So after Gen Con last year I decided that 2015 would be the year I went to UK Games Expo.
Not since the days of Gen Con UK has the UK had a suitable equivalent to the big convention that North American and indeed other countries have had available to the fan base.
My approach to UK Games Expo was always going to be very different to the one I took for Gen Con last year. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is that Gen Con was pretty much a one off in terms of budget and and represented a long held ambition to go.
I do want and indeed plan to return but simply put the costs associated with getting to Gen Con are not something I can do every year and probably not even every other year. So financially UK Games Expo was a better option in 2015.
Alongside that though Gen Con 2014 had D&D 5th Edition "launching" at it as well as the added element of being the main event that publishers focus their release schedule around. It also has a very different set up in that intro games and demos etc are all part of the event booking system and so if you fancied trying out Battletech Alpha Strike or the latest game from Fantasy Flight Games you could book a slot. That makes for a much more structured schedule.
UK Games Expo only (not the fairest word) has pre-booking for Tournaments and RPGs. None of which really formed "must do" items on my agenda. So if there is something I think they could do better / add to their set up for next year and beyond it'd be to add more pre-booked events. The approach of turn up and hope to get a table / game is great when there's acres of free space but as I've learned whilst being here that space is in short supply within the venue, which supports the plans that the organisers have to expand into the NEC. More thoughts on that to come.
So here's part 1 of my diary of UK Games Expo 2015.
UK Games Expo - Day Zero
M6 is an unpredicatable motorway at the best of times but the Thursday was one of those days where I was reminded of how troublesome it can be.
Everything went according to plan up to our rest stop at Westmorland services. Ok so Greg will probably point out that we left Westmorland 15 minutes later than the "Travel Plan" said we would but overall no problems.
The M6 was frustrating for about an hour with the Google Maps app suggesting we should leave the motorway on a number of occassions but that would only really benefit us by 5 minutes here and there so we stuck it out on the M6.
By the time we got past Manchester it was looking like we would be 2 hours behind schedule which whilst not a real problem was frustrating... So we stopped off at Sandbach services for a quick "comfort break" and a Magnum ice cream (well I had one anyway). When we rejoined the M6 things seemed to be better and once we got onto the M6 Toll (All 5.50 earth pounds of it) we zoomed through to the hotel and were parked by 1815, only an hour behind schedule and in time to pick up our badges etc so all good.
Richard was staying elsewhere (perils of free accommodation as part of GMing Traveller all weekend) so Ross, Greg and I checked in to our rooms at the Hilton before grabbing some dinner and beer. On the Thursday night the con is fairly quiet with 2 open play zones available. The first was organised by Coiled Spring Games who distribute a variety of "family friendly" games including those produced by Gamewright, makers of Forbidden Desert. Unfortunately the room was packed with no tables available for gaming so we ditched that (although we acquired more beer first) and then headed to the Marquee where the open gaming area was. Now fortunately I had brought some games with me to play - Love Letter, Bang (The Dice Game), Dragon Slayer and Get Lucky. After several games of those (none of which I won, including Dragon Slayer) we called it a night.
Day Zero was done.