Friday, 9 June 2017

UK Games Expo 2017

Yep, I went again this year.

Accompanying me were my friends Alex and Richard, along with Richard's dad Graham.

Last year, Alex and I stayed in the Premier Inn in the grounds of the National Exhibition Centre. This year however on the same weekend as the Expo, Take That were playing concerts in the Genting arena which is also in the NEC. This meant that the Premier Inn had roughly tripled their prices compared to last year making it prohibitively expensive to stay there. So instead, we joined Richard and Graham at a caravan park just down the road and slept in the awning of Graham's caravan.

Last year, Alex, Richard and myself had played in two tournaments. The first was the Star Trek Attack Wing nationals, the second, the DreadBall European Open.
Wizkids (the company that produces Star Trek Attack Wing) had decided to not have the national competitions for their games at the Expo this year, instead they will be holding them at an event exclusively for their games later in the year. This will be at a store and gaming venue Called Fan Boy 3 in Manchester. Here is Fan Boy 3's website. And Here is the info about the national competitions for Wizkids games that will be held there.
Mantic (the company that created DreadBall) are in the process of changing over to the second edition of their Sci-Fi sports game so, as with S.T.A.W., no tournament for it at the Expo this year.

Thursday night came and, what were we going to do? Play a game of course. Richard has recently gotten into a game called Rumbleslam. It's a fantasy themed wrestling game with characters as diverse as humans, undead, reptile men and pixies. Graham is not a gamer but was willing to join the rest of us. Richard, who owns the game and, as a completist, was to pick up all the models that he didn't already own first thing in the trade hall on Friday Morning, instructed the rest of us how to play. I took a team of two dark elves from a team called the Twisted Shadows plus another dark elf special character called Phage (Richard told me she was based on a WWE wrestler called Paige. (Many of the characters in this game are based on real wrestlers.)) and a human special character called Caria.
Here's a picture of Phage in front of her stat card.

The four of us played a royal rumble, having first 1000 Dosh (the name given in the game to the points you have to purchase each character with) to spend on our team. In the end, it was non-gamer Graham that triumphed having three characters, out of his starting five, left in the ring after all others had been eliminated. The game is really fun. A lot more than I expected it would be. I was even considering buying a team for it. The thing that put me off is the sculpting of the characters. With the exception of the dark elves and the humans, they are, in my opinion, terrible. I get that the design of them are meant to convey as sense of fun but their cartoony look really puts me off. If, however, you like that look, I recommend Rumbleslam. Here is the TTCombat page for the game.

On Friday morning, the trade hall opened to the general public at 11. The four of us were in a few minutes after. It proved an expensive day for me. Not even having made it around the entire place, I still managed to shell out a load of money on this lot.

Geek Battle. The bring-and-buy didn't, to me, seem to offer many great deals this year. I did however, manage to find this quiz game for geeks for a paultry two pounds. Here is its Boardgame Geek entry.

Fina Prime. I had never picked up this Vidiian ship for Star Trek Attack Wing due to it being so ugly. But at less that half the standard retail price I couldn't resist. BGG page for it here.

Event exclusive Carnevale miniature. I fell in love with the look of the Venice set skirmish game Carnevale as soon as I first saw it. So muich so that when the Kickstarter for the Second Edition of the game went live, I pledged. Unfortunately, after the Kickstarter Campaign ended, Vesper On, the company the created it, went bust. Luckily a retailer and games producer, The Troll Trader, bought the licence. TTT have released a whole load of new sculpts for the characters from the game. I don't like these nearly as much as the original Vesper On sculpts though, so am really glad that I own a load of them from the Kickstarter that i did. Anyway, the Expo exclusive miniature is a Capadocian. Here is the BGG page for the original version of the game.

Metal D20. I have just started playing in a campaign of Alternity with my Monday Night roleplaying group and I thought that this die would add to the experience.

T.I.M.E Stories base game and The Marcy Case expansion. T.I.M.E Stories is my favorite game. A friend of mine borrowed the base game and the Prophecy Of Dragons secnario expansion from a friend of his. We, along with two other friends (one of which is the aforementioned Alex) played through them. The game is co-operative, with the players undertaking an adventure as T.I.M.E agents jumping into bodies of people throughout time and the multiverse fixing problems to protect humanity. The four of us are going to split the cost of this base set and scenario equally between us. As you can only play each secnario once to success, we plan to sell these on after we have completed them. Here is the BGG entry for the base game. I really recommend this game.

Scythe. I first saw this at the Expo last year. It is a euro game with great looking components set in an alternate 1920s. The BGG page for it can be found here.

Fighting Fantasy books. I wanted a new copy of Forest Of Doom as my old copy is buried away somewhere in the storage area of my loft. I found the Fighting fantasy stall, complete with Ian Livingston (who, along with Steve Jackson created the series) doing signings. I picked up a copy and told the salesman that I'd like to buy it. It was on sale for £4.99. He offered me a deal, Forest Of Doom plus three other Fighting Fantasy books, all signed by Ian for just ten pounds. I took the offer.

Here is a better look at the four books that I bought.

Steve told us that, when the trade hall closes, he would be doing a talk on his top ten games. We went and watched. One that he chose was Diplomacy. On his recommendation, on Sunday, Richard picked up a copy for just four pounds from a stall in the trade hall.

