Friday, March 30, 2012

Stay in the loop

I would like to share with you all the news about NSKN Legendary Games products appeared this week.
Below you can find a quick overview on what kind of information you can find about our games and prototypes and where. Enjoy!

IN GEMRAN
Yesterday Brettspiele-report has published a thorough and detailed review of the game components, game play and the rating of Warriors & Traders. The article combines  professionally written text with great pictures, it also explains the rules. The review is in German. 
And let's not forget about SpieLama. They did an extremely detailed video review in German. This video will help players who never played Warriors & Traders before, but also give a great overview for those who already discovered our game. 




IN ENGLISH
Northern Ireland is the place where the extraordinary WeeGamers are living. They published an interview with NSKN Legendary Games, we also talked about it in post 1 and post 2
As far as I know they are working on some wonderful surprise. I will keep you posted whenever I will have any information 'leak' :-), so stay around. 


IN POLISH
In the world of Exodus: Proxima Centauri new and mysterious things are happening...First of all announcement to all my compatriots: You can find now a preview in Polish about the newest prototype and it's story on Czas na Planszowki


IN ROMANIAN
In  Ce Jucăm? you can also find a very interesting article written by Alex who describes his impressions of his first play test of Exodus: Proxima Centauri.
And of course you can also have a look on the great video review of the Warriors & Traders (box components, play description) in Romanian done by Alex from Ce Jucăm? 



_________________

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

11 languages

A friend of mine was asking me today how many people from how many countries work for NSKN Legendary Games and I was a little bit surprised by his question. And you have to admit, it's quite a peculiar opening line for a conversation.

Digging a little deeper I found out that, after he played Warriors & Traders once, he looked on our website and, just browsing around, he ended up in the downloads section and was shocked.

So, I am asking myself, then asking him, why shocked? Well, as it turns out (and shame on me for not noticing this when we hit 10), the rules of Warriors & Traders are now translated into 11 languages, counting the English original rules.   11 languages!

For out first game, I think we have done pretty well, with room to improve. I personally play almost everything in English, but when I see a game in my native Romanian, even if the translation is not the best, I enjoy it. So, why not let other do the same? I would love it if one day we'll make a game that will be translated in every language of every player. For now I am satisfied with our 11 languages for Warriors & Traders and I feel motivated to cover some more.

__________________

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exodus: Proxima Centauri

The voting time is over for now and I want to thank you all for expressing your opinions. The space empire building game has now an official name and that is ... (drum-rolls) 

With more than 100 votes cast here, on Facebook and on BoardGameGeek forums and with input from our play-testers, the choice was obvious and also the favorite of the designers.

The story of Exodus: Proxima Centauri started in August 2011. While Warriors & Traders was printed in Germany, I was thinking of a new empire building game, similar in some ways yet very different. My thoughts were going towards a full civilization game with a powerful story line. I was looking through the science fiction literature and I could not find anything affordable that would fit my ideas for game design. I must confess that I did not have to look too long, because my co-designer Agnieszka is ... Polish. You may wonder what does that have to do with the game. There's a Polish writer called Stanisław Lem, a visionaire who wrote in 1955 the novel The Magellanic Cloud, about a human crew travelling to Alpha Centauri. The moment she told me about this novel, I knew we'd found the golden goose and that I should look no further, I had the theme for the game.

This being decided, I started to work on in parallel on the game design and the story. Since I could not find an English translation of the novel, I listened to the abbreviated version carefully (Agnieszka had to have a lot of patience) and used it just as a source of inspiration. 

The first outcome of my work was the backbone of the story and the game structure. I would scan and post the first hand written draft of the saga of humanity, but I am afraid people would judge to harshly my hand writing :)
But I can tell you how the original structure of Exodus: Proxima Centauri looked like and what were my thoughts at that time.

Phase 1 - resource management with progressive tax, new players have time to catch up
Phase 2 - political - 4 laws to be passed by voting, one on Exploration matter, one on Technology, one on Political matters and one Election phase. The first player (Chancellor) would play a crucial role, breaking all the ties and all political decision would speed up the game, providing some kind of advantage to at least one player
Phase 3 - research - players could take advantage of the Tech laws approved during the previous step
Phase 4 - building - everyone could build ships and upgrade their weapons and shields.
Phase 5 - move and explore - explorations would be limited or enhanced by Exploration laws. All movement would be simultaneous, no turn order needed

The very few who have already played Exodus: Proxima Centauri will laugh seeing this 'ancient' structure, but this is where I started from and the core ideas can be found in the alpha version.

And to end everything on a bright modern note, here are some pictures from the latest play test in the Red Goblin gaming club in Romania.

