I have a confession to make, GeekDad readers. I have never, in my adult life, been to a con or an expo. I went to a couple of Dragonmeets in my youth and more than a few Games Days (for Warhammer-related shenanigans) but nothing else in over twenty years. In the meantime, like most things geeky, cons have become big business and attendance is booming. You only need to check out GeekDad’s coverage of previous GenCons to see how rapidly things are growing. This year, finally, I’m going to take the plunge. I’m off to the UK Games Expo (UKGE)!
I’ve wanted to visit the UKGE for a number of years. It is, after all, the UK’s largest games show. I have friends (and relations) who attend regularly and rave about it. Unfortunately, it’s the same weekend every year, and that weekend is usually the tail-end of my family vacation. Due to a slight rescheduling this year (of my vacation), I find myself available to attend on the final day of the show. It’s not ideal, but it’s a start!
When and where is the UK Games Expo?
It’s the 1st-3rd of June and, as you might have guessed, it’s in the UK. (Sorry, US readers.) Specifically, at the NEC in Birmingham.
What’s at the UK Games Expo?
So much stuff! This is the UK’s premier gaming event, and there’s going to be lots to see and do. Whether it be RPGs, card games, board games, miniatures games, or family games, it’s going to be here. There’s going to be tournament games, open games, and more demo games from more publishers than you can shake your dice at. If that’s not enough, there will be cosplay, Bring ‘n’ Buy, and, rather improbably, a Viking and Orc encampment.
Asmodee will be there (with all the brands that come under their sprawling gaming tentacles—Star Wars everything, here we come)! Games Workshop will be there with all the Warhammers, including my current game of choice, Warhammer Underworlds. There will be strong representation from smaller companies too. WizKids will be there, and Warlord Games, Steamforged Games, Cubicle 7, Modiphius, Mantic games, and many many more. What’s more, they’re all going to want to show off a slew of amazing games.
If you need a little retail therapy, there are going to be a staggering amount of stands looking to part you from your hard-earned cash. Whether this is buying the latest expansion to your favorite game or trying something new is entirely up to you. There is going to be strong representation from companies who make and sell games accessories, such as Tabletop Tyrant and DnDice. It’s not always easy to get see these products before you buy them over the internet, so the Expo offers a great opportunity to try before you buy.
Should I take the kids?
Absolutely! The UKGE team work hard to make this a family-friendly event. The family zone is run by Imagination Gaming and its tireless army of staff and volunteers. The guys at Imagination Gaming teach boardgames in schools, so they are experts and getting across game concepts and encourage full family participation. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend one of their community events and they are brilliant at bringing their passion for games to their young audience. A team from Haba will be there too, bringing you the very best in family gaming from ages 2+.
What am I looking forward to seeing?
Everything! I realize with only 1 day there (and probably by the time I’ve traveled to the venue, not even the whole day), I’m unlikely to make it around everything that I want to see, so I’m going to have to choose carefully and not wear myself out before getting 10 metres from the entrance. The things I’m particularly looking forward to seeing are…
- Cubicle 7’s plans for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There are two iterations of Warhammer roleplay arriving this year, with the first one, a WFRP reboot, just around the corner. Preorders are already available. I’m hoping to catch up with the Cubicle 7 team to chat about what we can expect from the new version.
- Games Workshop. I’m not sure whether much new stuff will be on show at UKGE, but GW previewed lots of stuff at Adepticon this year and have just previewed a whole lot more at their own Warhammer Fest. Release dates for all those announcements are rapidly approaching, so perhaps there will be some more news! If nothing else, I’d like to see what, if any, Shadespire is being played and chat to some of the game’s players.
- Oathsworn Miniatures. I love the look of Osprey Games’ Burrows and Badgers, so I’ll definitely be hoping to check out some of the amazing miniatures Oathsworn have made for the game. If I spend any money on the day, it will be on some animal militia.
What else can we do there?
There’s a number of contests going on, and not just at the gaming tables. There’s a chance to win £300 worth of vouchers, each day, playing the UKGE Passport game. This involves visiting a number of stalls and checking in with a QR code. This is driven by the UKGE app which is free to download and has all the latest information about the venue and the expo itself.
There are seminars and live entertainment throughout the day too. (Though only one seminar on Sunday). Look out for Live Pandemic—a perennial hit, according to my brother-in-law. Ian Livingstone will read live from Deathtrap Dungeon and there will something called “You Can’t Polish a Nerd,” which, if nothing else, is pretty great wordplay!
How much does it cost?
There are a variety of ticket options available, but an adult ticket (16+) for one day is £13, and for 2 days is £23. A three-day ticket costs £30. 11-16-year-olds are cheaper, at £8 for a day ticket. Family tickets (2 Adults, 2 Children 11+) are also available, starting at £35. Children under 10 are free. More details can be found, here. Tickets can be purchased online or on the door.
Hopefully, I’ll see you there!
As I said at the top of this piece, this will be my first trip to the UK Games Expo. I’m definitely concerned that with only being able to attend on Sunday and being at the mercy of the UK’s dodgy weekend train network, I’m not going to have anywhere near enough time to see everything I want to see. Nevertheless, I’m still hoping for a great time for the few hours I’ll be there. I’ll be wearing my “Agents of Sigmar” T-shirt, so if you see me, and fancy talking Warhammer Underworlds, WFRP, or anything else game or geek related, do stop me and say hello!