BSoMT at Essen Spiel 2018
Before we get too thickly intertwined within the complexities of surviving this behemoth of a convention, the plight of my journey to Germany need first be considered, as just getting out of the bloody country proved a task and a half. Transport, meeting rides and accommodation all put their respective spanners into the BSoMT travel works!
This part of Essen will be focusing predominantly with travel, accommodation and my hosts, 2d6EE Games. Links to support articles of the actual convention will be included below.
Essen or Bust:
Meticulous planning to the N’th degree! BSoMT was serious. Flights booked in advance to pacifically coincide comfortably with lifts from the most rural of Shropshire locations, to the town, to the UK rail station, to coincide with my hosts in Germany,and to coincide with the freakish forces at work that thwart my daily existence. I had planned carefully. I had foreseen delays. I knew chaos follows me like a cunning predictor stalks it prey, and I had timed all connections to meet accordingly. It should be a walk in the park, to travel a couple of thousand miles… one would assume, but as one has taken a walk in the park, it is a right pain in the Royal arse, that’s for sure.
First job; packing…cats! Whenever a suitcase appears at least one cat tries to stow away…but can I find the bloody photograph…nahhhh!
So, leg one was a doddle. A friend drove me twenty miles to the train station in Telford for my connection to Birmingham, and at the platform I did wait…..
…and wait and cancelled. The signs light up announcing the train running is thirty minutes late. Delayed because of a lack of staff. A lack of staff?… it is a scheduled service. Surely they know how staff it takes to run a train requiring a driver and a guard??? So I am forced to wait for the next one, watching my contingency time become more and more eroded. Two hours into the venture and I have accumulated twenty whole miles of progress.
Then completely out of the blue, and remember I am the sole occupant of a mainline station at this point, a bizarre announcement over the tannoy was to be heard. ‘Be afraid!’, it said, ‘Be very afraid!’… I mean, wtf? Seriously, whaaaaaaa?
Progress… but no. This too has only a driver and guard that can get me to Birmingham New Street… one stop before Birmingham International. Who are these people? Can a train go no further than three stops? So I was forced to panic-switch at Newstreet and find a train that would actually go to the Airport.
I found a train… a voyage, no less… but familiar Star Trek crew were not to be seen. It was quick , comfortable and, as I have never been a big Trekki I was none too bothered, so all was reasonably good with the world. A smoothish transition to the automated rail-car that shuttled me to the terminal…
Yay….Arrival at Terminal 2 with about 20 minutes to spare before check in. Surprisingly, the digitised check in and boarding passes work like a dream and mere moments later I was sauntering on towards the ludicrosity of UK customs security. Funnily not a word was said about me desecrating my passport with one of @stuffByBez stickers from Kitty Kataclysm… I was not worried as I had a small bag with some personal affects, clothing and my shiny, new BSoMT business cards. Nothing untoward, nothing suspicious and nothing to make a fuss over.
Bag on the scanning conveyor belt and, as usual, I set off the body scanner… a quick, and rather personal search and I was on my merry way to collect my bag at the end of the counter…. only it was not there. Some official feller with gloves on was standing over said bag with a somewhat menacing glint in his eye. I could almost feel his thoughts….
Bag open and contents spilled across the table, I was expecting the worst… my imagination saw unnecessary cavity searches…and as my teeth are all decent, that left only one possible cavity to be searched… The chap was actually pleasant enough, as it turned out, saying that the x-ray operator spotted an anomaly. He showed me the screen and it was my box of bloody business cards. He had to go through all of them to see what might have been hidden inside. Two boxes of 250 cards…blood and sand! Then the usual drug swab…and a “all seems to be in order, sir”
Feckin’ thanks a bloody bunch… I rammed everything into the bag, scooping up my disgraced belongings from the utilitarian surface. Right! Legging it through duty free… bleeeeehhhhh… (the overwhelming barrage of perfume makes me gip!) I arrive at the gate, sporting my ‘leave me alone’T shirt, and restorative coffee in hand (i made the assumption it would have restorative properties, but I had yet to consume the blistering hot liquid, slowly melting the cardboard cup) Just time for a couple of games of the brilliant Palm Island by Portal Dragon (I was lucky enough to be a part of the playtesters prior to the exceptionally successful Kickstarter)
My carriage awaits. I’d like to say the flight was poor, but it was a clean plane,efficient staff and Germany arrived before I knew it.