Happy playing - the Council phase
The map after the battle - turn 4
1 space battle - 20++ dice!
__________________

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wee Gamers: A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders - part2

And today we have the second part of story. From Wee Gamers and their smart questions you can get to know us and our gaming adventure... and of course the story of beginning of Warriors &Traders.

If you are curious who Wee Gamers are you can find them on  Facebook, Twitter and G+ . Not to spoil all the fun, all I will say - they are amazing, positive great gamers and people... the rest you will have to find out by yourself. :)

And here is the second part of the interview with WeeGamers and NSKN team. Enjoy and do not forget to let us know how do you like it.

Wee Gamers: A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders - P...: Welcome to the second part of the interview with the Andrei and Agnieszka from NSKN (first part of the interview).   NSKN is a company...


__________________
You can also find NSKN on website Facebook | Twitter
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website| Blog | Facebook |  BoardgameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Project 7 (III) - the game

They're coming!!! 


It just came to me, I've been asking you to vote for a title, come up with new ideas and I haven't really said anything about the game itself, how does it work, mechanics... anything in fact. What was I thinking ?!

So, now it it time to correct my mistake and one more time ask for you contribution. Just before you'll read about game concepts and mechanics, I want to say giant thank you to all of you who already posted, voted or got involved in any way. 

In short

The map of the game is made by planets surrounding the High Council, the center of the small universe in which the game takes place. The map is  modular, made of hexes.

Snapshot of the central hexes with battle ships
I already introduced the sci-fi theme. In the game, players develop technologies, build space ships, fight for controlling planets with resources, upgrade weapons and shields. The game is turn based, with a fixed number of turns.  

Three tables! The map, green and orange players


The game structure 

Upkeep
- players take their income and pay tax - a progressive tax that gives the less developed players a chance to get back in the game or, at least, enjoy
- the same resources are used for research, building ships, upgrading them and for casting votes in the political step
- the resources harvested from planets are limited, on player's starting planets they may be depleted in the mid or end game!

Political
- step 1: players choose between three political decisions. They can be permanent (laws), temporary (1 turn) or a one-time bonus. All decisions affect everyone, most of them are boosting the game
- step 2: bonus action - one extra action to speed up the game and to help new gamers to keep up with the more experienced ones
- step 3: elections - every turn players choose the turn order. The first player becomes Chancellor, a position with various advantages, including breaking all the ties during voting

Main
- players choose from 5 possible actions. They are: Research (36 technologies, civilian, transport or military), Build Ships (6 types of ships, the more your build, the more expensive it gets), Buy Upgrades (some upgrades need research first, mostly weapons and shields), Trade (exchanges between resources), Mining (re-supply resources on planets)
- 2 Actions + Bonus Action per turn, simultaneous decisions; extra Actions have a cost

Move (x2)
- players move their ships by placing orders next to them. All movement decisions are simultaneous! - by moving ships and population, the players expand their empires

Victory
- player get Victory Points by controlling planets, the space around them, being Chancellor, developing technologies and fighting other players and neutral forces

Snapshot of few main components of the game
Maybe this is a bit too technical and dry for some tastes. It's no easy task to summarize 15 pages of rules in a few lines. All I am hoping for is that you got a bit better overview of the game. Also, I hope we'll have a working title soon, even sooner that I anticipated.

__________________
You can also find NSKN on website Facebook | Twitter
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website| Blog | Facebook |  BoardgameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wee Gamers: A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders part1

I would like to share with you an interview which the amazing Wee Gamers Team published on their web. You can find there smart questions and our answers. :-) By ours I mean NSKN Legendary Games team. If you are curious who we are and you would like to get to know us better- here is the link where you can find the first part of the discussion.


Wee Gamers: A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders - P...: Its funny what can happen when wee gamers go off to somewhere like Essen Spiel.  In 2011, a bunch of wee gamers went there....


Enjoy! I am waiting for your comments and if we are actual 'like-able' in your opinion! :-)

__________________

You can also find NSKN on website Facebook | Twitter
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website| Blog | Facebook |  BoardgameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Project 7 (II) - the story

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As I promised in my previous post, I am bringing to you the full story that stands behind the making of this game. This is still a draft and I am not saying this as an excuse, but as a guy who stands in front of you ready to be judged and ask for the jury's ... well... not clemency, but good will.

Any feedback is welcome, I really wish you all give us a piece of your thinking and creativity by voting or commenting. OK, enough delaying, make yourself comfortable in the chair and  get some fluids before you start reading, here it goes... the story:

The 1st play test, round 4


"After the devastating nuclear war of Earth year 2299, the remains of the human race embarked on a fleet of space ships and started their search for a new world. 

