|All the people and a bus|
TL;DR unless you only play Games Workshop war games, why weren’t you there? It was awesome.
A couple of months ago I decided to go to UK Games Expo on a ‘whim’. The line-up looked great, and having had such a good day running HATECON ONE, I thought I’d try a games convention purely as an attendee. I’ve not been to one without being sat behind a stall for 15 years and reckoned I owed it to myself. I also made the conscious decision to not particularly organize a group visit, mostly to push myself into being more proactively social.
Since I was late in booking, I missed staying in the Hilton where most of the gaming was occurring, and stayed in the very comfortable Crowne Plaza, 5 minutes walk from the venues and which serves the best morning filter coffee I’ve had in a UK hotel. It was not a cheap hotel though.
Arriving on Thursday, I explored a bit, picked up my pre-paid ticket and then went and had a pint and chat in the main bar with another ‘solo’ who had posted on Twitter that they were also foot-loose. This was a great start. Tick the being social box.
|Otherworld miniatures *heart*|
|Square Hex *auto kickstarter back*|
I played two organized play games, an Adventurers League Strahd side quest which was a lot of fun, although I had to reign in my noble lawful good paladin roleplaying, cos it would be easy to grandstand and become THAT dysfunctional player. The second game was meant to be A Shadows Of The Demon Lord game, but it wasn’t where my ticket said it was and nobody could find it, so I (very easily) joined a Call Of Cthulhu game instead. Definitely not the worst way to spend 4 hours but the group was a slower pace than I’m used to, and I was reminded why Trail Of Cthulhu is the better system for investigative roleplaying by the very example I use to sell it. The Alienist with a 78% Library Use skill couldn’t make the roll over and over again.
Some HATE (James, Dee, Greg & Tim) members came up on the Saturday and after shopping and chin wagging, I ran an improv impromptu game of The Black Hack for them, with a vague Moorcockian Eternal Champions theme. I continue to be impressed with how good The Black Hat is for theatre of the mind D&D, and I had a huge amount of fun running it.
Much beer was drunk, at slightly frightening hotel bar prices. It was great catching up with old and new friends (Colette, Ian, Bruce, etc), and it really is a big part of the reason to go for whole convention rather than just a day.
|Ralph and me|
In summary I’d say you’d be absolutely crazy not to go to UK Games Expo next year if you’re a board or miniature gamer who likes cons. If you’re a roleplayer who enjoys convention games then it’s also a must, but book your games early as you’ll want a least one game a day and while there maybe lots of lots of games being run, there are over a thousand roleplayers also wanting to play. The only people I suspect wouldn’t get much from it are GW only war gamers, as neither GW nor FW were there, and there was no hardcore war gaming space that I saw. If you like X-Wing or similar model based tabletop games, you’d be in heaven though. The atmosphere was very relaxed, very friendly and I didn’t see any fuckwittery at all.
For things that might improve the experience even further I’d say would be to improve the tannoy system so that it didn’t deafen. Move the talks out of the trade hall, as they were understandably loud. See if the Hilton has temporary partitions to break up some of the sound in the play rooms, where it was quite noisy at times. Have a code of conduct front and centre in the programme. Maybe bunch up birds of a feather stalls so that, for example, the RPG companies are closer together. And as ever, get the bars to stock good tequila.
|Jame Raggi and me, all the metal|
|Osprey Joe and me|
|The one and only Bez (and Dan, is also one and only)|
|Oathsworn / Sensible Shoes|
|The Cthulhu Hack & it's genius Flashlight / Smokes mechanic|