UK Games Expo Tips

One of our regular gamers Kenny has kindly combined a list of tips for attending the expo (and other conventions), the expo is constantly growing so we’ll update this before the event next year if we find out more!

Over to Kenny:
 I had never been to a convention before going to last years expo for the friday with the mrs. If you’re in the same boat and are thinking of attending, you should absolutely do it. I went last year without reading up very much and the first thing that hit me was how busy everything is. It was a bit of a shock to begin with although it must have worked out ok in the end as this year we went back for two days. –

1 – Crowds 

Coping with the crowds was vital for me in order to get the most out of the expo. Getting from a to b can take longer than you think. Popular attractions like the bring and buy will have long queues at peak times. Saturday tends to be busier than Friday and first thing in the morning / last thing in the evening can be quieter. The expo guide has a great index of stands and exhibitors. There are also larger maps available at the expo merch stand by the main entrance. Planning goes a long way. Use the big stands to orientate yourself, there’s also street names and row numbering which makes things even easier if you are that way inclined. The volunteers are really helpful, but don’t expect them to know everything. 

2 – Pacing yourself

Walking around the expo can be knackering. There’s plenty of places near the main hall to take time out. If the weather is on side you can grab something to eat and sit by the lake if you need a break from gaming. Otherwise there is a Wetherspoons, Starbucks etc in the NEC itself and a shopping centre at the Genting complex under 10 min walk away with all the normal chains you would expect.  

3 – Bags

Pack light to stop you getting worn out. If you have a full rucksack and you are walking around the main hall you will be annoying people by hitting them, The aisles were a lot wider this year but space is still at a premium. A large tote bag worn on your shoulder or a messenger style bag is much better as you can hold it in front of you or keep it under your arm.
Either way, be considerate, and be aware of your surroundings. If you are buying a sackload of new games there are a couple of options to make your life easier – right outside hall 1 there is a cloakroom that will accept bags of any size for £1. We left a large suitcase on both days this year. Also Leisure games have a game drop off service where you can leave as many games as will fit in one of their large storage boxes. I think they charge £2 but haven’t used the drop off so can’t confirm (Rumours it got very full).
Pack a few tote bags as well to bring your wares home in. Don’t feel you need to bring lots of games for open gaming there is the lending library and there will be lots of games to play there perhaps bring a few unusual ones or your favourite.

4 – Demos

My favourite thing at the expo is getting to expand my gaming palette by demoing games I wouldn’t normally get to play. Demos are popular though! A theme develops. Its rare you are going to walk up to a booth, find a game set up with a demonstrator ready to sit you down and start teaching.
My first advice for getting a demo in is probably a bit obvious – hang around by a table in play. The demonstrators will be happy to let you know how long a session is likely to take to finish. Sometimes you might get lucky and be able to squeeze onto a table if they haven’t quite started yet. Bear in mind there may be other people who have been waiting for a game to finish but aren’t hovering right beside the table.
Something that worked out well for us in this situation was offering to play as a single player to allow more people to join in. Have a list of games to check out so if one game is in the middle of a 2 hour play though you can head to another stand. If we saw a table finishing, even if it was a game we had no prior knowledge of, we often sat down anyway. This works especially well with shorter games set up near longer games you are waiting for. That way we got to maximise the number of demos we got in. There’s something great about speed learning a game, then muddling through with strangers, and then having everything coalesce. –

5 – Accommodation

Tricky one this. The expo is gaining in popularity year on year and the hotels are not stupid. Supply and demand means the hotels nearest the NEC will hike their prices. This year was particularly bad as there was a film and tv memorabilia fair and two nights of take that concerts to compete with. However prices for 2018 have gone a bit nuts for the hotels that have opened up bookings. It might be worth waiting a bit for more hotels to release rooms for the 2018 dates, but be prepared to stay further way than you’d like if everything gets snapped up. Not going to be very helpful here – i’m afraid i think its totally worth the price being within 10 minutes walk of the expo so you can pop back and forth for naps / food / showers / dropping games off etc. You can easily ignore me though, there are plenty of hotels in central birmingham and trains from the nec are frequent and run pretty late. –

6 – food & drink

There was some great reasonably street food out the front of the hilton hotel last year. Unfortunately it’s enough of a trek that we didn’t bother this year and went for the very expensive but uber convenient starbucks for lunch. It suited us at the time as it meant we could sit outside even when it was raining. wouldn’t recommend tbh, especially as there are little coffee cart stall in the main hall itself. If you want a proper meal at a table the genting complex has chain restaurants etc. –