On 3rd of November 2299, exactly 83 days after the first nuclear warhead hit Berlin, eight factions made an agreement to cease fire.  Each made of a few hundred thousand people, for sure less than one million, they represented the remain of the human race still not affected by radiation. History did not preserve enough evidence to support the ethnicity of each of the eight factions, but there are speculations that four of them were from the former USA, one from Australia, one from the Greenland’s north, one from Antarctica and one from United Europe, the Norsemen.

Two days after the cease fire, already unable to find any source of food and drinking water on a rampaged planet, devastated by the nuclear winter and the tremendous level of radiation, the eight factions decided to use all the start ships they could still power up and attempt emergency leave, abandoning Earth. The only spacecrafts left were in the heart of Asia.

They all boarded the space shuttles from Baikonur Cosmodrome in what people used to call 200 year ago Kazakhstan. In there, the last genocide occurred. The six faction that arrived early found some of the spacecrafts damaged by nuclear warheads and decided to avoid a conflict or a draw for who gets to board and who gets to stay on the dying planet. The shot down the hovercrafts bringing in the Antarctica and Greenland factions. Allegedly, more than 1 million people died. Humanity’s last genocide was recorded on camera and used for the anti-war propaganda.

After almost one year of space travel and fragile peace, the humans adapted to almost everything that space travel involved. They reached a common decision to disregard the possibility of terraforming Mars or Venus - the technology behind this endeavor had already been destroyed in the war - and to look for a new home in the closest star system to Earth, Alpha Centauri. They estimated the travel time to 400 cycles*, making it a gamble since their resources should only last for about 200.

* The year, the time Earth took to revolve around the Sun, did not represent anything that humans wanted to remember, the new unit of measure for a long period of time was the cycle. One cycle was initially one year, but due to miscalculations by physicist who took into consideration time dilatation at high speed (relativity theory misinterpreted), one cycle was later  roughly equal to 1.65 Earth years.



By the end of the 3rd cycle, they established a full political system which brought along the old interests and conflicts. It took half a cycle and one election ‘day’ to stir up a new war. Without nukes, but with still powerful weapons, half of the human fleet was wiped out in a matter of hours. With identical spacecrafts and equal weapons, the leaders of the factions reached a new peace agreement. The new settlement left the factions completely separated. The only thing keeping the together was the basic instinct of survival and the promise that once they’ll find a new home, the conflict will be once and for all solved. That last peace treaty cut all inter-faction contacts to a minimum, only the supreme leaders were to meet once per cycle to decide on matters that concern all of them, usually related only to calculations for direction and course adjustments for the fleet. Each faction was the leader of the convoy for one cycle and they’d rotate like that until reaching their final destination. The contacts between the factions was reduced to almost nothing. People belonging to each faction evolved separately, developing unique features and skills associated to space travel.


At the end of the 144th cycle, the remnants of the fleet came in contact with a superior civilization whom they wrongly call Centaurians (inhabitants of Alpha Centauri system, in fact more than three and a half light years away from that very spot). At that point, it became clear for the leaders of the factions that the original plan was at fault. Their spacecrafts would never last that long to reach Alpha Centauri and their nuclear fuel was going to be exhausted in less than 50 cycles. In the light of the new situations, the leaders presented themselves as one civilization in front of the Centaurians.

After establishing communication, but without ever seeing them, the Centaurians borough in the leaders and had them audience in front of the High Council. Time seems to pass at a different rate for the new found saviors and friends, as this meeting seemed to take forever. Never having seen one Centaurian, the humans came to understand quickly how this advanced civilization was working. They had amazing technology - able to learn human languages in a matter of minutes, they seemed to be capable of faster than light travel, they were the utmost humanitarians, never even considering killing or enslaving humanity and - most importantly - they were willing to provide help. 

After the marathon meeting, the Centaurians guided the old damaged fleet towards a planetary system that could support human life. Without ever allowing anyone else but the six leaders aboard the Centaurian star ship, the Saviors took about half a cycle to prepare the human fleet for high speed travel. No one ever explained how or what the Centaurians did to the human spacecrafts to allow them to travel much faster, nor how fast they’d be able to travel. The only requirement from the Centaurians was that every vessel they were working on was to be vacated completely for the duration of the repairs. This allowed the first contacts between factions in more that 140 cycles. Old tensions grew quickly under the surface and sporadic fights were reported, but the casualties were quickly disposed of and no word of this got to the Centaurians.

