RogerBW's Blog

UK Games Expo 2014 02 June 2014

On Saturday I spent the day at UK Games Expo, still alas at the Hilton Metropole near the NEC.

The Hilton is big and you can get to it by car, but that's really all it has to offer. It has the usual parching air conditioning of modern hotels (when it's working at all), the corridors are too narrow, and mobile phone reception is non-existent through most of the building (really handy for traders who want to be able to take credit cards).

As usual, I was demonstrating for Steve Jackson Games. This time we had a split demo site: a main area in the trade hall where our big product pushes were going on

Main demo area

and a secondary one (open for longer hours) outside the open game area, with all the other games (which, in the end, I barely saw, mostly because the only hall where the air conditioning was actually working was where our main booth was).

Secondary demo area

Mostly, I demonstrated Castellan; we had a bit of a slow start, as people who turn up first thing usually have specific stands they want to visit, but I got in a few games.

Castellan 1 Castellan 2 Castellan 3 Castellan 4 Castellan 5

At lunchtime I wandered around the halls for a bit, catching up with friends and seeing what was out there. Tritex were back (I really ought to add them to my list of companies I search when buying games on-line, as they're a good mob and their prices are keen).

Our friends at Tritex

We were right next to Wotan Games, with whom we also shared space at SPIEL last year.

Wotan Games

The trade halls were heaving. I don't know what total admission numbers were like, but they had something like five thousand tickets booked beforehand. It always strikes me as a bit sad to see the friendly small show taken over by huge productions like this Yu-Gi-Oh demo area; don't they have enough places they can push their product to the addicted kiddies already?


Quite a few companies had giant versions of their games; this was a rare open space in one of the halls.

Big dice

Mostly it was more like this (Andrew Harman demonstrates Frankenstein's Bodies, currently kickstarting).

Frankenstein's Bodies

Once people started queueing in the corridors (to see the actor Chris Barrie, whose appeal I admit I assumed had faded years since) everything stopped. Fortunately there's an un-labelled parallel corridor.


The main hall, sales and demos going full swing.

Main hall

A Firefly demo board, carefully set up with the actual board in the middle (under perspex) and designated piles for decks and discards. This is pretty much the minimum amount of space the game takes without major overlaps; it would have been better if there'd been room to spread out the discards a bit.


The obligatory Chessex Wall o' Dice. These days I tend to feel I have enough dice. Should I hand in my gamer credentials? (I do keep them in a Rolykit.)


Another Big Game, Star Trek Attack Wing with giant foam dice and foot-long spaceships (the cards were roughly A4-sized). I assume that this is a way of getting an at-con experience that can't be replicated by simply buying the game.

Star Trek Attack Wing

Open gaming. Is that wargaming I see? It certainly has that air about it.

Open gaming 1Open gaming 2

Well, kinda. More your fantasy tactical miniatures skirmish. I think this was Warmachine.

Giant minis

There was even a LAN setup, with some sort of real-time Worms-ish platform combat thing going on.


Castle Panic was the third giant game I saw, with floor mat, laminated cards, obligatory foam dice, and so on.

Giant Castle Panic

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, who have after all been mostly forgotten by all the customers of the various businesses they started over the years except for the role-players, were inducted into the UKGE Hall of Fame.

SJ and IL

After that it was back to Castellan for the rest of the afternoon.

Castellan 6 Castellan Castellan Castellan Castellan

We finished with a giant four-player game.


Castellan had been selling well all day; Tritex ran out by lunchtime, and every copy had gone by the end of the day. It ended up being the only game I demonstrated, though we also had an early copy of Mars Attacks at the booth, as well as Zombie and Cthulhu Dice. Every time I've been involved in demonstrating Castellan, people have gone away wanting to buy it, though I suspect it's not the sort of game one picks up on spec. If you're wondering about it, here's some video of me demonstrating it last year. The highest praise I can give it is that, at SPIEL in 2013, I spent four days demonstrating it pretty much non-stop (with occasional breaks for Chupacabra) and at the end I didn't hate it. It's a remarkably replayable game.

Yeah, all right, I did do some shopping. I picked up Hanabi and Love Letter (in the Kanai Factory Limited Edition) at rather less than their standard Internet prices, and with no postage costs. No sign of the other and slightly more obscure things I was thinking about getting, though.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:34pm on 02 June 2014

    I find halls that large and packed very tiring these days. The noise and babble of all those people talking (usually loudly) gives me a headache and makes it damned nigh impossible to hear what's going on at the table I'm at or people I'm trying to play with. Even the gaming corridor at Murrary Edwards does this to me a little, because while not so packed it echoes a lot.

    Yes I have had my hearing checked, apparently there's nothing wrong with it and it is a better than average for my age.

    By the way, which camera where there pictures taken with?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:45pm on 02 June 2014

    The noise wasn't too bad compared with many places; as you can see from the ceilings, they're not entirely flat, so they break up the general hubbub and one can hear the people close by.

    These photos were all taken with the PowerShot A1300. You can view all the exif data in full-size images (including aperture, shutter speed, and so on as well as camera model) with an on-line exif viewer.

  3. Posted by Ashley at 02:03pm on 02 June 2014

    I wish I had gone.

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