Event Report: UKGE 2019

The calm before the storm…

I got home yesterday tired but exhilarated, with new games, new stories and memories of a yet another fantastic event. The team who run the expo really raised their game this year adding a third hall, getting to 25,000 unique visitors and as always getting me to leave wishing there was more time with a huge smile on my face.

The TL;DR

  • Even more great games, loads of city builders and roll and writes
  • Zatu Games get diversity right
  • More space to move and play
  • Great designer networking event
  • Issue resolution was spot on
  • Pitching my game went well and I made some great contacts

Somewhat unsurprising, but there were a lot of new games at the expo and my list of games to try out was longer than usual this year. Games new to the market suddenly widely available, games that were releasing at the event, others that were just for demo and yet more that were still being playtested. Everywhere you looked there were games to try out and buy.

Love the inclusivity

I have to give a shout out to Zatu games here, they were showing off the latest expansions for Fog of Love but also taking a stand on diversity. I want my hobby to be fully inclusive and that means everyone needs to be represented – love that they’re working on this.

Moving on there seemed to be a plethora of city building games among the smaller stands that were in the late stages of development, so I’m expecting to see some of these releasing over the next year. Roll and writes continued to be hot with Imperial Settlers and Lanterns making the transition to this popular format.

I spent all three days in the halls from start to finish and I have to say that apart from early on Saturday I never felt as crowded as I have in prior years. There was almost always room for me to take a seat or get to a game and while the popular games still had queues and sign ups there always seemed to be something available.

Adding the extra hall I’m sure came at a meaningful cost, but with the larger crowds again this year I suspect it would have become unbearable without the extra space so I was really happy with the addition.

Giant Tokyo Highway was a hit

On Friday night I went to a publisher/designer networking event, the only part of the design track I was able to get to given my own schedule this year. While it was almost exclusively designers (something I feel is probably inevitable) it was great to make some contacts and the short talks given by Cartamundi, Alex Yeager and James Wallis were great.

There was one dark moment at the expo this year when a games master decided to include inappropriate content in his game in an effort to shock the players. I’m planning to write a separate blog post to discuss GMing at cons as well as lines and veils, but I will say that the organisers handled the whole thing brilliantly. Their response covered the facts, detailed the comprehensive and appropriate action they had taken and was made public quickly – great job.

On a personal note I took advantage of having so many publishers in one place to give a number of pitches for Werewolves of the Black Forest. To my delight (and frankly surprise) those went incredibly well with some taking a prototype, one in the process of reviewing the rules and another taking the time to play it over the weekend. Fingers crossed that one of these turns into something more, but it was great to get some pitching experience in regardless.

I was also able to meet with loads of other people; publishers for whom my current game doesn’t make sense (but who I would like to work with), random gamers who demoed games with me, the London Players Guild who make videos about games, members of the Board Game Design Lab, new designers, old designers and somewhere in between designers, distributors, event managers and all the volunteers – all of whom made the event such a wonderful experience.

Look our for my next few posts about what I played as well as the games that came home with me. Next year’s expo dates are 29th – 31st May, see you there I hope!

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Author: Marc Kenobi

I love all kinds of tabletop games from RPGs to Magic the Gathering to Ticket to Ride. I've played games as long as I can remember and started GMing at 11 years old.

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