Spiel ’21 in Essen

With vaccination cards in hand and masks concealing our grins we entered the convention hall for Spiel in Essen.Considered the largest analog gaming convention in the world, Spiel is quite the spectacle.

Sadly, the situation these days is not quite as spectacular as previous years.

With about half the normal displays planned (and even less showed up thanks to a number of British companies not attending despite their booking… Brexit strikes again) and visitors capped at about a third of previous years from what I have been told, the event was much less grandiose than the last time we attended.

There were a number of stalls we wanted to see and the online event program helped us find them… or where they were supposed to be. I was for example disappointed to see the spot assigned to Battle Systems empty.

So much for my plan to chat with Colin and the rest of the Battle Systems team. And to get the latest two Core Space expansions.

Warlord Games was there but their display was disappointing, being mostly a wall of large army boxes and some tables with display games not being played. For some reason I did not feel inclined to talk with their staff, despite spending ages talking to them last time about Blacks Seas. I looked a bit at their Mythic America line but nothing screamed “buy me” and we quickly moved on.

We did buy a few things at the show but much less than we expected.

At the Mantic stall discounts were not as good as I was hoping. This seemed a reoccurring theme, barring a few exceptions. Mantic staff explained it was a real headache bringing stock over for the show from the UK, having to individually hand label 500 boxes to pass the border. Brexit strikes again. Considering the minor doscount I think it was chatting with the staff and empathizing with them that convinced me to buy something from them considering the work they went through.

While we did not buy anything at their stall one of the best displays for us was Archon Studio. The stop there did convince us to put in a late pledge backing their second Rampart Kickstarter…. just in time as their third Rampart Kickstarter is right around the corner.

In addition to the official Archon Studio painted terrain on display there was also some terrain painted by “local German artist” Brucegreen1978 that was brilliant. Talking with him, he seemed a nice guy.


His take on their Gothic science fiction terrain convinced us we could use it for Frostgrave as his style was much less “40k sci-fi” than the official artwork. Mrs. GG convinced me we could make it match our GW Age of Sigmar DominionWarcry terrain that we plan on using for Frostgrave.

Sadly we did not get any photos of his less sci-fi Gothic terrain.

We did like seeing the glass cased, officially painted Dungeons and Lasers 3 building pieces and miniatures painted up, which looked much better than I was expecting.

Speaking of Frostgrave, we bought some terrain mats from Playmat.eu. Two 6×4 neoprene (mousepad) mats, one cobblestones for Frostgrave and one sandy desert mat that should work for either deep desert or hopefully deep seabed.


They gave us a good deal.

It was good to do comparative shopping. There were several gaming mat companies present and they were all very friendly. It really came down to which aesthetic suited us the best as each company had high quality material on display and great customer service.

Mrs. GG also picked up some dice at the Chessex stall. They had a magnificent selection of dice. Sadly nothing grabbed my attention to purchase. There were a couple of funny novelty comment dice but the comments were on the one instead of the six, whereas I like a comment or symbol on the six generally.

Something we did notice in attendance was a lot of 3d print companies. Siocast was showing off their products. Various 3d printers on display at various stalls as well as printed minis… some for sale, some merely as examples to admire.

We really should have taken more photos.

Titan-Forge had a brilliant Army of Wakanda inspired Fantasy Africans all printed up but not painted. Had they been for sale I think I might have broken our budget to get them. Sadly we did not get any photos, although I thought we had. They are not yet available for sale on the Titan-Forge website but apparently they are coming soon.

We did get two photos from the Titan Forge stall…

…. but none of the Wakaturu Tribe.


I was really disappointed that the Perry Brothers, Dwarven Forge, Modiphius, Victrix, Wargames Atlantic, North Star Miniature or Osprey Publishing were not at the event.

Food was alright. We had some decent burritos and I ignored my Diabetes long enough to have a delicious Banana and Nutella Crêpe. In the spirit of true love Mrs. GG and I shared their last banana for our two Crêpes.

Eating was the only time we could remove our masks. That was uncomfortable for me, both physically and emotionally. I hate how masks conceal facial expressions. Big crowds are not my thing, even before COVID, crowds irritated me but everyone being masked up makes it even worse. And despite the reduced number of visitors it still felt crowded as lots of people clustered around the display stalls.

