At last! And more to come, so check back over the Holidays, if not before.
It has been a busy two months around Chez Beckwell since last issue. This year we were lucky enough to make the trip to Essen for the annual games fair. We've also enjoyed two rounds of visits from relatives, including a brace of very young nephews. At work, ClickOver is in the process of merging with Focalink, another small startup. The sharp eyed amongst you spotted that announcement in the news. Finally, the annual Slug Christmas Bash has come and gone.
A trip to Essen is always great fun. We got to see a lot of our old friends and met some new folks.
We bumped into Tom Jolly, designer of the classic beer and pretzels game WizWar, while eating dinner. We had exchanged emails many times in the past and even lived in the same state for quite some time but this was the first time we had met. Tom seems to be fascinated with meta-games along the lines of Fluxx or Nomic just now. Normally, we would see Jolly Games releases of these ideas as they matured. Unfortunately, he is currently residing in England and the fear of tangling with complex international tax laws (piece o' cake, really, Tom) seems to be enough of a barrier to halt game production until his return to the States. When he gets back, I hope we see one or two of the designs he has cooked up on the shelves at our local game stores.
Alan Moon of White Wind fame was in fine form. In keeping with his new executive position at FX Schmid USA, he ditched his usual wolf t-shirts and donned a nice suit. Somewhere along the way he acquired a very attractive decoration for his arm, as well. Redheaded, if memory serves. He was also carrying around the only known copy of BopIt, an annoying little 90s rendition of Simon that cajoles you to "Pull it! Twist it! Bop it!" I think it would be cute for maybe ten minutes, annoying at around twenty, and serious violence would ensue after thirty minutes of exposure.
Bruno Faidutti had an armful of new prototypes and seemed to be having fun running from one meeting to the next. Reiner Knizia was practicing being quietly confident with the hit of the show (and another fine game or two lined up for Nuremberg, as well!). Klaus Teuber held court and signed copies of a huge, wooden Settlers board. The hexes fit flush into the frame for a very nice presentation, indeed. I resisted it. But only just.
Mike Siggins was a no show due to an illness in his family and was sorely missed by all. To make up for it, Mike Clifford staged a three ring circus cum roving car boot sale.
Manu did an amazing job as official translator to the Game Cabinet staff. Doris & Frank sent us home with one set of microscopic critters in a game box and another set crawling around in our throats! I can safely report that Bavarian colds are better built than California ones as they stand up to all manner of abuse.
Jos and I have fallen into the habit of using Amsterdam as our entry and exit point to Europe when attending Essen. Amsterdam is a great place to hang out and decompress. We stayed in an old house on the Herengracht, the Gentlemen's Canal, just round the corner from the Anne Frank house. Most of the time we just hung around reading and watching the canal boats slide by us. In the evenings we revisited the Pancake Bakery, home of the best pancakes/crepes in all of Europe, and the Flying Saucer, a funky little vegetarian restaurant that is a lot of fun (but I wish they had more comics in English!).
We also discovered Schaak en go winkel het Paard (The Knight, a Chess and Go Shop). This is a great game shop with just about anything you would ever want to find on the subject of Chess, Go, and several other abstract games. They even have a good selection of general board games stashed away near the rear of the shop. There are several other game shops within walking distance of the canal district but the others are all dominated by American and English (well, Games Workshop) games.
And then we came home, had two familial visits, a product release, merged with another company, threw a big party, and rescued a dog from certain death. Where does the time go?
PS Be sure to check out the Bao in Zanzibar article. This is definitely the most in depth, well written article on a single game that the Game Cabinet has ever published. The article has a great explanation of the rules, a good introduction to the tactics, a bibliography, and sample games from a championship tournemant. The Stump the Net crew have been on the trail of this game for months and its great to see it finally run to ground. And, just for good measure, we've got a second article on Bao in Malawi. Don't miss 'em!
The Game Cabinet - email@example.com - Ken Tidwell