Convention Review: UK Games Expo 2018

I’m back in Newcastle again, for a good long while now!  I’ve spent the last three days at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham, which has been a brilliant weekend.  Geth and I went for the first time last year, but I think this year was even better, largely because we were able to travel down on the Thursday and have the full three days.

Sharpy came down on the Wednesday to play boardgames and drink beer with Geth (I did not partake in either, as I was furiously stockpiling Now! reviews for the weekend and being super careful with my diet in a last-ditch attempt to hit target – it worked, as I may have already mentioned).  After I got back from Slimming World on Thursday – stopping briefly for a quick hen do lunch for my fellow SW member Alison – we all piled into Sharpy’s car and headed off down to Birmingham.

What was great about arriving on the Thursday was that after we checked into the Hilton and got unpacked, we were able to head across to the NEC and get our three-day passes without having to queue for more than a minute or so.  We then headed across to Resorts World for food.  Because of all the people arriving in the complex for two conventions plus various other things going on, we had to wait half an hour for a table at Pizza Express, but we were able to grab a quick pint in TGI Friday while we were waiting – and I bought my first boardgame of the weekend, a copy of vintage ’80s game Nightmare On Elm Street, which is (obviously) a tie-in with the film of the same name.  A fairly good condition copy had shown up on eBay for a tenth of the price that it normally goes for, so in the spirit of the Expo I decided to go for it!

After the meal, we headed back to the NEC for a game of Sonar in one of the halls, and then to the Ibis on the other side of the complex to meet up with Heulwen and Laura (Geth’s sister and sister-in-law) and various other friends.  Unfortunately, when we decided to head back, it was too late to get back through the NEC as it was closed, so we had to walk right round the outside of the complex.  It took forty-five minutes, and at one point there was a torrential rainstorm.  Not fun.  When we finally got back to the Hilton, Geth and Sharpy went for a drink in the hotel bar, but I was knackered so I went straight to bed.

Friday morning proved that we had made the right decision in showing up on the Thursday evening – the queues for passes were just ridiculous!  As we already had ours, we were able to go straight in, which was great.  The morning was mainly spent investigating all the stalls in the main hall and then going shopping.  I bought a few things – Mamma Mia, HMS Dolores, various geekery-themed scented candles and a cheap but important D20 (its function is to help with future dice-buying decisions) – but my main aim was to make a list of all the stuff I wanted to get on the Sunday.  Geth, meanwhile, spent pretty much all his spending money in the space of ninety minutes.  I went outside to meet him and Sharpy for lunch and found them sitting on a bench surrounded by bags and bags of games.  I’ve got some serious reorganising of the game shelves to do this week.

Friday afternoon was spent chilling out and having a go at some new games in the open gaming room back at the Hilton, before heading through to the suite on the other side of the Hilton lobby to see the MMORPG Live show.  We’d seen Knightmare Live last year, and this was done by the same guy, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good – there was too much audience participation for my liking, and by the end I was getting really irritated by the sound of fifty or so people all thinking they were funnier than they actually were.

Back to the open gaming room for the rest of the evening – it was great that so many people we knew were able to come and join us at our bit of trestle table.  Due to a longer-than-expected game of Lords Of Waterdeep, Geth and I weren’t able to get quite as much of an early night as we’d planned, but five hours of sleep is better than nothing, and in the morning we dragged ourselves out to Perry Hall parkrun and got some exercise in.

Once back at the NEC, we met up with Sharpy and his girlfriend Steph (who had arrived on Friday evening) and we all had a quick go at a prototype of a game called Chocolate Factory, which was quite fun.  We then split up and did a bit more shopping – I picked up Ghostel, some more dice, and a print of some Stormtrooper art for the house, and Geth got some paintbrushes and a board for his planned new hobby of miniatures painting – and then went for lunch, met up with Sharpy and Steph again, and headed back to the Hilton open gaming room to settle in for the afternoon and evening.  Geth managed to go see the This Game Is Broken show, and we got lots and lots of gaming in with lots and lots of people before the late-night The Dark Room Until You Die show.  We all made it until the interval at about half past midnight, at which point I think everyone drifted back to their various hotels for some sleep.