Friday Night and it was time for us to partake in the first of the two roleplaying sessions that we had booked for the expo. I had been wanting to play Call Of Cthulu for a long time and a this was my opportunity. Call Of Cthulu is a roleplaying game named after one of and based of the works of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. We were going to play the recently released Seventh Edition. The scenario saw us as teenage boy scouts from the town of Arkham, going out into the woods for a weekend of fun. At some point during the first night, two of our fellow scouts were abducted from the campsite without any alarm being raised until morning. After the discovery, our characters set out on a hunt for the missing boys. We found the fist one, flayed, up a tree! Our scout master left to get some help from the local authorities. On foot though, as the distributor cap from the only vehicle at the camp had been removed. Later, arming ourselves with whatever we could find (luckily there were some rifles in the campsite's hut but very few bullets), we went to find the other missing boy. We found this poor fellow quite a way from camp, up a steep hill, again in the branches of a tree, but encased in a cocoon made of branches. Further examination showed us that his heart had been replaced with another, smaller branch cocoon which contained the heart of a small animal. Suitably freaked out, our characters returned to camp. Expecting some kind of monster to attack, we hid in the basement recreation room of the hut. We were attacked. Not by a single monster though but by five of them. Strange wooden "Wicker Children". A seige ensued with us narrowly managing to best the tree creatures but not before I accidently manged to shoot another player's scout in the back whilst trying to defend the stairway that lead to the basement. After this, a secret door was discovered that lead to a small room conatining a table with an old tattered manuscript on it. Reading this opened up a doorway to another dimension. Going through, we were faced with a magician and his Byakhee (a nasty winged monstrosity). We were somehow able to defeat them though and escape back to our world.

Saturday saw us looking around the rest of the trade hall, buying more stuff and Richard and I trying out a game of the recently release wargame Runewars (more on that below).

Here is what I bought on the Saturday.

Lobotomy. The premise and look of this game captured my imagination. You play as an inmate of a psychiatric hospital attempting to escape. Due to your delusions, the staff that are trying to stop you, appear a monsters and mundane objects as wonderous artifacts. Here is the Boardgame Geek page for it.

Star Wars Rebellion. I first saw this at Expo last year and was considering buying it then. I wanted to try it out before buying it but the two tables in Fantasy Flight's (the game's publishers) area that had it on were occupied. I watched a woman and her son play it for a while though and got enough of a sense of the game play to satisfy myself that I would like it. BGG entry for it here.

AVP Upgrade Pack. As I mentioned in my previous blog post (Dragonmeet 2016), I recently purchased a copy of AVP. It hadn't been out very long until Prodos, the people who made the game, released a second edition. I guess that there must have been a lot wrong with the rules for the need to do this. (I don't know for sure though as I haven't actually played it yet.) Fortunately, for those of us who bought the original, they also released an upgrade pack which conatins the second edition rules plus new tokens. Here's the link to the BGG page for the original version of the game.

Hero Realms. This is a deck builder by the same people that created Star Realms. My friend Dave was saying, before I went to Expo, how much he wanted to get this game. So I bought him a copy for his Christmas present. Don't worry about him seeing this blog and the surprise being spoilt though as when I gave it to him, I made him unwrap it so that he wouldn't go out out and buy a second copy between now and Christmas Day. He's not going to play it until after Christmas though. You can find the BGG entry for Hero Realms here.

I first saw the Runewars Miniatures Game at wargames club, Enfield Gamers, when I popped in one Saturday. I was initially put off by the miniatures that, unpainted, looked a bit toy-like to me. An additional thing that put me off were the "strange cardboard dialy things" that sat behind each unit.
At Expo, Richard and I thought we'd have a go however. Painted, the models actually look pretty good. And the "strange cardboard dialy things"? They are actually a really innovative way to order your units. Now I play Star Trek Attack Wing (a lot) and X-Wing The Miniatures game (very little). A feature that both of these games have in common is an orders dial. At the beginning of each round of these two games, for each of your units on the battlefield, you set an order on their dial for them to complete in their activation. I first saw this system in X-Wing The Miniatures Game which was produced by Fantasy Flight. One of the co-publishers of the Runewars Miniatures Game is Fantasy Flight. A difference in the dial ordering system of this compared to X-Wing and Attack Wing is that for each unit, you have two dials. These two dials, among other things, determine when a unit will act, how far and in which direction it will move and how it will attack. The movement system is also similar to X-Wing and Attack Wing in that when you move a unit, you place, on the table top, a template with one end touching that unit and move the unit so that it ends up in contact with the other end.
Richard and I only got in the first two turns of a game as we started pretty near to the closing time of the trade hall. We played together, taking half of the undead army each, against two other guys.

This is how our battle line looked at the start of the game complete with "strange cardboard dialy things".

At the end of the second round's movement phase, our armies had made contact. I had managed to outflank the golem unit with my wormy thing and had been able to pivot to hit it in the side.

Runewars Miniatures Game comes with two starter armies, undead and humans. Here is the Boardgame Geek page for it.

Here are a two more pictures from the table that Richard and I played on. At one end was an open battlefield for games and the other, a ruined castle display with...

...humans sneaking into the sewers underneath... rid it of the vile undead occupation.

When the trade hall closed, we decided to head back to the caravan. We began a game of Spartacus Blood And Treachery ( Boardgame Geek page for it here) which, co-incidentally, I had bought on the bring-and-buy at last years Games Expo. We only had time for me to give a rules explanation (Alex and Richard had played before but Graham hadn't) and get in the first three phases of the first turn of the game before we realised that we had to head to The Hilton for our second roleplaying session of the weekend, a game of Only War.

Upon entering the room in which our roleplaying session was to take place, we were confronted by this man.

