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CHITAG report

By sconway - Posted on 21 November 2007

Finally recovered from the weekend sufficiently to write up a mini-report of our Saturday at CHITAG.

Francie and I drove up Friday afternoon to Schaumburg, IL and stayed at the adjoining hotel to the convention center, teh Renaissance (very swanky but pretty affordable for a single night). We did a little shopping at IKEA and had some great Chicago dogs at the Portillo's down the street (thanks for the suggestion, Mark).

CHITAG was smaller than expected, about half the size of the dealer's room at Origins. The program listed 70 vendors, but truthfully there were about 50 who were true to the spirit of the event (several weird ones like travel agencies and Mary Kay cosmetics. wtf). Most of the vendors, though, were smaller press game companies whose offerings slanted toward the party game and kid or dare i say "family-friendly" game categories. Family friendly was certainly the buzzword for the con. Believe me I am all for families playing games, but when the company is more concerned about the game fitting the marketing strategy and not the quality of the experience you have while playing... DANGER DANGER! It's the same sort of gripe I have with games that are marketed first as educational and second as fun games. You can learn through play without he game pounding you over the head with the fact that you are learning.

Ok, off the soapbox, Conway. Not counting Rio Grande (who had a great open play area right as you walked in), collectively, there were probably two full aisles of wortwhile game vendors to peruse. Some tired re-hashes of classics, but also some hidden gems. I have a few interviews I will include in the next episode or they may appear as a mini episode if time doesn't permit me to include them in the next show. It was fun to see so many small companies I had not heard of before without having to fight past all the ginormous flashy booths at GenCon overshadowing them. I walked out with a few games (of course) and a few others that really looked neat, but I'll save those details for the audio later.

The highlight by far was meeting up with some Spiel listeners, Barb and Derek Jung, and getting to spend the day touring the dealer's room and then settling in for a long night of games during the Essen event in the evening. It was cool wandering the aisles each of us being distracted by different shiny objects and then tagging along to see what each of us had found. We also ran into Larry Kruger IN HIS SPIEL SHIRT and his son. Excellent wardrobe choice. :) Unfortunately Larry had to leave before we got any games in with him.

The Essen game night makes a trip to CHITAG a sure hit for any board game enthusiast in my opinion. A single day ticket is $10 and for that price you get a chance to play a TON of new games just released at Essen a few weeks earlier. We drooled over so many of the titles but had to choose a select few since our time was limited. We played: Antler Island, Master of the Rules, Galaxy Trucker, and Cash-n-Guns with the Yakuza expansion. I am proud to say I upheld the Spiel tradition of LOSING every game I played. Maybe it's me, Dave... Our pal Scott Nicholson (the man behind the kilt behind Board Games with Scott) was also in attendance and he actually walked us through our first two delivery runs of Galaxy Trucker. I missed his rundown of Agricola since we were too engrossed with our game later that night. Tough choices, like I said. Scott did a presentation on his library game resource idea. With our own library aspirations, we're going to have to compare notes sometime. Back to the games. I enjoyed all four titles. Antler Island was a hoot and Francie loved the goober (including big stag figurines and wooden "doeples"). I caught myself pondering out loud how many does I could score with in a single turn. Any game that allows that line of thinking, well, it's ok in my book! Galaxy Trucker is the one that I walked away wanting to buy right there and then. Really fun mix of chaotic ship building from a pile of ship part tiles and strategery trying to make sure your ship will survive each delivery run.


LarryKruger's picture
Excellent summary of CHITAG. Since the show seems to be focused on "family-friendly" games, it would be great if more companies like 'Out of the Box' participated as they would be a great fit and would provide the non-gaming public with more good game options. If there is an Essen Night at CHITAG next year, I will definitely get a hotel room so that I can stay later and play more games (the same for Origins). I would definitely like to join you for a game at a future event, and I am confident that I could help you break your record of losing every game. Even though I lost every game, I had a lot of fun and it was worth the drive.
sconway's picture

Especially considering Out of the Box is based in Wisconsin I thought it was really strange that they were not at CHITAG. They would be a perfect fit.

I look forward to some losing competiton next year, Larry. I need it!

Scot Tepper posted a nice Chitag report at . He ran the Rio Grande booth and the Essen night (Thank you Scott and Jay!) He even kept the room open late so we could finish our game of Cash-n-Guns Yakuzas. Below is a pic he snapped with blurry listener Barb Jung hurling her ninja star at us. Derek, her husband, is sitting across from me (the dork in the Spiel shirt. Francie is sitting next to me.



joeyhemlock's picture
I'm glad that the Portillo's worked out for you. :) Out of the Box was there two years ago, but not last year (or this year, apparently). I would guess that they just didn't think that it was worth the money. Stranger, sort of, is the absence of Mayfair Games which is right here in the Chicago area. I read somewhere that there was a falling out between ChiTAG and Mayfair Games after one of the first years of ChiTAG, but I don't know details. I can't help but think that there's a Catch-22 with this show when it comes to boardgames. The major publishers don't want to come until it's a bigger boardgame draw, and it won't be a bigger boardgame draw until the major publishers show up. Of course, as long as it's in the same month as BGG.CON, it'll never be a strong draw with the 'Geek crowd. Mark Wilder(a.k.a. JoeyHemlock) Chicago IL
sconway's picture

Nothing better than a chicago dog with everything. Mmm! The Super Dog diner with car service is still one of my favorites in Chi-town.

Yes Mayfair's absence was noticeable, too, especially given the fact it should have been easier for them to have a presence at the con.

I did get a chance to talk to some of the organizers briefly and I mentioned that they should not schedule future events opposite BGG con. For every big time game geek they can get to come to CHITAG, they'll spread the word and bring ten others in future years. I worry that the vendors this year may have been so displeased by the turn-out that they will have difficulties even keeping the ones the current lineup. They would be well advised to make peace with Mayfair and try to lure Out of the Box back into the fold.

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