Boardgame Bud


You can't knock pencil and paper!

It’s almost that time of the year again. That’s right, UK Games Expo time.


Last year I was entirely new to the whole boardgame Instagram thing; my first post was only last year, in April 2018.


Being the newbie to the scene, I recall getting major FOMO when browsing all the amazing posts from UKGE last year. Truth be told, I didn’t know it existed until people were already there.


Since then I vowed I would not miss it in 2019.


Lo and behold, tickets are locked down, accommodation is booked, and I’ll be living it up throughout this year’s expo.


So, in the weeks beforehand, and at the event itself, here’s a look at what I’ll be cracking on with.



UKGE will be my first expo, so there’s a lot to sort.

Rather than getting flustered, practising my planning prowess is helping me organise everything I need beforehand.


Covering my whiteboard, I noted down everything from getting to the event itself, to polishing and pitching my games in preparation.


My Whiteboard of planning

Dry-Erase Design Diary


To further avoid aimlessly dithering, I chucked all this in a lovely Trello board, and assigned tasks to weekly goals.

They’re ordered by the time taken to complete and labelled from Critical, Pretty Good, Excellent, and ‘Cherry on top’.


Now, with something to aim at, I just have to do all the work.


I wish I was this organised all those years ago at Plymouth Uni…



Obviously, it wouldn’t be a trip to the UK Games Expo without enjoying a bunch of brilliant games. It’s why we’re all there, really.


Keeping an open eye on the new hotness, I’m definitely on the lookout for a few promos, expansions, and new games to add to my collection, including:

  • The Herb Witches expansion for The Quacks of Quedlinburg (along with any promos)
  • Robinson Crusoe promos (and expansion if it’s dropped in time for the expo)
  • Microbrew – The winners of last year’s Boardgame Geek Mint Tin design contest
  • Wingspan
  • Mage Knight Ultimate Edition
  • Museum
  • The Estates


I’m really keen to hit up the Mythic Games booth too, so I can indulge in some Joan of Arc.

This is assuming my pledge hasn’t already arrived by then (though I’ll still swing by).


I also admire all the team that work there, so it’ll be great to catch up with them.



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Then there’s a particular booth I definitely need to see…


Two good mates recently moved to New Zealand, and have made friends with the designers of ‘Gangs of Britannia’ out there.

As the designers plan on coming to UKGE, I’ll have to check them out and show a little love.


Equally importantly, it’ll be hilarious to chat about our joint buddy – I’m keen to get caught up on all the gossip.


Sorry, Andy. 😉



As much as I’ll be schmoozing around all the stalls, hopefully bumping into you lovely lot from time to time, I’m also there to dive into the exciting expo extras.


There’s a whole host of seminars and talks on games I want to attend.


Most of the ones I’m interested in are game design related. I’m hoping to brush up on my design skills, and learn the ropes to become a published game designer, eventually.


Playtest UK run some awesome events at the expo too.

I’ve submitted a few games to be blind playtested there, though I’m waiting to hear back. Either way, I’ve volunteered my time to help blind playtest other games.


I think it’ll be invaluable to help out other designers, build up my playtesting skills, and see some amazing up-and-coming games!


Pack It Tin (Left), Tinderblox (Right)

My Mint Tin Creations


There’s also a Game Designer and Publisher networking event that has accepted my application.


Happening on the first night, I’m so excited to be in a room with other designers, publishers, artists, and enthusiasts.


Working remotely from home for my whole career thus far, I have to grab any networking opportunity I can. This will be my first, so I’m working on my public speaking to make a good impression.


Who knows what opportunities could come from all this?



Another big thing I’m hoping to attend is the Designer/Publisher Speed Dating event.


It’s an opportunity to sit down with a wide variety of publishers for five minutes each and pitch my game idea to them.


Attendance is very limited, only 15 places. To get in requires a sell sheet and rulebook be submitted by 1st May; the best ones will be selected to pitch to the publishers.


The game I’m submitting is Tinderblox, the competitive/cooperative fire-making dexterity game for 1-6 players.


Tinderblox Climbing High

More of a bonfire, than a campfire!


It’s a nifty game that’s super portable, highly replayable, and has the best chance of getting published out my current designs, even though Pack It Tin is my award-winning game.


Though I’m sure the competition will be fierce, I have a lot of faith in Tinderblox as a product. I also believe in my ability to market my games to the publishers, which is useful.


Current progress is pretty good; I’m working on the rulebook for the entry, and will soon move on to making the compelling sell sheet.


I’ll be carrying all of my mint tin games on me during the expo; if you fancy playing Pack It Tin, Tinderblox, or a secret space game I’m working on, message me on Instagram near the event.


I’d be delighted to meet up, find a table, and enjoy a few cheeky games.


That includes you, potential publishers and collaborators; don’t be a stranger!



I’m pretty sure this will be my big holiday for the year.

No doubt we’ll go camping around the sunny South-West of England and Wales, but the expo is where I’ll be splashing out.


Originally, it was just going to be me hitting up the expo. I wasn’t certain many people would be keen to join, you see.


Oh, how wrong was I…


Me and my mate posing on a bridge in Amsterdam

A buddy and I galavanting through Amsterdam


Now there’s a five-strong crew of us bringing the noise, with more potentially tagging along.

Amazingly, we found a great place to stay in Coventry, near the NEC – we did have to crack on with booking it though.


It’ll be awesome to have a holiday away with good mates – enjoying the expo in the day, and playing our haul in the evenings.


I’m sure we’ll have time to nip out for a cheeky curry and sink a few pints between plays, too. 🍺



So, I’ll hopefully see you there! If you’re going and fancy meeting up for a game or chat, make yourself known. Drop me a direct message near the time or leave a comment over on my Instagram.

No doubt I’ll get some photos with you lot to share on my ongoing story at the expo. Until then, here’s to another week of tabletop titillation.


– Rob Sparks (@boardgamebud)