By Mark Goddard
This weekend saw the 12th annual UK Games Expo descend upon the NEC in Birmingham and this year was bigger than ever.
Everyone plays board games and so the event caters to a large audience, from casual players of Monopoly and Cluedo, to families and the hardcore war gamers, pulling in an audience of 21,000 last year in the single weekend.
So what is there to offer at UKGE? The answer is a lot, almost too much to realistically see in an entire weekend but also something that’s totally dependable on what you like or would like to try. Most exhibitors offer demo plays of their latest or upcoming games and these give you the chance to try them out with someone who knows the rules in and out (and sometimes even one of the developers of the game themselves). These demos can range from quick rounds of party games to full scale war game battles, but are usually designed to be quick glimpses into what is possible with the game, and an outline of how mechanics work.
This year boasted a huge family and children’s section to encourage families and games targeted towards a younger demographic. Games of Catan for children were being played as well as tables where dungeons and dragons games were run, with painted miniatures on maps and pre-made characters to encourage children to step into the world of Tabletop Role Playing games (TTRPGs) and these saw a huge amount of popularity over the weekend.
Speaking of Tabletop RPGs, across from the NEC at the Hilton Hotel, sessions were run for both experienced players and also players who had never stepped into the hobby before. These sessions were for a variety of different systems and games, from the most well-known Dungeons and Dragons, to the space themed Starfinder and Lovecraftian Horror Call of Cthulu. These sessions were a bit longer than your average demo game but gave a good chance to try a new system of gameplay (most of them involving rolling a good amount of dice too!) and definitely worth looking into for any fans of the genre.
UK Games Expo this year was big, and as per previous years pulled in an amazing range of attendees that were all engaged by the variety it had to offer. I’d fully recommend looking into this is you’re a fan of any board games, as there is always something for everyone if you’re willing to look around. Definitely look into what this year offered if this has piqued your interest as there will likely be similar stalls and amazing events and panels next year, which will be interesting to see how they make even better!