In this picture he is in an action pose but when we walked into the room, he was standing, motionless and silent. he gestured for us to take our seats. Our games master had another persona, that of Commisar Havelock Von Havelock III (Jnr.). The commisar gave us our briefing, after which our games master would, at times slip back into this persona, mainly to execute us with his Nerf gun. Execution in this game wasn't the end though. We were playing as cloned Imperial Guardsmen from the dead world of Krieg and we had six clones each. Only War is a roleplaying game set in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe. The story goes that Krieg had been invaded by the forces of Chaos and, unable to wrest control of it back from them, the powers that be decided to nuke the entire planet. The population now live underground, their only contribution to the Imperium Of Man, soldiers.
Our mission was to infiltrate a starship of unrecognised design that had recently appeared from warpspace. A squad of Deathwatch Space Marines had already boarded but contact had been lost with them. Being somewhat expendable, we were to be sent over to find out what had happened to them. We shuttled over and were greeted by a servitor. It offered us refreshments and told us that "Honoured Guests" (the Space Marines we assumed) had gone to watch "the show". We were now invited to do the same. Richard, who was currently playing the Sergeant, declined this offer and instead ordered us to open fire. We made short work of the servitor and the two gun servitors that arrived soon after. Another servitor, just like the first, appeared and offered us the same as his predecessor. Again the Sergeant declined. We did some exploring and discovered that the ship was a pleasure liner. To move the plot forward, I had my character disobey the spirit of the sergeant's orders and go and watch the show. I was presented with a convincing hologram of the (now catatonic) Emperor Of Mankind, ordering his troops to stand down as the galaxy was now at peace. With this, a previously unseen, by me, and badly injured Deathwatch Space Marine stood up, bellowing with rage and opened fire on the holographic image. As I kept my head down, gun servitors entered the room. The marine was subdued and taken, by way of a trapdoor lift in the stage of the auditorium, to the bowels of the ship. I reported back to the rest of the squad. It appeared that the ship had been lost in the warp for millennia and that the message may indeed be genuine. With the galaxy now at war, this must have seemed as anathema to the genetically enhanced Space Marines that viewed the message before me. Our squad bundled into the stage lift in an attempt to find and rescue the Space Marine and, hopefully, discover what had happened to his squad mates. The lift wasn't designed for a whole squad of guardsmen to use at the same time though and one of our number was crushed to death. However, he was soon replaced by a new clone teleported in. Down the lift shaft, we discovered the Space Marine being moved, via conveyor belt, through a number of operating theatres. In each one, a portion of his genetic enhancement was removed. In the final chamber, the marine's geneseed (the reproductive organ that allows more Space Marines to be created) was removed and stored away. We followed the marine on the last part of his journey as he was deposited in one of the liner's passenger cabins. We looked in neighbouring cabins and found the other members of his squad, also stripped of their enhancements, were being kept. It was at this point that we discovered that radio communications to outside of the ship were being blocked. We found a way to contact the outside though. From a section of the ship containing an infinity pool set against a huge transparent plasteel bubble, we could see the Deathwatch Space Marine's Strike Cruiser. I waded out into the water and, using my lamp pack, signaled with Morse Code in an attempt to get a response. Moments later, a marine in boarding armour floated out of an airlock on the cruiser. I reported our findings and asked for instructions. We were told to retrieve the gene seeds and if possible rescue the marines. Failing that, we were to destroy the ship. We found our way back to the final operating theatre and attempted to access the part of the wall that the gene seeds had disappeared into. Using a newly teleported in Multi-melta (a powerful weapon that "cooks" its target with microwaves), Richard (now the heavy gunner) created a hole in the wall. At the same time, one of our number was able to use an instrument panel to call up the gene seeds. Between the damage caused by the Multi-melta and us fumbling when trying to catch the marine organs from a damaged robotic arm, we only managed to retrieve two of them. Not fully realising that, after an hour, we were going to be teleported out of the ship, we made our way to the engine room to destroy the ship. After we got there, the realisation did hit us, but Richard decided to perform a TPK anyway (a TPK is a Total Party Kill and usually happens when one of the players in a group does something particularly stupid). Richard had his character throw a Krak Grenade into the ship's fusion reactor...T...P...K.

On Sunday, we got to the trade hall pretty late. We just had time for a last quick look around the bring-and-buy and for me to buy this.

Yep, another module for T.I.M.E stories. I thought that while it was available for a good price, I may as well get it.

We then rushed over to The Hilton for Knightmare Live. Knightmare was a great kids television show in the early '90s that I have very fond memories of. Knightmare live is a comedy stage show version of it. Actors portray characters such as Treguard and Lord Fear and have members of the audience up on stage to attempt a quest to retrieve a magical item. I really recommend this show and, in case you do go and see it, will not be giving any spoilers away. One bit that did amuse me though that I can say (as it will change with every performance) was when Lord Fear asked the audience what things they are afraid of. One guy shouted out
        "Fluff...seriously, fluff."
To which Lord Fear replied
        "Have you looked in your belly button recently?"

Afer the show, we had a drink in the Hilton's bar before heading back to the caravan site.

We finished our game of Spartacus and then went on to play Cards Against Humanity (Boardgame Geek page here.)

Here are a few other cool pictures from the Expo.

There were a number of cosplayers at Expo and they had their own corner of the trade hall. They don't only make costumes but props too. Here is a fun Jawa in a miniature sand crawler...

...and a rather excellent BB8 style droid.

Wotan Games were there with their rather cool bus. I had intended to try out their re-release of War Of The Nine Realms but didn't get around to it.

The Mystery Machine. We first saw it in one of the car parks outside the Expo. Then we saw it at our campsite. Then again in one of the Expo car parks. Were the Scooby Gang following us?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Dragonmeet 2016.

Saturday the 3rd of December last year was Dragonmeet 2016. It's a gaming convention that I go to every year and I always try to drag along at least a few of my friends for company. This year, I managed to convince four of my best buddies, Alex, Richard, Drak and Dave to come. We managed to get a discounted group ticket for £40 which would let six of us in. With a spare ticket, I asked around and managed to palm the last place off to a friend called Dan from Isleworth Boardgamers, a club which Dave and I go to every Wednesday night and to which Alex occasionally puts in an appearance. (If you're ever in Isleworth on a Wednesday night and have a passion for board games, you're more than welcome to join us. We meet every week at the London Apprentice pub by the River Thames. We also have a guild on Boargame Geek. Here is the link to our page. If you feel a bit shy about just turning up, why not send us a message first?) To my surprise, another of my best friends, Jess turned up with Richard.

Dan had brought his young son along and as soon as the doors opened, the pair shot off fairly rapidly. One of the games they played that day was a "giant" version of Thunderbirds. Here is a link to the Boardgame Geek page for the regular sized version.