7 – open gaming

The large open gaming spaces in the main hall and it the hilton are an amazing buzzing tabletop mecca. I could happily wander about just looking at the games people are playing as it seems like i only recognise 1 in 10. It’s very easy to strike up conversation with people and next year i definitely want to make a point of spending more time doing just that, and hopefully playing more games with strangers. There are bars inside or near the open gaming spaces in the hilton. Prices are middling to expensive with pints around £4 for a plastic pint glass. There were also tea and coffee stalls but a mad person must have been in charge of their opening hours as they were closed by late evening. During the afternoon the space in the main hall is surprise surprise pretty busy. As soon as the main hall closes a vast amount of people head over to the hilton. However getting a table should be easy as long as you go first thing in the main hall and any time up until 5.30 ish in the hilton. If you want to find space at peak times you’ll need to be patient, like getting a table in a busy pub. Don’t expect to find a spare table for 6 people unless you have time to wait for people to finish. Alternatively use the space in your hotel lobby. A flag system showing you are looking for new players should be in place but the last two years flags have been hard to find, so we’ll be making our own for next year.

8 – People

Gamers are really friendly. Not sure why this came as a surprise, but it is a welcome one. Its great having people carrying new games around as there’s nothing we like more than talking about our new purchases. I totally recommend getting involved with as much as possible. If you are shy try finding an open gaming table somewhere nice and early and wait for people to join you – they’re highly likely to ask if you want to play something with barely any effort on your part. Or if you are a smaller group or couple ask if people mind if you join them. Some people will be saving space for friends, wanting to play something specific etc, but not everyone. One last thing – There are supposed to be little union jack flags for people to use as a sign that their table needs players. I didn’t see one of these but reckon a home made sign would do the trick even better.

9. On a budget

if you are on a budget consider attending for one day, bring your own food and drinks that is fine, consider which day is best to attending, Friday and Sunday are quitter. Friday opens later but sunday closes early. Saturday is busy.

10. Parking,

Do you research and do not park near the airport, the NEC or train station are often cheaper.
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How to run a great games night and make it inclusive and supportive of well being and neurodiversity

There is no perfect answer to this but the following tips, should create a welcome friendly environment. Everyone likes to know the lie of the land, the basic rules and what to expect but more so if you have anxiety, autistic tendencies or a number of other issues.
So double check and make sure everything is clear even down to signage and drinks options. Set and manage expectations

Step one: Prepare: Advertise and set expectations

1) Advertise, find your players but clearly set expectations of the kind of games being played, what games are provided, are their teachers?
2) Is there a cost to the event
2). Where, when, what food and drink is available what is the cost?
3) Take requests for games and ask if people are bringing games to teach.
4) Send out rules videos or lists of the games being played so people can research
5) Include photos of the venue and gaming space. including accessibility information, stairs, lifts disabled toilets
6) Provide a map to the venue including parking information
7) Provide a second private channel for information and feedback. (Messenger) to answer questions before the event
8) Provide photos of the organizers
9) Provide photos of previous events to help set expectations.

Step two: The night: Ensure a friendly welcome atmosphere

1) Ensure the venue is well signed so you are easy to find. I include A4 laminated signed the whole way
2) Friendly greeter to welcome all guests to assign them to an appropriate game and game teacher.
3) An appropriate game is dependent on the gamer but be aware of:
a. overly competitive games,
b. overall complex games for new games.
c. games which are too extrovert or social and / or involve lying and bluffing.
d. Game which rules change too much, having known and controlled rules can be more comfortable.
4) The game teacher should be patient but also enthusiastic and welcoming
5) Ensure the venue has appropriate lighting,
6) Enough space between the gaming tables.
7) Control the noise including reducing or eliminating background music (Provide space between games helps with this, we also separate the louder social games and the more thoughtful euro games).
8) Be patient and tolerant, gamers with additional needs may be harder to please, may not react to social cues.
9) Ensure staff are identifiable. (Even having a different colour lanyard or badge would do)
10) Name stickers or name tags for all guests removes the pressure of asking or remembering names.
11) Provide a quiet or quieter space for people to unwind or decompress.
12) Include a flag or player match making system to make finding gamers easier if you don’t have an active host arranging this.

Step three: The growth

1) Grow and nurture the culture to be friendly, inclusive and welcoming.
2) Ask for feedback
3) Allow volunteers to step up and be involved. (Ownership of tasks and feeling of belonging)
4) Do not take rejection personally, even with perfect planning you cannot please everyone. Doubly so if people have additional issues.

This is not a once size fits all guide everyone is different and i am a gamer with an interest in inclusivity and making sure everyone has a good time not a medical professional. Hopefully these tips will help, they are mostly obvious.

It is also worth considering, players with vision issues including colour blindness, picking game carefully, marking up components, swapping components out or just helping to read public or open text.

Happy gaming!

This is work in progress so I’d love any feedback or comments.

