UK Games Expo 2018 is fast approaching and we are hyped. What started out as a group of table top and board game connoisseurs going away for a long weekend to enjoy some great games, fantastic banter and the amazing friendly atmosphere has led into what is undoubtable one of the highlights of our year. It has become a tradition for us here at Ellerium games.
For one long weekend a year, since 2016, we get to make the pilgrimage down to Birmingham NEC. On the way down and the night before we plan what demos we want to see, we plan which of the many stalls we want to peruse and we plan which games designers we want have a chat with. We look forward to this so much that this year we started planning in January, 6 months before it opens on the 1st June. This year we will be professional, this year we will be organised.
But we lie to ourselves. On the first morning we will eagerly wait at the entrance like a couple of school kids with our faces pressed up against the glass of the local toy shop while riding a sugar high. When we do finally get let loose within the main hall the inevitable will happen as it has for the past 2 years. We will be caught up in the excitement, in the atmosphere of being in this place surrounded by hundreds of like-minded individuals that have only one thing on their minds. The need to play the newest games. To sit down with complete and utter strangers for 30-45mins learn a new game and have a laugh. Any plan we had will be in tatters.
The first couple of hours are lost to this exuberance and gluttony of games. It will then hit us. We are meant to be reviewing games and chatting to game designers. That’s when we stumble across the gems, the games that we will tell anyone about after the weekend. The games that we troll through Kickstarter in order to pledge and make sure come to life. The ones that no matter how much we scream “Take our money” the staff will politely refuse while surreptitiously looking for an escape route from our crazy.
We found some cracking games in 2017 this way. In fact, some of our top games from UK Games Expo 2017 were discovered in this fashion. Whoosh Bounty Hunter by Artipa Games is one of our more popular family games that has a sweet competitive edge and when stocked quickly sells out. Next up was Lightseekers by Playfusion which is a colourful and fun TCG. We now host weekly in store events for Lightseekers. We have also eagerly backed Dice hospital on Kickstarter and it can’t come soon enough. Sadly we are still awaiting news on Lava Run, one of the games we spent a lot of time talking to Mike Nudd about and thoroughly enjoyed.
The second day will be given over to competitions. We are a competitive bunch and this day suits us to a tea. We crave the need to beat each other and this comes out in an intense, but friendly, personal competition to see who could rank highest. In 2017 we chanced our hands at 7 wonders duel. Unfortunately, Jason ranked higher that time, his bragging was insufferable as anyone who comes along to our Saturday Board game club will know.
2017 marked a huge leap for UK Games Expo as for the first year they booked out 3 full halls, 2 of these were given over to competitions. They had one for every kind of gamer. From traditional board games like 7 wonders (both versions), to the popular TCG games like Pokémon and the tabletop games like dropship.
However, one of the best features of the event happens after the NEC closes when everyone will head en masse to the local Hilton hotel, a short walk on the other side of the pond, where the organizers have booked out all of the conferences halls for attendees to play whatever game they want for however long you want. Hundreds of people will go play whatever games they have acquired that day. Playing will continue into the early hours of the morning. If you don’t have enough people to play, no bother, just ask random people to join in your game or if you can join their game. It is an amazing friendly environment and a great experience.
It is for this reason that we keep going back to UK Games Expo. The organizers have created this fantastic space that allows us gamers, of any age and skill to enjoy the warm and friendly atmosphere created by such an enthusiastic community. It is the reason why every year the UK Games Expo grows in popularity.
It is also the reason why we are hyped about going this year and have had to begin planning so early.
Hope to see you there.
Author. Christopher Galbraith