Spotlight on Games > Ludographies
Remembering Essen 2000
This is pretty obsolete at this point, I guess, but when just the other day the invitation arrived I was struck the other day that it's been 7 years since I last attended the Essen Spiel. Seems like just yesterday really.

I started wondering recalling our first impressions of many of them and wondered how they stacked up in the ratings (from these days.

  1. Roads and Boats
    BGG Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:42
    Two booths down from us were the friendly Splotter folks who were kind enough to help us newbies in various ways, like with extra boxes for shipping stuff home. I hope we were sufficiently grateful and/or returned some favors too. Some of us picked up this game, the more fancy version of Roads & Boats, though it was awfully heavy. review

  2. Carcassonne
    BGG Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:45
    We tried this out one evening at the wonderful Savoy restaurant. It reminds me that sometimes being told that a game is not very good is the best recommendation of all. Because then when you discover otherwise, there is such a happy moment and thrill of discovery. I could tell right away that this one was hitting the same special niche achieved by Die Siedler von Catan and it doesn't surprise me at all that in terms both awards and expansions it has followed rather a similar path.

    It went on to become one of the few games which has won both the Spiel des Jahres and the Deutscher Spiele Preis. review

    did they ever make a movie together?

  3. Traumfabrik
    BGG Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:56
    What really got me about this one was that in the press room they had hired Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe lookalikes to perform. Wonderful! to see so much trouble and expense being invested to promote board games. But actually Reiner Knizia, who we seemed to keep running into, was even a more interesting attention getter. Hope he didn't think we were stalking him.

    Because of IP rights problems with the name – not the only game at the Fair to suffer from that that year – it was later changed to Fabrik der Traume and later Hollywood Blockbuster. review


  4. Blokus
    BGG Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:80
    Inventor Bernard Tavitian was in the booth right next to us. Being so abstract we didn't really get involved in his game though – it seemed kind of out of place with what everyone else was doing in fact. So seven years later it naturally it turns out to be one of the biggest phenomena going. review

  5. Meuterer
    BGG Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:141
    One of the about eight card games Adlung brought out that year. Trying to figure out which ones to get was always tricky. But this one was getting excellent word of mouth, being called "Verräter Goes to Sea" so with such a small box, this was a must buy. It has survived quite well in the rankings, even despite the arrival of the later Citadels which used much the same idea. It wasn't the only game for which Adlung got some of our money. review

  6. Lord of the Rings
    BGG Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:153
    As our clocks were set for California time, we tended to get up really early in the morning. We tried this one on a hotel room bed one morning before breakfast. I must confess I didn't find any inherent tension or see the point and was falling asleep during the proceedings. review

    Javan gamelan ensemble

  7. Java
    BGG Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:170
    The amazing thing about this one was not so much the nature of the game – Tikal had gone before – but that the publisher actually hired a seven piece gamelan ensemble that performed right outside the press conference! When have we ever seen that kind of commitment to a game in the US? By the way, did you know that Germans tend to pronounce the title staring with a "y" sound?

    Co-inventor Wolfgang Kramer was treated like something of a rock star. He was swarmed by press in the press room and was giving a live interview on German radio while I was there. Can you imagine that happening in America? review

  8. Wyatt Earp
    BGG Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:197
    This was not purchaseable, but Alea was testing it, at about eight 4-person tables, if I recall, with developer Stefan Brück patiently watching and answering questions. He was so nochalant and casual it was hard to tell at first that he was the one actually running the show. Unfortunately no time for us to participate, but I later acquired, still own and enjoy the game. review

  9. Cartagena
    BGG Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:293
    Believe we checked this one out in the hotel, but didn't have time to play it until getting back home. It continues to hold up quite well. review

    With nine games in BGG's top 300, it seems Essen 2000 can be fairly proud.

    Kosmos wall
    a wall of games (click to enlarge)

  10. Babel
    BGG Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:317
    This was new at the Fair, but we had trouble playing it because we didn't grok the rules correctly. Should have read them instead of getting half an explanation. Well, player aids would have helped too. Still own and enjoy, perhaps the most involved of the Kosmos two-player series. review

  11. Hamsterrolle
    BGG Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:357
    This was by Jacques Zeimet and Zoch Verlag. In those days before Villa Paletti and Niagara we pretty much ignored games by Zoch and I don't even recall stopping in their booth. And I still haven't played this one, being somewhat surprised that it still ranks this high.