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The Dell House 101 guide to Modern Board Games

Kevin has written a great guide over on The Dell House website describing modern games. Dell Con is a residential games weekend in Malvern run several times a year. Well worth checking out, they even do day tickets for ‘locals’.


Where to start?

It is remarkably difficult to convey the ‘idea’ of modern board games.

If I were to say the word “car” you’d picture something from the last ten years, yes? Reasonably fuel-efficient, comfortable, good brakes, maybe even ABS and SatNav.

If I were to say the word “boardgames” I’d wager that you’re now thinking of games from the time when cars had starting handles, bench seats and pop-up indicators. Consider the modern Fiat 500 and the 1930’s Austin 7. The Fiat is a small runabout car, it has a wheel at each corner, steering wheel, brakes, lights, seats. It gets you from A to B. In this sense the Fiat and Austin are the ‘same’ but I doubt you think of them as the same thing at all.

An Austin 7 car


For the rest of the article please go to The Dell House web site http://www.thedellhouse.co.uk/boardgames101.html

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Next steps from Monopoly and classic games

If you haven’t played any new board games for a while and not sure where to begin, look no further. We’ve listed similar games to all of the major classics. We’ve tried to list games which are available to buy and should feel familiar yet exciting by highlighting a key aspect similar to the classic game.

Modern board games have come on a huge way in the last 20 years. Give it a try and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. This list is also subjective. There are many thousands of awesome games out there so if you have a better suggestion do let us know.

  • Monopoly; Set collection, why not try Ticket to Ride Europe (£30) or Power Grid (£30)
  • Monopoly: Getting rich, why not try Lords of Vegas (£40)
  • Monopoly: Building / Making things why not try Suburbia (£45)
  • Risk; WAR! why not try, Small World (£35) or Blood rage (£55)
  • Chess; Two player abstract why not try Hive (£20), or Santorini (£50) or The Duke (£30)
  • Other roll the dice to move game, Why not try Jamaica (£30)
  • Scrabble; Spelling, why not try, Upwords (£15) or Qwirkle (£20)

    Qwirkle: Like scrabbly but with colours and shapes very accessible.
  • Cluedo /Clue; Who dunnit? why not try, Mysterium (£30) or Love letter (Various themes including Batman, Archer) (£10) or Mystery at the Abbey (£35)
  • Liars Dice; bluffing, why not try, Coup (£15) or Skull (£15)

    Skull: Amazing tense bluffing game.
  • Angry Birds; Dexterity/ Destroying things) why not try, Pitch Car (£40) or Terror in Meeple City (£40)
  • Tetris: Spatial, Why not try Blokus (£25)
  • Connect 4; Paths / Blocking why not try Tsuro (£25) or Ingenious (£25)
  • Charades; Describing, Why not try Concept (£20)
  • Yahtzee; Dice rolling, why not try King of Tokyo (£22), King of New York (£30) or Roll for the Galaxy (£40)

    King of Tokyo: Yahtzee means Godzilla, with amazing art and power cards to add to replayability.
  • Pit; why not try Happy Salmon (£15) or Ligretto (£10)
  • Rummy: Cards set collection, why not try Sushi Go party! (£20)
  • Poker;  bluffing why not try Coup (£15), or Bang the dice game (£15)
  • Jenga; Dexterity, why not try Bausack (£40) or Rhino Hero (£10)

    Rhino Hero. Stacking game like jenga but super portable.
  • Werewolf; traitor / bluffing, Why not try, One Night Ultimate Werewolf (£20) or Coup (£15),
  • Uno; sets, why not try, category 5 / 6 nimmit (£10)
  • Pictionary; Drawing, why not try Telestrations (£25) or Pictomania (£40)

    Telestrations: Amazingly fun drawing and guessing game
  • Cranium; party, why not try Telestrations (£25), Dixit (£25) or Pictomania (£40)
  • Trivial Pursuits; General Knowledge, why not try Wits and Wagers (£30) or Timeline (Various versions and themes) (£15)

    Time Line Various editions: Putting things into chronological order, a lot more fun and harder than you think.
  • Scotland Yard; Hidden Movement, why not try Letters from Whitechapel (£40) or Specter Ops (£40)
  • Magic the Gathering; Clever card combos, why not try 7 Wonders (£30) or Evolution (£30) or Seasons (£40)

Finally did you know it is possible to play cooperatively. You and your friends or family against the game. It is not as easy as it sounds and is a great way to play with a mixed skill or age group. Sound interesting? Why not try Pandemic, or Flash Point: Fire Rescue?

