Saturday 1 June 2024

The Great Exhibition

I've been to a lot of Wargames shows of varying sizes, but I was not really prepared for the scale of the UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham.

Today was my first visit to the event and it was quite frankly, flipping huge.

As an indication of scale, the photo below captures about a third of the gaming hall, which was one of three, the other two being packed to the rafters with traders, demo games, exhibitors and more.

I went with Simon and Leon who I haven't seen for some time, so it was nice to catch up and explore and encourage each other to spend more than we should.

Leon also kindly passed on to me the miniatures from a Kickstarter his company, Kitbash Games, ran a while ago that I backed. I don't have the game cards for Pulp City or Super Mission Force yet, but I can crack on with painting them.

We also got the opportunity to try out a game called Power Vacuum, which was funded via Kickstarter. It was engaging and enjoyable and if you backed it, I'd suggest you made a good investment.

Obviously, there was shopping done, and I took the opportunity to pick up a few things from several companies and save myself some postage on intended future purchases.

My recent Fallout bingeing saw me making a beeline for the Modiphius stand and there were heavily promoting their new skirmish game Fallout Factions, which uses the same range of miniatures as Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, but is apparently more streamlined and plays faster, but without the narrative elements.

They were handily giving out free copies of the quick start rules, and so I might give it a try if I can convince someone to have a go.

I also picked up several card packs for Fallout Wasteland Warfare. There is an app available that provides the same information, but I'm old school (or just old) and prefer physical game pieces. I was also able to find out that the wave two Raiders card pack is being restocked soon, so I should be able to get all the cards I will need for the foreseeable future.

Finally, thanks to my purchases, I qualified for a free blister pack, and so I grabbed a couple of Robobrains to wander the Wasteland causing trouble.

At the TTCombat stand it was nice to see some of the newer miniatures they've added to the Dropzone Commander line in the flesh, including these towering behemoths.

However, given that I already have two full armies for the game, along with a Scourge fleet for Dropfleet Commander, my attention was grabbed more by this particular display of 32mm miniatures in the same setting.

Apparently this game will be coming to Kickstarter soon and I think it might be something that can garner interest within our gaming group.

The only problem is that I can't remember what word they've put between 'drop' and 'commander' this time.

Obviously, TTCombat also have Carnevale, which I haven't done anything for a while. I actually still have some miniatures to paint for this, so I didn't buy more right now, but I did pick up the Blood on the Water supplement, which I've been wanting for a while.

Other purchases of things I've wanted for a while included a very reasonably priced five-headed dragon from Archon Games, who may or may not end up being used as Tiamat in a D&D cartoon cast for 7TV, and a book of Sci-Fi backdrops (which I almost accidentally stole whilst trying to work out who to pay for it) from Handiwork Games, with the intention to jazz up my photography.

Given the name of this blog, I was also on the lookout for freebies, and simply signing up for a couple of mailing lists netted me an RPG map and a baby dragon miniature.

I'm sure I could have put more time into trawling for free stuff, and if I go again next year I'll see if I can increase my haul.

There were loads of pretty miniatures on display on different stands, such as these from Conquest Miniatures, but in no way was this a miniatures focused event, with the biggest crowds being found around the discount boardgames retailers.

One interesting effect of such a big venue was that it made displays that would usually seem extremely impressive feel a little small and underwhelming.

This is purely a contextual effect, but it was a reminder that these are 'miniature' wargames.

I'm aware that given the focus of my personal hobby, I've not really taken any photos outside of the wargaming part of the event.

As I was leaving I was regretting neglecting to take the opportunity to get some pictures of some of the excellent cosplay on display. However, I did get to very briefly meet and say hi to Dave from MiniWarGaming, so at least I could tick 'meet a niche celebrity' of my bucket list.

I forgot to ask for a photo with him too.

The event had a massively different feel to the other events I've been to, even Salute, and felt significantly more professional and mainstream.

It was also a reminder that wargaming is only part of a wider gaming community (included CCGs, RPGs and boardgames) and I think that some of the more traditional events could benefit from reaching out to these other facets of the community to bring more people through the doors.

One company which I was really pleased to see at such a large event was Crooked Dice. It's always nice to see Karl, but I felt that the eclectic range miniatures from a wide range of genres was in the right place to catch people with all sorts of different interests.

For the bustle around the Crooked Dice stand, I think I might be right.

All in all I had a great day. I didn't go too heavy on new miniatures, but I did pick up a number of things that I want and actually got a somewhat different view of the hobby.

I'll definitely go again, and next time I'll have a plan.

Acquired: -87
Painted: 267
Lead Mountain: 696


  1. Sounds like you had a good time, and you're right it is a very different show compared to the pure wargaming ones, the year I went my children enjoyed learning how to be a Viking with some reenactors that were performing outside, they also hade an Orc horde out there.

    1. It definitely has a more family atmosphere, something I think wargaming events might learn from.

  2. I visited this yesterday. It was less busy and there were less people sitting playing games, but still there was a lot going on (I think the whole show was winding down a bit on Sunday). I agree about the atmosphere: both roleplaying and board games feel more family-orientated than wargames. It was a very good day.