  12. Attila
    BGG Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:443
    Believe this game went into production pretty fast after Hans-im-Glück's plan to bring out Industria fell through in September. Amazingly it works pretty well, if one can sort out the colors issue. I still enjoy playing it. A tribute to the fast invention work of Karl-Heinz Schmiel and the publishing ability of Hans-im-Glück. review

  13. Ivanhoe
    BGG Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:537
    By Reiner Knizia/GMT. As an American in Germany, one tends to ignore all American games – not worth hauling back on the plane when one can buy at home – and this was no exception. Actually we were surprised that GMT even bothered to attend Essen, but that was around the time that they started getting into society games. review

  14. Empires of the Ancient World
    BGG Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:623
    The Warfrog booth was just down the way from our booth (in the foreigners and weird, but non-warlike hall) and we admired the esprit-de-corps of the Warfroggies in their bright yellow shirts and ten gallon hats. I didn't end up picking this one up at the time – despite its high praise from some like my Belgian friend, Didier Renard, it also got some negative buzz – but only did so later. I've spent a lot of time with this, both playing it and devising variants. Still playing it avidly. review

  15. Bus
    BGG Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:646
    Another by our friends at Splotter Spellen (Jeroen Doumen). They were having quite a good year and multiple games on transportation themes. I had tried this one before Essen, somehow it didn't really gel with me though. Apparently I was wrong though as its ranking shows it certainly has its fans. review

  16. Doge
    BGG Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:651
    Heard about this, but no chance to check it out. This is a good example of the word of mouth game that inevitably happens at Essen. You run into someone, get to talking and ask, what looks good, what's worth getting. What follows is this list of every booth the person has visited and a thumbs up or a thumbs down on every one of them. This one wasn't getting many thumbs.

  17. M
    BGG Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:674
    This game by Martin Schlegel/Abacus had me very interested at first because I thought it might be related to the classic German film starring Peter Lorre. When I found out that was not the case, I lost interest, though judging by the ranking, apparently wrongly so. Still haven't managed to play it.

  18. Wongar
    BGG Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:790
    I seem to recall a lot of complaints about this game by Alan Moon and Richard Borg. I seemed to be one of the only people willing to say anything positive about it. But it definitely has its following, apparently just not around my friends. So it scared me as a game I would buy and never be able to get to the table.

    More interesting was meeting Alan at the Savoy, along with Aaron Weissblum and trying out some of their prototypes in the restaurant. One night the restaurant owner started playing some country music. With a smile he asked me, "do you know who that is?" It was Alan on vocals!

    It was great meeting the very friendly Richard Borg as well, who actually visited our booth a couple times during slack periods and was happy to shoot the breeze. He was riding the success of Battle Cry at the time and even then had completed designing ancient world and fantasy versions. Hard to believe it's taken so long and switching to other publishers to finally get them published so many years later. review

  19. Dragon Delta
    BGG Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:926
    Didn't manage to find this one, but it wasn't getting much buzz either. Folks complained the simultaneous activities made it too random. But it's done all right. review

  20. Trendy
    BGG Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:974
    This game by Reiner Knizia/Ravensburger has absolutely no buzz, but turned out quite fun. Didn't find out about it until many moons later, however. review

    game layout
    Way Out West

  21. Way Out West
    BGG Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1002
    This was the other game from Warfrog. This particular one didn't really appeal to me. As I recall they shared their booth with Winsome Games so there were all kinds of goodies to be found there. review

  22. Ebbe & Flut
    BGG Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1018
    Someone, I can't remember who, tipped me to this one and the more I heard the more interesting it sounded so I made sure to pick it up and even paid an extra mark for one of the plastic cases Adlung was selling to hold them. (Wish I'd picked up several more of those.) Still playing it, the last time just a couple of months ago. review

  23. Galaxy: the Dark Ages
    BGG Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:1023
    Another society game by GMT – the redo of Knizia's Titan: the Arena. The fact that it was an American company and a redo kept us from spending time there. review

