Last year I went to the UK Games Expo and had an OK time. I found Shuuro, had a few games and bumped into a lot of friendly faces, well I would expect to, after all it is held in my home town. Last year was the first time I'd been to show though, because I had heard some rather negative things about it, the venue being the prime concern. I thought it was an interesting little show however, if a bit cramped and badly laid out. there were some well staffed stands with lots of cool things to look at. It was also pretty well attended, even for a Sunday. You see whereas last year I attended on the Sunday this year I attended on the Saturday... for a number of reasons, but the main one being that attending on the Sunday this year was just unlikely. Why? Because the night before (Saturday evening) I was hosting a Eurovision song Contest party, and there was bound to be much drinking and hilarity... and that meant Sunday was likely to be filled with hang overs and sore heads. So it was too prove, hence the late posting of the Sermon yesterday! But enough of that, I attended on a very sunny Saturday because I felt I had to get the whole event out of the way.
|This was actually a quiet moment and represented a lull in crowds.|
What were my overall impressions of this years show? Well yet again it was cramped, exceedingly so in fact, far too cramped to be fun. It seems the Saturday's unsurprisingly are way busier, and here's the thing, this show is clearly very popular. There wasn't room to swing a 15mm scale cat! Everywhere was constantly heaving and pretty much all the stands were constantly busy. That's a good thing if you're a trader I guess, but not so grand if you're a punter. I'm told the show is moving to a new venue next year. All I will say is that it had better be a far bigger space, or I'll not be attending as I'm fed up of being elbowed and I have bruises all over my back... and they're not from kinky sex or violent foreplay... that's just unacceptable in my eyes! I also felt that many of the stands this year were smaller, overly repetitive in their stock and quite frankly not worth visiting. I'm not sure I could prove it scientifically but this years show just felt like it had less stands as well compared to last year. There were a few gems however as always with these things and of course I will try my best to let you know what I thought of them. I have to apologise for my camera work, it was hot cramped and conditions weren't ideal!
Bushido the Game
The first stand we stopped off at, part of the reason for attending the show was to see these guys and to pick up some swag for my two factions, the Cult of Yurei and Prefecture of Ryu. We also had more nefarious reasons for wanting to visit them, our friend Mr Chaos Space Marine hadn't yet brought into the game, but he has shiny syndrome bad. If we could get him to play a demo game we knew we'd snare him... and so it proved. Sucker!!! He dropped £50 on a Temple Ro Kan faction and seemed exceedingly happy to have done so. As always the guys at the Bushido stand from GCT Studios were a pleasure to talk to, just thoroughly nice chaps the lot of them. So nice you'd have no problem inviting them to a BBQ or Eurovision party. There demo boards were exceptional as always and the demo games were coming thick and fast for them, all ably handled by the newly crowned Bushido World champion Carlos. They were enthusiastic friendly, willing to chat with anyone and everyone who was willing to talk. Given they're in effect doing this as a hobby they were one of the most professionally run stands, very welcoming and put some of the more 'established' companies offerings to shame. They'll go far if they keep it up, I just get such a good vibe off of them and their product. Also I'd like to point you all back in the direction of their Indiegogo campaign again, they're up to $23,295 with 5 days to go. They only need another $1705 to hit their exceedingly stretching $25,000 target, and give us all an extra miniature. Seriously if you haven't already done so consider getting yourself into this game via this campaign, because it represents a fantastic deal.
|The Oni really are well painted when you see them in the flesh, it's difficult to photograph their red flesh.|
|Alberto 'SuoU' Gil's work on Mikio's tattoos is simply brilliant.|
|I love this dragon so much I got him!|
|Gok Wan has really let himself go, and quite frankly he doesn't look so good naked!|
|The complete collection of the Oni, which the Cursed pretty much owns now.|
Right opposite the lovely chaps from GCT Studio's were this company, I think called Quantum Magic, that I remember hearing about in the vague distant past, who made a collectible card game called ExistenZ. as a collectible card game I'd probably have completely ignored it, as I wasn't getting snared by any of that sort of shenanigans. I know what Magic the Gathering style card games can get like thank you very much, and I really don't like the idea of being addicted to something more potently addictive and expensive than crack!!! However, over the last week or so I've had a few emails from people asking me if I was planning on covering ExistenZ: On the Ruins of Chaos, honestly I had to make my confused face, because I'd never heard of it. But here they were, a bunch of what I think were chilled out Dutch guys who were willing to run people through games of their board game / card game hybrid and were quite jolly. Again I wouldn't have a problem inviting them to a BBQ or Eurovision party, although Holland didn't make it through to the final. The game looks interesting and had high production values, both the Cursed and Mr Chaos Space Marine purchased the game for £29.99, which I thought was a bit of a bargain, plus you have the entire game in one box, no need to buy booster packs looking for that shiny foil card. So there is likely to be a review of the game at some point soon.
|You get quite a bit in the box for the price.|
A little way up from the first two stands that grabbed our attention was AEG's stand. Now I've had my eye on Ninja: The Legend of the Scorpion clan, a few people have told me it's a worthwhile game to play, and ninja's are just cool... oh yes they are. Sadly I didn't really have the time to stick around and play a demo game, and the demo tables behind their stand had queues, so that was just out of the question for me. However, their store staff were really helpful and friendly and ran me through talking about various games they did and gave me the lowdown on Ninja: The Legend of the Scorpion Clan, being skint though I decided it'd wise to pass on it for the moment, but I've definitely put it on my 'want' list for board games. Really good service, and more than willing to give me their time to chat, again they'd get a BBQ and Eurovision invite! No pictures sadly as my camera decided it was only going to take blurry pictures round their stand.