A lot of these games have excellent app (iPhone / Android) implementations or can be played online at sites like Boardgamearena.com

Prices are approximate and were updated 27/03/17

Orginal Post here http://herefordshireboardgamers.co.uk/what/next-steps-from-classic-games/

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Top pub games part 2

Whilst researching I had loads of good advice and recommendations. Picking the top 10 was a real challenge.

Pub Starter kit: Codenames, Penguin Trap, Perudo, Zombie Dice and Rainbow Rage

Here is a list of the contenders!

Social / large group games
Resistance, Coup, Dixit, Wits and Wagers, In a bind, Times up, Fake artist goes to new York, Snake oil, Secret Hitler, Man Bites Dog, Perudo (liars dice)

Two player quick games
Hive,  Patchwork

Two to four player quick games
Blokus, Hey that’s my fish, Quirke

Two to five player quick games
No thanks, Sushi Go party, Exploding kittens

Two to six+ player games
Fluxx (Pick a theme), Bannagrams, Cockroach Poker, Pickomino, Saboteur, Cock and bull, Pickomino,

Meatier games
Splendor, Ticket to ride, Carcassonne, camel up

Rude games
Joking hazard, Cards against humanity.

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Top pub / cafe games (Or the Pub game shelf starter kit)

Pubs and cafes are a great place to play games and over the coming months I plan to list the best pubs in the area to rock up, play games. Having a game shelf in a pub is becoming cool but with so many games out there where do you begin? (particularly if you are not hugely into gaming).

So here is Herefordshire Board Gamers Top 10 ultimate pub game starter kit.

This doesn’t include ‘the classics’; chess, dice / Yahtzee, cards, dominos, draughts and Jenga.

These games are all reasonably cheap to buy, are tough enough to survive abuse, including losing the odd piece and punch well above their weight for fun. A lot of these have a good ‘wow factor’ and are great to watch.

Prices correct 23/05/17 and will link you to a price comparison site.

  1. Dobble (Beach): Super simple dexterity game, good with 2-8. The beach version is hardier and waterproof, think snap but meaner and funnier! . Under £15
    Dobble: Fun snap style game,

     

  2. Rhino Hero: 2+ players simply funny and great to watch stacking dexterity game, very visual as you try and build a skyscraper with cards. Under £10

    Rhino Hero. Stacking game like jenga but super portable.
  3. Penguin Trap: 2+ player, quick dexterity game, simple yet suspenseful. Great fun to watch. Ebay under £10

    Penguin Trap: Silly fun, knock off the ice block who ever makes the Penguin crash looses.
  4. Codenames: 4- 12 players. A very clever yet simple social word game, good for audience participation too, one of our favourites. Under £15

    Codenames: Simple but clever word guessing game.
  5. Timeline: 2+ players A simple trivia game about putting things in the right chronological order, much trickier than it looks, when were glasses invited anyway???. Under £15

    Time Line Various editions: Putting things into chronological order, a lot more fun and harder than you think.
  6. Love Letter (Original or a theme i.e. Archer or Batman): 2-4 player light card game quick and fun. Under £10

    Love Letter: Original and Archer Theme: Simple quick 2 to 4 player game.
  7. Zombie Dice or Martian Dice: 2+ players. Push your luck quick and simple dice game Under £15

    Zombie Dice: Push your luck dice game, collection those brains but don’t be shot.

     

  8. Skull: 3-6 players, bluffing game , simple and clever game but with lots of replayability (this can be played with a deck of cards too).  Under £15

    Skull: Amazing tense bluffing game.

     

  9. Telestrations: 4-8 players. Drawing, party / social game for ,chinese whispers in drawing form. One of the clubs most played games along with Codenames. Under £25

    Telestrations: Amazingly fun drawing and guessing game

     

  10. Qwirkle: 2-5 players Simple strategy game  like scrabble but with shapes, bright, simple and attractive Under £17

    Qwirkle: Like scrabbly but with colours and shapes very accessible.

     

Honourable mention:

King of Tokyo: Dice rolling, group game, based on a familiar Yahtzee style game but with more depth, beautiful and clever cards give the game depper strategy. Under £25

King of Tokyo: Yahtzee means Godzilla, with amazing art and power cards to add to replayability.

This list would also be great or cafes, community groups, schools, or other shared spaces looking for a new activity.

If you have a better or different list please let us know!

The list again:

  1. Dobble (Beach):  . Under £15
  2. Rhino Hero:  Under £10
  3. Penguin Trap:  under £10
  4. Codenames: Under £15
  5. Timeline: Under £15
  6. Love Letter (Original or a theme i.e. Archer or Batman): . Under £10
  7. Zombie Dice or Martian Dice:  Under £15
  8. Skull:  Under £15
  9. Telestrations: Under £25
  10. Qwirkle:  Under £17
    King of Tokyo: . Under £25

The list of games which didn’t make the cut at here in part two.

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