Once all repairs final, the fleet started the last part of its journey towards humanity’s new home. No one was able to tell whether they were travelling faster than light or not or which direction  they were going. The leaders told the people they were going to settle all together on a planet orbiting the Proxima Centauri star. In the first ‘days’, curiosity prevailed and not even one gun shot was heard among any ship in the fleet. The humanity recorded this last part of the trip as the exile.

Centaurians were keeping their distance all the time, not interfering at all in the humans’ internal affairs. They seemed to be the perfect ‘fathers’ providing but never asking in exchange. The underfed humans were provided all kind of new things that they forgot or never knew of existing. This preserved the apparent harmony for a while, but humanity’s drive towards conflict soon overcame their well being. In the final days of the exile, war spurred again. The never forgotten pride arose one last time and the Centaurians decided to split the fleet and took them into 6 separate solar systems, without giving them means of direct communication. 

The settling process took almost two full cycles. Humans were first taught first how to survive on their new home planets, who were all alike, they were given brief news of how the other factions were doing, they were provided with technology to make their new home worlds look like the ancient  Earth. Centaurians did all this from a distance, never interfering more than the minimum necessary. Their understanding of the human race seemed far better that anyone could ever expect and their respect for human values, habits and traditions seemed infinite. With the passing of time,humans were coming closer of considering the Centaurians gods. Human perception of their benefactors was very close to reality. The Centaurians were a peaceful species, one that seemed to be omniscient and omnipotent. Although they weren’t anything like the humans, never fighting, they still possessed an impressive warfare arsenal, making them undefeatable in the eyes of the humans. Following the Centaurian tradition, the leaders of all the six Colonies were assembled in a High Council, on the same planet as the Centaurian High Council had its headquarters. They had the chance of acknowledging each other, share their most important issues and remember they were once brothers. The Centaurians kept a policy of equal treatment and long distance supervision, ensuring lasting peace. Every new Colony was given access to the same technologies, the same amount of knowledge, so that proper balance would be kept. In time, the humans, with their new found technology for looking into space were more and more convinced that their saviors were indeed Centaurians and that they were all living on planets revolving some of the stars in the Alpha Centauri system. They assumed that the three stars (Proxima Centauri and Alpha Centauri A & B binary star system) humans knew about were the only one visible from Earth but, in fact, there were many more, most of them with inhabitable planets, all alike and all perfectly suitable for human life.

In fact, little did the humans know about the fate that was awaiting them...

In the 296th cycle, the Centaurians came to all 6 races with a terrifying announcement, their own race was on the verge of disappearance. The Centaurians Supreme Leaders appointed a permanent human High Council, formed from the leaders of six Colonies and supervised by one single Elder. The Elder had the role of preserving peace and guiding them for another 10 cycles and thus conclude both the transition and the vanquish of the Centaurian race. In this time, humans would gain access to almost all Centaurian technology, they would be able to expand their existence on more planets and develop beyond their imagination. The Centaurians would leave and for a what humans assumed was a different galaxy to figure out a way to prevent their extinction. They were never to return... or so everyone thought. With a very good understanding of the human race, the Centaurians appointed the High Council with the purpose of giving humanity the chance of preserving the Centaurian glory and memory and appointed the Elder to prevent humans to self-destruct and to bring the together to form a new great civilization. The Council was given the power to decide on all political matters of the Colonies and to split the great heritage of the Centauri civilization. With all the others gone, the last of them, the Elder had the power to ensure that the Council was functioning respecting the majority principle and that all their decision were followed by the Colonies."


Simulation of the battle with the components from Project 7


"We're under attack!" 




And now, when you already know the story, it's time to vote. Thank you all for participating at choosing the name!


__________________
You can also find NSKN on website Facebook | Twitter
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website| Blog | Facebook |  BoardgameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Project 7 (I) - be a part of the making!

Without forgetting about Warriors & Traders, I am working on several new projects, all board games, of course. But you knew that already, didn't you?

So, I'll just cut to the chase... I need you, your ideas and your imagination. I am asking for your creative minds to help me find the path. I have been working on a grand strategy, empire building board game. The new project passed the first tests and it's slowly getting a proper shape. Part of this "shaping the game process" is finding a good name. Being an engineer, I lack somehow the artistic spirit that many of you share and I believe you can help me make the right choice.

The game is based on a story (mercy I beg from you, it's the 1st draft). I've already tested the version 0.1 (under the temporary name of Project 7) and now I am looking for the right title. I posted the same question to Board Game Geek community and I got some nice answers. Today, I am bringing this to you, wishing for enlightenment.

