So this year I got to go the UK Games Expo for the first time ever! This article is a brief coverage of the event, what kind of things you can expect to see there and how I found the experience of some of the individual aspects of it as well as overall. The expo is huge and I would say I probably only really experienced about 20% of what it had to offer.
GAMING – HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Now, before we start let’s get a few things straight. I consider myself a gamer. I’ve been a gamer most of my life. That includes forages into the world of tabletop gaming. I remember long nights playing monopoly with childhood friends listening to tunes, eating my body weight in biscuits. Then there was the Pokémon craze of 97. I popped my TCG cherry to 3 fire energies I got off a friend. It was hot at the time okay. I even foraged into Warhammer 40k before bankrupting the parents on Citadel paint. I’ve always played video games but some of that has included what is essentially tabletop gaming on a computer screen. Despite all that, I was not prepared for the adventure on which I was about to embark.
YOU KNOW NOTHING, ADAM SMITH!
… I heard a voice whisper in my head as I walked around UK Games Expo. I mean wow! I really never realised how many board games there were. And that’s not even counting miniatures, CCGs LCGs, RPGs and the rest! I was bewildered with the sheer amount of gaming I’ve never been exposed to. I felt like a small child in Toys’R’Us for the first time. You know, back when it was magical with that advert on the telly that made you want to pester your parents to take you there for Christmas. That’s a feeling I haven’t had for a long time.
BROWSE UNTIL YOU DIE, YOU DIE, YOU DIE!
No, I’m not talking about the Dark Room. This is worse. I mean you better put some XP into your Willpower or save up those gold coins before you come to UK Games Expo or you will die from starvation for the rest of the month. There is a lot of shiny loot, and those traders have high charisma. They will lure you in with their smiles and their demoes and their amazing deals. I picked up ‘Kick Off!’, the core set for Guild Ball, Steamforged Games Ltd’s answer to Games Workshop’s Blood Bowl for £25 (RRP £45). I got a demo by their very own Sam Page. The miniatures are so great, and will double-up nicely for D&D once I’ve painted them. You got to love a double whammy. But there’s everything you could ever need and I’m pretty sure I didn’t see everything over the whole weekend.
SELL YOUR WARES
Got old games lying around you don’t play anymore? Sell them. Bring them to the Bring and Buy at UK Games Expo where they are resold. I saw pretty much everything in there. It includes miniatures and card games, not just board games. Looking for something a bit cheaper? Look here. I picked up the Dark Souls board game for £60 (RRP £80). It’s basically brand new. No bits missing. Nothing damaged. Even the box was in near-perfect condition. The only problem here is the queues, and once you’re inside it’s a bit of a slow moving flow of human bodies. Not for the claustrophobic.
PLAY UNTIL YOU DIE, YOU DIE, YOU DIE!
Nope, still not talking about the Dark Room. So, you don’t want the fire brigade turning up due to that burning hole in your pocket? Then get yourself playing games. There is plenty to choose from. The exhibitors are there to demo their games to you. Play them! Seriously they love it. Especially if you get a demo off one of the designers. I was lucky enough to get a demo of Big Trouble in Little China with lead designer Chris Batarlis. I could see the proud look in his eyes as he explained the mechanics of the game., in particular the action system which involves some unique action dice that affects movement, healing , combat and some other actions in various ways. I’ll be bringing out a more detailed review soon!
There are also open table spaces where you can just go and play with your mates. Oh? You enjoy a challenge? Well there are the tournaments you can enter too.
JUST ROLL WITH IT
You prefer to roleplay? There’s plenty of that to go around! Tables full of anything from your classic fantasy adventures in Dungeons and Dragons to science fiction universes such as Star Wars. The CfG team got together to roleplay our 80’s teenage versions of ourselves in a Stranger Things type setting in the Tales from the Loop RPG System. It told the story of a bunch of kids’ discovery of some mysterious mechanical atomic butterflies and a crazy scientist’s botanical experimentation.
Robin and I also went and did a bit of LARP – Live Action Role Play. It was called Inheritance and told the story of a Viking Family and the various members’ movement to try and claim the dead grandfather’s wealth. I was way out of my comfort zone as the opening seen involved my exiled character returning and promptly being yelled at by my make-belief father. However, by the end of the story my character came off quite well. I got my inheritance but I remained unmarried. (meanwhile I, as a Christian priest in a world of pagans failed to convert the head of the household but got enough wealth to build a lovely church by the bend in the river – Robin)
ENTERTAINMENT UNTIL YOU DIE, YOU DIE, YOU DIE!
Okay, I didn’t actually get to experience The Dark Room but what I did get to experience was John Robinson die over and over in a reading of author Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon. I loved the fighting fantasy books as a kid so this was a particular highlight of mine. I’ll admit. I’d never heard of the Dark Room, John Robertson or Darren, or Darrenson, or Darrensonson, but it was an entertaining show. If you don’t know who John Robertson is, he is an Australian comedian, more commonly known as the inventor of The Dark Room.
I also watched Tom Crosbie – You Can’t Polish a Nerd; a nerdy comedian of astronomical talent, a live playing of Pandemic with Tom and the pirate rock duo brothers Jollyboat, which was interesting. I’m not sure about the half naked outbreak party bear though. (erm what now? – Robin)
I also went on to watch Jollyboat itself, which was a good ride. I never thought I’d be singing about Deanarys Stormborn along to a live band. But yeah that happened!
LEVEL UP YOUR SKILLS
It’s not all fun and games. There are also places to hone your crafts. Writing, Drawing, Designing, Painting,
I saw it all. There were workshops through the weekend for those looking to get good at what they do. I attended the ‘Write like a Pro’ workshop. It was more of a ‘how to write a RPG adventure’ workshop but I learned some pro advice and skills from that. No matter what you do, there’s stuff to be learned at UK Games Expo. Games are an incredible medium that really does transcend across many genres and skills. Ask the designers and artists at the stands for advice!
WE’RE IN THE END GAME NOW
All in all the UK Games Expo was a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I only wish that I had rested on site and had more gold to exchange for the sexy loot available. Highly recommended for any lover of any kind of tabletop gaming! I will definitely be returning next year!
Adam Smith – Gaming till he dies (probably in Dark Souls)
Con-Virgin with my Inner Weirdo – Simon Church’s first ever convention