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Off-line at last! - At the height of the digital era, board games and card games are trending like never before and this year's SPIEL '17 is easily going to smash all previous records with around 1,100 exhibitors from 50 different nations. The Germans have spent about half a billion Euros in the past year alone on board games, a tenth more than in the previous year - a new record sum.

35th Internationale Spieltage SPIEL '17 with Comic Action from October 26th to 29th, 2017
The world's biggest consumer fair for board games SPIEL '17 will kick off once again with record attendance numbers, because playing these games is more popular than ever before – especially among young adults. In October, 1,100 exhibitors from 50 nations will be showing the industry’s new releases and trends. 72,000 square meters of exhibition space show that the event has again grown significantly. 175,000 board game fans from all around the world are expected to attend the event.

The demand for analog board games has increased in recent years.
This despite advancing digitalization with its cell phone, console and computer games. The Germans have spent about half a billion Euros in the past year alone on board games, a tenth more than last year - a new record sum. Arithmetically, every second German citizens has bought a game. Especially remarkable is that ever more young adults are discovering board and card games and are finally enjoying being off-line for once.

This is not just the case in Germany, the international board game market is booming like never before.
And this is why the world's largest trade fair for board games SPIEL has been developing rapidly for quite some time – the exhibition area has increased incredibly since 2013, in just four years, by an impressive 50% to this year’s provisionally biggest ever size of 72,000 square meters. Approximately 175,000 gamers from around the world are expected to make the pilgrimage to the Ruhr metropolis of Essen in October. At SPIEL '17 they will be able to try and even buy from the entire collection of this year’s games along with more than 1,200 new games and world premieres shown by 1,100 exhibitors from 50 nations.

Once a year SPIEL showcases trends, ideas and innovations from within the board game industry.
Why not come along and enjoy a picture of this fascinating games world? To whet your appetite and entrance you here is a small selection of various games innovations and program highlights to make you curious for more.

Bestselling author Sebastian Fitzek guests at SPIEL '17
It was summer 2016 when publishers Moses Verlag got a call from  the famous, best-selling author of psychological thrillers - Sebastian Fitzek. He likes to play games and is also a fan of the series Black Stories published by Moses Verlag. He had the idea to develop a game with Moses in which the players are witnesses of a crime trying to reach the security of a "safe house" before the perpetrators catch them. The renowned game author Marco Teubner didn’t hesitate for long, enthusiastically taking on the project topic. The result is the exciting, cooperative game SEBASTIAN FITZEK SAFEHOUSE.  

An interesting exhibition on the theme of "Religion in Games" to mark Luther Year 2017
The fact that the cultural heritage of games can be seen as a mirror of their time of origin, whilst at the same time being the broker of messages has often been expressed and proven in the past. Religious themes can be found implemented in historical and current board games. On the one hand didactic, instructive and evangelizing in order to convey knowledge, history and stories of the world's religions and their subject matter; on the other, as a "contrived or super-imposed" theme, to breathe life into a game mechanism. The European Game Collectors Guild presents these diverse, strange, unique and sometimes astonishing results of this collision between play and religion in this year's exhibition at SPIEL '17. Loosely based on Luther’s "Wo kein Spiel, da kein Leben" (Where there’s no play, there’s no life) we would like to invite you to discover this extremely interesting exhibition and perhaps play one or two of the games.

The best innovation in games will be the very first recipient of the InnoSPIEL award
This year, for the very first time, the Innovation prize "InnoSPIEL" will be awarded to a particularly innovative game-concept. We would like to invite you to be there when this year's winning game is announced and presented in detail at the press conference.

The presentation of the German Game Prize "Deutscher SpielePreis" seal of approval
Excitement is growing again! Who will win this year’s German Game Prize title? The most important audience prize worldwide where players, retailers and journalists all vote, is traditionally awarded at the Essen international games event for the categories of "Best Family and Adult Game" and the "Best Children’s Game".

 An exciting murder mystery game based on SPIEL
With a twinkle in the eye and humorous sideswipes - AUSGESPIELT! - DER MESSE-KRIMI takes a long hard look at the gaming scene. In the classic murder-mystery game from Frosted Games, "Goodiehunter", a famous video blogger is found murdered at the world's largest games fair. Each of the 7 to 8 players takes on a role such as the strict event manageress, the grumpy security man, or the aspiring game writer. Together they try to expose the insidious killer among them.

Played in just a minute - THE ONE MINUTE GAME
Only a few cards are needed to win in the nail-bitingly fast game THE ONE MINUTE GAME from the small publisher Dionysos Games. Quickly placing cards at the same time, both players try to encircle the opponent's cards or reach the opposite edge of the table. And all of that in just one minute!