One of the first places Dave and I headed was the Leisure Games stall as, at the last couple of Dragonmeets, we'd gotten some great bargains from their discount shelves. Leisure games is what's known to gamers as a FLGS (Friendly Local Games Shop). It's located in Finchley, North London. They also have a webstore, Here is a link to it. Unfortunately, this time we were unable to find any bargains from them that tickled our fancies. Dave loves a bargain game (he has found many corkers in charity shops) and after loosing track of him, I found him again at the bring-and-buy tables. I hadn't intended to buy much, at this convention but I found an almost brand new copy of AVP: The Hunt Begins (Here's the Boardgame Geek page for it.) with all components present and unused. I'd been looking at this game on my trips to Wayland Games (a brilliant discount wargames shop and gaming centre Here's the link to their webshop.) for several months but was put off by the high price tag. It was on the bring-and-buy for £50 however and I couldn't resist buying it.

I met back up with Alex, Richard and Jess and, at some point, it dawned on us that we hadn't signed up for any of the drop in role playing sessions that Dragonmeet is famous for. By the time we got to the sign up sheets, there weren't many slots available. However, we found a game that we could all fit into that sounded fun. It was described as having similarities to the TV shows, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. More on Monster Of The Week later.

HATE (Hackney Area Tabletop Enthusiasts) is a gaming club that meets in Hackney, North East London. I've gone up there a couple of times for various events but Richard is a regular attendee. While Dave and Drak went off to try out some new games, Richard convinced those of us left to try out a game called Frostgrave that the HATE guys were demoing. Frostgrave has a player controlling a group of adventurers, lead by a wizard, around a ruined frozen city. Richard had convinced me with his sheer enthusiasm for it, at the beginning of last year, to buy the core rulebook but I had yet to actually have a game. I'd read the rules though so half knew what I was doing.

Below is the awesome Frostgrave table that HATE had brought along for the day. (The pint of beer isn't part of the scenery.)

It was decided that Jess and Richard would team up against myself and Alex. The winners would be the first team to get a certain number of treasures off of the edges of the playing area. However, Alex and I soon decided that it was every man for himself and that we'd just as happily fight each other as we would Richard and Jess.

Alex had a team of what can only be described as "pig-orcs" and first blood went to his crossbowman, who sniped my wizard, wounding him badly. Below is a picture of the nefarious neer-do-well.

The look of Alex's models reminded me of the orcs from the 1980's Dungeons And Dragons cartoon series. here's a picture for comparison.

Alex's crossbowman didn't last long though, as my archer took him out in one shot. I'd previously tried to zap him with a blast from my wizard, an elementalist, but I was unable to roll high enough to cast the powerful spell that I was going for.

Jess' wizard was the type known in Frostgrave as a "witch". Here it is, along with one of its henchmen, closing in on my warband.

She then sent her barbarian in to finish my wizard off.

All the while, Jess, Alex and I were fighting, sneaky Richard, snuck around and snuck off of the table the required amount of treasures for him and Jess to win the game.

There are obvious comparisons to draw between Frostgrave and the 1999 Games Workshop game Mordheim. You run a warband around a ruined city, gaining experience for your characters, making them more able, sometimes having them suffer injuries or dying altogether, in the hunt for treasure and glory. I've played Mordheim and now Frostgrave and agree with what one of the HATE guys said about them both. He said "If Mordheim is VHS, then Frostgrave is Blu-Ray!". If you'd like to have a further look into both games, here is the Boardgame geek page for Mordheim and here is the page for Frostgrave.

 After a quick lunch, the remnants of which we took with us, it was time for Alex, Jess, Richard and myself to go to our role playing session.

The game was Monster Of The Week. Here is the RPG Geek entry for it. The ruleset for this game is known as the Apocalypse World Engine and was first used in (funnily enough) Apocalypse World. A number of games using this system have been published since its origin.

Our games master was Robin and we were also joined by a guy called Angel. Robin gave us each a choice of character. I went for The Initiate, a religious warrior whose organisation has fought against The Darkness since time began. Our character sheets were incomplete. The incompleteness wasn't, in this case, a bad thing as Robin had left us with a few options to finish off and customise our characters.
Now, before I tell you the story of our game, a roll-call of our characters:
Myself - Kayvan, A holy warrior skilled in the use ancient weaponry;
Alex - Xeno, an Illithid who was trying to make up for his monstrous ways;
Richard - Eric Bay, an agent of a shadowy organisation;
Jess - Nia Chase, a strange telepathic little girl;
Angel - Valefar, an unsanctioned angel who had decided to ally himself with my character.

I (Kayvan) was woken up in the early hour of the morning and instructed to check on an old associate of mine. The team assembled at the address of my associate where we found blood, a hole in the side of her house and a smell of gas. We followed a trail from her house, into the woods behind and found her remains.

(Now the next bit is somewhat fuzzy in my mind as Dragonmeet was at the beginning of December and I'm writing this in March...and I have a terrible memory. So I apologise to anyone who was there if I get any of the details wrong.) The team split up, some heading to a barbecue and the rest of us to a biker bar. Violence had ensued at the barbecue and, at the biker bar, myself, Valefar and Xeno encountered a powerful monstrous beast. We were able to hurt it enough that it dissapated, but not without it wounding me. At both the barbecue and the bar, there were also strange smelling burgers being cooked.

I remembered the legend of the Wendigo, a North American monster that some say can be summoned by the eating of human flesh. It turned out I was spot on! The burgers had once been people!

Doing some research and using our NPC (non-player character) contacts, we discovered that the way to banish a Wendigo was to perform a ritual once employed by Native Americans. It wasn't as simple as just researching and then performing the ritual though, as we needed an authentic ritual mask.