What I am asking from you is to vote (just post a reply with your choice on the bottom of this post) on the title you like the most or propose a new title in the comments section. I am also thanking you all in advance for your involvement. The titles I am proposing are:


A. Heritage: The Exodus
B. Heritage forged
C. Exodus: Proxima Centauri
D. Exodus


First, the pictures from the alpha prototype and the background story of the game below: 
Game components in a box

Setting up the game (Agni and Alexandra)

Ships that survived their first battle

Green player technology mat, ships and counters

Earth, year 2299. Nuclear war, humanity is on the verge of extinction. Six factions escape the nuclear winter in space shuttles, travelling towards the Alpha Centauri system, looking for a new home. Found by a superior civilization, the remains of the human race are taken to a place they believe is in fact Alpha Centauri.
To avoid further conflicts between humans, their saviors place each faction on a different planet. Only limited contact is allowed, until one day the Centaurians decide to leave. The competition between humans starts once again to decide who will be left in charge.

This is the short version of the story, but do not worry, I will post the whole background story of the game in the next article. I will also describe the game play with a few more details and I will put up more pictures. Do not miss it!

Be part of this!
I was told by my colleagues that many minds always work better than one. I agree. Please, give us a piece of your mind! 

Here are the choices for the name again!


A. Heritage: The Exodus
B. Heritage forged
C. Exodus: Proxima Centauri
D. Exodus


You can also use a poll on our Facebook page!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good deeds...

An amazing thing happened! Warriors & Traders has been nominated to The Game Of The Year 2011 in Romania. Voting has already started, so if you are proficient in Romanian - vote for us today! If you are like me - having troubles with understanding anything written or/and spoken in Romanian - you can always use Google translate.
Warriors & Traders nominated for The Game Of the Year (Jocul Anului) 2011 in Romania
As most of us already know, what really counts for a board game publisher is the players' feedback on the game they launched. And to see a session review or an amazing picture or a video review uploaded by people owning Warriors & Traders brings a huge smile on all NSKN Legendary Team and motivates us all to create more and more new unique games. 

And then it makes you think - who are those people? Is there more to it? You have at least one bonding point with all of them - passion for the board games and especially this specific one. Whoever managed to produce their first game, the most pampered and occupied by many years of hard work, they understand how amazing and cheerful feeling it is to see others posting and commenting on 'your child'. And do you know how some times working on one thing continuously for 'too long' makes you not see the obvious anymore? Thanks to all the feedback we gather for the past year we gained a lot of knowledge on how things can be done differently. 

So, now we are working on four (yes, you did read correctly - 4!) new games which we will try to produce in the second half of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. Two of our prototypes still do not have their name! We are brainstorming and looking for great new titles. You can help and be a part of our gaming family if you want - just check our website. It will give you better understanding of each prototype and then you can just post comments here or send us an email with your brilliant ideas!

And it is all thanks to you - players of Warriors & Traders, commentators, friends, reviewers and every single one of you who Liked us on Facebook, Tweeted about us or shared on Google Plus ... and a very special thanks to the Board Game Geek community! So you can hug yourself now or pat on your head on our behalf - you have done more than one good deed this year! :) 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Essen - A look behind the scene

Far from me the thought of lecturing anyone, Essen 2011 was an experience so overwhelming that I feel the need to share it with anyone and everyone.

Essen 2011 was the first time NSKN Legendary Games was present at a gaming convention, and I am not only talking about Spiel. We were coming as an absolute surprise, the first Romanian publisher ever to attend the biggest gaming convention in the world. This was also the moment we chose to release our 'first-born', Warriors & Traders.

Signing-up and preparing

Having little to no experience in preparing my company's attendance to fairs, I signed up for Spiel '11 Essen in the very last day possible! It was one of the big lessons learned in the publishing industry, never leave things for the last moment. Thanks to LudoFact, the company that produced Warriors & Traders, I realized that Essen would be the perfect place to launch the game. So, on the 15th of May, at 16:00 I send the application papers and this is how the adventure began.

With a plan in mind, the actual preparation for Essen started for NSKN at the end of September, when the games were shipped from LudoFact's production plant in Germany to our warehouses in Romania and Belgium.

The most important thing I did not account for was the amount of people. It's common to hear that 150,000 people have something in common, but this number of people usually represents the attendance at a great sport event or the populations of a medium sized town or a small country (4 times the population of Liechtenstein). So, it is hard to imagine how this many people would look like and fit in the exhibition center and it is even harder to prepare for such an audience.

The original assumption was that as a completely unknown company, we would not attract much attention. So, having a small booth, 6 people at the stand and about 50 game boxes should be enough for the whole fair. Oh, and we'd also have some time to go and advertise the game with distribution companies and retailers.


