There’s been lots going on in the world of Dice Masters this last week or so with new release spoilers abound, but I’ve not been keeping as up to speed as I would normally and with very good reason.
This weekend just gone was the annual U.K. Games Expo 2017.
Here was a chance to catch up with some gaming buddies I’ve not seen for a while, explore some other games of the more board game variety, and it was also the location of the Fantasy Flight Games European Championships, where I got to engage with my second gaming love: Star Wars LCG.
Last year the Games Expo was the location for the Dice Masters UK Championship, but sadly there wasn’t anything Wizkids related taking place this year. It was disappointing that there was nothing going on with my favourite game, but there was plenty of other distractions to keep me well occupied.
Here’s a few examples of some of the stuff I checked out…
I took a day off work Friday to go check out the exhibition in the main hall. I knew from my experience last year that competing in events while at the Expo pretty much sucks up all the core hours the main exhibition is open, so having signed up to play in the Star Wars LCG Euros on Saturday I made sure I had some time to take a look around.
The main hall was packed to the brim with tonnes of gaming wonders. There was a good mix of demonstration areas from bigger brands, popular retailers, and new start-ups with previews of their game.
I’ll confess I found the retail element of the Expo somewhat pedestrian and a little bit lame. There was quite a bit of space with retailers displaying their wares but I found little in the way of Expo specials or bargains to catch my eye – the selection was no different, AND prices were often more expensive,than I could find at my FLGS or from a quick Google. There were a handful of “bargain bins” around but these were mostly filled with less than attractive stuff – probably why they were in the heavily discounted bin in the first place. Asides from a small number of independent businesses with some unique product, I also found that many of the “bigger players” were all selling the same stuff, especially in the ‘big box’ games, and the variety was somewhat lacking.
The demonstration areas and preview stands, however, were tremendous. The chance to chat to manufacturers and get shown their game was a delight. It didn’t really matter the size of the organisation (there was everything from 3 man band Kickstarters to big publishers like Fantasy Flight Games and Asmodee) there was no shortage of warm & friendly peeps manning the stands ready to chat, every one of them infectiously passionate about not only their game, but tabletop gaming in general.
Here’s a “Peaky Blinder” I had a chat with promoting his “Gangs of the UK” game… (and my mate Si)
And here we are at the John Adams Games stand kicking it old skool with some Rummikub…
A lot of my gaming (besides collectible games I play competitively like Dice Masters) is family-centric, so I went hunting for some ideas that would be suitable for me to play with the Lil Roller Sixes at home. There was loads of family focused stuff to take a look at.
My pair of cherubs are super-fans of Dobble (otherwise known as ‘Spot It!’ In other parts of the world) we’ve played the classic version and the Star Wars version. I had a good look around at all the other versions of the game I didn’t know existed, and I just had to pick up a some promotional Dobble foam hands as a souvenir for when I got home to my little ‘uns…
They loved them too…
I had quite a lengthy chat with one of the chaps on the Brain Games stand, who’s selection of demonstration games on display were cleared aimed at families and younger audiences, and he was more than happy to give me an overview of each of the game’s rules & mechanics and discuss things like Age recommendations with me so I could case out their suitability for my little ones.
I’m not much of a modeller, but my Expo partner in crime Si is, and even to my casual eye there was some pretty impressive stuff on display. For example( Dropfleet Commander by Hawk Wargames had a strong presence with tonnes of stuff available for show & tell. Nothing on show was more impressive than The Avenger – an eight foot long drop ship that, according to the fella there I had a chat with, took a VERY long time to build…
We also stopped by Word Forge Games stand where they were displaying painted models from their game “Devil’s Run”. It appeared to be a Mad Max style dystopian, vehicle based game. The models looked amazing; excellently sculpted & expertly painted. These ones caught my eye in particular – what with me being a fan of UK national flags n’all…
It was also a chance to meet up with some gaming buddies from around and about That I don’t get to see all that often. I bumped into friends of the blog ‘The Critcal Twits’ from a gaming podcast I regularly enjoy, and had a little natter about gaming and what not with the guys face-to-face; although I did keep forgetting to come through on a promise to capture the Twits on camera doing a lip dub, replicating a daft tournament psyche-up strategy I used with one of their number, Joe, at last year’s Dice Masters UK Nat’s. Speaking of Joe, here he is as I caught up with him for a chat before he headed in the competition hall to compete in the Netrunner Euros on Friday…
I was also pleased to get caught up with my longtime gaming buddy, Billy, who I started on this gaming journey with back in the 90s when we were just wee little nippers. We used to play Magic: The Gathering, Spellfire and Necromunda all those years ago. It all started when we were taught to play M:TG by a French exchange student who was visiting our school. We don’t get a chance to get together for games so much anymore as life spread us out a bit further away from one another so it was great to get caught up. In the Open Gaming area of the Expo Billy introduced me to a new game that was a good laugh: Deception. I had a great time playing Deception and would highly recommend it…
Saturday was tournament day and, as mentioned above, I was competing in the Star Wars LCG European Championship. I’ve been playing Star Wars LCG on & off casually for a couple of years now, but have only really strayed away from the kitchen table in the last six months or so to take it a bit more seriously.
Like Dice Masters: I have found the community around SW:LCG to be top notch, otherwise I don’t think I would have felt like I wanted to explore it more competitively and stray out of the comfort of my mates down the FLGS.
It didn’t go well for me, but I knew going in it was going to be a tough ride at this level as it’s not really my strongest game tactically. It didn’t matter though – I loved the opportunity to play with & chat with guys from all over Europe and found the atmosphere relaxed & fun throughout. This game and Dice Masters are the only two I have found competitively where I have a laugh and enormously enjoy the company of the players as much as the game itself.
The more experienced players were more than happy to offer advice and pointers to help me in the future and I fully intend on continuing to explore the game more outside of the relative comfort of my FLGS in the future.
There we are then folks – a short, but hopefully insightful, overview of my time at the UK Games Expo.
I would highly recommend you get yourself along next year, even just for a day to check the exhibition out, and maybe get a bit of gaming on when the open sessions kick in later in the day.
See you there next year.