Love it, loath it, or couldn’t give a monkey’s about it, UK Games Expo has been in the unusual position of having things all its own way for several years now.
The June board gaming event in Birmingham has been growing at an unbelievable rate for a decade, yet no one has really stepped in to challenge for its crown. Until now.
That crown, of course, is being the UK’s biggest and best annual board gaming event. I’ve been sceptical about it in recent few years, as it struggled to grow at the same speed as its attendance figures. But this year the organisers really set down a marker, making it the biggest and best Expo yet. And just in time, it seems, as London has finally got off its lazy backside and come up with a contender.
The first Tabletop Together Live will kick off at Alexandra Palace on Friday. The two-day event claims to be ‘the London show for board games, RPGs and miniatures’ and seems to have plenty to get excited about. Its hosted by the glossy gaming magazine of the same name, so already has a built-in audience; while plonking itself in the calendar just a month before Essen Spiel in Germany seems a shrewd move.
New releases and competitions
I’ll steer clear of mini and RPG talk here, as I’m blissfully ignorant on both topics; but it looks like there’s loads going on with them if you like that sort of thing. From a board game perspective though, it looks as if there will be plenty to do too.
The show will host the launch of Forbidden Sky, the third game in designer Matt Leacock’s ‘forbidden’ series. The first two (Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island) are fantastic co-operative family games, distilling ideas from his award-winning design Pandemic. This latest title is already garnering great reviews, so I’ll be looking forward to taking a closer look.
If you like a tournament, both days will see competitions for recent classic Kingdomino (plus the new expansion will be on sale, Age of Giants – review imminent) and endearing favourite King of Tokyo. There will be the first ever ‘intro decks’ event for Game of Thrones: The Card Game (the decks were only released this month); while the show will also host the regional qualifying event for the 2019 UK National Championship for Pandemic.
From shopping to seminars
As for exhibitors, it’s no surprise to see Iello, Z-Man, Fantasy Flight and Blue Orange (the publishers of the above games) on the list.
You’ll also be able to check out the UK’s two biggest games distributors – Coiledspring Games and Esdevium/Asmodee UK – as well as other top publishers including Catan Studios, Czech Games Edition, Days of Wonder, Osprey and Queen – a great list for a first-time con.
Plus, if you need a sit down, there is a full seminar programme in place. There’s a wide range of topics, from using games to raise awareness of mental health to, erm, going mad in the Call of Cthulhu RPG (could be an interesting crossover audience for those two – me included). Other topics include tips on teaching rules (most people I know: take note); making a prototype, and building the tabletop community as the hobby continues to grow.
I’m planning to be there all day on Saturday, so say ‘hi’ if you see me wandering about. Please click the image at the top of this post for a link to the event: tickets start at £10, so hopefully it will be affordable for most people. And if you can’t make it, expect a con report some time the following week.