Glück had grown too much to allow any free time at the convention.

Another quite funny story was told by author and publisher of "ZICKE ZACKE HÜHNERKACKE". They confessed in front of the audience that they actually tend to spend quite a lot of time on the names of their games - sometimes longer than designing those. Whenever they are looking for a name, they tend to use the brainstorming-method to get a lot of possible names. In the case of this game the naming must have been quite hillarious. In fact, during the brainstorming period absurd titles like "Die Hühner von Catan" (=The Chickens of Catan) did regularly appear.

Concerning any news from bigger companies, the evening was quite uninteresting. Most companies were asked to reveal a look into the future, but they all did put on pokerfaces and said nothing concerning this theme. Kosmos actually didnīt say anything either, but they came up with quite interesting numbers. So the "Settlers of Catan" now have been sold over 600.000 times, and the whole Settlers-products-family has be sold 2.4 million times. These are numbers which are so far absolutly unheard in the german games scene.

The following day, thursday morning at 10.00 AM, the convention finally opened for the public. Thousands of gamers already came on the first day, but as always the big wave was coming on saturday and sunday. Compared to the years before, the numbers of private gamers attending the convention have been stable, but the Merz-Verlag actually was proud to announce that the "Spiel ī98" brought a new record of exhibitors: 457 exhibitors were presenting their gaming products, more than in any year before.

Looking back, the "SPIEL" today is the product of a 16-year-long evolution in the games-sector. 16 years ago the first "SPIEL" was born with the idea to give gamers the opportunity to meet other gamers and to test the games of a few german games-publishers. The first "SPIEL" was hold in the "Volkshochschule" Essen, a small place since only a few gamers were expected to come. But the event was announced by a local radio station, and this resulted in a flood of visitors which was nearly unmanagable. For this reason, the "SPIEL" moved into the area of the "Messe Essen" to give the publishers more place to present their games. The new, bigger convention needed a year or two before the people actually overcame their shyness in front of the big booths of the gaming companies and started playing games at the convention, but today it has evolved that far that - shortly after the convention opens each day - all gaming possibilities are taken. During the years, the number of visitors grew rapidly.

Today, the "SPIEL" proved again that it has established itself as the worldīs biggest forum for all sorts of boardgames. Producers, journalists and visitors from all continents are attending the convention, and news about new german games travel quickly around the globe. In fact, german games have succeeded to make themselves known as being of a high playing quality, and thus a new classification for boardgames has evolved, the "german-type-game". This title stands for pretentious strategy- and family-games, for which the demand in overseas is growing rapidly.

Talking to visitors, the SPIEL ī98 has lost nothing of its attraction for gamers of every social group. At first most people are overwhelmed by the enormous choice of games available at the convention, but quickly they succeed in finding their highlights at the convention. Itīs much appreciated that the Merz-Verlag still gives many small publishers the possibility to show their games, and this certainly adds to the variety of games available. So players may decide to try games from big german companies or smaller publishers, or they may inspect the imported boardgames or role-play-games or even some computer-games. And after the testing is over and favourites are found, players are able to buy the games they have just tested, months before the games will be available in gamestores.

Monday, 26th October

Well, everything has an end, and thus even my daily Essen-reports come to an end. The convention is over by now, and already the gray light of gamesless days is coming up on the horizon. But there will always be a next Essen !


Actually, Essen never meant more work for me than this year. I arrived here at my parents house on monday evening, on from this time on I never got even a free minute. Beginning with tuesday morning, I was roaming the buildup of stands, always keeping an eye on the used games traders and the games they would dig up from their boxes. In the evenings and in the mornings - whenever I had some time - I was sitting in front of the computer and typed down as many news from Essen as possible.


But on the other hand, Essen also never meant so much fun for me, too. I met so many people which I only knew from the Internet or by name: Lee Harper, Mik Svellov, Ronald Hoekstra, Mike Siggins, Alan R. Moon, Klaus Teuber and Jay Tummelson are just some of them. The german boardgames business really is alive and quite healthy - hold up by these people and many more around the globe who create, publish, review and play all these games. For myself, it has been my 15th convention here at Essen, and still itīs becoming more important to me with each year I attend the convention.


After inspecting my guestbook, I am quite happy that so many of you found the time to come here and have a short, "virtual" stay at Essen, and it meant much for me that so many of you were thanking me for the pages I have done. I have done my best to keep you busy with some reports on the news from Essen, and I think that I will do it again next year since I received nearly 1000 visits from all of you in just the one week my convention report went. For the time being, I will go back to Trier where I will re-enter my studies again since University-Summer-Break is over now.

NEW Prizes added to the contest


A special thanks goes from this place to Doris & Frank - Games, who have kindly donated 5 of their small Cardgames "Pico" to be added to my raffle. Now the prices available are one Playerīs edition of "König & Intrigant", 5 "Elfenland"-Wizards sets and 5 "Pico"-cardgames from Doris & Frank.

The Winners !

"König & Intrigant" Playerīs Edition

"Elfenland"-Wizards Cards

"Pico" by Doris & Frank

My congratulations to all winners ! Please contact me and send me your adresses !!! There actually has been some confusion concerning my two different guestbooks, but I have taken all entries from both guestbooks and even two e-mails into the raffle. So all had an equal chance to win ! I would have loved to raffle off even some games, but I have to pay all the postage... :-)

Click here to see my answers to questions you added into my guestbooks !

Once again, thanks to all of you for your kind entries into my guestbook and thanks for visiting and reading my reports. Itīs been a wonderful time making so many people around the world happy with my reviews ! If you should have any final remarks, please drop me a few lines via e-mail, any comments would be greatly appreciated !

See you in a few weeks with reviews of first Essen-games !!!