This morning, I went and did my big shopping haul – Timeline: Music And Cinema, some expensive-but-beautiful wooden inserts for all the Eldritch Horror expansions that we now have, another gorgeous piece of artwork for the house, some more dice (I have a problem) and a portable rubber dice tray that says ‘UK Games Expo 2018’ on it.  Geth, meanwhile, went and talked to lots of game designers about games that he will probably buy at some point in the near future.

Then we went back to the hotel, got all of our luggage and piles of games down to Sharpy’s car and packed away in the boot, had some lunch in the sunshine, and drove back to Newcastle.  It’s been a great weekend, but it is good to be home.  With our massive haul of stuff.

UKGE haul 2018
That is a big pile of games. Reorganising the game shelves will be a job for tomorrow.

Will we be back next year?  Well, put it this way: Geth’s already booking the hotel.  We’ll see you there.

Shelves!

We built the Ikea Kallax wall for the boardgame collection today!

Kallax boardgame storage
Boardgame storage extraordinaire!

I designed this mishmash of Ikea Kallax units to fit our dining area space a few weeks ago, and ordered the requisite Kallaxes in the big Ikea order.  I built the individual units over the last couple of days, and today my dad came and bolted them all together to make a nice solid structure.  It got a bit tricky, involving having to shave bits off where the wall width was uneven, but the finished result looks amazing (and Geth finally has access to the boardgames again, which will keep him very happy).

We also started building some shoe storage, but that’s mainly a project for tomorrow!

Tetris and other block puzzles

You know those games (physical or digital) where you have to get a ball from one end of the board/screen to the other by moving blocks around so you can slowly work the ball through the path?  I’m terrible at them.  It always takes me ages.

That’s how I’ve felt about working on the new house for most of the last week.

The current project is to get everything into its correct room, if not its correct place.  What this means is I’m just constantly moving boxes around, trying to clear paths for other things to be moved through, filling one room and then another in an attempt just to have some tiny space to manoeuvre stuff.  It’s really tiring, and I feel like I’m going round in circles.

A big part of the problem is that there’s so much stuff that doesn’t have a place yet.  We’re going to be building new wall shelves out of our old Ikea Billy bookshelves to house the DVDs, videogames and some of the books, and I’ve designed a wall of Ikea Kallax units for the boardgame collection.  As such, until these units are in place, our books, DVDs, videogames and boardgames have to stay in boxes, and there’s a lot of them.

I know, logically, I am making headway.  I’ve spent today making rows of all the boxes that go in different areas, so once Geth gets home tonight and helps me with a couple of heavy lifting jobs, I’ll be able to fill the study with all the Stuff That Goes In The Study (as opposed to the all-kinds-of-everything totally random stuff that was in there before) and use that as a dumping ground to help me sort out other rooms.  After that, over the next couple of days, I can move my magazine Kallax upstairs, then move all the boardgame boxes to the space where their Kallax storage is going to live, and that will mean there’s a bit more breathing room around the piles of boxes of books and DVDs that are currently having to stay in the living room.

The whole thing really is doing wonders for my hoarding habit though.  I can’t wait to start sorting through things properly and getting rid of stuff.

One step at a time.  It’s just frustrating when there are so many steps.

Slowly getting back to normal

Well, it’s taken some work, but I have now cleared enough space in the living room that Geth and I are currently able to have a normal-ish evening (for us).

What this looks like:

  1. Geth has enough space on the living room floor to play boardgames, so he’s dug out the Star Wars: Imperial Assault collection.  It’s keeping him very quiet, so I foresee many blissfully peaceful evenings from now on!
  2. I’m playing my recordings of BBC Four’s ’80s Top of the Pops repeats on the TV.  The open-plan setup of the downstairs makes this really sociable, and I’m quite excited about the eventual way we will have everything set up – with Geth playing solo boardgames on the table in the dining area, and me watching music stuff on the TV, yet still being able to chat to each other.
  3. I finally have access to the hearth as I’ve cleared all the stuff in front of it, so I’ve lit a scented candle, which I’ve been wanting to do for weeks.  Small luxuries and all.  The next step is to get the fire actually working!

The aim is to have enough space cleared by the end of the week that I can measure the space in the dining area accurately enough that I know what the Kallax boardgame storage is going to encompass, so I can get the big Ikea order placed.  Exciting!