We contacted the local Native American tribe then journeyed to their casino. Nia, being a little girl wasn't allowed in as the rest of us were, so I suggested that she waited in the ball pit in the children's play area. Big mistake. Our team met with the tribe elder and got advice about the ritual. We were told that we couldn't have their genuine ritual mask as it was an ancient relic of the tribe but replicas were available in the gift shop. Meanwhile, at the ball pit, a pair of small brothers were being mean to Nia. Overreacting grossly, she let off a psychic blast at one of the boys, flinging him back, giving him a nosebleed and damaging his brain. Things had degenerated into a mess. It was at this point that Valefar began attempting to convince me to steal the genuine ritual mask that was in a glass display case near to the "Ball Pit Incident". He wasn't sanctioned by my church and was not acting in an angelic manner and it was at this point that I realised that he might not be an angel after all but something much more sinister. I declined but after what Nia did and the fact that Valefar then unfurled his liquid metal wings, smashed the display case and grabbed the mask, our team made a swift exit.

At another location, we prepared to enact the ritual. To banish the Wendigo, we first had to summon it however. That part was the easiest. Staying alive while we completed the banishment part was far trickier. We did though and we sent the monster back to whichever nether-realm it came from.

After the game, there was time for a quick last look around the trade hall. I made a last minute impulse buy. I bought a game by Fantasy Flight based on Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe, called Forbidden Stars. (Here is its Boardgame Geek page.) I'd liked the look of this game since I first saw it in 2015, the year of it's release but like the aforementioned AVP that I had got at a bargain price from the Bring And Buy earlier in the day, I had been put off by its high price. I managed to find it on a stall for the discounted price of £74. Yes, it's a lot of money but Fantasy Flight had recently lost the license to produce games base on GWs intellectual properties so it wouldn't be getting a reprint. Prices for the game had already began to increase. There had been a copy on the bring and buy for £85. Using his phone, Richard checked Amazon and found that, on there too, the price had jumped to £85. I'd wanted to try out the game before buying it but believing that I was very unlikely to again find it this cheaply and on Richard's recommendation (he had played it several times) I made the purchase.

After the trade hall closed, Richard, Jess and I headed to the bar area. (Our other friends had headed home.) This was where the raffle was to be drawn, the traditional Dragonmeet charity auction was to be held and where a new thing for Dragonmeet, the geek pub quiz would be. To our glee, one of our friends, Drak won an item in the raffle. I explained that he had gone home so was invited to chose a prize for him out of those that were left. I selected a reprint of a boardgame that Dave had mentioned a few times that he remembered from his youth, Escape From Colditz. Here is Osprey games' official site for it. During the auction, Richard, Jess and I unboxed my copy of Forbidden Stars. I was eager to see the components and was not dissapointed. As with every Fantasy Flight game that I have seen, the various parts were of a very high standard. After the auction, a table of about 12 next to us were playing a card game unfamiliar to me. For some reason at various points, they were making loud, squeeky animal noises. It was irritating. Then Jess went to a nearby supermarket to grab some dinner. She came back just before the quiz started and informed us that she was going to try and sleep on a couple of the now vacant tables near to the bar area. She often cat-naps. She had a load of bags with her and I decided that, if asked by a Dragonmeet or hotel official if she was with Richard and I, I would reply "No, I think she's just some kind of hobo that wandered in off the street.". Richard and I did OK at the quiz, we were joined part way through by a couple who gave us their help and we came just above midway in the scoring. Annoyingly, the "Animal Squeekers" with their 12-member quiz team won.

I always have a great time at Dragonmeet and this year was no exception.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Cool Star Wars stuff at Gatwick Airport.

I went to Italy (my favourite European country) for a week at the end of last month. I flew from Gatwick Airport. As I sat down in the departure lounge my attention was immediately grabbed by the HUGE advert for Star Wars: Rogue One that I was now facing. It consisted of a bunch of stormtroopers on the left of it, the title of the film in the middle (just in case you've been living under a rock in the desert and didn't already know what the advert was for) and,on the right, the heroes running to meet the 'troopers. It was awesome. A beautiful graphic and massive, I estimated it to be about 35 to 40 feet high.

Here is a picture of the left part with the aforementioned stormtroopers and the Death Star in the background.

And the good guys.

They also had some Star Wars merchandise for sale in the main duty free shop. In the pic below, in front of the giant Lego figures, are the range of Star Wars scents that I assume, by their names and box designs, came out to coincide with the release of The Force Awakens. I use the term "scents" rather than "aftershaves" and/or "Perfumes" as, after having a sniff of each one, I was unable to tell if they were intended for wear by men or women. Unfortunately, they weren't particularly nice either.

They also had, for sale, some large Lego kits with a fair chunk off of the R.R.P. due to them being duty free.

And outside the shop, these. Giant versions of the original Kenner action figures.

All in all, very cool.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Movie Prop Exhibition.

OK. So I've been a bit slow in getting this post written. Way back in October 2014, there was a movie prop and costume exhibition (to be followed by an auction) at the Vue cinema in the Westfield shopping centre in Shepheard's Bush, London. As I live just down the road from there, it seemed like a good place to go along to with my camera.

I actually went there twice. Firstly, with my friends, Alex and Dave. That evening, we didn't get to see the exhibition as the gallery was closed for a private viewing. Grumble. So I went back alone as the guys couldn't make it again due to work commitments and other reasons.

I took lots of photos. Way to many to put on this blog. So I've included some of my favourites.

Star Wars.

If you're a fan of Star Wars, you'll recognise these Death Star gun towers.

This is a helmet belonging to an Imperial Biker Scout from Return Of The Jedi.

In very bad condition but extremely cool, these are the actual gloves worn by Anthony Daniels when he played C-3PO.


My all time favourite film.

The head of the Alien Queen puppet as designed by (in my opinion) the greatest movie creature designer of them all, Stan Winston. (Among others, he also designed the Predator and the T-800 Endoskeleton from The Terminator.)

The Fifth Element.

A very good film by Luc Besson with great performances by Bruce Willis, Mila Jovovich, Gary Oldman and Chris Tucker.