Tabletop miniature gaming was a very small niche in the very large selection of analog gaming on display. We also got some things for our son, Little GG. We look forward to the day he can join us in our gaming but for now he gets his own specific games and toys. Usually involving Paw Partrol, Octonauts or some form of transforming machine.

We saw a number of stalls selling fancy gaming tables, Wyrmwood was not alone. Many different styles with lots of different options. A couple caught our attention in particular.

The built in, hideaway tv was a clever one.

And tables with lots of internal storage. Cute dice stools too.

Others had cool lighting and magnetic modular accessories as well as gorgeous wood finishes. But all expensive. You can buy a lot of miniatures for 3000 Euros. That said, I do not think I have enough time left to paint another 3000 Euros worth of miniatures.

Which brings up an interest tangent thought that I wanted to share. When we restarted this hobby a couple of years ago I was of a mind that money not time or storage would restrict me. So I shopped smart, looking for deals, buying used minis that would be “good enough”.

I did not expect Mrs. GG to get into the painting and gaming as much as she has.

Now I am beginning to realize that I can not actually paint every single thing I want and can get. So now I need to reprioritze purchases. Some good deals we got in the past will need to be sold on to make room in my painting schedule for things I want more.

It does not help that I am a slow painter.

It also means I have to keep telling myself I can not get those Wargames Atlantic WW 1 French or make a late pledge for the CMON Zombicide Western Kickstarter.

What about you? Is there something you want to do but can not? What is it, and why?

In other news, the latest seasons of Fear the Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond have been disappointing. I am not sure which is worse, a show with characters I like but the show is not good (Fear) or a show where I do not like the characters and the show is not good (Beyond).

Fear seems to have truly jumped the shark with the nukes. It is as if the show runners just want to cash in on all the different post-apoc franchises. There are elements of Fallout, Metro and even a Stalker reference at one point.
Beyond is just… bad. Poor writing, annoying characters and illogical plot. I am beginning to wonder why I am wasting my time on both shows. I guess because I hope they will get better, eventually. Maybe a sense of completionism? I wish both shows had much better military technical advisors.

I stumbled onto “The Silence.”


Not a terrible post-apoc monster movie. A bit heavy handed in the plot that comes across as anti-Religion.If you liked “A Quiet Place” you might like it. I still need to see the sequel (prequel?) for “A Quiet Place”.

We finished season 1 of Marvel’s “What if…?” and we quite enjoyed it by the end. Some of the earlier episodes made more sense by the finale.

Superstore continues to entertain. Season 1 and 2 down, four more to go.

I remain excited to see Dune, so far reviews seem positive.

And now I have Lightyear to look forward to!


As well as Cowboy Bebop!


And on a final note, I have just about reached the limit on the size of this free WordPress account. I need to decide the future of this blog. So if you have anything to say that could influence that decision please post a comment and let me know.

The future of this blog depends a lot on you.



  1. I don’t often leave comments, but I must say that appreciate your posts. I love the pictures and work you do with the miniatures as well as your opinions and comments regarding TV and movies. It would be disappointing if the blog went away but it would give you more time to enjoy your hobby(s). Take time for yourself Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I enjoy reading the blogs and your information on the DF forums where I spend a lot more time. You are able to give me a great insight into other aspects of gaming that I no longer am active in. (Used to do more wargaming in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, but drifted almost solely into RPG since then.) Still do some wargame boardgames, when the spirit moves me and at least one other gamer and play other boardgames almost weekly.

    With you being located in Europe you can also provide a nice insight into how gaming there is impacted by all the shipping, logistics and other issues that just fly below the radar for most folks in the US.

    One possibility would be to archive some of the older posts. Not sure if you can see how many times they get viewed recently. That could keep you under the threshold limits for a while.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Hey, buddy,

    Love the painting on the D&L stuff at their booth. I haven’t finalized my D&L3 pledge yet, still deciding if I want to get the sewers or go all-buildings. Some people on their kickstarter page were commenting how fragile the clear plastic is, compared to the opaque. But I like the looks of those sewers. Did they look as nice in-person as they do in your photos?

    Sad to hear that the con was a so down, with empty stalls. Might be that way for a few years before things get back to normal – if they ever do.

    On WordPress – before I set up my blog, I did some research on whether to go with a free or paid blog. I ultimately decided to go with a paid blog through a hosting company, because I wanted to make sure I owned the rights to all the stories and pix that I post.