Day -2: the first contact

On Monday of the Spiel '11 week, 3 days before it all started, we - the NSKN team - went to see the exhibition halls and to figure out what to bring and when.

On some level, I always knew that the booth would only contain the white walls and nothing more, but that does not mean we were prepared for it. It was too late to ask the organizers for tables and shelves for rent.

We unloaded everything prepared for that day and we started planning. We had 3 days left to fix the situation and make our booth look exceptional. Or, at least, decent! 


To avoid the feeling that we're leaving everything for the last day, we put our first poster on the wall and we headed to the place that held the answers to all our problems, IKEA. While driving, we made a whole list of things to buy. Four hours later, we came back, unloaded again and headed back to Brussels, our temporary headquarters, too tired even to take pictures.


Day -1: last minute preparations



I forgot to mention this before, but besides the standard booth we also signed up for the inventor's table. This is where designers bring their unreleased creations to get a first hand feedback from the public. Of course, we had to prepare a prototype worthy of the showing to the outside world. 


Day 0: setting up the stand

That's when I started counting down the hours. One last trip from Brussels to Essen, loaded once again with game boxes, we drove early in the morning allowing plenty of time to set up the stand and have everything ready for the grand opening.

We started paying the price to our lack of experience. NSKN was not present at the press conference on Wednesday, missing a lot of exposure with reviewers or distributors; we did not use the exhibitor's parking and so on. We did not even have a power plug in our stand!

The main task of the day was building the IKEA furniture, with the aid of an electric screwdriver. Learning from our mistakes, we enjoyed a full day of physical labor, while 90% of all other stands stood ready, full of games. By 7 PM, everything looked ready, the shelves were up, the carpets 'glued' to the floor, the gaming table ready for demo sessions and the games waiting for the customers.


In the evening we made the final 'battle' plan. Having 6 people at the stand for Thursday and Friday and 8 for the weekend, I assumed that at least one of us can do some advertising and sales all the time. Again, time will have proved me wrong.



Day 1 (Thursday) - the initial shock


8:00 AM: The whole team arrived at the stand, bringing the rest of the game boxes to a grand total of 48. This is what we expected to sell over the 4 days of the fair. From 8 to 8:30 we made last moment arrangements inside the booth and had a chance to walk around halls 4 and 6 and decide what to buy later on.

8:55 AM: We met the first potential customers. In spite our lack of German language skills, people were listening to our explanations and were amazingly interested... "Really, a pure strategy game with battle?"

9:20 AM: We sold the first copy of Warriors & Traders. We could not believe what was going on around us, it was pouring down with people, all interested to hear all the details and some of them actually buying the game. 

10:40 AMMy first corporate meeting as a board game designer and publisher was also the most unusual one, a company from Ukraine was interested in translating and publishing the game in the local language. It was hard to believe my eyes and ears, but I spent more than 45 minutes talking about this opportunity.

11:45 AM: The first meeting with a distribution company ended up very promising and two week later we were shipping a full pallet with 120 games towards the United Kingdom. The interest in Warriors & Traders was far higher that I expected and the flow of people to our stand exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

12:00 PM: 7 games sold.

12:30 PM: None of us had a chance to have lunch or even visit the toilets.

1:00 PM: A group of 5 friends came back to our booth for the first session of Warriors & Traders. They spent two and a half hours playing a full game. In the mean time, everyone else was talking, laughing, explaining, busy but enjoying every minute of every hour. And it was still Thursday at noon.


3:30 PM: The first gaming session ended, the second one was about to begin. People were convinced and wanted to have their own copy of the game signed by the designer. Our total sold for the day increased to 19.





4:30 PM: No customers at the stand for 5 consecutive minutes. We had time to take a breath, grab something to eat very quickly and rest our feet, except for Vlad who was in the middle of the second session of the day. All my colleagues were complaining that their throats are hurting from so much talking. 

5:00 PM: A new 'wave' of people came by. We assumed that those who got out of work or school later did not want to miss the first day of Spiel '11. We welcomed them.

6:00 PM: The gates of Messe Essen were officially closed for day 1, however all 6 of us were still talking to customers. Our total number of sold games raised to an amazing 32 pieces. Truly unbelievable!


7:15 PM: Our last customer of day 1 left. We went for a quick clean up of the booth, than we sat down amazed trying to seize the moment. We counted the total amount sold and this was 35 game boxes. This left us with a big smile and a giant problem - almost no games left for Friday.


