The UK Games Expo 2017

UK Games Expo

The UK Games Expo (UKGE) is the largest tabletop games convention in the UK (and the fourth largest in the world!).  I don’t go to many conventions, but I make it a point to go to the UKGE every year.  It’s fantastic!

It takes place in Birmingham and will be in full swing in less than a month, so if you’ve never been, let me tell you all about the UK Games Expo 2017.


The NEC and NEC Hilton Hotel, Birmingham, UK


2nd – 4th June


The first thing that attracted me to the UKGE originally (back in 2013 when I first heard about it) was the trade halls: massive halls full of retailer and publisher stands.  All the latest games get showcased – many games are released for the first time at the Expo.  You can try demos of games – even unreleased games – and significant discounts off the RRP are available on anything you want to buy.  Be warned though: you can end up spending a lot more than you intend to!

I brought my family with me that year as well.  There’s a surprising amount for kids or those just looking for a weekend’s entertainment.  My son loved all the cosplay going on.  Star Wars, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings – there are so many remarkable characters just wandering around the convention.

Suddenly the thing came to life!

My son (who was 5 at the time) had never seen Doctor Who and saw a model of a Dalek at the side of one of the halls.  He was fascinated and went right up to it and starting wiggling the ‘plunger’.  Suddenly the thing came to life!  Lights started flashing, it started talking, and then it began moving towards him – boy, did he get a shock!  He came running back to me as fast as he could!

I never worked out if it was remote controlled or if there was someone inside it, but he had a new respect for any vaguely alien-looking object around the convention after that.

In fact, they have an entire family zone specifically designed to provide entertainment for families.  The family came again last year and Ice Cool was a firm favourite I remember.  The Expo always falls at the end of the half-term holidays in the UK, so it’s ideal for bringing children.

Ice Cool

I didn’t bring them the previous two years because I became hooked on X-Wing, the Star Wars, dogfighting, miniatures game.  The Expo hosts loads of tournaments in a wide range of games.  Whether you prefer the likes of Catan, Agricola and Carcassonne, or prefer two-player games like Netrunner and X-Wing, there seems to be a tournament for every kind of gamer.

I entered the X-Wing tournament two years running.  I fought bravely, and won a few games, but was no match for the top players.  Playing back-to-back X-Wing all day can be pretty tiring as well, but I had a great time.

This year I’ll be going with Mark Windle and Steve Raine, the guys from Boardgame Opinions.  We’ll be there as press this time and will be recording as much footage as we can of all the shiny new games!

We’ll be trying to garner people’s opinions as well as interviewing the various designers/publishers about their games so be sure to check out the channel after we get back.  There will be lots to watch!

Do come up and say “Hi” if you see any of us at the show.  We’ll have our Boardgame Opinions tops on, so we should be fairly obvious!

Are you planning to come to the show this year?  What are you looking forward to most?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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