    I went with Bluehost as a provider, and they use the wordpress software. For the first three years, it cost about 5 bucks a month, plus a couple of annual expenses like the domain name registration and other stuff that was another $35 or so. I had to renew this summer, and it would have been cheaper to go with another host because of the $3 promo that they all offer the first year(s), but it would have been a huge pain to migrate the site to a new server. I was fortunate to get a decent rate for the next three years, at about 12 a month and another $36 or so in annual fees.

    With this, I get pretty much unlimited storage, and it covers the hosting cost of another five or six websites if I wanted as well (not the domain names for more sites, that was like $15 or so). Also includes email and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t gotten into.

    Free is nice, but it eventually catches up to you, as it looks like you are discovering. If you can swing it, I would definitely look into paying for a hosting company, like Bluehost or Dreamhost or another dozen such companies. You may be able to import your existing wordpress website to the host without much trouble.

    If you look at this route, pay attention to the levels of service. Most offer the $3 a month thing, but it might not include unlimited storage (one reason I went with a higher tier). You might just want the basic level, or you might want a higher level, particularly if you want to do some spin-off or other kinds of blogs, where the one hosting cost covers them all.

    Hope this doesn’t muddy the issue!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Archon had a couple examples of the sewers, I thought the ones painted by Bruce Green looked good but I was not keen on the officially painted ones… and Mrs. GG did not like either. That said I like Dwarven Forge sewers more than Mrs. GG does as well.

      I think the translucent water of the sewers has potential but it will take some work to get the best out of them. I can not speak on how fragile they may be.

      The advice on the blog is much appreciated. It is a lot to consider. I like your point about being sure to solely own your own images and writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It was fun reading your experiences at Essen though I share your disappointment that some big companies weren’t there. Modiphius can’t persuade you to buy Fallout if they aren’t there!!! The new stuff you picked up looks great and I’ll be curious to see how you like the Mantic terrain. I haven’t interacted with them personally but I agree with you that they seem like nice guys and Mantic as a company are easy to want to support.

    There are tons of projects that I would like to do but don’t have time. I could do prehistoric wargaming, Roman wargaming, or fantasy wargaming but I don’t have time to paint the minis and make the terrain needed. Certainly not if I want to paint any display projects in the future. That is why I’ve settled on a small number of board games with minis and Fallout as my primary wargame. You really have to have discipline and try to find games that appeal to you the most, unless you can pick up a new game and use a lot of the existing minis and terrain you already own. To a certain degree, staying away from places like Lead Adventure can help too as they tend to make me want to start new projects that I don’t have time for.

    In terms of blogging with WordPress. I bought a website address a while back but I don’t have any hosting or data or anything like that. Last time I checked, I’ve used something like 10% of my overall space and I’ve had my website longer than yours I think. So my first thought is how big are the images you’re uploading? If you’re using full-size ones, that could be eating up your storage space much quicker than it should. I can give you some ideas for how to combat this but I don’t want to type it all out if this isn’t an issue for you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks mate! I always look to you for advice and inspiration.

      Looking into it, yeah, it is my photo sizing that is causing the problem. WordPress suggests using a plugin app such as Smush… which I am considering.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cheers, mate. You inspire me too!

        Any photo editor should do the trick for you. I use Corel’s version of Photoshop with is not terribly expensive or at least it didn’t use to be. That is probably overkill for what you need but take a look at what’s out there and I bet you can find a good option. The bad news is that you probably need to redo all of your old images which will be a chore to say the least but lesson learned!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve been very connected with the blog software world through my odd midwife connection to the word blog.

    I was doing contract work at HP with a couple of folks who were developing something for themselves but still needed to pay the bills. I was also friends with other early web developers including a core of user experience folks like Peter Merholz. All of us were writing these short little entries and started updating our websites with this reverse chronological stack of them. Those got called ‘web logs’, a log of stuff on the web. Peter said humorously on his site, “I’ve decided to pronounce it ‘we-blog’.” I told my fellow contractors, Meg Hourihan and Ev Williams, about this and they named their new thing Blogger. Which is how I got Blogger blog #11.

    I also knew others developing what became blogging platforms and software. Mena and Ben Trott of Movable Type. Matt Mullenweg of WordPress. A couple others now lost to time. Always liked Matt socially, but by the time I might have gone to WordPress, I’d already graduated from Blogger to Movable Type / Typepad.

    When I decided to switch (Ben and Mena long since gone from Movable Type) my ancient blog and its several thousand posts, WordPress was the obvious choice. I got fantastic help from their team in the migration.