  24. Morisi
    BGG Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1037
    The's Ken Tidwell had brought back Isi from a previous year and I had liked it fairly well so I picked up this one, even though its round shape made it kind of awkward to pack and it's still awkward on my shelves. Met and chatted with its publisher/inventor Corné van Moorsel as well, both at our booth and his, which was fun. He had a rough time with this one as the glue on the wraparound labels had not dried and the white piece had come out looking slighly bluish. He provided extra pieces later during the Fair to compensate. I still play this from time to time, as is true of many of the games in this list, but with a special variant that introduces holes in the map. review

  25. Störtebeker [Corsairs]
    BGG Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1043]
    This game by Thorsten Lopmann & Andreas Wetter/Hans-im-Glück was a pirate game, but apparently wasn't piratic enough as it got a lot of complaints because the pirates' goals are the acquisition of food. This was a middle range one which was somewhat interesting, but not enough so to haul back to America, especially when we knew there was an American edition coming out anyway. Its ranking has pretty much stayed in the same range. review

  26. Kill Doktor Lucky
    BGG Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:1127
    The German premiere of this game by James Ernest/Mario Truant Verlag. Apart from being surprised at seeing Cheapass Games here, and in a fancier package, we pretty much ignored it as we did all the American games. review

  27. Hyle 7
    BGG Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1140
    This was completely off our radar and I still don't know it at all. Apparently it's an abstract with variable powers, one player being Chaos, the other Order. Sounds interesting actually. The 7 means this new version was played on a 7x7 grid instead of the 5x5 that preceded it.

  28. Halali! [Tally Ho!]
    BGG Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:1178]
    I didn't pick it up at the Fair, but have since played it hundreds of times, especially on-line. I must have played over a hundred times face to face as well. This is one of those games that may irritate you at first, but if you would just play it about forty times, it becomes fascinating. Then if you play it another forty times it might well become infuriating. And so on, on and on. So I think this deserves a ranking which is either much higher or much lower, only I can't decide which. review

  29. Flickwerk
    BGG Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:1210
    This was the game by Friedemann Friese/2F for the year, later re-done by Queen as Turbo Taxi. Friend Dave O'Connor has a good chat with Friedemann, who apologized for not having a real game that year, only, in his words, "this puzzle". But he promised that he had good things in the pipeline. And sure enough, it wasn't long before Fische Fluppen Frikadellen and Funkenschlag came along. review

  30. San Francisco
    BGG Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:1260
    Amigo was doing well, riding both the Magic: the Gathering and the Pokemon crazes at the time. Being that the real San Francisco is close to home, I had to pick this one up. It's okay to bring out once in a while. review

  31. Strand-Cup
    BGG Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1280
    This was the most successful of the three "Krimsu" games that year. I got to know Ralf Sandfuchs a bit and received free copies of both. That started my long years of duty translating their games into English. I still have and enjoy this one quite a bit, though Tichu has been cutting into its table time severely. review

  32. Al Cabohne
    BGG Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:1301
    Good two-player card games are really not that common so I picked this one up. Actually this was not the only Bohnanza type of game to appear at the Fair. Curiously this one is ranked higher than the other (see below), but was said to be the better game and does have the higher rating. Naturally that was the one that was sold out before I got to it. I still haven't managed to play it. review

    Zatre booth
    Zatre booth

  33. Zatre
    BGG Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1329
    These guys were just across the aisle from us, but I never quite figured out what their game was all about.

  34. Zapp Zerapp
    BGG Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:1357
    Another Zoch game that was off our radar.

  35. Der Herr der Fritten [Lord of the Fries]
    BGG Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:1370]
    Another game by James Ernest/Mario Truant Verlag. We didn't pay anymore attention to it than to Kill Doktor Lucky (read above why), but actually I tend to like this one better. Not sure why it gets a lower ranking. review

  36. Klondike
    BGG Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:1382
    The Y2K re-release of this 1993 game by Stefanie Rohner & Christian Wolf/HABA. Like all HABA's games for kids, we didn't have time to pay attention. review

  37. Karriere Poker
    BGG Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1386
    This was a new edition for 2000 by Heidelberger. Some of us picked this up, having heard it was similar to Tichu. We had tried Tichu and hadn't really understood it well (maybe because of some gaps in the translation), so we easily passed this one by.

