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Wig's UK Games Expo report

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    TAG Wiggy
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    Well, UK Games Expo, by far the biggest gaming convention in the UK, is over for another year! This is a personal report, not an official TAG one (though the two are naturally hard to separate).

    Maggie (aka Mrs Wiggy) and I arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon. Immediately bumped into Vince Kingston, which meant we could begin drinking. Played a few rounds of “King of Thieves,” a Land of Fire inspired card game I’m developing. Rob turned up a few hours later, which meant we could begin an in-house demo of “Rocket Race,” this being the first chance we’ve had to play using the full boxed set. Demoing went so well that we sold 15% of the stock to early customers that night!

    Friday is booth set up day for traders. Basically that means a lot of humping boxes, slotting poles together, cursing, and laying out piles of books. Thanks to Vince and my nephew Jake (13) we completed the task in around 5 hours. That might sound like a long time, but we’ve got an impressive trade stand. The downside to Friday was that I didn’t get to see much of my folks, who’d popped up for the day with Jake in tow. Being the kind uncle and aunt we are, Jake did go away with a copy of Ticket to Ride (belated birthday present).

    Friday night was more playing of Rocket Race in the lounge bar, this time with TAG’s old friend Kevin Doswell and his gaming crew. Played more Rocket Race. By now word of the game was circulating rapidly…

    …so much so that the first 30 minutes of trading on Saturday were frantic, with deluxe boxed sets flyng off the stand like they were, well, rocket-powered. Not knowing how a card game from TAG might be received, we’d only made 100 sets (75 deluxe, 24 standard, and 1 demo copy).

    If you’ve ever worked on a trade stand you know the drill – lots of hours on one’s feet, getting hot and thirsty, and talking shop and demoing games to customers. This year it was just me, Maggie, and Rob manning the booth and running demos. Managed to meet up with a few old friends (and some new ones), though. Luckily we traders get into the trade hall early, so I had chance to shop for goodies before the horde descended.

    Sales of the Rocket Race boxed set were fast all day and demos were running every 15 minutes or so for the full 7 hours. Stock levels were very low as the day ended and we headed to the bar to grab beers before ordering in pizza. Maggie’s parents drove up to see us, so we caught up with them before having an early night.

    Sunday came around all too fast and the clamor for Rocket Race didn’t let up. By 11 a.m. we’d sold out of the boxed sets. By 3 p.m. all the cards-only sets had disappeared as well. As the show ended we even sold our demo copy, and still folk were asking for copies. Sunday evening involves dismantling the booth and packing it all away, a process that is much quicker than erecting it, and we were ably helped by my father-in-law.

    The con organizers were stoked with Rocket Race (many of them bought copies). So much so, in fact, that they suggested we run a tournament next year.

    UK Games Expo had 10,000 attendees (6000 uniques). Small compared to GenCon, maybe, but large enough that some of you mainland Europeans (and even Americans) should consider popping over and getting a slice of the fun!

    Good Points:
    * Always great to see a brand new product sell out. Rob and I had worked long hours on developing Rocket Race, and we were delighted to see it fly off the shelf.
    * We also sold out of the Weird Science Compendium and all bar 1 copy of Heroes & Villains Compendium, which came with 6 bonus characters over the PDF supplements.
    * Met up with people I only get to see every year (and some I see even less often) and meet a few new faces from Facebook and the forums, and got to swap stories and jokes over beer and food.
    * Grabbed 14 RPG books (8 of which were assorted Star Trek tomes), 12 Star Trek Heroclix ships, and a new t-shirt (which says, “You, sir, are a cad and a bounder!”). The wife settled for badges, a plushy Iron Man, a mug, a t-shirt, and a card game (Love Letters).

    Bad Points:
    * I don’t get con crud. I get mangy feet and ankles, and this year was no exception. Until Monday it’s feet up to let the swelling go down and the dark red fade from my skin.
    * Never enough time to see everyone. Next year we’re going to extend the show a day either side so we can hang out with family and friends.

    Wiggy
    Triple Ace Games Creative Director
    wiggy@tripleacegames.com

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