RogerBW's Blog

UK Games Expo 2019: Sunday 11 June 2019

Things were a lot quieter today… to the point that some demo people were leaping out at passers-by to try to get in one more game and potential sale.

The first one I looked at was Paco Ŝako ("Peace Chess" in Esperanto), a chess variant being sold with custom pieces, though you can play it with a standard set. You don't capture an enemy piece, you dance with them; once you've moved onto their square, you make a composite piece which can be moved by either player with the movement of the piece of theirs that's in the composite. If you move one of your pieces onto an existing composite, that frees up your piece that was already in it, which can immediately take a normal move. The objective is for a piece of yours to dance with the enemy's king.

I rather liked the look of it, though I didn't have time for a game; I may well try it some time.

I spent a bit of time outside again; this really isn't the sort of thing I expect from the NEC, a small enclosed space open to the sky with only one way to spend money. This is where I tend to take my breaks, if it's not raining. Or if it is.

Back to the demo table, and more Terraforming Mars. We set it up so that people would play the setup and then three full turns.

This t-shirt shop was just across the aisle from us. (Oddly, I saw no boardgaming shirts for sale, though plenty of general fantasy, SF and geekiness.)

The Bring and Buy pickup was its usual chaotic self. I think it's too big, and they need to split it into multiple smaller sales, so that a particular set of games can be found on table A, or in bin 17, or whatever. Even better, though more demanding of people, if they made it warehouse-style service: you check the listing of what's available, ask to take a look, they get it for you to inspect, and either you buy it or you give it back and they re-shelve it.

Finally got away from the show an hour and a half after closing time (after striking the booth and general fiddliness), by which time the car park was a bit less full than it had been.

[Buy Paco Ŝako at Amazon] [Buy Terraforming Mars at Amazon] and help support the blog.


  1. Posted by dlpulver at 11:49pm on 11 June 2019

    I enjoyed reading your reports. Hadn't heard of Paco Sako, but a neat concept. My dad would have liked it.

  2. Posted by Tim Ellis at 01:03pm on 24 June 2019

    I don't think the "Argos" model would work for the Bring & Buy - there are too many potential customers, and after a certain point, adding more sales/warehouse staff is counter-productive - if several people are trying to look at the same games at the same time you end up holding everyone else up. A more ordered arrangement of games would help those people looking for a specific game, but whatever system you used would not suit everyone, and given the unpredictable arrivals (I know games have to be pre-registered for the Bring & Buy, but I'm not sure there is a cutoff, and even if you know what to expect, you don't know when it will be dropped off) it seems a lot of extra work that will end up not greatly improving things for most people. Entirely separate sections greatly increase your staffing demands, and if you wanted to visit more than one section may end up making the experience worse rather than better (You can't take bags with games in them into the B&B, so if you bought games in section 1, you need to deposit them somewhere before going to section 2).

    In other words - Yes, it's chaotic and very busy, but that is the nature of the beast! - The fact that it remains very busy suggests that it works (I've not sold stuff there, and I don't know what %age of goods offered remain unsold, and of those unsold goods, how many are due to unrealistic pricing (so they wouldn't have sold under any system) rather than people who wanted to buy them being unable to find them...

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 01:11pm on 24 June 2019

    You make good points. Thank you.

    For sections, I wasn't thinking of separated rooms as much as distinct tables: they already separate out miniatures packs, and small games from large games, so my "light" change recommendation would be more along the lines of "table 1 is for games with titles starting A-D, table 2 E-K" etc.

    The fact that it's very busy suggests to me that people are spending far longer than they need to in order to drop off, buy, or pick up their games. Someone spending half an hour searching for the particular game that interests them is a body that hits the occupancy limit, so someone else has to queue outside until they've finished.

    What I don't know, because I didn't care to queue for an hour to get in during selling hours and take a look, is what proportion of people are looking for a specific item versus people who just want to browse. Everyone I spoke with was looking up the undocumented URL on the Expo web site which lists everything that's still for sale, and then trying to find the specific items that were on their lists; but it's entirely possible that the people I know at Expo are not a representative sample.

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