All the Best !!!

Frank Schulte-Kulkmann


Sunday, 25th October

Well, itīs almost sad to say, but today already was the last day of the convention. But knowing your hunger for new games I have done my best to give you a good selection of games from smaller companies for "Dessert". I think that you will see here some of the most enjoyable games from the whole conventions, and I have included contact-adresses (if possible) to allow you to contact the publishers if you should wish to order any of these games.

Small but GREAT ! News from small publishers !

This actually ends my coverage of Essen, but please stay tuned to my page for another day or two since my final report and some last images are going to come and - more important to most of you - my raffle of Elfenland Wizards and the König & Intrigant Playerīs edition is also due !

So donīt miss the rest !!!

Saturday, 24th October

Hi folks !!!

Finally the convention is becoming a bit more relaxing again. Today you will be able to read the last news from bigger companies. I will conclude the major companies with news from Hasbro (standing for Parker and MB) and FX Schmid.

I have also had a talk to Klaus Teuber and Kosmos, and I received some news concerning the 3-dimensional-Settlers-game. For this reason I have updated my Settlers-report again:

The updated Kosmos-report

Tomorrow the convention will be over, but I am already planning a bigger report on some games from small companies for you. So just keep looking !

Friday, 23rd October

Today is the second day of the convention, and I actually succeeded in visiting most of the major games companies now. Still the really big crowds havenīt arrived, but this will change dramatically when tomorrow the convention will go into the weekend-phase. Here are the news:

Thatīs all the news for this morning, but I can give you an outlook on the things still to come: So the last big companies I will be covering are MB and Parker, and then I will move on to show you a selection of games from smaller companies which have been released here at Essen. Friday and Saturday I will be working for Kosmos, so I am not sure how much I will be actually able to present to you, but I promise you that you will at least recieve one daily update !


Thursday, 22nd October - Evening

Once again, I have quite a busy day at the convention just left behind. Actually, I stayed quite long at the awards-festival yesterday evening and so I was forced to postpone any writing and updating until today. The first day of he convention is over now, and I think that itīs still the same way with german boardgames as it had been the years before. People were crowding the halls directly from the opening at 10 AM, but fortunately the crowds arenīt too thick on Thursdays and Fridays since the childrens here in germany have to attend schools - the fall-break is already over.

Once again, I met I lot of people who are known to the Internet Boardgaming community. It began yesterday evening at the awards-festival were I met Mr. Jay Tummelson from Rio Grande Games, the english publisher for Goldsieber-products.

Talking about the festival, here is my report !

Today I once again met Alan R. Moon and with me also was Lee Harper from Funagain Games. In fact, Lee has been here at Essen since saturday and we first met on Tuesday when we both entered the convention-area. He directly started buying older german boardgames for his customers back in the US, and I think he will come back with about 300 of these - all packed up in neatly brown boxes.


From left to right: Alan R. Moon, me and Lee Harper

In the afternoon I met someone else from the Internet-community, the author of the "Brett & Board - Page", Mik Svellov from Denmark.

But enough talking about all the people here at the convention, here are the results of todayīs researches concerning new games:

Well, this was short news today, but I really had a busy day and I will try to prepare more news for you tomorrow. Ah yes, before I forget it:

"König & Intrigant"-contest

I was able to secure a set of the new "König & Intrigant" Players edition for you and it will enter the contest concerning my guestbook.

The news from Hans im Glück will follow tomorrow or Saturday !

Wednesday, 21th October - Evening

Phew, this was actually quite a busy day for me here, even if the real convention still hasnīt started. I donīt know how far I can keep you updated on Friday and Saturday since I will be assisting the german Championships of "Settlers of Catan", so I will try my best to get to you as much infos as possible as long as I still have time.

I spend an hour or two at the used games booths, and I was quite happy to find some games I have been really looking for. So I am now proud owner of a copy of AHīs "Dinosaurs of the Lost World" and of TSRīs "The new Dungeon". Well, I really like fantasy boardgames, as you might have noticed...

After this I attended the Press-conference of the organizators and visited the news show. I have already some results for you:

I have also updated my Kosmos-report with some more pictures, so have a look at

Have a look at my Essen ī98 Kosmos-page

In the afternoon I was introduced to Mr Alan R. Moon, author of "Elfenroads" and "Elfenland". I was amazed to hear that he often visits this webpage... :-)

But now to the BIG anouncement:



I am proud to announce that I was able to get 5 packs with the new Promo-card for Elfanland, the Wizard. These Promo-cards will be raffled off between all visitors of my page who have made an entry into my guestbook between 22nd October and 25th October. Multiple entrances in the guesbook will not participate in the drawing of the winners ! Special thanks to Amigo for giving me these cards !

Wednesday, 21th October

Today there will be the Press-Conference at 11 AM, introducing the games Press of the world to the new Essen-releases. I will attend the conference and provide you with as many news as possible, but this morning I have special appetizer for you: I was already able to get my hands onto the news which will be released by Kosmos, so that I can provide you detailed informations on their Essen-programme.

Have a look at my Essen ī98 Kosmos-page

Tuesday, 20th October

Today I already gave the convention area a small visit, but all the booth are still in different phases of buildup. There was no possibility to see any games today.

I have some hints for those of you who are still unsure to visit the convention:

More news tomorrow...

I can imagine that you are eager to get your Essen-news as fast as possible. For this reason I will do my best to upload informations from the convention as soon as possible. The con will open for the public at 22nd October, but I will be able to attend a Press-Conference a day earlier so you should have first informations on the morning of the 22nd.

See you at this place by October 22nd !!!

Please donīt forget to sign the guestbook, available in the Counter-Box at the bottom of the page !

Looking for the news? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2003 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Trier, Germany