Okay, so it’s taken me a while to get it up. Over five months actually, but here’s the tale of my adventure at UK Games Expo back at the end of May 🙂
Well, as usual, I was over-prepared. I went with a set of self-imposed rules:
1 – If it won’t fit in my backpack, don’t buy it
2 – Get a jug of dice like last year
3 – Only buy games that are on my wishlist, and only if they’re on offer or in the Bring and Buy
4 – TALK TO PEOPLE
5 – Hand out all 13 business cards that I took with me
Last year it was my first year and I only went for the one day. Afterwards I was determined to go for the whole weekend. When the hotel rooms became available I immediately booked myself one right there at the Hilton. And it was cute and little and cozy.
Almost as soon as I’d dumped my bag on that big bed, I was back downstairs to pick up my admissions pack and to get looking. And within minutes I was playing a game.
I’d walked in to one of the Trade Halls and there was a new Discworld themed game. Clacks. It’s based on the semaphore towers that are used on the Discworld to send messages long distance. And it’s a really clever little game. A real brain buster. But I did manage to win the game. And then, when I played the solo version (I love when a game has a solo version), I won that too!
Clacks comes out in October, just before my birthday conveniently, and I will definitely be getting it 🙂
(Since I finished writing this post AFTER my birthday, I can reveal that I did indeed get the game, thanks to my best friend.)
The first day, Friday, was spent mostly wandering around and seeing what there was to see. And eating waffles!
Last year, the hotel’s food options couldn’t cope with the quantity of people so this year the UKGE organizers brought in a range of food trucks. There was a pizza one, and a bus bar, and a vegan Indian food, a BBQ truck, etc. And a waffle truck. A delicious waffle truck with a menu you just want to eat. (Despite the typo)
When I went out to the car park to find dinner the queues for everything were kind of ridiculous and I decided to skip the main and go straight for dessert. I was to do the same for most of the weekend. Those waffles were scrumptious and the servers were more than happy to add extra toppings on.
I did manage to fit in some shopping that first day. I couldn’t find the stall with the jug of dice, which sucked. But of course I bought some dice anyway. Only 12 though. I behaved.
The one in the little bag is solid metal. They had a whole range of them, in gold and copper and silver and bronze and antiqued silver (which is what I got). I wanted a whole set, but baulked a little at spending so much on one set of dice. £25. So I resolved to buy one at a time, £3.75, for the next few years.
I managed to show some restraint elsewhere too. There was a stall selling these beautiful handcrafted wooden boxes. There was a matching set, one inside the other inside another, that I desperately wanted. It wouldn’t have fit in my backpack though, and it was a big chunk of my spending money, although still brilliant value. I told the stall lady that I’d think about it overnight and come back the next day.
And of course, I collected my usual pile of leaflets and stuff.
Day One ended with a hilarious comedy show about gaming, with some very accurate observations. I was completely exhausted afterwards and decided not to look for some open gaming, just to go to sleep and get refreshed for the next day.
Day Two began with breakfast. Which was actually a surprise. I didn’t realise breakfast was included with my room. Not only that but it was an all you can eat buffet.
And then I started on the Treasure Hunt.
There were posters hidden in six different locations, with a letter hidden on each poster. Okay. Seemed fairly simple enough. I found the first poster okay. And when I found it I found a guy with his two sons who were struggling to find the letter.
We didn’t know what sort of thing we were looking for. Did the flaming comet represent an O? Was there an M at the bottom of the wing? Or were we looking for an actual letter somewhere?
The family wandered off eventually, and I kept staring. Until I found it!
Can you see it? Look just above the curve at the end of the dragon’s tail. It’s an L, kind of embossed on the page. Once I knew what sort of letter I was looking for, it made the whole process a lot easier.
The six different letters when rearranged spelled out the name of a mythical creature. And plenty of people were doing it, and sharing information with each other. By the third letter I’d figured out what the mythical creature was. L, O, B. But I didn’t know whether you had to fill in all six boxes to qualify. So I found #4 – G and #5 – I. I didn’t bother getting the last letter, I could guess 🙂
I filled in my GOBLIN on the sheet and popped it into the box. I didn’t win, but it was a bit of fun nonetheless.
I did some more shopping – naturally. I’d decided against the big set of boxes, but I wanted a nice box to keep all my dice in, so I went back to the stall anyway. I selected a medium sized one, for a really good price.
And then I found a sofa to sit on. I spent a lot of time sat on sofas just watching the people walk by. There is so much to see at these places. Like a very cool set of Jawas.
They were carrying a teeny tiny Jawa at some point. Too tiny to be real. I think it was a toy. They were very much in character too (or so I’m told, I’m not a Star Wars person really). They tried to steal my bags. Bad Jawas!
And then I had a wonderful surprise. I ran into two of my friends and I was showing them my beautiful box when I discovered it had another box inside of it!
And there was another one inside of that!
And then, and I was getting way too excited by this point, there was a teeny tiny box inside there too!
I’d thought I’d bought a really nice box for a really good price. Turns out I’d brought a set of four for an even more brilliant price!
I do love my boxes 🙂
There was more delicious food to be had – although this time I got a “bit of everything” box from the BBQ truck too.
It was tasty, but not as tasty as the waffle.
And I found a stall selling t-shirts with really funny images on. I have a problem buying t-shirts because of my size, and because I like them to be baggy anyway. But they were selling a range of postcards and notebooks and posters too. So they got some of my money.
The company is called Genki Gear, and since I’ve come home I’ve been on their website and added a few more things to my wishlist 🙂 Their tagline, or at least it was on some stuff on their stall, is: Weird, but still quite nice. Which perfectly describes me!
I brought my first game on the Saturday too. It wasn’t on my wishlist, but we all knew that Rule 3 was a silly one anyway.