Did I mention that our only vehicle was a normal 5-seater car, with limited amount of space, especially when it came to carrying game boxes? This was a big puzzle - how do you get more games at the fair, using only that car and be rested for the next day, assuming that the games are stored 250km away?


8:00 PM: Driving to Brussels, sometimes breaking the speed limit, wishing to have had rented a van. Essen -> Brussels = 250 km + a few less hours of sleep. Having games for the next day - priceless!


2:10 AM: It was technically the next day. I was back with 55 more games. Friday was covered, being tired did not matter anymore.


Day 2 (Friday) - the easy day


You may wonder what was so easy about Friday...


7:50 AM: Arriving in front of the exhibitions hall, we had 60 games to unload and set up in the stand. The biggest challenge wasn't the cold, but the fact that the dedicated parking space was full and we had to carry the games from quite far away.


8:50 AM: There are 8 people in front of our booth, asking all kinds of questions about Warriors & Traders. Our second day started earlier.


10:00 AM: The first gaming session of the day starts earlier than planned. A few very passionate gamers insisted to 'squeeze' a one hour play test before the one at 11:00, already planned since the day before. But we always put the needs of the customer first, so Vlad had to give up his brunch and start explaining all over again. He did not mind. 


11:30 AM: Sales were going great, almost twice as good as Thursday. Half of us already lost their voice and we are seriously thinking about getting pills for our throats.


12:00 PM: We gave a copy of Warriors & Traders to the BGG guys to put us on the hot list from Spiel '11 and to play it at BGG.Con.


12:45 PM: Getting in and out of business meetings, it looked like I have a few seconds to catch my breath. I was, of course, wrong. There was a guy from Alliance already waiting for me for a while. I knew of Alliance, it was just hard to believe they were interested in us. Half way between confusion and happiness, I went through the first of the three meetings with the largest game distributor in the United States (and possibly in the world). All went well!


2:30 PM: Feeling like a star! I had never had this image of myself being important, but for 5 consecutive minutes I actually did. Customers were asking to have their games signed by the designer and there were 6 (six) of them - I am not kidding - just waiting in a sort of queue for me to sign their copy of Warriors & Traders. I have to say that all the corporate meetings felt good, but that was astonishing, seeing all these guys and girls really interested and wanting their game signed made me feel like all the effort and craziness was really worth it. I thanked them then, I want to thank them again - they made me and all my team feel wonderful.


3:45 PM: A moment to rest, there were only a few guys in our stand, so we quickly took advantage of that and, one by one, managed to grab something to eat. We called that lunch.


5:00 PM: The people who played in the second session of the day came back to buy the game. We had to refuse any discount for the press, we were once again running low on stock.


6:07 PM: I gave an interview. My first interview related to Warriors & Traders


7:15 PM: The last customers were passing by out stand while we made a new plan to bring in more games for Saturday and Sunday. 


8:30 PM: I just left on another trip to Brussels to bring back another 60 games. I put the idea of rest in a closed box and decided that sleep is for the weak. I drove again for almost 6 hours, completing my task without incidents. I thought the day was over...


2:25 AM: We had a review of the day and decided what we could improve for Saturday. I cannot even remember that discussion, I just know that it was very effective.


You might be wondering by now what was so easy about Friday... it was just that great feeling that what you do matters and that it was worth all the effort in the world just to be able to experience such a unique environment.


Day 3 (Saturday) - new definition for crowded


7:50 AM: We arrived at the exhibition center and unloaded all the games we brought before. Our booth looked once again fully supplied with game boxes waiting for people to look at, buy or just admire.

8:20 AM: The game table was ready to go for the 9 AM session. we had to pile up the games to have some space left to move around our booth.


9:30 AM: I could count more than 25 people in front of our stand. Some were just looking around and moving on, most of them were listening to my colleagues and I describing Warriors & Traders. The first session of the day had already started, people seems very enthusiastic. The day was looking good.


10:45 AM: Someone had just come to buy the game, without any explanations or questions asked. We asked why and we got the answer - we were on the first place in the BGG top of new releases. It was as cool as it was unexpected. From that moment on, we put a hand written placard asking people to keep voting for us.


11:30 AM: Our stand was around 80 meters (250 feet) away from the bathrooms. I assumed this will be a five minutes round trip and, boy, I was wrong! It took me 15 minutes and a great deal of pushing and pulling to get there only to acknowledge a 100+ men and women queue for the ... men's toilet. I gave up and decided to return later. I spent another 15 minutes on the way back, reconsidering my definition of crowded.


