Games Expo is a general gaming show (board, role, war, CCG etc.) that's now in it's third year at the Clarendon Suite in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The intention of the guys that organised it, Richard Denning and Kevin Townsend has been to create a British version of the big Essen show. It's more boardgamegeek than theminiaturespage. What this means in the real world therefore is that it's not purely a shopping trip and there are actually people still there after half-past-ten in the morning...
The Clarendon Suite is in a slightly awkward location in that it's central without being very convenient for Birmingham's train stations and while it's on a major thoroughfare (the Hagley Road, a major route into the city) it's not blessed with parking. So I bus-ed it in which created it's own problems (of which moar later...)
I met some of the Stourbridge crew there and spent two days wandering around, visiting the bar, chin-wagging and looking at stuff. So what did we do?
Snow Tails - German-style (but actually Scottish-designed) game of racing dog sleds. There was a big promotion push on this and Steve picked it up, we swept clean a table in the bar and set it up. Even after one game I think I prefer this to Formula De, an interesting game mechanic and the modular "Scalextric track" arrangement means that I think the game will stay fresh longer than Formula De without the need to keep buying new tracks.
Risk Express - A game of this in the bar in which I finished joint last with Darth Phil despite it being my game and having thought everyone else present how to play! It appears that my championing of this fun little filler game has sold another four copies at Stourbridge. Scott conquered the whole of Asia which I've never seen anyone do before.
Classic Battletech - Despite already having the previous set, I cracked and picked up the newer version for £25 because it comes with 24 plastic Mechs. They are a bit toy-like, but the four I've painted up paint up OK despite the usual army man problem of being very shallow mouldings. The older version had foamcore stand-ups in plastic clip bases but couldn't really be mixed with proper miniatures as they were quite a bit smaller. I'll probably sort out a carrying case for painted Mechs and merge both sets into one box since I think the rules are identical anyway. I don't plan on expanding CB, just sticking to the one box and the 3050 A.D. setting which should be good enough for many, many games. I have no interest in the background of the game, metaplots, official factions, aerospace, armour etc. etc. as far as I am concerned Battletech is "Giant Robots (with 12 year old Japanese Schoolgirl Pilots) Kicking The Shit Out Of One Another" and that is pretty much where the scope of the game should start and end.
Space Rangers - A complete box from the early 1990s with everything still on the sprue for £3? Bargain, snapped up on sight. I've got some of these from EM4Miniatures where they sell them at £2.50 for 5, make very good Space Marine proxies, especially as the three optional heavy weapons are all blatantly designed to be thematically identical to "codex/official" Space Marine heavy weapons. You can build very cheap Devastator squads from these figures and they paint up very nicely. A bit static in pose but nice and chunky.
Uncharted Seas - As illustrated in previous blog post.
The War On Terror - I didn't play this but there was a another big promotion push on this and Ash picked it up. As a fan of 16-bit classic Cannon Fodder I quite like to see anti-war satire in gaming form, sadly I'm not surprised at the controversy this has caused but then we only have to look at the Brasseye controversy from a few years back to see the general lack of thought and intelligence amongst the general public.
Warmachine - While not a miniatures snob, I'm baffled that for two years running the Warmachine tournament allowed unpainted figures. Surely Privateer must want to show off their game in it's best light and a room of painted armies would do that. I fully understand why Games Workshop insist on painted figures in their tournaments and events. Organised games like this are your public face and should be there to sell more stuff - send interested bystanders off to the Privateer stand and strip the figure racks dreaming of what their painted armies will look like. 'Twas like this last year to.
Retrogaming - Had a quick blast on the Sega 32X version of Virtua Racing (one of my favourite games) but the digital controls aren't a patch on the analogue ones on the Sega Ages version released on the PS2. Had a chat to the guys who'd set up various retro machines for free play (I am a passionate retrogamer), nice to see that the Crazy Taxi Dreamcast setup was never empty once in the times when I passed through this area of the Expo. SAAAAAY-GAAAAAH!!!!
3E - Not that I bought any but the sheer amount of reduced 3E/3.5E stuff that dealers are still weighed down by defies belief. I know a few people have stuck with this edition but it can't please the retail chain when huge amounts of their stock become worthless overnight simply because the publishers need a new version out to appease shareholders. Also, why are my peers at Stourbridge playing a 4E campaign at the shop when every single one of them slags off the system and philosophy behind it?
Beer - Theakston's Dark in the bar which I expected to be a mild but is actually a stout, a bit reminiscent of the chocolate stout that one my local real ale boozers had in recently. Sadly ruined by the fashionable barbarian practise of chilling it. Note to landlords/barmen - when Americans mock British beer for being warm they are (rightly) mocking tepid lager, not bitter, mild or stout. Stop being such a bunch of fucking ignorant philistines. Would you chill red wine? Room temperature or GTFO.
Dice - I loves me my dice. 100 mixed d10 courtesy of eBay in the week wasn't enough to sate the lust so I did the traditional "pint glass of dice" from EM4Miniatures for £3. Mostly reject dice but did get me a lot of very nice brown-spotted black 16mm d6s and the Single Ugliest d20 I Have Ever Seen which has immediately wormed it's way into my affections and will become d20 of choice from this point forth.
Sadly my dice collection is now so large that it no longer fits in it's entirety within the dedicated fishing tackle box so I can't take the lot to every game like I used to and have had to cull the less desirable ones (mostly tatty or bastard sized D6) into a reserve team box. Yes, I do take circa 300 dice to Stourbridge in order to use 1d6 for games of Hordes of the Things. I mean, I might need to change d6 halfway through the game. It happens sometimes.
Parking Ticket - Long stay car park at Stourbridge bus station that I was sure was free on Sundays (like the others in the borough). £50. Wankers.