It’s Monday morning and last night, Gav and I drove 300 miles after we finished the weekend at Tabletop Gaming Live at the Alexandra Palace in London where we were demoing for Ravensburger on their stand at the event. We are ZOMBIES. Sadly for Gav he had to go to work – but I’m at home with Lyoto who has an awful tummy and is lay like a starfish watching Dan TDM on YouTube in recovery. To be honest, I’m good with that – Dan TDM is the best, safest YouTube babysitter in the world and Yotie adores him.
SNAKES AND LADDERS
And before you all start to yawn, we’re not talking about heading off to the Alexandra Palace for Tabletop Gaming Live to help people play snakes and ladders here. We’re talking about geeking out over the amazing, crazily creative games invented by people who are devoted to getting us away from the screen and using our brains on the evenings we can’t go out…or don’t want to.
BOARD GAME PEOPLE ARE FRIENDLY MEEPLES
What’s even more amazing is that board gamers are all ages, all abilities, all backgrounds, and all friendly. So friendly. I’ve never talked to so many people I’ve never met and felt so happy in my entire adult life. You can be dressed to the nines or in your old scruffs, and there’s no judging. None at all – because no one cares about your appearance, we all just want to see new games, play new games and meet people to talk about games…and if you’re like my husband you want to throw your money about like you’re a lottery winner and come home with a tower of boxes that now warrant a new Kallax in our house.
WOOD GREEN TRAVELODGE
As the last time we’d been amongst Board Gaming people was June at the NEC, we were ridiculously excited to meet hoardes of meeples – and peoples – who love board games at Tabletop Gaming Live. We dropped the boys off with Granny and Grandad, Gav knocked back some more coffee on Friday night and we headed off on the second leg to Wood Green Travelodge and a room that had no HAIRDRIER – but did have a built in beer bottle opener on the side of the desk. Go figure. After settling in, we headed downstairs for my first EVER Five Guys burger, and whilst I was ordering a guy came up about 10 inches from my face and yelled – and I mean, YELLED – at me to buy him a sandwich. London is a little bit more scary than Hampshire on an evening.
TABLETOP GAMING LIVE 2019
Tabletop Gaming Live is a slightly shorter event than the UK Games Expo and is spread over the weekend at the Alexandra Palace in London. The location is very grand, although it’s a much, much smaller event inside than the UK Games Expo at the NEC.
Everything is noticeably scaled down and there’s not a huge buzz about it sadly – we had to search quite a bit for publicity surrounding the event and there wasn’t the build up to the excitement that I’d hope for if I was planning to be an exhibitor selling at or a games enthusiast attending an event – especially one with a price tag attached [there was a £16 entry ticket for adults].
After burgers we fell asleep watching Bad Neighbours in our room – you know, the film with the scene in it which means I can never look at Zac Efron in the same way again – and if you’ve seen the movie, you know the scene. We woke up at just after 6 to get ready to be at the Alexandra Palace [apparently known as Ally Pally to the locals] at 7.45am for some board game action. The “Grab and Go” Breakfast from the Travelodge in Wood Green was handed to us in a little ration box with a cute sticker and we grabbed my first ever self-ordered Uber outside. Ten minutes later and we were at the Ally Pally.
WE NEED INSTAGRAMMABLE BOARD GAMING PHOTO OPS
Whereas we were perfectly happy and enjoyed mooching about talking to people and buying games, it feels as if a huge opportunity has been missed here somehow. The location is fantastic but there doesn’t seem to be great consideration given to the demographic and so many opportunities for promotion seem to have been missed, which is such a shame given it’s a prime London location. There’s not a great deal for children to entertain themselves with here other than see new games with their parents, there are few opportunities for instagrammable photo ops [the horror!] and everything felt very much more subdued than at the UKGE. That being said…. I loved it still – and we managed to spend more than the grocery cost us this week. Shhh.
JAWS THE BOARD GAME
So this weekend we were on the Ravensburger stand demoing Disney Villainous and the TWO new expansions, and JAWS. We had copies of JAWS and the Second Villainous Expansion on sale – they aren’t available on Amazon until November 1st and so people were really excited. There wasn’t a minute of the day that we didn’t have a demo in operation and it was great fun. Not anywhere near the scale of the Birmingham based UK Games Expo, and not as phenomenal [sorry TableTop] but it was a fun weekend and we got to meet so many of the people we’d demo’d for at the UKGE again who came to say hi! Jaws sold out early on the Sunday morning and it was phenomenally popular [with good reason – our review is coming soon!].
TABLETOP GAMING LIVE SHOPPING
So Gav came home with Jurassic Park and The Rise of Queensdale from Ravensburger, then spotted Stuffed Fables and Tiny Towns on the Zatu Games stand…and Gloomhaven. GLOOMHAVEN. When I see the guy from Chaos Cards again, we’re having words. I SPECIFICALLY told him not to let Gav onto his stand after he was identified as “the lovely man who sends us packages” and still Gav somehow managed to make his way over to buy more of these lovely packages too…you know, to save on postage apparently.
THE PRETTY, SPARKLY BOARD GAMES
Whilst ordering a little chicken and jalepeno pizza for myself, I scuttled over to see iello and have a look at their Ishtar Game. I didn’t have time for a game sadly even though the guys at Meeples Corner invited me as their fourth player – but it looks AMAZING. Gav immediately knew I’d fall in love with it because it’s soooo pretty. All these sparkly bits and beautiful illustrations. After that I bounced across [I was full of joy, am now full of germs] to speak with Alley Cat Games who have made some of my favourite after dinner games like Dino World and Dice Hospital – and found a kickstarter of theirs due to ship in October which I LOVED the look of – the Chocolate Factory – and then Gav went over later and bought me Cat Café to play, which is another super cute game. What can I say? I like the cute and pretty ones. I also spotted Deep Blue from Days of Wonder and I reeeeeeeally wanted to play but just didn’t have any time whilst I was working.
I HATE MONDAYS
The event closed at 5, we were out of there by 6, at my parents to collect the boys by 8, and nome to bed at 11.30. I am EXHAUSTED. My grand plan was to get up, get the boys to school and then come home and collapse. What happened was we woke up, they were so tired they woke up late, Lyoto got a bad stomach and so had to stay at home and I ended up feeling like I’d been run down with a tractor. So here we are, Monday evening, eating chicken Popstars by Birds Eye and chuckling at Hero’s first ever school photo…check it out on stories if you’re on Instagram!