Nerd Cons in Brum: UK Games Expo 2017

I have ineffably fond memories of last year’s UK Games Expo… if only because it was part of the tail-end of 2016 before Britain lost its fucking mind and fell for complete and utter bullshit. Right, now that I’ve got that out of my system, I can get onto the actual convention.

As far as I can recall, there are two things I’ve never done at the Expo: booked in the full three days, and done a full day of roleplaying. The reasons were mostly logistical (it’s a good 40-60 minutes from my place to the NEC by train), but after using up some annual leave and 20 minutes on Trivago, I managed to get a three-day ticket and two nights at the Yardley Travelodge, a mere 20 minutes by bus to my destination. Continue reading

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International Tabletop Day 2017

Spring has sprung, which to nerds like me means two things: first, sporadic (yet potentially profitable) sales for Rifftrax and Steam; secondly, somebody in the local area will be organising something for International Tabletop Day. This year was no exception, and quite a few places in Birmingham put something on. Manaleak (a gaming store just off Birmingham’s Irish Quarter) was doing a miniatures event on the day, but as I’m not much into that sort of thing I decided to go with something a bit more local.

Clifton Road Youth Centre was holding two events – one in the afternoon for families, and one in the evening for grown-ups who wanted to play something a bit more complicated than Kerplunk. I have to admit, I was expecting the afternoon event to have a decent mix of grown-ups and kids. The fact that the first game I played was Hungry Hippos broke that delusion quite thoroughly. Granted, I managed to get a game of Ticket to Ride: Europe soon after, with the organiser and a boy who almost got the longest route, but still…

The afternoon ended with me playing Mancala with the girls I’d played Hungry Hippos with (I know their parents through a few local board game meetups, so it wasn’t just me ingratiating myself with random children), which was very enjoyable; in our world of games with apps and custom meeples, we tend to overlook traditional board games. However, all good things must come to an end, and the organisers were literally packing things up as I was making my last move.

The evening event was, of course, a little more varied. It started off with a little Batman Love Letter (we ignored the new rules, because nobody could be bothered to look them up) and we moved on to playing my copy of Thunderbirds: The Co-op Board Game (I actually consider it better to base Pandemic, even if we lost on the easiest difficulty) and were halfway through Colt Express (second-best programming board game – best is 404: Law Not Found), before we realised we were running out of time.

All in all,  a good day.

Nerd Cons in Brum: UK Games Expo 2016

I make my way out of Birmingham International Airport, having just touched down after a few hours flying from Malaga. After stopping for a mediocre egg mayonnaise sandwich from Spar, I make my way to the NEC via the airport’s Air-Rail Link. Making my way down the escalator and past an overpriced Wetherspoons, I catch sight of those three little words that always set my heart aflutter…

UK

Games

Expo. Continue reading

Board game reviews: Post-International Tabletop Day Edition

International Tabletop Day has been and gone, and I’ve managed to play plenty of games with people over the weekend, and I should be able to get even more in tomorrow. As a result, I’ve managed to play some games that have been in my personal collection for a while, but haven’t had the chance to play (it’s not just Steam where I dilly, and indeed dally). Without any further ado, here’s three that I managed to play.

Witness

Witness

Like I said, I love licensed games.

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I love a good license…

As the title intimates, I’m a sucker for a licensed anything. I got into comics via DC’s Star Trek, Dark Horse’s Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even Bongo’s The Simpsons. Only last week I claimed that one of the greatest comics to be published in the last ten years was The Muppet Show Comic Book. And you know something? I stand by that statement.

But it’s not just licensed comics that I love… I’m also a sucker for licensed games. Video games have always been a fount for licensed games; I have fond memories of my older brother playing World of Illusion on the Mega Drive, and the both of us trying X-Men Legends on the Playstation 2. I have DuckTales Remastered on my Steam Library (expect a review from me sometime in the future).

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From what I recall, Beast was useless in this game, which is a shame as he’s one of my favourite X-Men.

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Board Game Reviews: Nexus & Gemblo

In my very first blog post, I mentioned that one of the games I bought at this year’s UK Games Expo was Nexus, a self-published game made by Vivienne, an adorable little old dear. Naturally, anybody interested in the game will need more than an appraisal of the person who made it before they decide to buy a copy, so I figured I’d give them some free publicity, as well as review Gemblo, another game in my collection, for reasons that shall become apparent. Continue reading

Nerd Cons in Brum: UK Games Expo 2015

The UK Games Expo hasn’t been around that long; it only started in 2007, making it a mere babe-in-arms compared to, say, the Origins Game Fair (1975) or the Essen International Spieltage (1982). However, it’s definitely one of the fastest-growing gaming conventions around, as shown by the necessity of the Expo to move from the Clarendon Suites to the Hilton Metropole back in 2013. I know the Clarendon wasn’t to everyone’s tastes (the chairman of my local roleplaying group refused to even entertain the notion of attending when they were held there, but became very interested when I mentioned they were now being held at the Metropole) but I rather liked the old place – the Masonic paraphernalia lent an odd atmosphere to any RPG or Living Dungeon (later Living Munchkin) sessions I attended, and the layout was a lot simpler than The Metropole… anybody who tells you they never got lost at the last two Expos is a liar.

There is certainly a lot more room in the Expo now, but for every new vendor that has room to sell their latest games, there are attendees to fill just as much space. Saturdays are always busiest at most weekend conventions, but things were pretty absurd at the Expo this year; my current GM at the aforementioned roleplaying club tried to get in a game of Ticket To Ride with some friends using the Expo’s Board Games Library… only to return it after finding there was no room to play it. I remember hearing that the staff at the Metropole were sceptical that there’s be more than 1,500 visitors when they first got the contract to host the Expo. Overall attendance that year was about 6,000 people. Continue reading