ESCAPE ROOM and EXIT games keep trending
Since 2016, EXIT - or ESCAPE games are all that games fans are talking about. In these popular board game implementations, the players must solve puzzles together to escape from a room. This year again, fans can look forward to many new and exciting adventures. In this vein, the new series ESCAPE ROOM: VIRTUAL REALITY by Noris Spiele promises a whole new gaming experience. In SUBMARINE and BEHIND ENEMY LINES, players dive into various scenarios by using virtual reality glasses. Both adventures are experienced as a 360-degree environment via the glasses and an APP and can be seen from completely different perspectives by moving or rotating the head. There are now three brand new titles from publisher Verlag Kosmos, following their successful launch of the EXIT series last year: EXIT - DIE DREI ??? - DAS HAUS DER RÄTSEL and EXIT - DER VERSUNKENE SCHATZ are for players age 10 and above, while EXIT DER TOTE IM ORIENT-EXPRESS is designed more for experienced EXIT-Fans. HCM Kinzel will be presenting their new game with this theme: ESCAPE THE ROOM - DAS GEHEIMNIS DES REFUGIUMS VON DR. GRAVELY. Also, Abacus Spiele brings two new games to the table in which players have to try to solve puzzles together in the form of DECKSCAPE: THE FATE OF LONDON and DECKSCAPE: TIME TEST

Attention all CATAN-Fans! CATAN meets Westeros: Limited edition available for the first time at SPIEL '17
The days when we traded in sheep, clay and wood seem to belong to the past. Now Kosmos Verlag and FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES are combining the worldwide bestseller CATAN with the incredible world of A GAME OF THRONES. A GAME OF THRONES: CATAN, has now been released, an atmospherically enthralling fantasy game, with 160 miniatures, character cards and a variable, yet always novel playing field. The limited edition will be presented to the public for the first time at SPIEL '17.

Players are eagerly awaiting KEN FOLLETT: DAS FUNDAMENT DER EWIGKEIT Ken Follett’s novel DAS FUNDAMENT DER EWIGKEIT will be published in German in October this year at the same time as the board game of the same name. This is Kosmos Verlag’s third game to accompany a major novel by the British author following DIE SÄULEN DER ERDE and DIE TORE DER WELT, which together sold over a quarter of a million copies, the third installment being eagerly awaited by numerous gamers.

 The toilet monsters are everywhere!
In the action-packed game of skill FLITZEKACKE by Hutter, players wear special monster-catching-bands and try to catch all the monsters in their color using the attached magnet ... and then off down the toilet with them! This sounds easier than it is, because the monsters scurry about in wild confusion, the toilet rotates around its own axis and the other players are also on the hunt for monsters. Who will capture the most monsters, before the toilet flushes?

Legacy games are trending
Legacy games are board game titles in which each game builds on the previous and since their appearance have been enthusiastically welcomed by players - their basic concept being taken up by more and more publishers. At SPIEL '17 several new games that work according to the legacy principle are being unveiled. Some for specialists, others for the whole family. These games tell and develop their own story, which the players discover together through a series of rounds of the games. Legacy games are constantly changing, so no round is like any other. Game material is destroyed or pasted once in certain places, heroes develop, the board changes and new rules are added after several rounds. After the games are played out, some cannot be played a second time. Asmodée picks up on its successful title PANDEMIC LEGACY and will start the second round of games with PANDEMIC LEGACY - SEASON 2, which takes the players to a gloomy future. In the game mankind has fled onto the high seas to escape a deadly plague. It is now up to the players to push back the virus within one year of the game and make the Earth habitable again. Author Jamey Stegmaier (Feuerland) also invites players to enjoy his series of 12 games with CHARTERSTONE, where players develop their villages and reshape the game board. The new series of games FAST FORWARD (2F-Spiele) has a somewhat lower barrier to entry in the form of the titles FURCHT, FLUCHT and FESTUNG. The games don’t have classical game instructions because the rules are discovered during the game.

Strong together: A spotlight on cooperative games
Cooperative games have been booming for quite some time. For SPIEL '17, some publishers have teamed up and in "Co-op Square" in Halle 7 are showing a broad selection of games, where players do not compete against each other to determine a single victor, but cooperate in order to win together. This will also appeal to parents who want to show their children how to emphasize mutual strengths instead of highlighting the weaknesses of others. In addition, on Friday evening, the responsible publishers Sunny Games, Bioviva, Climate Oasis, Peaceable Kingdom, Mogel Verlag and Cogitate Games are inviting visitors to their stands for "Prototype Night". Information will be available here about future productions.

Deep in playful contest - Competitions and tournaments at SPIEL '17
This year at SPIEL '17 there will again be countless smaller and major competitions, tournaments and championships held throughout the fair: - In the game ICECOOL, flicking is allowed as the players shepherd their penguins across a vast game board comprising five 3D rooms, offering enough space for a turbulent chase. At the Amigo Spiele booth, players can compete against each other in tournaments. - Cuboro’s marble runs are made entirely of wood and beautiful to look at. Visitors to SPIEL can take part in the 2nd German CUBORO QUICK competition. - 3 - - Dionysos Games is hosting an open THE ONE MINUTE GAME tournament with lots of prizes. - Game on Tabletop invites you to the "Get you Game on - Design Challenge". Here, visitors can let their ideas run free and design their own game at the booth. The game material is provided free of charge. There are great prizes to be won. - Hans im Glück Verlag and the Städtische Spielezentrum Herne (Herne Municipal Games Center) invite you to the German CARCASSONNE championship. - Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. will be holding YU-GI-OH-Tournaments. - Oy Marektoy Ltd. will be staging the KLASK Championship. - The message at the Ravensburger puzzle event is "Join In!": because more than 40,000 pieces - making up film-scenes from the most popular Disney films of all time - need to be put together! - Asmodée is holding the PANDEMIC SURVIVAL Championship.

Unfortunately, due to health issues, for the first time in 24 years Games Gazette will not be at Spiel. So I hope this has whet your appetite for games at this year’s SPIEL '17 featuring COMIC ACTION '17

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015