The Return of the Cardboard Christmas

Thats right I am talking about the UK Games Expo which finally returned after more than a year. It was of course cancelled last year due to the covid situation but with reduced numbers and safety precautions in place I was confident enough to make the trip across the country to the Birmingham NEC.

Die of the Dead

As is tradition myself and my good friend WeirdFTW set out the day before the convention as it takes a while to travel across country to the Birmingham NEC where the UK Games Expo is held. This gives us the chance to get there and play some games along the way. The NEC also opens up one of the halls for a bit of early gaming so it gives us the chance to play more games and pick up our Expo tickets when it is still pretty quiet.

This year we were staying at a different Hotel than usual alongside another friend of ours who will simply be referred to as Shadow. The new Hotel was also a lot closer than our regular one which was nice and while the rooms were a little smaller than we were used to at least the WIFI worked a lot better. It had a nice area to sit and play games as well which we took full advantage of on the Sunday evening when the majority of people had already gone home.

Brass Lancashire

However back to that first day. Weird and myself enjoyed a good meal and even attempted to play a game of Piepmatz outside which was an interesting challenge. Luckily the NEC opened up one of the halls for a spot of open gaming where we made some new friends and saw some old ones. It is also where we met our good friend Divvot and his friend the Northerner.

The next day saw the proper start of the UK Games Expo 2021 and while the first day is usually a bit quieter, I was not prepared for how quiet a Friday in the current climate would be. However I will never forget the excitement I felt when I entered that trade hall for the first time. Sure it may have been small compared to normal but I was just grateful to be there at all. Walking around that hall, seeing friends I’d not seen in forever and demoing lots of games was just the best. That first day was also my first time I got to meet Shadow in person which was pretty cool.

Waiting for the Dark Room

We played many games on that day and even got to do our yearly tradition of a visit to the Dark Room hosted by John Robertson. We also missed out on the Dark Room this year but luckily my good friend WeirdFTW spotted some extra tickets had become available at the last min and snapped the up. Having a show like that to go to really breaks up the weekend and it is always a good laugh.

On Saturday I got to try out a lot of new games Including D6 Dungeon, Die of the Dead and even a bit of Brass Lancashire. That last one in particular has been on my radar to try for a while now and I look forward to the day when I can get in a full game of that. The Saturday was also a bit busier and it felt like the Expo had finally got it’s grove back. However even though it was busier there was still plenty of space to move around and everyone was still wearing their masks. I even picked up some cool themed ones.

The trade floor

Saturday ended pretty late with myself and Weird chatting away for a while so Sunday had a bit of a later start and a more chill vibe about it. Although we still found plenty of time to look around the Expo and do a few demos. Throughout the weekend we had explored the expo hall individually as well as all together as a group but as Sunday was drawing to a close I did one last sweep of the Expo hall before joining my friends.

Once the show was over we gathered at the nearby Resorts World for a nice sit down meal which was a lovely way to end the weekend. Well I say end we did go back to our hotel to play some more games for a little while. That night we tried to get on the same Wavelength, pointed foam guns while trying to split the loot and when Divvot and the Northerner left, Shadow, Weird and I made some nice dates for each other and then ruined them with red flags.

The Last Night Meal

However all good things have to come to an end and soon we were preparing for our journey home. It being the expo of course we had time for one more game against WeirdFTW at the hotel. Luckily that game ended just in time for us to head to the station and begin our journey home.

UK Games Expo was an absolutely brilliant weekend and I am so grateful I got to spend it with this lovely lot. Here is to all the good memories we made and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

3 thoughts on “The Return of the Cardboard Christmas

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