Jun 16

UK Games Expo 2017: The Swag



This week I conclude my coverage of Games Expo 2017 with a quick review of the items I bought at the convention.


Last week I posted an overview of my family day at Expo.


Unlike Dragonmeet, my focus at Expo was browsing the huge trade hall. Having learnt from my previous visit, I researched a few boardgames and prepared a list of wants in advance. I probably need a larger budget, but I am very happy with my purchases:

  • Dice Tray
  • Ticket to Ride: Europe
  • Rory’s Story Cubes




Dice Tray

The amazing range of GM kit at the All Rolled Up stand is a staple of my visit to convention trade halls. They sell such a great range of items. A central part of my GM kit is my excellent Geek’s toolbox: the All Rolled Up.


Read the review of my All Rolled Up here.


At Expo ‘16 I bought a folding dice tray, in a beautiful shade of deep blue. This folding tray fits into my trusty All Rolled Up for easy transportation. It also doubles as a mouse mat when I use the laptop in a coffee shop.


However, the dice tray lives in my All Rolled Up. Thus, it is fiddly to use at home as it means digging out the ARU, then unrolling it just to reach the tray. I realised I need a dedicated dice tray for home gaming. At Expo I bought myself a stunning lime green tray to use at home. My travel tray now lives in my All Rolled Up, ready for gaming on the move.


For this, and more clever items, see the All Rolled Up website.



Ticket to Ride: Europe

This was my large purchase from Games Expo this year. It was not on my list, but as we walked around the convention, my wife saw several boxes of this game on various stalls, and then a large demo area for Ticket to Ride. We therefore agreed to try a game, as much to entertain Gerrard as anything else.


One of the lovely young ladies at the Esdevium Games demo area explained the rules to us, and we played a game of the original Ticket to Ride. Actually, we only managed about two-thirds of a game, before Gerrard lost interest, and it became too much of a struggle to continue. However, it was enough to persuade us we needed this gateway Euro game in our collection.


I bought the European version, as the geography is more familiar to us. We also felt the additional rules for ferries and tunnels would add an extra level of challenge to the game. My wife is very interested in the expansions for Ticket to Ride, but for now we only have Europe. On Saturday, we played a game of Ticket to Ride in the hotel. Gerrard focused for the whole game, and the final scores were very close. I am sure we will play this again, soon.
Full credit to Days of Wonder for presenting the game with the coloured carriages pre-sorted into ziplock bags. There is even a small bag of spares. These little touches show great customer care.



Rory’s Story Cubes

The one item from my list which I bought was the base set of Rory’s Story Cubes. My plan is to add these to my GM kit as another source of inspiration for improvisation. I hope to mix these dice with a selection from the genre sets I already own. Once we start using these dice at the table, I plan to write a blog post on this topic.


I have looked at the cubes, and three of the nine cubes are not suited to a fantasy RPG. Many faces show modern icons, and so are less suited for our game. I am happy to remind the Players to interpret the images according to the style of our game. However, there is a limit, and too many modern results would push us too far out of the game. Even with these limitations, I look forward to using these cubes in our campaign.



Dice of the Future

Special mention must go to the set of semi-precious dice we found at the Dice Shop Online stall. I have long admired these beauties, and they feel weighty in the hand. When my wife offered to buy me a full set as a birthday present for my fiftieth next year, I could not refuse. I carefully chose a gorgeous blue set of dice, which came in a presentation box. These are now squirrelled away until next year.



Missed Purchases

As with any convention, once it was all over, I thought of several other things I could have bought. Obviously, there were items on my list I failed to find. I asked around at a few trade stands for the games I wanted, and then had the distinctly unhelpful experience with the large Northern trader. This rather took the joy out of the hunt, coupled with the lack of enthusiasm from Gerrard.


Another purchase I skipped was at the stand selling all manner of cubes and miscellaneous game components. These are such a cool idea, not least as something to use with the boys to encourage them into game design. I really should have paid more attention to the stand, and hunted for a mixed bag of cubes. I will keep an eye out for them next year. Although, it would help if I could recall the name of the stand.


Finally, browsing the thick Games Expo brochure, I spotted a playtest game I should have tried. This was the game Knossus at the Motley Sprue stand. Part of my reticence with demo games is that I do not want the experience followed by a sales pitch. I think a playtest game might sidestep this component. The theme of the game interested me, so I wanted to try it.


The lesson here is to make time at the convention to browse the brochure. This would give me the chance to follow up on anything interesting I find. It also limits the post-convention disappointment of what I should have done.




Once again, this was a relatively small haul of swag. I lack the budget for the heavy bag of purchases which many gamers enjoy. Perhaps I need to save harder. The pre-researched list model worked very well for me, even if I could not track down the game at the top of the list. Yet, I did buy a large boardgame this year, and I fully expect another up-tick in my purchases for next year.


What did you buy at Expo? What hot game did I miss? Can you suggest a dice game I should pick up next year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Happy Gaming



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