The helmeted head of a Mondoshawan, the shambling aliens that you see in the temple at the beginning of the film.

Starship Troopers.

Now, I didn't really like this film. I like other Paul Verhoeven movies such as Robocop and Total Recall but I never really got on with Starship Troopers.

I've included this picture though, as this model, of the starship Rodger Young, is so impressive. It's beautifully detailed and approximately 10' long. The detailing even includes damage from a plasma bug blast on the bow.


A film of Arthurian Legend based on Thomas Malory's, Le Morte d'Arthur. Now, my friend Jess loves the movie King Arthur starring Clive Owen and hates Excalibur. I have exactly the opposite opinion. I love the epic majesty of the John Boorman's film and think that King Arthur is a steaming pile of poo. Jess doesn't read my blog but now I've written this, she probably will and then leave a comment telling me what an idiot I am!

Above, Gabriel Byrne's Uther Pendragon armour.
Below, Robert Addie's Mortdred armour.

When watching the film, you would be convinced that the armour therein was genuine metal plate. However, on inspecting it, albeit through a glass display case, I found that it seems to be made of fibreglass.

Star Trek.

We've had some Star Wars props, so now it's time for some Star Trek ones.

These are the mag boots worn by the assassin of Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country. On the left you can see a Next Generation tricorder...

...and here's a better look at it.

Right, this costume is important. It's a Star Fleet cadet uniform from the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. The return to the original crew (albeit played by younger actors) is supposedly brought about by a Romulan mining ship passing through a quantum singularity and appearing at the time of James T. Kirk's birth. Supposedly, the timeline has been altered and we are to accept this new status quo as cannon. However, you will notice that the uniform has the familiar Star Fleet arrowhead decoration on the collar. In the Original Series, every Star Fleet ship had its own insignia, The arrowhead belonged to The Enterprise. It was adopted by the time of The Next Generation by Star Fleet as a whole, in recognition of the original crew's service. As this cadet uniform comes from a time before even the NCC-1701 Enterprise had been launched (the uniforms in Enterprise with Scott Bakula didn't have the arrowhead), one can only assume that the Abrams Trekverse is an alternate reality altogether and the Prime Universe (from Enterprise through to the end of Voyager) still exists.


One of my all time favourite shows. Absolutely brilliant.

This is the costume of one of the evil Skarran royal family.

For Alex.

These next two pictures are for Alex, one of my friends who originally came with me to see the exhibition when it was closed for the aforementioned private viewing. I'm pretty sure he's seen them before but I thought I'd put them on here nonetheless.

This is Marty McFly's hoverboard from Back To The Future Part II along with Biff's Sports Almanac.

Denny Peters' space suit from Event horizon.

The Coolest Prop In The Whole Exhibition.

From Highlander (Real fans will say that there is only one movie), The Kurgan's sword.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Painting Kings Of War Dwarves.

A while ago, I wrote a post about when Ronnie Renton (the main man behind Mantic) and his Pathfinders came to wargames club H.A.T.E and I tried out their Kings Of War fantasy battle game. Just before that, I had bought some models for the game and, every now and then since, I have been assembling the dwarves from the sets. Last Sunday, I decided it was time to start painting them.

Here are the little fellas all ready to be spray undercoated. I've Blu-Taced them onto old slats from louvre doors. These "spray sticks" allow me to move the models about while I spray the undercoat on to them. This allows for better coverage than if I'd placed them on a piece of newspaper on the floor or on a table.

Here they are sprayed up and drying. Luckily, it was a very hot day on Sunday and it took a very small amount of time for the undercoat to dry. I used Games Workshop's Skull White spray as I had half a can of it left. I prefer other manufacturers paints to GW's but it sufficed. It has a slightly rough texture when dry which allows brush applied paints to stick to it well.

These are the paints (other than the aforementioned spray undercoat) that I used on one of the Dwarves (yep, just one, more on that later). I used a mix of Games Workshop, Coat d'arms, Vallejo (Game Colour and Model Colour) and The Army Painter paints.
An interesting point about Coat d'arms. They are the guys who produced the original Games Workshop paints before they changed to a different manufacturer.

After the undercoat had dried, I painted all the parts of the model that would eventually be metallic with The Army Painter, Matt Black. These parts are, the armour which would eventually be painted with GW Mithril Silver, and the dwarf's hammer's head and adornments, buckles, ect. which would be finished with Vallejo Model Colour Brass. I wanted a gold-like colour but thought that actual gold paint would make the hammer heads look like gold bars and bronze paint was more a colour for Chaos/Abyssal (the bad guys) Dwarves. Luckily, I found this lovely Brass paint which sat between the two.
The undershirt and trousers of the dwarf, I painted with Coat d'arms, Light Blue. His tabard with Game Colour, Royal Purple.
All the leather parts, I painted with Coat d'arms Leather Brown.
And the wooden shaft of the hammer Coat d'arms Chestnut Brown.
I used a mix of these two browns for the Dwarf's beard.
For the Dwarves face, I used Game Colour, Cadmiun Skin which was recommended to me by my friend Andy. I had originally bought some Formula P3 (designed for Privateer Press' War Machine miniatures), Khardic Flesh paint for them but decided that with the rest of the colour scheme I had chosen, a lighter flesh colour would be more suitable. It won't go to waste though as I plan to use it on my Hasslefree Grymns.
I finished the model off by painting the base Intermediate Green, with Model Colour paint.

Here he is in all his painted glory. I will admit, it's not the best painted miniature that you will ever see. My ambition in miniature painting outstrips my ability. I am a perfectionist in most things that I do but at painting models, I am not very good, which usually leads to some degree of frustration.
There is s lot more detail on the model than can be seen in this picture. In all, it took me two to three hours to do just this one guy. I'm hoping that one of my friends will help me out and do some of the painting of the army for me.

Friday, 24 June 2016

UK Games Expo 2016.

