A look back at our UK Games Expo 2022

Updated: 4 hours ago

This year Diary of a Lincoln Geek were privileged to be able to attend the UK Games Expo 2022 with press passes yet again. It was an immense experience for all of us, and one we thoroughly look forward to doing again...


I (Chris) had been looking forward to this year's UK Games Expo for ages. It was highly anticipated by the #DOALG team ever since the 2021 event, with the build up feeling more intense the closer it got to the show dates. The 2021 Expo was a smaller affair, but I loved the intimate nature of it. Meeting people from the board game community in the flesh for the first time made it a very memorable event that will always be close to our hearts. I must confess that I was worried that with bigger crowds and more to see, this year’s UKGE might be a bit daunting. Despite being bigger, it still had a lot to live up to! Biggest isn’t always best, but despite my trepidation it was very much unfounded.

Fresh from the press preview, we were all excited by the gaming spectacular that was UKGE 2022. We were a little overwhelmed from the press event to be honest, but we learnt a lot and are prepared for next year!


The DOALG team are excited to share their personal experiences, but before we start let's have a quick run down of some of our numbers from the show...


All 4 days at the show (we didn't miss the press event this time - YAY)

  • 247,480 steps (equivalent to 11.28 miles around UK Games Expo by entire team roughly 43.4 circuits of a football pitch, 4.5 lengths of Central Park, or 4.5 laps of Daytona International Speedway if that helps...)

  • 29 livestreams

  • 3 potential sponsorships

  • 19 games for review.. and more on the way

  • 11 game demos

  • 5 games of Blood on the Clocktower (All George and the Word Nerd)

  • And last but not least, 2 bottles of whisky, without which I most certainly would have lost my voice!

Mr Chris - The Talent


Best memory of the show:

  • Meeting and talking to the everyone at the event and getting to meet Nikita from Atikin Games, and bumping into Paul Grogan in the hotel.

Favourite Games:

Photograph of Mr Chris wearing a DOALG t-shirt
  • The Old King’s Crown The box art fiend in me was in overdrive when I saw The Old King’s Crown from Eerie Idol Games. The artwork in this ticks all the boxes for me and all I wanted to do was draw up a chair and play (time didn't permit it). The gameplay sounds like my sort of thing too. The thought of battling over regions with some hand management and bluffing got the board game geek in me drooling! Watch for an impending review soon, I loved this interview (can be watched back here)



  • Horizon Zero Dawn My inner teenager almost cried with excitement when I saw that one of my favourite video games turned into a board game by Steamforged Games. The Horizon Zero Dawn board game had made it to Expo (was absent last year). It has some luscious minis and some really interesting expansions. This is seriously close to my heart as the PS4 game franchise really captured my imagination. Looking forward to getting my copy back from Dino Girl (borrowed) so I can paint the minis and play some more... didn't quite get time to interview the SFG team.. maybe next year?

I cannot believe the amount of people we spoke to! Seeing people play games together and genuinely getting their geek on was just beautiful to see. It was nice to feel normal again, especially after the time everyone has had recently.


 

Mr George E Ohh - The Rules Lawyer (Laywer)


Best memory of the show:


Best memory has to be getting to play Blood On The Clocktower in person with the one and only 'daddy Ben' as storyteller. I think by now it's pretty clear that like DanFace I'm a bit of a fan of social deduction games and I've been watching so many of the The Pandemonium Institute's Twitch stream of playing the game and it was amazing to get to play in person and experience the thrill of an evil team win.


Favourite Games:

Perhaps controversially nothing stood out in particular for me this year, possibly because we're planning a house move and have no room for more game until we do so I wasn't looking to get anything this year. But there are a couple of up coming games that I wish I'd had the opportunity to try...

  • Cosmoctopus Okay, so most of you know we like the guys over at Stone Sword Games quite a lot and well we had to go see their giant pink and purple tentacle this year because you know anything that big demands attention... it was of course advertising Cosmoctopus something I've heard loads about from the guys while I've been involved in playtesting some of their other games and I just really like the sound of it. A giant space octopus, what's not to love!?

Photograph of George E Ohh in front of a giant inflatable tentacle
  • Moon Local lads Sinister Fish were t Expo this year demoing Moon the third in the trilogy from Haakon Hoel Gaarder, following on from the successful Villagers and Streets. Similarly to Chris with The Old King’s Crown, I wish I'd had time to get a demo slot but from what I've seen and heard from others it sounds right up my street and a great conclusion to the trilogy.

 

Sueyzanne - Word Nerd


Best memory of the show:


This was my first time attending UK Games Expo. Before attending, I was a little anxious about going because I struggle with crowds at the best of times, due to social anxiety and being autistic. However, when I actually attended I didn't have a single moment of panic because everyone there was absolutely lovely and I got a real sense of community. I was also just so in awe of how many attendees and exhibitors were present because when I was a child my experience of board games was playing Monopoly once at a friend's house, and playing Mouse Trap by myself. Back then it seemed like a very niche hobby. The industry is now epically huge with a massive variety of different games to suit so many different tastes and it was great to be immersed in an event full of people who thrive on games. I also got to meet a Dalek!



