Two days at Spiel 2018 – a review/summary

Last week, I attended the boardgame convention Spiel in Essen (Germany) for 2 days, together with my boyfriend and another friend. We’ve been there 2 times before, which was a lot of fun – although very tiring as well, it’s worth it. Previous we travelled there in the morning, walked around all day, slept in an Airbnb, and went again the next day to travel back home at night. To save some energy, this year we decided to go the day before and stay in an Airbnb for two nights. So we arrived Wednesday afternoon, walked around the city centre for a bit, went to our Airbnb to relax a little, cook and go to sleep early. Everything to have enough energy for Spiel, day 1.

Day 1

There was an Ikea very close to our Airbnb, so we decided to get breakfast there. It ended up a little more expensive than we thought, because we ended up paying for every single item we got when we thought we got the €1.50 croissant breakfast with some extras – but hey, we did get a Nutella pancake, so all was good. Afterwards we walked to the supermarket to get some lunch and then took the metro to the Messe halls. The metro was surprisingly empty, and even at the central station almost no one got in – other years there were huge lines and we’d hardly fit into the metro. We arrived at Spiel around 11.30, where we met up with our friend. Despite the empty metro, Spiel itself was very crowded, although it did seem a little less crowded than other years. It was easy to find empty tables this year and luckily we never had to walk around for long.

A picture of the crowd at Spiel 2018


A picture showing the game Woodlands
This was my boyfriend’s card – Little Red Riding Hood reaches Grandma and doesn’t get killed by the wolf!

The first game we played was called Woodlands. The goal of the game was to lead Little Red Riding Hood to Grandma through different chapters. You had to place the tiles in such a way that Little Red Riding Hood would reach the end tile, before the hourglass was empty. You could collect points by collecting certain things such as strawberries or gems. In the last chapter to get any points at all you had to bring Little Red Riding Hood to Grandma, make sure the wolf couldn’t reach either Red or Grandma, and you could collect bonus points by making sure the hunter would reach the wolf. Of course, I ended up having Little Red Riding Hood eaten by the wolf and lost the game. Oops.


A picture showing the game Bali.

Then we moved on to the card game Bali. In short, the goal of the game was to collect as many rice, peppers, bananas and peanuts to be able to sacrifice them at the temple, which was probably the best way to get points and win. There were some other ways to collect points, but they weren’t nearly as profitable and I pretty much didn’t realize until the end of the game, so I lost. Again. If you do know what you’re doing though, I think it could be a really fun game!

After we were done with this game we went outside to have our supermarket lunch – which was pretty healthy actually, as they had a salad bar in the supermarket! To make up for that we also had a croissant though – can’t be too healthy 😉 After lunch we walked around for a bit where we soon found my favourite game I played this time at Spiel: Railroad Ink.

Railroad Ink

A picture showing the game Railroad Ink

The game is very simple: you roll four dice that have either rails, road or both on them. Everyone has to use these dice and draw them somewhere on their map to create a route. In the end, you get points for each exit you connect, the longest railroad, the longest road, and each of the middle nine squares you’ve filled. It’s a really easy game that’s easy to understand, but still requires a lot of thinking! There were a red and a blue edition that both had different expansions included with them, and my boyfriend and I ended up buying the blue version.


A picture showing the game Oilfield

In this game you had to collect gas and oil to win points. Each turn you could do one public action on the board, and you had cards to do a private action. You could lease a place in either Dallas, Austin or Pecos, then you could build on the place and once you had built you could drill the gas and oil. You could then sell it on the local market to get more money or to get points, or sell it nationally for money. You could also invest money for points, which in the end turned out to be the only strategy to win. So although the premise of the game seemed promising, it was rather limited in both actions and strategy.


After walking around for a bit we ended up at Untamed, a deckbuilding card game. I am familiar with the concept of deckbuilding card games as an app, but playing it with actual cards takes some getting used to. The game was also still in production, so sometimes what it said on the card was not how you had to play it, which was a little confusing. I think it could be a fun game if you’re into deckbuilding games, but especially at the end of a long day, this wasn’t the game for me.

Ice Cool

A picture showing the game Ice Cool

Right before leaving we walked into Ice Cool, a game we also played last year. The goal is to flip the penguins with your fingers through the doors and collect all the fishes of your colour. Meanwhile, one of the players is the hunter each round and has to catch the other penguins. It’s a fun game where you get to be a little active and walk around the table. And after a day of losing everything, I actually won this game!