    Matt Mullenweg is a really ethical person in my experience. WordPress’s parent company, Automattic, has covered legal expenses for amicus briefs and legal teams on important cases to preserve the open web.

    tl;dr: WordPress.com is excellent and worth the money. They’ll take good care of you and aren’t awful people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! That is quite the network of connections and talk about being around when the ground floor was being built… nice one! I appreciate your input on this, it reaffirms my decision to trust the folks at WordPress.

      Now I think I need to figure out how to reduce the size of my image files.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Dinah, thanks for the history lesson! Never knew any of that. Fascinating stuff.

      And I didn’t know you could get a paid blog directly from wordpress.com. The research I did must have been flawed. The places I looked at, including WordPress, kept making a distinction between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. I was led to believe that if you wanted the best of all worlds, you needed to have the wordpress.org hosted by a third party.

      The more I do research, the more clueless I am!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I leave a vote for keeping the blog! I enjoy your writing style as well as what you write about. I enjoy your battle reports, your updates on what you are watching and painting and finding the little creatures you hide.

    Random responses time:

    I use iranview for (freeware) for image reduction before I put the images into imgur for posting into the one ring. Very easy software to use that I’ve been using for a long time with no issues.

    Was walking with my grandsons when they chased a squirrel under a hedge, they then exclaimed come look at this! Not sure what we would find we looked, it was a red mushroom with white dots that you like to use on your terrain! The oldest also likes Octonauts and don’t know if can get it, on PBS, Wild Kratts.

    Forgot about World Beyond until you mentioned it so I made the mistake of watching the first episode of season 2. Yup, unlikable characters that speak their horrible dialogue very earnestly. Still a pass for me.

    Back to the blog:

    Sorry to hear about the poor vendor turnout, hopefully that will work itself out in the future. In talking with the clerk at my local game store he was saying how his boss is having troubles with GW not filling orders, or when they fill them only getting half of what they ordered and the delay in getting that. I’ve also noticed the paint racks not being refilled as often. Brave new world.

    I find that like you, it’s what I can paint is limiting what I should buy. I have quite a backlog of just LOTR figures that keeps me from getting some shining objects that keep tempting me. I keep thinking about Warlord Games Project Z but I know the number of zombies i would want I would never get to painting.

    Do i get two votes for keeping the blog?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks mate. There are a few folks who always reply on the blog that being a smile to my face. I really appreciate that.

      World Beyond reminds me of Star Trek: Discovery. They make me feel like I am out of touch with society today. I was looking at YouTube and came across a tv show episode of an old series called “The Lieutenant” the other day from the sixties, produced by Gene Roddenberry. It had Rip Torn as a Marine Drill Instructor. I connected with that show so much more than many of the modern tv shows. Even Superstore that tv show Mrs. GG and I have been watching lately, it makes me laugh from time to time but so often I find it awkward and I just disconnect from it for a bit… until something later makes me laugh, usually because it reminds me of someone I met or something that happened to me “back in the day”.

      If Mrs. GG was into Post-Apoc like I am, then I am sure we would have even longer backlog. I quite like the Project Z sprues, not perfect mind you but great fodder for kitbashing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Saw I made a misspelling, irfanview for the photo editor.

    Warlord Games had for awhile a barbed wire enclosed security building set with the humvee – I was so tempted to have that and some security forces vs hordes of zombies. What is great about zombie figures is that so many manufacturers make them so the variety is there. Downside is the painting. I had an eye infection for awhile this summer that impacted my “fine” painting that helped reinforce that I need to focus on what I have vs what I “want”.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I hear you mate! As my wife says, there are so many stories to be told through gaming… but we just can not do them lol. So tempting to play a post-apoc game with a group of military survivors.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, but I only just found your blog! via a post my mate Kieron made.
    I’ve punted it to my partner, who’s the wargamer in the house – we both roleplay, but he collects and paints miniatures & scenery too. We were helping a friend out with his stall at Salute in London this weekend (Uncertain Scenery, if you want to check it out) and apparently about 30 stalls dropped out. It was quite odd to be able to walk diagonally across the floor, and not be shuffling behind browsing gamers in the aisles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is disappointing to hear of the drop outs but it is progress at least that we can again come together in person. Hopefully this time next year things will be closer to “normal”. I hope you had a good time at the show!


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