Photograph of the Word-Nerd with a Dalek

Favourite Games:

  • Blood On The Clocktower I absolutely freaking love this brilliant social deduction game from the Pandemonium Institute, in which dead players still get to participate! With the huge range of different characters available, it has an epic amount of replay ability. I play it a lot online over Discord. I absolutely loved playing in-person games at the Expo with veteran storytellers Ben and Aggie as it was a completely different way to experience the game. I played three games in total, and on the third game got myself a nice little imp badge after winning as the evil team as a Scarlett Woman turned imp mwahahahahaha! If it wasn't for going to the show in a DOALG capacity and not wanting other people to miss out on giving it at go I could easily have played all day!

  • Mind Games *Trigger warning* Last year the team met Danielle Hampson and spoke to her about her game Autismo. This year she is launching her new game Mind Games via Kickstarter. It is a life skills game in which players traverse the path of life, competing to either obtain the most personal boundaries or get to safety first. Along their journeys, players can be met with coercive control, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. These are topics that you wouldn't expect to find in a board game setting, which is why I think it is a fantastic educational tool to help open up conversations about positive relationships and highlight what abusive relationships can look like. You can back it on Kickstarter now.

 

Dino Girl


Best memory of the show:

  • Getting to meet Nikita from Atikin Games in person. She is so lovely!

Photograph of Nikita from Atikin Games in front of a Malum Hortus banner

Favourite Game(s):

  • Really hard to pick one, but there were a lot of excellent RPGs from Be Like A Crow from Critical Kit - watch out for an upcoming review of this game from our lovely Word Nerd Suey), to Legends of Avallen by Deren Oztkurt where druids meet Roman invaders , and Awfully Queer Heroes where the LGBTQ community provide rules to maximise the sparkle of your D&D team.

  • Not just new games but some oldies too, we picked up a copy of Miskatonic University by Chaosium Inc from one of the sellers, amazing.


Hello my lovely geeks and geekettes, hope you’re all well. Unlike the rest of the team at Expo I was only there for a day, being the sneaky little person I am I decided to buy a ticket last minute and go on the Saturday to find out what the whole thing was about, without telling the guys I was going. I’m going to do something a bit different from the team and instead of going into detail about my favourite games and memories I thought I would give a few hints and tips for those who have never been, but are thinking of going.


First, one day is simply not enough to view and really appreciate the Expo. Technically, you can walk all the aisles in a day, but you’re not really able to appreciate the games that many of the stalls have to offer. If you can only go for a day, make sure to plan the day as early as possible and as late as you can to get the most out of it. Sunday is a short day though, so if you’re after as much time as possible then Friday or Saturday are the days to go.


Second, when the guys found out I was there the looks on their faces were priceless. Completely worth the staggering £17 for parking and stupidly early morning get up to go see them! Seriously my advice if you’re planning on going, take the train, my ticket for the day was £18, I literally spent as much on parking as I did on my ticket, at the very least go as a whole bunch of you so you can split the cost of the car park


Third, comfy shoes, you are on your feet practically all day, there are some places to sit down but they’re widespread and you wont always find a seat, I was lucky enough to find a table to sit at, and the lads I invited to join me were very pleased to have a place to sit other than the floor.


Fourth, snacks, take snacks and drink with you, the food is expensive and again is sparsely populated. There’s a free water refill point at the main entrance, and a few snacks or packed lunch will help you dodge the constant queues. I took a selection of dried fruit, nuts, some chocolate and a refillable water bottle. Honestly, I was able to get around the whole day without feeling hungry, though I’d start with a hearty breakfast and book a table at a restaurant for when you’re done for the day.


Fifth, keep an eye out for freebies and take a comfy backpack to carry your items in, my backpack was pretty small and only really had my drink and snacks in it, that was quickly a bad idea as I had picked up several items after only a few minutes and the bags you get at the stalls are not comfortable to carry around all day. If you’re super lucky you’ll have a good friend who has a stall that you can create a horde at to pick up at the end of the day (thank you Nikita!). Seriously, there are even freebies at the front gate in the form of a pocket battle map for D&D, the rest of the DOALG team didn’t even spot it on their way in every day, so keep your eyes peeled. When you arrive, there is also a basket of lanyards that you can keep your ticket in so you’re not constantly having to take it out of your pocket when passing security.


Sixth, make a list of the people you really want to see and go find them first, if you rely on a walking up and down method you may miss them, or find them when there is too little time left. For me I had to go see Raptor Island and Atikin Games, both of which I have done reviews for in the past. There’s a really helpful info desk as you walk in who can point you in the right direction.