  38. MotorChamp
    BGG Rating:6.7 Overall Rank:1346
    There were probably just too many auto racing games in this year so this one escaped our notice.

  39. Kings and Castles
    BGG Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1414
    We didn't find this at Essen, but played later. I much prefer their later Viking Fury. Not sure where this was, probably back in the wargames halls, which we didn't visit very much. review

  40. Bongo
    BGG Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:1530
    This game by Bruno Faidutti/Heidelberger Spieleverlag was off our radar. Heidelberger probably had one of those small booths that was mostly obscured by its larger neighbors.

  41. Obstgarten
    BGG Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1698
    We also bypassed this 2000 re-release of a 1986 game for kids by Anneliese Farkaschovsky/HABA. (Fruit Garden)

  42. Circus Minimus
    BGG Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:1959
    Believe this was tucked back into the warlike games hall and we never found it. As an owner who is still happy with Circus Maximus, have not played this one.

  43. Monza
    BGG Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1983
    Another kids game by Jürgen P. Grunau/HABA that we detoured around.

  44. Keytown
    BGG Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:2011
    I met the friendly Mr. Richard Breese during the setup time. Believe he was already sold out of his print run, or close to it. Kind of surprising that the overall rank isn't higher.

    scantily clad
    Mage Knight got a lot of attention in the press room

  45. Mage Knight Rebellion
    BGG Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:2047
    Never checked out the game, but somehow the scantily-clad Amazons in the press room left a visual impression ...

  46. Kathai
    BGG Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:2064
    The third Adlung game I picked up. As it's about the Silk Road game I liked the looks of it right away and still play it from time to time. Could use a little fixing I guess. review

  47. Lunatix Loop
    BGG Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:2106
    The game of Matt Leacock, our booth partner, is still a hoot to play. I'm surprised to doesn't have a higher ranking/rating. review

  48. Zitternix
    BGG Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:2113
    We ignored also this game for kids by Heinz Meister/HABA. How great it must be to buy games for kids in Germany with so many wonderful products from HABA.

  49. Azteca
    BGG Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:2214
    We probably only saw the Cheapass Games at the Truant booth and totally missed this one by Pascal Bernard/Tilsit/Mario Truant Verlag. They were just across the aisle from us with a wall between and I felt that their big booth kind of made us hard to find. So out of a kind of resentment I never visited really, not that it was their fault. Anyway, checked tghe game out later and found it not too bad. Surprised that it rates below the two Cheapass Games. review

  50. Shipwrecked
    BGG Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:2273
    This American game by Mark Alan Osterhaus/Out of the Box was not something we were willing to haul back. Better to buy/try in America.

  51. Der Garten des Sonnenkönigs
    BGG Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:2357
    I thought this was a beautiful-looking game by Günter Cornett, a re-release of Canaletto. Strangely however, some German reviewers thought its plastic bits looked cheap. Well, that's horseracing. It was published by Noris, who are almost totally forgotten today. They had for a long time been publishing not very good games and this one was an attempt to start making better games. Unfortunately, they went out of business right after this and the game hasn't even been rated very much. I had already made my own set from the web-published version so I took a look at the big box and decided to avoid the headache of fitting it into my luggage. Günter Cornett was very helpful to us, even before the show, and invited us all out one night to the dinner that a number of game designers joined. We all played games there afterwards.

    game layout
    does it look cheap?

  52. Knights
    BGG Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:2743
    I'm surprised this one is ranked as high as it is because the buzz was so universally negative. And it's by Michael Schacht! Hard to understand ... I did eventually play it back home, as a six-player game, and it seemed the rumors were right. review

  53. Im Märchenwald
    BGG Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:2851
    This was another of the Adlung games. I figured not all of them could be good, so I passed on this one and somehow have still not played it. But it may be more of a game for children anyway.

