Expo Gaming Weekend 2021

With UK Games Expo going ahead in a limited format and still having quite a few reservations about attending events, I got together with good friends @davepaters @OrlanthR and @TonyLayter for a weekend of gaming, boozing, eating and game spending…

The weekend started for me on Thursday 29th, picked up by long time gaming pal @TonyLayter. A 2 hour drive saw us at our accommodation near the NEC and we were soon joined by @OrlanthR and @davepaters – it’s the first time we’ve got together face to face in 18 months and was a pure delight to just to waffle on about gaming in the same physical space. Our evening was rounded out with beers and a curry at a local restaurant, very good it was too. What a way to start our Expo gaming weekend!

First face to face contact with Grognards in a long time. How to celebrate? With beer and hobnobs of course!

Expo Trade Hall

We’d bought Expo tickets for the Friday and Saturday, with an initial plan that we’d raid the trade hall on Friday morning and possibly visit again on the Saturday. So with our wallets in hand we headed to Expo itself. What a treat it was to be in such a place again – the excitement of walking through the entrance and seeing the stalls laid out. Covid precautions were spot on, lots of space between stands, compulsory facemasks and double vaccination or negative lateral flow test result to get in – I never felt worried about being too close to others. It was clear this was significantly smaller than previous events, taking up maybe a third or quarter the space of the 2019 event, and with many stands empty (we assumed they were due to late cancellations). Many of the big publishers were absent, but there was still there was plenty to get stuck into and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours moving from stand to stand. As is usual there were a lot more board game stands than RPG’s, some of them seem so niche I was struggling to see who would buy them… then there was the circus act stand, I wonder if that guy did get punched across the weekend?

I approached this years purchases with a degree of restraint as I’m struggling for shelf space with my current games, but I came away with Mork Borg and the Cult: Feretory supplement and the Forbidden Lands boxed set (and now I’m looking at the new Forbidden Lands Kickstarter sigh). I’m really pleased with my purchases though… likewise I know @OrlanthR, @TonyLayter and @davepaters all bought a fair bit, @OrlanthR winning the mightiest haul prize and @davepaters getting the why did I give into the shiny and buy that prize for his 13th Age and supplements purchase. The damage to our wallets could have been much worse.

It’s always great to catch up with the Grognards who were able to make it to Expo, although this year understandably there were far fewer, still good to say hello and share a coffee with @filmfan68, @xtamsynx, @pauljbaldwin and @boreders (apologies if I’ve missed anyone out).

As we left Expo we were all pretty confident we wouldn’t need a second visit on the Saturday, we had been to all the stands we wanted to visit and each bought more than enough, and with it being on a much smaller scale we didn’t feel we’d be missing anything out at all. Plus it would give us a day of uninterrupted gaming on the Saturday.

Our shared Expo haul – quality gaming in this lot!

WFRP

The Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were spent back at the house continuing the WFRP starter set adventure we played a few weeks back online. This was what the weekend was really all about – gaming friends sitting around a table, doing what they love best. @OrlanthR had done a load of prep for this (and by all accounts was delighted to take his posh handmade leather bound GM screen out for a spin) and it showed in play. As members of the watch we looked on agog while the corrupt and lazy Sergeant Rudi Klumpenklug achieve accolades for our efforts, and we went on to face a dire chaos threat in Ubersreik. Brilliant stuff, made all the more amazing due to @OrlanthR‘s efforts and of course the other players.

Masks of Nyarlathotep

@davepaters had promised to kick of this huge campaign at the Expo weekend, and with PCs created in advance we launched into the session with full fervour. Face to face Call of Cthulhu! It doesn’t get better than this! As a keen note taker in any game I play, I was scribbling furiously as we were all drawn into the adventure. My character, Oswald Cartwright, was a friend of Jackson Elias who had summoned me and some chums to New York… well I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll leave that there, but what can I say about this adventure and @davepaters‘ skilful GMing of a complex investigative adventure? It was flippin’ brilliant that’s what, we were drawn into the mystery and enlightened and horrified in equal measure. We’ve taken the first tentative steps into this monster of a campaign (@davepaters is running the original version) and already there is so much information to work through. Fantastic stuff, can’t wait to continue this…

Wrapping up the weekend

Like all good things, the weekend was over too soon and we faced the drive home with sad faces, yet with great memories of the first proper gaming weekend in near 18 months. Following a nice lunch in a posh country pub we said our farewells as our thoughts turned to other face to face gaming events we hope to attend… Owlbear and Wizards Staff in September and Grogmeet in November, then hopefully lots more in 2022!

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