Photograph of Dino-Girl with Daniel Hayball creator of Raptor Island

Seventh, bartering for goods is actually not a bad thing at Expo. This is easier on the last day or late on a Saturday. It can get you a few quid off some of the games you’ve been eyeing up. The best places to barter at are those companies who travel overseas to be at the Expo. No one wants to ship back a load of unsold merchandise. The other thing to keep in mind is to really talk with the game creators. Often you’ll learn cool little secrets and tips about the games.


Eighth, in contrast to the wait and barter method, some stalls are so popular that they may actually run out of their games early on. Raptor Island was almost empty by the time I saw them on the Saturday, and passing them on the way out they were packing up with no stock left for Sunday. If there’s a game you really, really want then you may need to pay up immediately and carry it around with you the whole day.


Ninth, if you want to dress up for the day in your geekiest outfit, do it! There were so many cool outfits on the day, some in cosplay, and loads of hilarious geeky t-shirts. I of course went in full dinosaur gear (dress, shoes, accessories etc). It was a great conversation starter too, especially if you come across someone who has the same tastes as you. You wont be out of place and there’s a lot of people who will appreciate the quirkiness.


Tenth, finally you may find it a good idea to take a small folder or wallet to put everyone’s business cards into. If you are in love with their product but can’t foot the bill straight away, take a card. Most people have them on their stalls. Carry a pen or pencil with you and mark the card with the item you fell in love with. I put the cards from the epic items I wanted in my wallet, the rest which I wasn’t sure of went in one of the bags I had collected. That meant the really amazing stuff was easy to find when I got home


Hope these are helpful to you and I look forward to meeting some of you at next year’s Expo

XxX


 

Grgr - Podcast Guru

in the foreground, Gregor is pulling a scared face, in the background, Stone Sword Games' Cosmoctopus tentacle extends above NEC Hall 1
Meeting the Stone Sword Games Cosmoctopus tentacle at UK Games Expo

Best memory of the show:


Those of you who were watching our UKGE livestream coverage will have seen that, due to some sort of error or admin oversight, I was given control of the opening stream and spent the first hour of UKGE running around with a camera, vibe-checking the show and meeting new people. My weekend continued on much the same theme, with random extra streams chatting with designers and gamers I'd met.



Those moments have got to be the highlights of a convention like UK Games Expo, right? Finding new people and discovering exciting new games you weren't planning on looking at and in fact, you had no idea even existed. Hopefully, with the blessing and press pass negotiation skills of Mr Chris, some improvements to our camera tech, and some changes to scheduling (i.e. I won't arrive in Birmingham at midnight on the opening Friday, sorry for disturbing your sleep Chris), I can look forward to showing you even more of those spontaneous discoveries at UKGE 2023.

Favourite Games:

  • Nine Tiles Panic I love games that are small, quick, yet complex for their size, and Oink Games usually deliver. Even though this latest offering is more than double their usual slightly-larger-than-a-matchbox style, it's worth that extra space on your shelf. Each round, there are three objectives that you have to try and fulfil by arranging your nine double-sided city tiles to achieve them to a better standard than your opponents. It's up to you whether you focus on just one objective or try to complete them all, but once one player is happy with their layout of nine tiles, the timer is flipped and you have 90 seconds to finish your placement. Each objective is scored individually, based on where you rank in completing it, and the first player to 10/15/20 points (depending on the number of players) is the winner. It's simple to explain and the art style is cute, but there's a lot of strategy behind balancing those objectives, remembering that agents chase aliens who eat hamburgers, and whether to push your opponents on time at the risk of not having the optimum nine tile layout.

On the right is an assembled pink Nine Tiles Panic grid, on the left are the three objective cards: most adjacent tiles with citizens, the largest amount of aliens x hamburgers in the city, & the city with the longest road
  • Wavelength This is one we played when we had our Saturday night social in the open gaming hall - thanks for coming if you were there! - and even though I hadn't come across it before, Wavelength immediately grabbed my interest. You split your gathering of almost any size into two teams, and one player from each team takes it in turns to draw a card with two opposites; for example, "hot" pointing left and "cold" pointing right. That player spins the dial and checks where the point marker has landed, then covers it up. They then give their team an object (for the example above, you could use "coffee") in the hope of prompting the team to pointing their needle to the area of the dial which will net them the maximum points. It can be light-hearted enough for a party game, but it was also great to spark the debates and get into the psyches of the gathered bunch of exhausted exhibitors, demonstrators, designers and publishers that made up that Saturday night DOALG crowd. We'll be doing it all over again at next year's UKGE, bigger and better, and we can't wait to see faces new and old join us to have fun, talk boardgames, and get their geek on!

You can watch back all of our #UKGE2022 content on our YouTube channel playlist

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