12:00 PM: I had just completed my fifth business meeting of the day. We had more and more interested people coming over and we were also stirring up the interested of retailers who wanted to buy our game by the case. Unfortunately, we had to turn most of them down, fearing that we'd be sold out too soon and end up disappointing our customers.


2:07 PM: From our team of 8 people, only 7 were still able to speak. The first 'casualty' went to find some quick remedy to help him get back fast in the game. 


4:00 PM: I threw away the original schedule put together before the fair. It was written in there how many companies we had to approach each day o the fair and it was not realistic. We did not approach anyone and yet we had already had more than 50 business meetings, most of the successful, about two and a half times more than what we had planned. And Spiel '11 was not over.


5:15 PM: Spending most of the time standing and talking, focused 110% on board games fans, we learned to take advantage of any little free moment and take a picture or two to have then some memories to share. One of these photos shows some very dedicated players continuing one game even after one of them technically won. 


5:15 PM: More than 60 games sold in one day, a new record!






6:00 PM: We honored some promises made to retailers in the previous days and delivered their games. One box of 6 pieces was weighting more than 13 kilos (29 pounds), nevertheless everyone seemed happy.


6:25 PM: Taking into account the significant decrease in people coming to our stand, we decided that was the right moment to ... have lunch. We took turns, whoever did not have anyone to talk to, explain the game or make a sell had 5 to 10 minuted to grab a bite. I was the seventh one to go out of 8 people. By that time I did not even feel hungry anymore, actually I was feeling nothing but adrenaline. It had been another amazing day. I had met all kinds of people, from a 14 year old kid impressed by the graphic design but without enough money to buy his own copy to the CEO of one of big names in the industry. They all had two things in common, the passion for board games and the modesty. 


7:00 PM: There were still people around. I did not really understand why, realizing a lot later that the exhibition hall were open until later. I had reached another milestone, more that 25 games signed in one day!


8:35 PM: Spiel '11 was closing down for another day, but this one was special for me, I did not have to go back to Brussels to bring more games. At the particular moment, there was nothing that could have made me happier.


9:00 PM: It was time to celebrate. The fair was not over, but since Sunday evening was planned for cleaning up and driving back home, we needed our moment of joy, feeling happy of what we accomplished. We did not manage to have a coherent discussion over dinner, but we had fun.


Day 4 (Sunday) - what's going on outside our booth?



9:00 AM: People are playing! That's not a joke, there were people who came in early and wanted to play the game because their friends said it was worth it.


11:00 AM: The last day of the fair is also the most prolific for small retailers who are coming to buy the latest and hottest in the gaming world. Warriors & Traders drew some attention, maybe not even half as much as the grand releases, but enough to pose a dilemma: should we sell to the retailers or should we wait until the end of the day a dn focus on regular customers? We made a compromise, selling to those retailers who came from a country where we had no contact for distribution or retail, ensuring the a wider coverage. 


12:30 PM: Sunday seems to be less crowded than all the other days. It is the first moment when I find half an hour free to go look around and possibly buy some game for myself.


1:45 PM: A phone call from a few meters away...a colleague of mine is asking if I am available, some guy wants to buy all the rest of our games! Sadly, we had to turn him down, there were only so many games we could sell to retailers.


4:30 PM: We have five games left and three of them are promised to some gentlemen from the press who are late to pick them up. Do we sell them or not?


6:00 PM: We had three games left, excluding the two exposed ones. The last hours were rather slow compared to the rest of the exhibition and we did not have enough energy to make the best presentation to potential customers. Plus, there wasn't much to sell. All of us got at least 45 minutes of walking around and crossing items off their shopping lists.

6:45 PM: Our shelves were dismantled, having no more games to support. Our last gaming session ended and I was ready to run to the officials' desk to ask for a 15 minutes parking permit to load all that was left from our stand. We had one game left - someone did not honored the promise to come at 6:30 PM and make the final purchase.

7:03 PM: Our last customer, Guido, bought the very last game. And I gave that to him in writing!
7:30 PM: I was the proud owner of two 15 minutes Parkschein, rushing back to exhibition hall number 4 to load and make Spiel '11 just a memory.


11:25 PM: Having had no more unforeseen events, we arrived back in Brussels and took a fist look at our Essen loot. You can see some of it in the picture below, the rest of it being still in the car.

I do not want to end this post without writing down some conclusions, although so many things happened that it is hard to choose... so I will just stick to one of them. It is a special experience for a small publisher to be in Essen... as a publisher. Even with low expectations the hopes are high and it can be overwhelming. The one thing that makes this whole experience so special is the feeling of belonging. You are all the time surrounded by friendly faces and whatever you don't know and do wrong is understood and forgiven.