Dec 08

Dragonmeet 2017 Report: Full of Friends

 

I counted down to Dragonmeet over several months, with increasing excitement as the day approached. Now the big day has passed, so it is time for the annual report. Saturday 2nd December was my fifth Dragonmeet convention in London. Once again, the day was a lot of fun.

 

I divide this report into eight sections:

  1. Travel
  2. Dragonmeet Online
  3. Trade Hall
  4. Cool Gamers
  5. Famous Faces
  6. Great Gaming
  7. Seminar Goodness
  8. The Venue

 

 

1. Travel

My day at Dragonmeet began with travelling down to London on public transport. Phil-the-Artist was unavailable this year, so it was a lonely journey. The train part of the travel was smooth. Sadly, the coffee shop on Norwich station was not open when I arrived, so my only coffee of the day was from a convenience shop machine. I really should have picked up something stronger in London.

 

Sadly, the underground part of the day was not so simple. The Hammersmith & City spur of the Circle Line was closed, which negated my planned route. I then boarded the wrong train, so needed to improvise a completely different journey. This meant travelling on the Piccadilly Line, which was very hot and crowded.

 

As a result, I planned a different route home, but that was doomed to failure too. I took a quick trip along the District Line, then hoped to switch onto the Circle Line. After five District Line trains in a row, I started to think all the Circle Line might be affected. Thus I changed back to the Piccadilly Line and endured another crowded train. The only benefit of this extended travel on the Underground was less time waiting about on Liverpool Street Station for my train home.

 

Finally, using the Piccadilly Line meant arriving at Hammersmith in a completely different station. This is unusual for the Underground, as most stations are more unified. However, I was unfamiliar with the Hammersmith Piccadilly station. It took me several minutes to reorientate myself and make my way to Dragonmeet. More details on this story below.

 

2. Dragonmeet Online

After all my problems with Twitter last year, I enjoyed a better experience in 2017. Firstly, my portable battery for the phone worked like a charm. I only needed to top it up whilst on the train. The phone then lasted for the whole day at Dragonmeet with data switched on. This will also solve my problems when at UK Games Expo.

 

With the phone battery strong, I was able to tweet regularly from Dragonmeet. I probably did not manage as many tweets as I should have, but this was easily my best online convention presence. The semi-regular updates were good, but next year I should try to take more photos and ensure a more visual presentation of the convention. However, 2017 was a big step forward in this area.

 

3. Trade Hall

Dragonmeet enjoyed more floor space this year, and I felt the benefit in the trade hall. Both Chessex and Leisure Games were even easier to browse, which are my annual benchmarks for judging the crowd. There were plenty of people attending, but it was nowhere near as crowded as the Piccadilly Line trains I caught. Overall, this felt like another incremental improvement.

 

I spent more than ever this year, a mix of planned and impulse purchases. An expansion of family interest in board games helped to fuel this increase. The report on my Dragonmeet swag follows next week.

 

4. Cool Gamers

And so to the Geeks themselves. Conventions really are wonderful opportunities to connect with fellow Geeks. This year, the social aspect picked up as I seemed to spend the whole day chatting with internet friends both new and established. I needed to socialize this year, as I was travelling alone.

 

The first Geek I met was Notti. (I hope I am spelling your name correctly.) She approached me as I stepped off the Underground in Hammersmith and we navigated the route to the hotel together. Clearly, my Tales of a GM t-shirt worked this year as it advertised me as a fellow Geek.

 

Once I arrived at Dragonmeet Chris Kentlea of Ennead Games found me. We then spent the rest of the day chatting and wandering the halls together. I even helped Chris find a couple of things to buy, although we both remained strong around the stunning metal dice on the DnDice stand.

 

As soon as we stepped into the trading hall, I spotted Richard Gale with another of his glorious waistcoats. Richard came over for a chat again, making him one of the few friends I connected with from last year. This made me three Geeks up before I had even browsed a single stall.

 

Kenny was another familiar face, who found us over lunch. It is always a little weird to travel all the way to London, yet still meet a Player from my Tales of the Hero Wars campaign. Kenny wandered around the halls with us for an hour or so, giving us plenty of time to chat. However, I am glad I resisted his urge to buy pink dice.

 

Then we move onto the new friends for this year. Thanks to her photo on Twitter, I spotted Anjuli in the Ken and Robin seminar. I hurried after her to exchange business cards. Anjuli’s card features a stand-up figure of herself, which is such a cool idea. We then chatted about crafts and podcasts.

 

Finally, my t-shirt worked its magic for the second time and allowed Phil the Dice Mechanic to spot me. I have long been trying to entice Phil over to Norwich for a session of the campaign, so it was great to catch up with him in person. I bumped into Phil and one of his friends again later in the day, so we chatted twice.

 

5. Famous Faces

Along with the cool gamers at Dragonmeet, there were plenty of famous ones. As predicted last year, I no longer had a game for Robin D Laws to sign. Thus, this is something of an empty category in 2017. I saw plenty of famous faces around the hall but did not chat with any of them. Maybe next year.

 

6. Great Gaming

Likewise, after the promising start last year, I was back to playing nothing at Dragonmeet. I am tempted to design a game of convention bingo, to at least make the process of wandering about the trade hall a little more interactive. For this year, however, I drew another blank.

 

7. Seminar Goodness

This year finally reversed the apparent trend of shrinking seminar rooms despite an expanding trade hall. reduce. The small seminar room was a major flaw to the convention last year but has been solved by the organizers.

 

After missing out last year, I made sure we attended the fantastic Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff seminar. The preceding Chaosium event was focused on RuneQuest, so I decided to skip it. Ken and Robin were on great form, so I had a very enjoyable hour listening to them.

 

By the end of the day I had spent out my budget, so decided to attend a bonus seminar just before leaving Dragonmeet. This was a Pelgrane Press seminar focused on mystery games, which relates to the current Shadows of Ulubrae story arc. Present were Ken and Robin, along with Rob Heinsoo, Cat Tobin and Simon Rogers. A double-helping of Ken and Robin topped off my convention.

 

 

8. The Venue

For 2017, Dragonmeet was split over two floors. The trade hall was two flights of escalators down from the games hall. This felt a little odd. The increased space was definitely an improvement, so the requirement to walk a little further was not a big deal.

 

A cloakroom service would have been helpful, as I was laden down with two jackets. I needed these for the colder parts of the journey, but not at the convention. The temperature was not too high in the hotel, which also suggests the venue was not crowded. The route into Dragonmeet was tricky again, but the earlier opening time had cleared the queue by the time Notti and I found the hotel.

 

Conclusion

Overall, another year, another great Dragonmeet. I spent so much of the day chatting with friends and solved my twitter problem. The venue was better with even more space and sufficient seminar seating. This year brought my greatest haul of games which I am excited to play. Dragonmeet remains my favourite convention and something I want to repeat next year.

 

Were you at Dragonmeet? How did you enjoy the convention? What did you think about the split floor arrangement? Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

 

Happy Gaming

Phil

 

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