Essen Spiel: A Game Session, Chapter 1


It’s been a while since our first Essen SPIEL session, and here are some of our experiences. The rush of the real world since arrived in full force, but the first part of our quest report is finally here. I’m sitting with a Redemption cocktail in one hand, typing this up with the other. No, really, I am.

The Setup

We decided to play a 5-player game. We could have played 6, but we had a last-minute cancellation, some unavoidable business obligations. One knight less, a tighter game it is, or so they say, something like that.

We didn’t have Essen Spiel yet, none of us played it, so, as usual with new (non-miniature) board games in our group, I decided to take initiative/lower money and order it.

Which version? You have the basic visitor edition, which is more like a tutorial, then you have the authors’ workshop, which is a basic version, and you have the run-a-booth version, which is like an advanced coop with lots of player interaction, little food, little time to go to the bathroom, and a sore throat.

“We’ll have the run-a-booth tier, thank you.”


  • Branded team shirts
  • Parking tickets
  • Fair tickets
  • Booth reservation, corner, 2m x 5m with two walls 2.5m tall
  • Tarpaulin banners for booth walls
  • 3x game prototype
  • 5 types of tokens in various types/colors, with turn and player markers
  • Essen “Capitol Express Ticket” promo cards, perforated for validating/email collection
  • 1 “train conductor” corner cutter for promo cards
  • 3x black tablecloth, cheap but classy
  • 20x concept art posters, “Pensive knight sips cocktail in front of bar”
  • Pens, markers, suspension hooks, boxes, various useful or utterly useless paraphernalia (I usually hate games with pens)
  • Hard cash tokens (“euros”, symbol €)

Chapter 1: Capitol Express

  • The Goal: Make It Work
  • The Threat: Inexperience

Turn 1

After selecting our starting cards each (I took the Riding Shotgun card), we set about traveling in a small van from Zagreb.

Seven hours and three borders later, first stop: Harburg, Bavaria, Germany. Lovely town with medieval heritage, friendly people, great traditional food and beautiful landscapes. Oh, and a castle. We climbed the hill to the castle, failed to find the entrance. Probably too tired from the road, not enough Focus. Never mind, we sat like lizards in the sun on a small parapet overlooking the town under the castle instead. Focus regained.

Turn 2

Arrived at Bochum, 14 km from Essen. The Autobahn travel card was a nice thing to get so early in the game. All rested, plenty of focus left for finding food and shelter, and then the booth and setting it up.

When we arrived at our booth, gazed at the huge hangars and countless games, we were left a bit Ambushed. In a half-daze, we put up our decorative banner tarpaulin which we lugged from Zagreb, finally hooking it up on booth walls. Great job people, grab something to eat, tomorrow’s a big day.

Turn ends with buying food tokens, prototype fancying-up, and an improvised birthday celebration (go Dina!).

Turn 3

We used the Smartphone Navigation travel card to get from Bochum to Essen, which showed itself as an okay option. The Authorities’ radio proclaimed: “Miles of lines on roads to Essen fair”. We managed to cut that threat somewhat shorter too, with minimal waste of resources.

A first timer, that’s a special thing at Essen SPIEL. The doors open and you see rivers of people, people looking for games.

Managed to pick up the kickstarted Vaults expansion. Got great advice and moral support from our compatriots, the guys at 4HOGS.

The day got heated up, and we ran the presentations and playtests of Neon Limbo: Redemption.

Excellent, productive feedback all around, friendly visitors, and positive reactions, especially for our choice of theme. Wow, making it work.

Capitol Express promo
People also seemed to like the ride in our Capitol Express promo with our friendly train conductors

Looking around my shoulders, checking for any negative influence tokens. Seems you can’t simply run through a turn so easily. Some under the weather sinus troubles intensify. But the order endures it. Oh yeah, but one thing is not to be trifled with. Hunger. Time to eat.

Turn ends with first several dozen face-to-face visitors being presented with the game and showing interest in it. Hope’s up, Capitol Express gaining power, Redemption on the horizon.

Tomorrow’s Friday. We made it work so far. The next Chapter begins.


the team chapter 1