The 3rd to the 5th of June this year was UK Games Expo 2016 at the Birmingham NEC.

Living in London, Birmingham seemed a long way to go for a convention. My friend Richard though, who had gone to the 2014 and 2015 shows, really wanted me to join him, and after his enthusiastic descriptions of the shenanigans to be had there, I was sold. Without much persuasion, I was also able to rope our friend Alex in.

Richard was to stay at a campsite with his dad and step-mum, 10 minutes drive from the convention centre. That left Alex and I to find our accommodation. Using the wonderful resource that is the internet, I first looked at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole where the gaming sessions were to take place. That was well out of my and Alex's price range. Looking at the map, I saw that there was a Travelodge near by, so I took a look at their website. Still pretty pricey. Then on the map, I spotted a Premier Inn. A twin room there for a night would cost us only £35. The Travelodge would be nearly three times as expensive and the Hilton, which would be the most convenient, was more than four times the cost. It turned out the Premier Inn was modernly furnished, clean and comfortable, and the staff were friendly and helpful. If I had one complaint about it, it was that Lenny Henry wasn't there to check us in personally.

Using the Expo's website, we were able to pre-book our activities for the long weekend. For the Friday, we booked places in the Star Trek Attack Wing National Championship during the day, followed by a roleplaying session that night. Saturday, in the day, we were to play in  the DreadBall European Open Championship, followed again by a roleplaying session at night. Sunday, we kept free for a wander around the trade hall and a chance to pick up any last minute bargains.

Alex and I arrived at our hotel on the Thursday afternoon. We both had a good meal there before heading to the Hilton to meet Richard and another friend, Chris, who were playing in one of the convention rooms which had been set aside for open gaming. Unfortunately, due to the rather expensive parking charges at the Hilton, I was only able to pop in and say hello before Alex and I headed back to the Premier Inn.

Friday though was when the real fun began.
Alex and I decided to walk to the Hilton and the trade hall, which was located next to it. It only took us about 30 minutes, so soon we had picked up our packs of tickets for the weekend.

One of the first things that I did was have a look at the bring and buy. A chance to get some bargains I thought. I got a bit carried away and soon had purchased three games. Here's a pic of them. Ignore for now, Waste Knights (more on that later).

Sushi Go! was to be a present for my friend Dave who, having played it at our Wednesday night boardgames club Isleworth Boardgamers (find our Boardgame Geek page here), fell in love with it. It was to be his Christmas present. I ended up giving it to him a week after I got back from the Expo as I was worried that he might go out and buy it before December. I told him this and he replied that he might well have done so. Here's the Boardgame Geek page for it. I payed £10.50 for it, brand new and still shrink-wrapped. I assumed that, as it was on the bring and buy, it would be a good price. However, looking around the trade hall on the Sunday, I found it on a stall for 50p less!
A Duel Betwixt Us just looked fun. A game of dueling Victorian Gentlemen for two players. I managed to pick it up for £15. Here is the BGG page for it.
And Spartacus. A Gale Force Nine (they're the people who made it) representative enthused to myself, Alex and Dave about it at a Dragonmeet a couple of years ago. It looked like the sort of game I'd really enjoy and I'd wanted to buy it since. It was there for £5 less that it's RRP of £25, so I grabbed it. Here's the BGG link to its page.

So the first of the planned games. The Star Trek Attack Wing Nationals. A tournament of battling starships. Less said about my performance in this the better I think. I thought I'd try something new. I took some advice from Alex and, with his help, put together a fleet consisting of two heavy hitters with a support ship that would provide a "buff" to them. It went pretty badly for me. Out of the players that stayed to the end of the tournament (two people quit for various reasons), I came second from last. Richard did better than me, Alex even better, but Chris made it to the final four playoffs. He ended up coming third overall. Popular in the tournament were mines and fighters. I even took two sets of mines for the first time ever. Fighters, which in my opinion, were the most overpowered "ships" in the game, are now a lot less survivable due to a fair amount of anti-fighter cards that came with the blind booster ships from the recent Wizkids Organised Play events. I was able to employ some Ferengi anti-fighter technology to great effect in one of my games.

After this, it was time for some lunch and a rest. Then on to our first roleplaying session of the weekend. Agents Of D.I.C.E. (think agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), using the Squadron U.K. rules. (Here is the game's R.P.G. Geek entry.) When choosing our roleplaying sessions, Richard had asked me to select ones with fairly easy to pick up rules as his dad, a non-roleplayer, would be joining he, Alex and myself. I read up a bit on Squadron U.K. before booking our roleplaying tickets and thought that it would suit. Unfortunately, Richard's dad had hurt his back setting up camp where they were staying and, thus, was unable to join us. We asked Chris if he would like the ticket and he accepted.
The game was great fun. A mysterious trail led us to the base of a shapeshifting alien in an abandoned London underground station. Our G.M., Kevin, used the terrain of the station brilliantly. Alex's character(s) died twice, sort of. Using his telepathic powers, he reached out with his mind into the beast's, which with its dying breath (it had been shot and hit by hand grenade explosions a fair bit), pushed its consciousness into Alex's characters body and attempted to make its escape. Alex, now playing the alien, exited the station and made it to one of the vehicles outside. However, our heroes caught up to him and were able to finish him off.

The final battle was brought even more to life with a map, miniatures and terrain elements. This is a picture of what went down. Yup, the big gorilla thing is the alien's true form.