Then we left the convention and took the metro to the city centre where we had pretty good fries with pulled pork for dinner before walking to our Airbnb.

Day 2

On Friday we decided not to go to Ikea, but get both breakfast and lunch from the supermarket. Breakfast was a pretzel and a strawberry-cream croissant-like thing, lunch again the salad bar and some huge sugar-filled triangle with chocolate and caramel called a “Karamell-ecke”. It was good, and very, very filling.

This day, the metro was a lot more crowded than the day before – it was already quite full when we got in and this time, there were those huge lines at the central station.

The crowd walking from the metro station to the entrance of Messe Essen

We were quite on time this day too, arriving only 5 minutes after the doors had opened. This also meant we had to wait for almost an hour in a long, long queue to buy tickets and then a long, long queue to get in. And when I say queue, I actually just mean “huge mass of people”, because there wasn’t anything close to a proper queue. Not having eaten breakfast yet, standing for a long time and it being really hot also resulted into me getting quite close to fainting a couple of times, so that was fun. Next time, we’ll just arrive at 11 instead. But let’s move on to the games we played…

Junk Art

The first game we played was something very different: a block building game! There were different scenarios which all had different rules. The most fun one was where everyone had to build on the same platform, but you got to decide which block the next person had to build, out of the cards you drew. If you would make more than one block fall, you’d be out of the game. So of course, you give the next person the hardest block that will surely cause the tower to fall… except we all kept managing to build further, ending up with this construction:

The game "Junk Art", showing a tower of building blocks that are about to fall over

This block ended up being a bit too much though, so after this it did fall 😦


Honestly, I can’t remember any of the rules of this game other than that you had to grow flowers. This probably has something to do with me missing the entire explanation due to it being way too noisy, and I’m kind of bad at understanding stuff from just hearing it anyway. So all I can do is just mention we played it!


A picture showing the game Layers, with a 5 layer card open

This game was a lot of fun! Each turn we had to draw a card from either the 3, 4 or 5 layers pile and then remake the picture on the card with respectively 3, 4 or 5 of the layer cards we had, stacked in the right way. The first person to finish it got the most points and had to turn the hourglass, and then the others had time to finish until the hourglass was empty. It seems quite easy, but it was quite hard! I do doubt how much replay value this game has though. I think at some point you’ll have memorized most of the cards and know how to remake them.

Carcassonne Safari

The game Carcassonne Safari, with 2 white jeeps on the left and a hole of 2 tiles in the middle

Carcassonne is, of course, a very well-known game with many expansions. Carcassonne Safari is a whole new game though, which works pretty much the same as the original Carcassonne. The main difference is that in this game you can build watering holes in the savanna, and when you placed a tile on the place where a jeep was you could move the jeep and get 3 points. I liked the game, but I felt like the normal Carcassonne is better.

Fun fact: we actually managed to fill that hole of two tiles towards the end of the game!

Magic Fold

A picture showing the game Magic Fold

The premise of this game was very similar to Layers, as you had to make something and the first person to finish it had to turn the hourglass – and then the other players still had time to finish until the hourglass was empty. In this game you had to pick one of four cards and fold the “magic carpet” as indicated on the card. Every card can only be picked by one person, so if someone finishes it before you, you have to quickly pick another. Every card as well as each number token connected to the card has a number of actions on it. At the end of each round, you perform those actions: a number of steps forward, put another player backward, or get a joker that you could use to turn one wrong picture into the good one. If you ended up on a green cloud on the board, you had to take a green card which would make your next turn a little more difficult – for instance, I had one turn where I could only use my right hand to fold. The player who reaches the top of the board first, wins. I was somehow surprisingly good at this game and folding the “carpet” the right way –  so I won!

After this game, we had to leave in order to catch our train and get dinner at the train station first. If you ever find yourself at Essen Hauptbahnhof at dinner time, make sure to grab some food at Asia Hung, it’s really good!

We then decided to take one train early, as in our experience German trains are delayed a lot and we didn’t want to miss the international train. Too bad for us, this time the international train was delayed – for 40 minutes. If only we’d have known that beforehand, we could have played one more game! But I can’t really complain – we made it home safely in the end, played a lot of fun new games and even added a new game to our collection. Spiel 2018 was a lot of fun, and I hope we’ll be able to attend again next year!

4 thoughts on “Two days at Spiel 2018 – a review/summary

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