We haven't been there before, so we thought we'd just check it out: it's only a 75-minute drive for us -- except the traffic jams at the road works underway gave us a delay of 30 minutes. The parking lots were quickly filling up, so we had to queue up for a bit while parking stewards directed us to a spot. Then we walked back to the Messe, the exhibition halls that house the show.
We had already bought tickets online, so we were inside with little delay. After a short sanitary stop, we stepped into the halls at 11:30.
It is, indeed, very big. There's shops everywhere, but also publishers demonstrating their latest games. The shops range from games (either brand-new or second hand), LARP costumes, game-themed ceramics to various types of food(!). We wandered the halls for quite a bit: there's a lot to see!
We did not join a game demonstration (you'd really have to go with a pre-conceived plan and/or go multiple days), but we did browse at quite a few shops. I had made a list of all the Shadow World modules I have (from the heritage of rupertdaily), to see if I could find something to add to the collection. But that stuff is all so old now (most of it was published around 1990) that it's hardly surprising that it's not around anymore.
I did stumble across the stand of the Adventure Planning Service, a Japanese RPG company. I've read about them before -- mostly because of their RPG Meikyuu Kingdom, about carving a country out of an infinite dungeon. It has both dungeon crawling and resource management (like the 'Winter Period' in Pendragon), which interests me.
I was handed a flyer by a friendly Japanese gentlemen, who pointed at a table where some players were poring over their Japanese character sheets. And the good news is: there will be an English edition of Meikyuu Kingdom in the future! Really looking forward to that.
(The bad news is that they announced an English edition of another of their games, Shinobigami, at Spiel 2012 -- and it's not yet seen a release... I hope Meikyuu Kingdom takes less time, I'm impatient!)
We also loaded up on dice. Quite literally: klik bought a set of full metal Steampunk dice. They have a nice heft to them, but they were kinda pricey (as dice go). But the shop also gave her a special limited edition Spiel 2013 six-sider, with one face with their logo, one face with the Spiel 2013 logo, and the other four faces with a different design from their portfolio. Nice touch!
By 15:30, we were getting reaaaally tired of wandering the isles. And we had wandered around pretty much everything -- so we walked back to the car and headed home, with tired feet. It was fun -- we might go again next year.