  54. Lift Off
    BGG Rating:5.36 Overall Rank:3061
    I didn't get this one, but some of us took a flier on it. I recall playing shortly after returning home and not enjoying it very much. review

  55. Troia
    BGG Rating:5.37 Overall Rank:3066
    I watched for a bit one night as Günter Cornett played this one at a restaurant that a number of us had gone to on the subway, first for dinner and then breaking out the games. He explained that he didn't want to play it all the time, but sometimes it was nice. What folks may not know was that ever since Schliemann started excavating at Troy, Germans have found this topic very interesting. And back in 2000 a German, Manfred Korfmann, was in charge of the latest excavations there in Turkey (he has since died). So this was partly seen as an educational game and in fact was partly sponsored by Daimler. I've yet to try it, but the nature of it probably explains its lower ranking.

  56. Bounty
    BGG Rating:5.24 Overall Rank:3132
    One morning on the last or second to last day, before the doors opened, I was wandering around and spotted a very nice booth showing an extra large and deluxe edition of this handsome game. Chatted with the lady in the booth for a bit and was surprised to discover they were there from South Africa, as I hadn't heard much from that quarter before. The game sounded interesting, but I was out of luggage space by that time. When I got back, reviews kind of turned me away from it and I've still never tried it out.

  57. Vive le Roi
    BGG Rating:5.31 Overall Rank:3185
    The German premiere of Overthrone (1999) by Frank DiLorenzo & Stacey Merrill/Heidelberger Spieleverlag. Another American game ignored by us since we could get it back in America. review

  58. Alles Für die Katz
    BGG Rating:5.20 Overall Rank:3216
    Card games are really good for the plane and I liked David Parlett's 99, so this Amigo production was picked up. It turned out to be more of a kids' game though and it has passed out of my hands. review

  59. Titus
    BGG Rating:5.00 Overall Rank:3243
    Another game by Uwe Rosenberg of Bohnanza fame that also uses the "card backs are coins" idea. This was another one from Adlung that I was told was too much of a memory game so I avoided it. I suppose the lower ranking reflects that. review

  60. Diskwars: Legend of the Five Rings
    BGG Rating:4.90 Overall Rank:3328
    A game we ignored as it was available in America.

  61. Gerüchteküche
    BGG Rating:4.80 Overall Rank:3329
    We played this one with, I think, eight players one night with the inventor Christward (Vino) Conrad, who taught it. It wasn't bad as an experience, but somehow I didn't see this near party game being popular back home, so it was another Adlung game I didn't pick up. review

  62. Halloween Party
    BGG Rating:3.60 Overall Rank:3530
    Not sure where this was and didn't even hear of it. It's ranking doesn't inspire me to go and find it though.

  63. Wer wird Millionär?
    BGG Rating:4.63 Overall Rank:3568
    This was the heyday of the TV program Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and of course we ignored this American trivia game. Uncredited by Pressman.
    From here on are games which are either expansions or haven't been played enough to get BGG rankings.
    setting up the RoboRally floor
    more RoboRally

  64. RoboRally - Crash and Burn
    BGG Rating:7.72 Unranked
    Amigo was just introducing the German edition. To really push it, they had created a RoboRally board large enough to use humans as pawns that teams of two were playing in one of the main halls, one player turning the cards, the other acting the robot. Would have been fun to try if only we'd had the time. review

  65. Die Siedler von Catan - Das Buch zum Spielen
    BGG Rating:7.50 Unranked
    Several of us picked this one up. I think we don't play it enough. Or we should be using its bits to make creative new scenarios. I especially like the Teuber-designed one. A friend I made at Essen there helped playtest one of the other ones, but his name seems to be messed up in the credits in the sense that he was assigned a surname other than his own! review

  66. Anno Domini - Sport
    BGG Rating:7.32 Unranked
    This is part of a long-running series of games that nobody I know has played since there is a heavy dependence on German text. Perhaps someone will re-publish in English one day. By the designer of Tichu.