I thought customs would be another burden on my travelling reserves, but customs was a doddle. Straight through passport control and an exit sign 20 metres ahead. The passage had a right turn for baggage collection and a door ahead marked exit. I had no baggage to collect so went through the exit door, to find myself in duty free! Duty poxing free? This seemed odd to me, but i headed for the exit and found a delightful, comforting drizzle falling in the pickup/drop off taxi area. There was no sign of my ride so I gave my Estonian friend a call… I was opposite the arranged car-park (P2 or some such) so where was my ride? More phone calls with a sphincter squeaking 2% power left on my phone… I could wax lyrical about my stressed search for Aigar, but simply put, I should have come out in departures. I had, however, inadvertently found a quick, unlocked door between arrivals and departures. A lift ride and a speed walk down to the level below meant I eventually found two bemused Estonians, Aigar and Inga, my hosts for the week, waiting patiently for some idiot Brit who couldn’t find his arse with a highly detailed map.
Finally I was in Germany, with my ride and ready for the pre-Essen evening. I did half wreck my hosts’s hire van, as I climbed aboard, dislodging the fixed foot-well mat. A dark motorway drive from Dusseldorf to Essen brought us to a virtually deserted part of town, and a car-park next to a closed Lidl looking shop. Ascending the vehicle, I followed my hosts across a wide, deserted crossroad intersection to the only building exhibiting signs of life.
(Photos courtesy of Kingu Designs)
A corner shop turned out to be a Kebab shop, with some seating and, as it turns out, a regular haunt for my hosts on something like their 10th year here at Essen. I know virtually no German other than saying I don’t know how to speak German and ordering a coffee, so a significant amount of guess work was required to make my tea selection.
(Photos courtesy of Kingu Designs)
There was soooo much choice on the menu board above the hard working chef…. (a top bloke, but I cant for the life of me remember his name…) especially compared to English kebab shops,. My choice was a good one and a hearty meal was had on Both Sides of My Table.
Night one accommodation looked nice enough to me, but was not the two-room pad my hosts had booked. I took the couch and, unbeknown to myself, Inga’s bedding too (the place had sleeping facilities for two only and no room for spares, which was rather odd, especially if an evening were to get a little nippy… maybe Germans just freeze?)
Breakfast in a coffee shop became our weekly ritual on route to the exhibition hall… but
…it is the exploits of the accommodation booked for the remainder of the week that becomes of particular note, now. Phone calls between Estonians with only basic German, and the Ire B&B owner, something I could not even attempt, lead to what should have been a more appropriate apartment for three tired gamers.
Accommodation two managed to not quite fulfil our requirements. This time an even smaller apartment with a sofas bed and a fold down bed… all in the lounge. No bedrooms this time, only a lounge, kitchen and a bathroom.
The very first task of the evening was to establish a double bead for the Estonians… you would imagine that a simple sofa bed would fold out and readily accept a sheet or two. Ha! This is no ordinary bed. This is German engineering and design at its highest point. An L shaped bed… with square fitted sheets. Genius!
Once the cushions folded down, it became evident this was not designed by a person who had ever slept in a bed… nor did it suggest the designer was sighted. I have a pet theory that the designer was severely savaged by their guide dog, and I am sticking with that theory.
There is no way of conveying the hilarity and mirth had by all, as Aigar and Inga try to fathom out how to apply a square sheet to an L shaped bed. This was before even contemplating the sleeper’s position. Should it be head to head or toe to toe at right angles to each other?… side by side with various body parts hanging out all over the shop. Eventually certain sheets were persuaded into some form on conventional bedding arrangement, but the image below suggests the left wing of the bedding be fit only for those who find them selves altidudinally challenged.
For the sake of decency and to give my hosts their marital privacy, I vacated the living room with my fold down bed, and set up camp in the Kitchen. Remarkably, the bed fit with millimetre precision between the sink unit and the cooker in the narrow galley kitchen. And so my base for Essen was established
I was very kindly given a number of nice titles through out the show, to bring back to Blighty for review (review links below) proudly stored on top of the unused cooker.