The game is called, as if you couldn’t guess, Nexus. It’s a tile laying numbers game, and it’s actually surprisingly good. It was designed by a little old lady who was there with her daughter, inviting just about everyone in the entire convention back to her house in Stratford-Upon-Avon for a cup of tea. She was very lovely.
I collected another pile of gumpf…
And when I took another early night, and sat at the desk in my room to have a solo game of Nexus, I discovered I’d managed to get a mild sunburn on one side of my body. I was only sat outside for five minutes!
By the morning of Day 3, my ankle and my head were both pretty much hating me. But I doped myself up with painkillers and happily went about my day. First, another tasty tasty breakfast.
When I came out of breakfast I was face-to-face with the door to the Bring and Buy. This is a whole other issue on its own. Last year it was badly organised and it was cramped and chaotic and I had a minor panic attack in there. This year, the UKGE organisers changed the way that people booked in games to sell, and it made it a lot better. I’d popped in for a look on the Friday, but found that they still had the games too cramped together and it was too crowded and hard to see. Luckily, because of the new booking system there was a way of searching the inventory online to see if there was anything you wanted. There was no guarantee it’d still be there by the time you got to it – the system wouldn’t tell you if it was walking around in someone’s hand while they were still shopping – but it helped a little. After feeling too cramped on the Friday, I’d checked the online system every so often for a game that I was specifically after, but had decided to avoid it.
But when I came out of breakfast on the Sunday and saw that there was a queue of a whole three people waiting for it to open, I decided that I might as well join the queue and have a quick browse before it got too busy. It got busy quick. Really quick. But I did manage to get myself another version of Fluxx to add to my collection.
And then.. and then it was tournament time. I’d signed myself up to do the Carcassonne Tournament. It was my first ever tournament and I wasn’t expecting myself to last very long. In fact, I thought I’d be out after the first game. But it turns out that you get to play at least three games! And I somehow ended up being one of the people that stayed on one table while everyone moved.
So I set myself up at table four…
… with my little Meeple army.
I hadn’t known we could bring our own custom Meeples until it was too late. Next year I’m taking my Monkey Meeples.
But the little red guys and I did okay. Ish. Better than I’d expected anyway.
There was a lunch break between the 2nd and 3rd games, but I figured the queues at the food trucks would be way too long, not to mention the time it would take me to walk there and back. So I skipped lunch and bought more dice instead.
Including another metal one, a teeny tiny one for my 52 Things In a Jar, and a very funky dice inside a dice.
DICE!! I love dice 🙂
After the third game all your points are totted up, and then everyone gets to play a 4th game. People in positions 1-4 play, to detemine winner, then 5-8 play, 9-12 play and so on. A lot of people skipped the final game. I did too. I wasn’t in the top four. Or anywhere near it. Here are the scores from my three games:
Round 1: 67, 62, 53, 50 (I was the loser)
Round 2: 75, 66, 59, 56 (I was second place)
Round 3: 75, 71, 50, 44 (i was the loser again)
You get 4 points for winning, 2 for coming second place and 1 point for coming third. My measly 2 points weren’t putting me in the top four. next year I’ll play all the games though. I’ve never done a tournament before and didn’t know how it worked. I assumed I’d play one game and be knocked out, so I’d planned to watch the Cosplay Parade.
Oh the fun and games involved there. It was due to start in one place, so I grabbed myself a seat and prepared to watch. Then it was announced that they were moving the start position. Okay, well the parade was supposed to come back past this point anyway, so I stayed put and waited. And waited. I heard it approach, and then it went into one of the trade halls behind me. And then vanished. It had gone right back out the way it had come, and hadn’t gone past where I was sat. So I missed the parade, but I had managed to get some pictures when they were initially gathering.
And then there were the Doctors. Last year, and this year, there was a full-sized TARDIS replica…
… seen there with Nine, Three and Seven. And there were Daleks like last year too.
I managed to get a video of them this year. I hope it posts okay…
Last year there was a Captain Jack Harkness, but I didn’t see him this year. I saw Madame du Pompadour though.
And Thirteen, of course. He was good. Was wandering around the hotel on his own just scanning things with his screwdriver.
Now, I normally wouldn’t post blurry pictures, but this one would have been SOOO good if it was in focus.
Day 3 ended with a new lot of bumpf as well.
It was a REALLY long weekend, and I was completely exhausted by the end of it. And there were downsides of course. It was way way too hot. I wish they held it in the winter. Even in t-shirts I got too hot. I’m taking nothing but vests next year. And I kept running in to an old friend that I really didn’t fancy seeing again.
But I had a fantastic time and I can’t wait for next year 🙂
So how well did I stick to my own rules?
1) I managed to get everything in my backpack! just about. But next year I want a bigger backpack.
2) Never found a jug, but did get plenty of dice.
3) Yeah. No comment.
4) I talked to lots of people! It’s so much easier to talk to strangers here. I’ve always felt more comfortable around places where there’s no way I’ll run into someone from my past. Although, weirdly enough, I recognise more faces here than I do at home. I don’t necessarily know any names, but I recognise a lot of faces. Plus, I don’t mind being stared at here. I feel like they’re admiring my skirt (I wore my Tardis skirt that I made), or my tattoos or my hair. Breaking the ice with strangers is easier too. There’s so much to talk about.
5) I did hand out all my cards. To the point that when I had an actual geniune business opportunity right at the very end, I had no cards left. Gotta remember to take more next year.
Here’s my Tardis skirt…
(Although I’d made a small adjustment since that picture and before UKGE). I got a lot of looks, and smiles. And a couple of compliments too. Makes me proud. I’ll be even prouder next year when I’ve had a chance to redo it. Tardis Mach 2.