  67. High Bohn
    BGG Rating:7.08 Unranked
    This was the other Bohnanza product to get at the Fair that year and word was that if you only get one, be sure to get this one. Naturally, it was sold out by the time I got around to it, so I still have never tried it. review

  68. New England Railways
    BGG Rating:7.29 Unranked
    An American product so I didn't get it, preferring to get it back home. I'll bet this would be played more if it hadn't been for Age of Steam. By Martin Wallace/Winsome Games. review

  69. Starfarers of Catan 5-6 Player Expansion
    BGG Rating:7.06 Unranked
    Not being a Starfarers of Catan fan, I ignored this. Also premiering, but not as a separate entry in BGG, the Starfarers alien figures. By Klaus Teuber/Kosmos. review

  70. Kontor - Das Exportlager
    BGG Rating:6.88 Unranked
    I didn't get Kontor so I ignored this one. Strangely, I find myself missing Kontor a bit now and would like to play it again one day. review

  71. Volltreffer
    BGG Rating:6.52 Unranked
    Folks were ignoring games by Günter Burkhardt because Edison & Co. proved so unpopular. But this one sounded refreshing, came in a small package and I picked it up. I still like playing it from time to time, especially when we are five players. Am astonished that it hasn't been rated enough to be ranked. Published by Berliner Spielkarten which shortly thereafter was acquired by Ravensburger and disappeared. review

  72. Was Fehlt Denn Da?
    BGG Rating:6.50 Unranked
    Another Adlung game which didn't get good buzz, probably because it's a memory/party game. We ignored it.

  73. Bladder
    BGG Rating:6.42 Unranked
    This game by Danny Brittain & Tim Purkess/Purkess Brittain Games was totally off our radar. Just as well since combining Chess and soccer didn't sound promising.

  74. So ein Zirkus [Welcome to the Circus]
    BGG Rating:6.16 Unranked]
    This was a game for children by Volker Schäfer/Bambus. I didn't really play it, though maybe I should have as it could be one of those rare games good for both children and adults. I strongly recall Günter Cornett demoing it with such virtuousity. Always thought the English title could be "Such a Circus", but maybe that's just me.

    game layout
    Tacara stands for TActical CAr RAcing.

  75. Derby
    BGG Rating:6.15 Unranked
    Game by Dirk Henn and his db Spiele. One of my friends picked up a copy in the strangest way. One went into a certain place in the flea market and asked for Dirk Henn. Then one hears, "Dirk Henn, who wants to know?". One looked and there was a man with a backpack. In it are the latest treasures from Dirk Henn, that year Derby, a hand-made game we played and enjoyed. I'm somewhat surprised it hasn't achieved a ranking. I guess he just didn't get very many copies of it out there. We later placed ordered directly from him other titles on a "made to order" basis. But with the Spiel des Jahres win of his Alhambra I think the days of his small press efforts are long gone. review

  76. Tacara
    BGG Rating:6.15 Unranked
    I checked this out both in the press room and on the floor and wanted to buy it, but just wasn't sure without having a chance to play. Probably I should have. Maybe I still should, though probably Bolide has surpassed it?

  77. Balmy Balloonists
    BGG Rating:6.05 Unranked
    Our own humble contribution to the proceedings. review

    booth poster

  78. Pila
    BGG Rating:6.00 Unranked
    A Swedish soccer game by Súni and Magnus Egholm/Tellus Games. Soccer has never seemed a great topic for a board game to me so I would have avoided this, even if I had known about it.

  79. Online
    BGG Rating:5.93 Unranked
    This game by Franjos suffered horrible accident:  another game came out at the Fair with the exact same title and the other one was by board games giant, Hasbro. Guess which one was going to have to change names. Hint: not Hasbro's. At least they were nice about it. Franjos was allowed to keep selling it under this name for the duration of the Fair. Afterward, which is something of a joke, at least to me, the name was changed to Offline. Actually, the bigger joke is that that I hear from my friends who bought it, Offline is actually good and Hasbro's game: not.

  80. West Riding
    BGG Rating:5.88 Unranked
    I think this game by Han Heidema/Winsome Games was lost amid all the other higher profile stuff going on in the Warfrog/Winsome booth as I never knew about it, though ended up playing it later, and found it didn't do much for me anyway. review

    game layout
    World of Winds

  81. Welt der Winde
    BGG Rating:5.76 Unranked
    The folks who made this game were another very small operation, just like us. It was really quite a coincidence that there were two games in the same year in which wind played such a vital role. This game had some very interesting features, but in the end didn't really grab me. review

  82. Abenteuer im Wichtelwald
    BGG Rating:5.70 Unranked
    By Manfred Ludwig/W&L/Spiel Spass, which must have been a small company not found by us.

