UKGE – Five Fantastic Things

My first UKGE surpassed all expectations. 

I’m so grateful for everything that came together for such a great experience, so here are a few of the highlights from our first ever expo.

🔥 Tinderblox Was A Fiery Success

First and foremost, the reception for Tinderblox went down an absolute treat!

Caezar from Alley Cat Games demonstrated the game to gamers, and various manufacturers, distributors, and/or publishers, and told me people really enjoyed the game.



Apparently, the massive distributor, Asmodee UK, were very keen on the game as it would slot right into their catalogue of products.

Assuming it’s a popular game with customers, there will be work to be done on a spiritual sequel.

There are already ideas being thrown around, so you’ll hear more about another fiery game I’ve got in the works in due time.

It was amazing to see my game being played by others at the expo, considering a few weeks ago I was some dude making games in his office!



It’s a dream come true to see my creation be supported so enthusiastically.

Thank you to everyone who continues to show the love!


🤝 Designer Networking Was A Triumph

If you went to the expo, you’ll know how hot it was there.

It’s surprisingly exhausting carrying around a tonne of games in that hot hall and, come to the end of the Friday, I was knackered. 

Pair that with not feeling too well, and being pretty hangry (hungry/angry) – I almost bailed on the networking event!



I’m so damn glad that I didn’t…

It resulted in meeting a whole host of inspiring game designers and really appreciating my position having a game already signed. 

I also bumped into a great designer called Mike, who I found out was also from Bristol.

He immediately added me to a bunch of local designer/playtester groups in the area, which is just fantastic.

Since then, we’ve kept in touch and I’m keen to host a game night soon with all these new faces!

On top of that, I got to meet Alex Yaeger from Mayfair games and made a bunch of friends to work with in the future.

If you’re going next year, and fancy trying out some game design networking – I highly recommend signing up.



It helped the bar was free too… 😉 

…And I Made Some Great Friends

I’d like to give a shout out to the amazing couple at Start Your Meeples who I ended up having a lovely chat with about board games, designs, and reviews.

Check out their Instagram and website for some top-notch reviews and strategy content.


Finally, I organised a meeting up with Chris from Tabletop Apprentice.

Treating me to a coffee, we had an in-depth chin wiggle about all things games and life. He’s such an interesting chap!








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A post shared by Chris Kingsnorth (@tabletopapprentice) on May 15, 2019 at 12:37pm PDT

He also pointed out an event he’s hosting, so naturally, I’m really excited to attend Protospiel event on 23rd November.

If you’re wanting to design and prototype some games, maybe cut your teeth on the craft, and make some game designer friends, you don’t want to miss it!


🎲 I Couldn’t Resist Games Galore

It’s surprising how tiring it is carting bags of games around all day.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen the haul I dragged back from the Expo; now that’s a workout.








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A post shared by Boardgame Bud (@boardgamebud) on Jun 3, 2019 at 3:55am PDT


In the end, I was lucky enough to net these great games and accessories:

  • Mage Knight
  • Dead of Winter
  • Android Netrunner
  • Dice Hospital, with Deluxe Upgrades Add-on
  • Ruthless
  • Dino World
  • Microbrew
  • The Quacks of Quedlinburg – The Herb Witches expansion
  • A Dice Tray
  • Meeple Keyrings
  • Panda Game Designer Toolkit

Needless to say, I’m chuffed to bits with these great additions to my collection. I have had to jimmy shelf space for them all, however.


On another note, I didn’t buy all of these.

Alley Cat Games were kind enough to give me Dice Hospital with Add-ons, Dino World, and Ruthless as a welcome gift.


How awesome is that?!


⛱️ We Enjoyed A Great Little Holiday

From beginning to end it felt like a proper holiday with the great chaps I was going with.

We filled a car with snacks and beer and hoofed it up the M42 to the NEC Birmingham.


I got Az to sign Jake Thorntons cat card from Joan of Arc


We checked out loads the expo had to offer, with the chaps going off to check out Warhammer stuff while I met people I wanted to see there.


Throughout we ate loads of cracking food, watched the football with three XXL Papa Johns Pizza, and chilled out with our new games.


In true Boardgame Bud style, we also had a few ‘edibles’ on the second day…

That certainly made watching the camp of Viking LARPers fighting more, errr… ‘interesting’.



In that state, we could only manage to play The Quacks of Quedlinburg, too.


⭐ The Whole Event Was Excellent

Holy crap, the NEC is huge.

Like, it has so many gargantuan halls, numerous food and drinks spots, a giant outdoor area, and the train station is in the building.


That said, all those board games needed all that space!


The staff were wonderfully helpful, the place was tidy and well ventilated (maybe not enough for the hottest day of the year), and all the services were spot on.


Great restaurants nearby too; we snuck off across the pond to smash a pretty dirty Gourmet Burger Kitchen on the first day, and then went to the superb food market outside the Hilton on Saturday.



All in all, we rated it all pretty darn swell.

The coffee stands did serve terrible coffee, mind – black coffee, more like scalding hot tomato soup (seriously).


To be honest, writing this I’m sad to see the back end of the expo. There’s definitely still a buzz going on for me, but with time it’ll be replaced with excitement for next years.

 Luckily, there are so many friends I’ve made there, that I don’t feel like I’ve left it totally behind.

Plus, for any of you near Bristol, there’s an expo happening on July 6th with Roll Dice Gaming – so we might not have to wait too long for another hit of tabletop titillation!

– Rob Sparks (@boardgamebud)