Z War One
Round the corner from AEG were these guys who were debuting their game for the first time at the UK Games Expo. I'm sure it must have been a nerve wracking experience for them, but they seemed to be taking it in their stride. It's yet another zombie survival board game in what is, lets face it is a really overcrowded marketplace with some pretty darn big heavy hitters. However, they had a unique hook for their product in the shape of accompanying comic book series that will tell the back story of the Z War One universe, and then introduced missions for play in their game. It's an interesting concept and one that might be worth keeping an eye on. Yet again we have a relatively small company producing a stand that looked significantly more professional than those stands of more established firms, well done chaps, and you'd also get an invite to a BBQ and Eurovision party! The game looked fun and those playing it certainly had a whale of a time, sadly yet again I didn't really have the time to sit around and wait for a game as I needed to get round the show quickly and also I needed to prep food for the party in the evening. SO can the marketplace take another zombie game? We'll find out I guess...
|Owning a print company might have helped with the look of their stand.|
One thing the marketplace can always take more of would have to be sexy miniatures. I love my finely cast resin display pieces, and we all know I'm a sucker for a good sculpt. So when I saw this little stand tucked away in the corner on the top floor of the show, just across from the exceedingly well attended HoMachine nationals tournament, (unlike the titchy little one day 40k tournament in a small side room) I was very excited... yes there may have been yet another of my famous and patented girlish squeals. They only had two miniatures to show for their efforts so far as they're a new company. I can say I only hope they're able to produce some more. I'd put them in the same marketplace as Kingdom Death, Studio McVey and BaneLegions, although they'll have to go some way to catch up in repurtation with those guys for me. I picked up one of their Victorian Darling Kraken Hunter miniatures, so look out for a review of it soon. They have a steampunk Victorianna vibe, and are clearly shooting for the pin up vibe that I'm sure will serve them so well when it comes to sales. I'm only a little bit sorry I didn't get the other mini, as after getting home and having a proper look at the one I did snag myself it looks really well cast and rather splendid. Again they'd be getting a BBQ and Eurovision invite!
|Not the largest of stands, nor the largest range, but well worth checking out!|
|The entire range so far. Hopefully there will be more soon.|
|The miniature I picked up. As Borat would say "very nice"|
To be honest that was it for me for the show. There were other stands and stores selling things I could get anywhere else and at prices I could get cheaper from my usual shops, so what was the point? Well for me absolutely none. However, the above stands did make the day worth it for me and I'm glad I went if only to see these products listed above. I totally get that the venue isn't conducive to nice big stands and theatrics... but some companies who shall remain nameless needed to step it up a bit, no display cabinets, tucked away and not really 'pushing' themselves. Maybe they don't view the show as important, but here it is, if that's the case it's far better to just not attend than to do so in such a half arsed manner. Pretty much all the people I know had the same sorts of comments about the same stands when we bumped into people around the place, half measures just won't help you out. Best not to attend at all.
there were though two demo tables that stood out for me, although for quite different reasons. The first was the magnificent Redditch Wargames Societies Cutlass board. I saw it at Salute 2012 this year, or I'm pretty damn sure I did... although by the time I got round to this table the heat had started to get to me and I was starting to hallucinate I think. However, the board they've created is absolutely splendid looking and they should feel rightly proud of what they have achieved with it. the second table was right next door to them and was a game of Malifaux. Their board wasn't quite as spiffing looking as the Redditch Cutlass board, but the games being played on it were handled very well and it was clear that the guys running the stand wanted to make the games as fun and entertaining as possible. really well run intro games and I'm just sorry I don't have their names, as I'd like to give them credit for what they were doing. If anyone knows who these unnamed stars are could you drop a comment below please?
|The chap in the pirate outfit must have been sweating his balls off!!!|
There were of course the usual bunch of people running games of Necromunda or home brew games, all passionately supported by fans. They might not be the sort of people you'd want to invite to a BBQ or a Eurovision party, but I do admired the commitment and enthusiam these hobbyists show for the games they love. Games many of us would have given up on long ago as dead, but these stalwarts keep alive. The UK Games Expo is a bizarre event for me in some respects. I like that it embraces the entirety of the word 'game', with the notable exception of computer games. I like that there are quirky little games about stacking pink plastic blocks on top of blue ones, and that there are all sorts of weird projects I just wouldn't get exposed to otherwise. A lot of the stuff their just isn't for me though, and there's only so many trading / resource management games that a man can take. There just wasn't enough of the stuff that I want to see this year, this was exacerbated for me bu the fact that there were some notable absentees this year that I'd have liked to have visited this year. Still as I say there were some gems. Peace out!