Sunday, 5 June 2016

Birmingham Blues

Birmingham NEC is a bit bigger than our usual GNN venue, but Sam and I sped up the M32, M5, M42 to engage in this year’s UK Games Expo 2016.

I didn’t take many photos, (Sam: I did) since I hadn’t planned on blogging, but then events occured and finally I decided I should. As such, this is the only picture I took, trying to capture the overall ambience:

cloud, with flying sausage

Neither I nor Sam had any plans to buy many games, but with prices this low, and with so much variety, it was irresistible. Even a purchase-phobic gamer like me came away with three games and a book of pre-1800 card games.

I got In A Grove, from the same publishers as A Fake Artist. Hopefully it’ll be a smart little deduction game filler that’ll get some action (when I remember to bring it). Also I bought a two-player co-op card game called The Ravens of Thri Sahashri. It sounded intriguing from the blurb on the back, but reading BGG, it seems like an updated version of that 70s classic Mastermind. We shall see.

Andrew, weighing up the Kosmos

The third game I got was called Murder in Rome, and is a simple strategy game from Gothic Green Oak games who specialise in publishing ancient and historical (and out of copyright) games as well as their own simple strategy games. I chose the least chess-like one.

Hopefully Sam will fill us in on his purchases, because I can’t remember a single one (there were five).

Highlights of the day included a photo on the Push It stall which clearly showed Push It being played on a table cloth identical to Sam’s. I had to look twice to make sure they hadn’t taken it from this blog. Also, Sam kept getting appreciative comments from people on his purchases as he walked around the expo with his games in his arms.

Sam here: My appreciative comments were for Glen More and Basari. I got a lot of appreciative comments about the Haba games I bought too, but they were from the people selling them to me.

I got roped into a game of Colt Express and, let me tell you, it’s knockabout slapstick comedy is greatly diminished when playing with strangers. But they all seemed to enjoy it. I came last, for the record. As I got up, I said “Thanks for the game, everyone.” Silence. At least I got a limited edition Colt Express-style Delorean car model (a la Back to the Future 2).

Tom Vasel! I could almost reach out and touch him

There were at least four (Four?!) games based on football. A strategy-ish game with dice that was based on a single match. A card based game of the whole season where the winner is not the one who wins the league, but is the one who most exceeds the fans’ expectations. And there were a couple of others that I didn’t investigate. Is this a new trend, or have there always been football games? I invented a football game using a pack of cards once. It was pretty good. We should play it one day.

No ticket, no entry

Overall, the experience was a very enjoyable one. So why the blog title? (Apart from the fact that everyone loves an E.L.O. reference)

Well, on the journey back we were happily listening to Andy Murray take the first set against Djokovic when suddenly Murray seemed to run out of steam, and so did Sam’s car: the engine wouldn't respond. We drifted into the hard shoulder and called out the AA. So first we had about a forty minute wait (albeit in lovely sunshine, with a pretty view) during which we taught ourselves how to make funny noises by blowing across a blade of grass held between our thumbs.

Once he arrived, he couldn’t get the car started. Then Sam remembered: at the petrol station he’d used unleaded instead of deisel. Oh, calamity! He went to tell the AA man, and he decided we needed to be towed back, so sent for a recovery vehicle.

Another forty minutes or so later, he arrived and guessed immediately (perhaps by chance, or by experience, or maybe he was just joking and got lucky) that someone had filled it with the wrong fuel. Oh, how we laughed. Sam's car was winched up onto the back of his truck and we set off home with our genial driver, 70something going on 50, giving us a brief life story.

So we were back in Bristol after two and a bit hours, which is pretty good all things considered. And it was an interesting episode, if nothing else. If you'd like to relive this experience, just look at this for a couple of hours.



  1. I took some pics too, of the massive games of Ticket to Ride and Pandemic (like, 6ft x 4ft massive, Tom Vasel talking in the the distance (we were enjoying wandering about too much to sit down for any length of time) and Andrew looking slightly bewildered. Perhaps he sensed what was to come...

    My games were a couple of Habas: Space Planets (roll your die to stop in a particular place) and Pharaoh's Gulu Gulu, which is an update of an older game with a rather fun/silly mechanic of not-letting-the-stick-fall-out-of-the-bowl-of-marbles. I know, right?

    The other ones were Glen More, which I've wanted for ages, Basari (the not-card-game version (£6.50!) and Fool's Gold, which is worker-placement crossed with High Society. I wish I had purchased a very silly garlic-collection game (you're all vampires, the active player WEARS A FINGER!) but even more I wish I'd put diesel in the car.

  2. Oops! In A Grove is good fun and I just bought Ravens of Thri Sahashri too. It's not a lot like Mastermind to be honest.

  3. Oh, and at one point Sam pointed to a game I'd never heard of: Compounded, and said that he had it. I don't recall ever seeing it, and Sam put that down to the drab brown box it came in.

  4. Andrew I think you meant diesel not leaded. I don't think you can get that anymore. Looking forward to playing Glen More. Thats one I had my eye on :)

  5. I love Glen More... but I've only ever played it online.