  83. Die Tafelrunde
    BGG Rating:5.68 Unranked
    I don't know where I would have found this game by Michael Schacht/Spiele aus Timbuktu. And now there's a Die Tafelrunde 2, and I've still not played either.

  84. Naschkatze
    BGG Rating:5.67 Unranked
    Game by Quattro Silvestri/HABA that as a kids game we avoided.

  85. Last Minute
    BGG Rating:5.50 Unranked
    Avoided as I'd heard it was an action game. Seems most have done likewise.

  86. Aya
    BGG Rating:5.42 Unranked
    Another game by Mike Reilly & John Beaupre/Zoch Verlag that was ignored by us because we didn't expect anything good from Zoch in those days.

  87. Kampf um Rom - Das Kartenspiel
    BGG Rating:5.35 Unranked
    I knew that there had earlier been a Kampf um Rom board game and somehow I got the impression this might be an attempt to sell off extra parts from this game and avoided it. Seems many others have done so as well.

  88. HoverTank 2
    BGG Rating:5.20 Unranked
    This John Bohrer/Winsome Games product was avoided by us since it seemed to be something we could get in America more easily anyway. Have never checked it out though.

  89. Pinocchio
    BGG Rating:5.10 Unranked
    This game by Amigo seemed too much for kids so we avoided it.

  90. Dungeons & Dragons Boardgame - Diablo II Edition
    BGG Rating:5.04 Unranked
    A product in the wrong language and easier to get in America – we avoided (and have continued to do so).

  91. Spiel mit Kunst
    BGG Rating:5.00 Unranked
    by Wolfgang Lüdtke & Annette Stanger/Belser (Kosmos)

  92. Gold Train
    BGG Rating:5.00 Unranked
    This John Bohrer/Winsome Games product was avoided by us since it seemed to be something we could get in America more easily anyway. Have never checked it out though.

  93. Haps
    BGG Rating:4.65 Unranked
    This card game about sharks for just two players was another Krimsu offering of the year. While an interesting idea, it fails to escape certain problems and doesn't really get played anymore. review

  94. Online: Internet Card Game
    BGG Rating:4.48 Unranked
    This was the Hasbro game, essentially a new version of Touring. It is rightly ignored.

  95. Botany Bay
    BGG Rating:4.33 Unranked
    Had a look at this game and met the inventor, quite a memorable character. Passed on it. (This one may have appeared at 1999's Essen as well.)

    Pythago booth
    Pythago booth (in background, click to enlarge)

  96. Pythago
    BGG Rating:4.25 Unranked
    These folks were in the booth next to us on the other side. As far as we could tell the game was just kind of Tetris as a board game, so didn't investigate further. Apparently not many others did so either as there are only four raters on BGG at the moment. The funny thing is that we thought similarly about our other neighbor, Blokus, but it turned around and became a huge success. Never judge a game by its cover.

  97. Monsterjagd
    BGG Rating:4.18 Unranked
    This ended up being the lowest-rated of Adlung's games for the year. Theme of a monster hunt using five different types of monster-catching devices was interesting, but it was a speed game, so we ignored it. Seems most have.

  98. Simpsons Board Game
    BGG Rating:4.13 Unranked
    In the press room the guys promoting this were so happy to run into us, real Americans! People who would know all about the Simpsons and were probably fans! Their cup overflowed!! Unfortunately I'm not really a Simpson's fan and I'm afraid I was quite the disappointing American to them. And like most tie-in games, it appears their game was quite disappointing to everyone else.

  99. Das Isses!
    BGG Rating:4.00 Unranked
    I don't believe we ever got much into the Heidelberger Spieleverlag booth and didn't se this game by Frank Stark, but judging by its rating, it's probably best we didn't as it's the lowest rated game of the Essen 2000 set.

