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  • Writer's pictureboardgameoverlord

4 days of gaming at UKGE!

Let’s wrap up UKGE, 4 days, not 3 of gaming! Its not just board gaming after all.

Over the UKGE, I sold a total of 22 games, bought 4, received a handful of games for review and managed to chat to a number of companies about future collaborations, review opportunities and more! It feels all a bit like a whirlwind and over too soon. I spent the majority of my weekend on the Hachette Board Game UK stand.

Thursday was day 0, and that meant set up, and demo games! I’d fortunately, or unfortunately arrived early afternoon, so most of the heavy lifting had been done and the jobs left were to set up demo games, unload stock and run back and forward between the car parks. My legs were tried and it was only day 0. I’m glad I skipped running over the UKGE weekend. After setup, it was the press preview, which I personally found underwhelming, I’m not sure if other ‘press’ got things out of it. Firstly, when asking organisers when and where the press preview is, and they don’t know, isn’t a great sign!

But it was good to catch up with BORD, Kosmos, Deathtrapgames, Paverson games, Tettixgames and Unfringed things.

However, the aisles were too narrow, well they probably weren’t but they were because the bring and buy exit brought everyone into the press event. So it wasn’t really a press event. And my key takeaways were, larger content creators repeatedly approached stands I was in the middle of conversation with, and the publisher/distributor turned and started talking to them instead. And several publishers do not collaborate with white males. So, there’s my list ever declining! Oh, and buying followers/likes is completely okay as its better for publishers numbers. However, having seen who the companies have sent games to recently I'm not sure if "non white male only" is a truthful statement, rather they needed a reason to not collaborate with me that wasn't "we don't like you".

After the press preview, there was more setup/tear down and then the journey back to the hotel, before Friday loomed. I prearranged a bunch of sales and skipped the bring and buy entirely for selling. And it was a lot of work to then arrange times to meet, partly because I had expected more gaps of time to be able to arrange sales, but then also when I did arrange a time/place folks didn’t show. The most annoying being a time a place, a no show, a later rush from me to go and get the game again from my car because they were ‘leaving’ only for them to still be in the gaming halls hours later. Thursday meant a 09:30pm finish, and that meant food options were really limited, meaning McDonalds was about my only option.

Friday begun, and wow the traffic. Weirdly the traffic on Friday was worse than Saturday and Sunday to get into the car parks, and car parking seemed to be almost a random decision as to which car park you would be directed to. One day I was flagged to the far exit and drive all the way through the car park to the nearest exit, the following day it was enter in the nearest exit and then flagged all the way to the far exit. Friday, I stayed strong and didn’t make a single purchase, which is a decision, I will later regret as that meant tackling crowds on Saturday. Friday was spent demoing, Faraway over and over again, I was counting how many demos, but after 20 by 2pm, I stopped counting. Vampire village then took me for the rest of the afternoon, I was surprised by Vampire village, billed to me as Galaxy trucker in 20 minutes. As a big hater of Galaxy trucker, I was not expecting much. But after joining several games (because they needed the extra player), Vampire village has charmed me. I managed to get an hour to walk around the stalls on Friday afternoon, and stopped off at a few stands, and had a great chat with Tristian from Hall or Nothing Games. I managed to also get a look at the bring and buy and it felt a bit desolate, like someone set up a shop and half the stock hadn’t arrived. I didn’t buy anything, but it was a shame to once again see folks opening games and not taking care to put them back on the shelves. Wrap or tie your games folks! Friday evening was not the end, because more stock arrived, which meant it was time to unbox, deliver stock to other stores. I made it to the hotel just in time to order food, which meant I luckily could have something other than McDonalds for food!

Saturday was the big day, the crowd, the horde, the I can’t really move day. Saturday was hellish from a crowd perspective. But also probably one of the most fun days I’ve had at UKGE, I’m a UKGE solo attendee, and in the past I’ve found myself a bit lost as I’ve been unable to join games as a solo player. Whereas, being on a stand meant, I was busy and still had the buzz of the show. However, working on a stand did mean I missed out on shows and games. I had tried to get to a few stalls before opening, as I know that others had managed to buy things early, but I was unsuccessful and told to come back after 9. Meaning I missed out on Courtisans and Middle Ages, although it seemed to be very inconsistent and a who you knew sort of thing, as I approached one stall and asked and was told no, the person behind me asked and was sold a copy.

