Big Crowds: Essen Spiel 2023 Day 1 (In Pictures)

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Spiel 2023 is officially in full swing, and day one of the show has been crazy so far! The CGE booth (Hall 3, #3Y124) has been non-stop busy all day, and we’re psyched. With the explosion of people and excitement, I decided to trek out into the chaos and explore what this show has to offer. In this photo essay article, you’ll find some of the interesting highlights and cool oddities I found along the way. Ready? Let’s go!

Before the storm

Most of the heavy duty work was wrapped up on Wednesday, but the team still hustled this morning to put some finishing touches on our booth, brace for the coming crowds, and make sure all the final preparations were in order.

Getting hydrated in our cool secret cubbie room for storing demo team gear (and snacks.

Pausing for a quick coffee run selfie with Starship Captains designer Peter Hoffgaard

I keep bumping into people that I know online but haven’t met in person. Peter and I worked together closely last year on marketing for Starship Captains. I often picked his brain to get info on the game’s design evolution and to get quotes and insights for many of the articles I wrote. Though we’ve chatted often, I had never had a chance to meet him…until this morning. We bumped into each other in one of the halls completely at random before the doors opened. A nice surprise!

Couldn’t resist pausing for a quick selfie, but I had to run—the throng of convention goers were about to storm the gates. I wanted to be there to see it in person.

Crowd control

Remember that photo of the big empty queue hall from Essen Spiel? This is what happens when you fill that hall to the absolute brim with eager board gaming humans, then suddenly unleash them into the wilds of Messe Essen’s booth-filled wonderland

The first wave of Spiel attendees pours into the show en-masse. Wheeee!

A swarmed Lorcana booth. English copies sold out for the day almost immediately.

Food areas were mobbed for most of the mid-day. On the upside, there are a ton of options (more on that in a future post).

Booth bonanza

Once everyone settled into the groove of a hectic morning, I received a secret mission: grab our new convention event manager, Jaffer, and do some booth recon to scope out what kind of cool things folks came up with for Essen. We found some really fun, adorable, and creative booths and decorations!

I just can’t with the derpy cuteness! So derp, much kyoooot!

Oh hey, that’s our booth! Couldn’t resist. I’ve heard stories of the fabled giant version of Under Falling Skies, but this is the first time I got to see it in action. I really want to figure out a way to make one of these for US cons!

I love a good themed booth! Even if it’s a murder house…

Swanky party palace vibes only.

Suddenly feeling very ready for a beach vacation getaway.

Gotta love these kitchen creations! Colorful salt and pepper shakers shaped like pawns, meeples, and other components? Yes please!

This is not the treasure you are looking for. Roll a saving throw vs awesome!


Coffee to go (literally)

Caffeination is a necessity for surviving any con, for me at least. Locating good coffee options was a pre-show priority this morning. But I also noticed a lot of unusual coffee stands throughout while exploring the halls, including a few that take the concept of “coffee to go” to the next level.

All hail the Coffee Bike! 

A new contender arrives. Meet…the Barista Bus!

I’m dubbing this mobile tow-station the Camper of Caffeination. Sorry, not sorry.


I know, right. You’re probably wondering…where are all the photos of your favorite cool games you saw? This is a board game con, right? So true! Though I’ve seen a ton of super interesting games so far, I haven’t had a chance to hit every hall yet and soak it all in. Stay tuned for pics of the neatest (and oddest) board games of Spiel 2023 that caught my eye later this week.

In the meantime, why not hop on over to our YouTube channel to watch Eleni talking with other publishers about some of the awesome new games they’re showcasing this year? She live-streamed all afternoon yesterday, showcasing hot releases from 20 other publishers who came buy our booth to show us their latest and greatest! 

Thanks for catching up with our ongoing Essen Spiel 2023 coverage on the CGE blog! Stay tuned tomorrow for more fun!

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