  100. Generationen
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    As a party game in the German language, this did not come into our purview.

  101. Activity Ruhrpott
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    A game for kids that was ignored by us.

  102. Kölle Alaaf
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    I don't recall ever seeing this, but it was a trivia and other party game about the German city of Cologne.

  103. Ratzolino
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    A kid's game about rats by HABA and designed by the award-winning Hajo Bücken (Ausbrecher AG).

  104. Siebenpunkt
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    Another kid's game by HABA which has been reviewed twice in German.

  105. Lotto-Zoo
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    A game for kids aged 2-4 by HABA which we ignored. Designed by Karin Pennther. If the game were in BGG, I'd add her to the "Designing Women" geek list.

  106. Zahnputz-Memo
    BGG Rating:0.00 Unranked
    One in the series of HABA's Memory games, this one for kids 4 and up, so that they can learn which foods are tooth-friendly and which have too much sugar. Has been reviewed by Spielphase, where it received 2 out of a possible 6 pips.

    You know, people may think that every game ever invented has been entered into BGG, but actually, if you start looking at it seriously, there are still plenty of omissions. All of the following, a significant percentage of the Essen 2000 offering, are not in the database.

  107. Am Anfang war der Stein
    I think this was a promotional game. In any case it entirely escaped our notice. By Michael Sohre/Theta-Promotion.

  108. Das E.R.S.T.E

    As a role-playing game entirely in German, we ignored this, the third offering from "Krimsu" that year.

    laser tennis game
    Laser Light Tennis in the press room

  109. Laser Light Tennis
    This is a Hasbro game I surprisingly never read or hear much about, but it's still "in print" in Germany. The laser would shine down randomly from the top and the receiving player had to catch it and reflect it to the other player's court, who in turn had to reflect it back again. See another photo here if you're curious enough.

There were also some prominent games that were supposed to be at the show, but didn't make it:

  1. Allies vs. the Reich: The WWII Card Game
    I've heard of this, but I don't recall ever actually seeing it. I'm not sure whether this offering from QED Games (Dog Eat Dog) never appeared or was just hard to find.

  2. Apples to Apples Probably it had arrived by the next year's fair. review

  3. EuroMille Only there as a prototype. Unsure whether it was ever fully published.

  4. Industria - the disagreement between Tom Lehmann and Hans-im-Glück

  5. Patton in Flames - delayed to 2001

  6. Qin - intended by Reiner Knizia/Queen and cancelled, and apparently still has not appeared)

  7. San Marco - delayed to Nuremberg review

  8. Solaris - from FFG and and still has not appeared? or maybe the name was changed because of trouble from the movie people?

huge Torres
And there should be a special mention of Torres which, as the SdJ winner of the previous year, had a huge display version.

Wrap Up

In retrospect, one didn't think of much American stuff being at Essen back in 2000, but actually it's striking how much there already was. It was the first year for a while with no new offering from Doris&Frank. There were two games on soccer and several Dutch games about transportation. There were also two games about wind-based travel and several on racing in various forms. It was a waning period for Goldsieber and the end of the line for some other publishers like Noris. The Kosmos two-player was going fairly strong and others hadn't yet seen that it was a good idea to imitate them. Dirk Henn was still only a cult favorite and Hasbro was making attempts to play in the German games market, and actually came out with a hit. Adlung had one big hit, (Meuterer), and at least three successes. The year overall had nine games in the BGG top 300 with four in the top 100 at 42, 45, 56 and 80. Carcassonne looks to have a rather long life and Blokus is one of the top pure abstracts around. Thanks to the movies, Lord of the Rings probably sold over a million copies and Java is probably one of more successful heavy German games ever. In Cartagena and Traumfabrik we've seen successes that have been re-issued quite recently.

Overall I think it was quite a varied year, a fun year, and unlike the more recent ones, a year that could be pretty much comprehended in its totality. It sure was great to be a part of it and enjoyable to remember.

There is a barebones version of this list at BGG.

All photos by Rick Heli.

Last update: Mon May 28 22:40:42 UTC 2007 Created: Mon May 28 22:40:42 UTC 2007

Please send any comments to Rick Heli