Saturday was largely a blur of demos, from Faraway, to After Us, with occasional trips to Vampire Village. The game that confused me most was Kronologic, and I didn’t get a chance to try it or play it, however, it seemed to be super popular and alot of folks were wanted to buy a copy. Sadly, stock was stuck on the other side of the channel. One thing about demoing, is seeing how everyone approaches games completely differently, and I think I kepy my rules explainations largely the same. I did find that some folks, seemed to come to just pick holes in rules, one guy took over, and to be fair that was the only person all weekend who did. They chipped in several times, to say I would explain it like this or that is not correct and said he would take over. When I came back, the table were playing Faraway completely wrong, but the guy insisted it was correct. Its then the challenge of getting folks back on track, and essentially resetting as they had gone so wrong! And I did have one awkward moment of “What's orthogonally” , after well “not diagonal” and a response of “I still don’t understand”, to then “horizontally and vertically, so that means next to either up, left, right and down” (showing with examples) still being met with a face of confusion. I’m not sure where else I could have gone!

Demoing was a highlight and super enjoyable, to see folks grasping rules and then playing the game. And the range of scores, was astronomical, in Faraway, the lowest score I saw all weekend (across 10’s of games – the score pad ran out!) was 1, the highest was 97! They weren’t scored in the same game. Vampire village was not so stark, but the lowest points all weekend was 3, and highest was 30. Although I’m not convinced that the scores in the highest scoring game were completely honest as the players had consumed a good amount of beer by that point of the day! It was so enjoyable to be able to share games that I enjoy with new players, watch them grasp the games and revel in the moments. And everyone generally had such a positive vibe, it was a pleasure to spend time with folks on the Hachette stand and those who stopped by to say hello!

And to the HERO that bought me morning coffee, you are the real HERO of the weekend!

Saturday was the day of purchases and I luckily instead of being the normal mule, I was able to have a couple of friends grab the games I wanted for me and then I kept them in a bag on the stand. Meaning I got my hands on a copy of Vegetable Stock, I picked up a copy of Clans of Caledonia, with a folded space organiser, and had a copy of Looot kept back for me until the end of the day, meaning I avoided the Saturday morning rush! I did get to sit in on a partial demo of Courtisans, and although we didn’t finish the game, I had instant buyer regret of not grabbing a copy of myself!

I had planned and hoped to try and get myself to open gaming on Saturday evening, but having come from work (my normal job) straight to the NEC and then into back to back solid days. My brain was frazzled so it was back to the hotel, a disney+ subscription and I feel asleep before the movie had even started!

Having an exhibitor pass, does mean you can walk around the halls before the halls open and after they close, and it was fascinating to see the complete contrast between Saturday mayhem and a rather silent 7:30am start! 7:30am – 8:30am was when I did most of my exploring and appreciating that some stall holders were not yet at their stands, it was still a great opportunity to talk through with companies, sit down and just hear about other games and take a moment to soak in all the releases, upcoming games. And also the sheer amount of gaming merchandise, and accessories. In my opinion there were too many, far too many, there was a couple of rows in Hall 1 and Hall 2, where there was stall after stall selling plushies, t-shirts, candles in diet coke cans, cups, and the like. Now I like a gaming t-shirt, but I’ve no need to see store after store. I’m not sure if there was more similar stalls this year, but it certainty felt like it!

I’m not sure how, but before you knew it Sunday was here! I got to the NEC extra early, so I could a) explore the rest of hall 2 before the crowds and b) grab a coffee because the hotel coffee offering really wasn’t cutting it for caffeine! As the going says, Sunday is just Chill day. And in comparison to Saturday it definitely was, although it was still back to back demos all morning and in the early afternoon, from about 2pm onwards, the crowds started to disappear, and the demos slowly came to an end, as game after game reached the point of “We can’t start a demo now, it won’t finish”. I think the person hoping for a game of Cyclades with 30 minutes to go was being a tad optimistic! But a quick overview was enough. 4pm was here before we knew it and home time, having made it to help with setup, I was able to drift away from the packdown and make it home in a fairly reasonable time.

As a Summary, I sold 22 games.

I bought:


Vegetable Stock

Rainforest City

Clans of Caledonia

I received for review:

Take the Throne from Death trap Games

The Secret Flower and Shop until you drop Lah! From

Paint brushes from chroniclerpgs

The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C Rheber from beyondwordsgames

1565 St Elmo's Pay from hallornothinggames

I played a total of 5 games:

Vampire Village (*4)


I spent, far too much on food and drink! And that was probably the biggest expense, £7 for a sandwich at the NEC, with only 1 hour for lunch left me with very limited choices and £5 for a coffee. It would be great to see folks pushing for better prices, but its never going to happen, when there is an exclusive market. Next time, I’d certainly be pushing for a hotel that has a supermarket on route to pick up the supermarket lunch meal deals and choosing a hotel that has more nearby food options, although I suspect I wouldn’t be able to save as much on dinner unless I’m grabbing another meal deal!

And UKGE 2024 is over, I’m not sure how, but it feels like it was weeks ago already, when actually it was just days ago! Have I already booked a hotel for 2025? Of course I have! Am I on countdown to other conventions, of course! Would I demo all weekend again? YES YES AND YES!

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Matthias Broneder
Matthias Broneder
6 days ago

Sounds like you had a lot of fun! Someday I have to visit UKGE too.

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