Saturday saw Richard, Alex and I playing in the DreadBall European Open. I hadn't played DreadBall for about a year and not in a tournament for about three so was feeling rather rusty and hoping I could remember the rules.
For the games, each player was allowed a basic team from one of the rulebooks plus 20 million credits of extras - M.V.P.'s, coaching, dice, cards, skills and extra players. Both Richard and I chose Corporation teams with the set up from the Season 2 book plus an extra Guard and one card. Alex took his Veer-Myn (giant anthropormorphic space rats to you and me or "my Ratties" to Alex) plus the Most Valuable Player, Reek Rolat A.K.A. "Payback".
My first game was against a Mechanite team. These robots had along with them, the M.V.P., Grak, who beat the tar out of my team. This, along with the good stats and many skills of the 'bots, lead to me getting a landslide defeat. I also partially blame my terrible dice luck for the entirety of this match. My guys got in the strike zones a couple of times only to miss. Not that I want to take any credit away from my opponent, he was good. My second game was against a lady who I'd played at the first Mantic Bowl a few years ago. She was also running a Corporation team using the build from the Season 2 book. After all the turns of the game had been exhausted, I came out ahead, but not by much. My dice luck had changed half way through this match. My third game was against an Orx And Goblin team. While the greenskins surrounded my players and busied themselves eating them (okay, so the DreadBall rules don't actually allow a player to eat another but when my guys were taken off as casualties for the rest of the game, it seemed right for the narrative that they had been eaten), the strike zones were left open enough for me to score and gain a landslide victory. My fourth game saw my Corporation players up against a bunch of Convicts. The degenerates beat my guys but not by a landslide. My opponent had terrible dice luck but prevailed.
With two defeats and two victories, I finished about midway down the table, beating Alex and Richard. Alex, before this tournament had only ever played three games of DreadBall and, in this competition had achieved his first ever win. I was surprised that Richard didn't do better than me though as I generally think that he is a better player. All players got an art print signed by Ronnie Renton, the main man behind Mantic (the company that produces DreadBall), and an exclusive M.V.P. model. The runner up also got a trophy, while the tournament winner, also got a trophy and the pitch that he won his final game of the competition on. I also got something extra. I was awarded the most sporting award.
Here's a picture of my certificate.

Saturday night was time for another roleplaying session. This time G.U.R.P.S. Steampunk. G.U.R.P.S. is an acronym that stands for General Universal Role-Playing System. It is produced by Steve Jackson (the American one) Games. Here's the R.P.G. Geek link for the G.U.R.P.S. family of games. It turned out that our Games Master was none other than Phil Masters who had written G.U.R.P.S. Discworld. He knows his G.U.R.P.S..
We each were given a choice of 250 point characters to play. 250 points in G.U.R.P.S. character creation will give you a very capable character with good skills and abilities. I played a "reformed" master cat-burgler who had been coerced into working for Her Majesty's Government in return for not going to prison.
After tangling with some clockwork cyborgs, our adventure lead us to a tiny island off of the coast of Scotland where we uncovered an arms-dealing conspiracy and foul alchemical experimentation. It was all immense fun.

On Sunday, it was time to look round the trade hall. It was a bit overwhelming, with many many traders and participation games.
I was interested in a game called Waste Knights (You can see a picture of the side of the box in the second picture in this post. I said I'd get back to it.). It is set in a post-apocalyptic Australia. Alex and I got a run-through of the rules of the basic game which has players competing to complete missions to score points that will count towards victory. Unfortunately we only had enough time to have one turn each at it as I had to run off and grab any unsold items that, earlier in the weekend, I had put on the bring and buy, plus any money that I had made. The taster I had of the game though was enough. I was sold on it and I bought a copy. Here's its B.G.G. profile and the official website for the game.
I had put six blind booster Star Trek Attack Wing ships plus one prize ship (all doubles to me) on the bring and buy. Unfortunately, I only managed to sell one, Borg Scout Cube 255. The bring and buy at Expo is all run with an electronic point of sales system. You have to log your items in via the Expo website. I had failed to do this before I left home but was able to use Richard's tablet, on the Friday night, to do so. When you take your items to the bring and buy, you get a sticker with a bar code to put on each one. The stickers cost £1 for every ten (rounding up) and ten percent of the money that is taken for the items sold goes to charity. (I'm unsure if the ticket money also goes to charity or if it just covers costs). On the way out I bumped into one of the guys that had quit the Star Trek Attack Wing National on the Friday. He had, in his hands, his unsold, second hand copy of the Terminator Genisys starter set. Now, if you've read the post previous to this one on this blog, you'll know that I gave quite an unfavourable review to that game. However at this year's Salute, I found a great deal for it. The fact that I like a bargain and the theme (I love the first two films) won me over. I haven't played it again since Dragonmeet but having now read the full rules, it seems a better game than I gave it credit for. Anyway, the owner of the unsold starter set made me an offer. He would trade it to me for three of my unsold blind boosters. That worked for me. We both came away happy.

After the trade hall closed, Richard, Alex and I went for some lunch. The food that the Hilton was selling was, as you might expect from a Hilton, pretty pricey. However, for the convention, in the Hilton's car park, there were a number of tents selling all sorts of world foods. I'm a pretty fussy eater, but I found some of the dishes to my tastes. While I ate pizza, Richard and Alex proceeded to play Star Realms. (B.G.G. page here.) Richard has the ap and has logged several hours of play on it. He had now just bought the base set and as many expansions as he could find. They got through their first game, but during their second, we were told by a manager that the hotel was not allowing games to be played in the bar areas. Okay, fine, so we left the bar and moved to one of the rooms that had been set aside for gaming. We'll have a few hours in here we thought. Unfortunately, the hotel had decided that, come 5pm, they would close these rooms. "Once their [the Hilton's] cash cow's gone, they're not interested!" said Alex at one point. It really did feel like that.

Our taste for gaming not satisfied though we headed to the campsite that Richard had been staying at. It was a lovely site and we sat outside, moving into his dad's caravan only when it got pretty cold. All in all, Richard, his dad, step-mum, Alex and I must have played about 5 hours of Cards Against Humanity. (Here's its B.G.G. page.)

The Expo was great fun and I definitely plan to attend next year. I might even do better in the Star Trek Attack Wing National if it's held there again. Then maybe I won't.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Dragonmeet 2015

Saturday the 5th of December was Dragonmeet 2015.

I, along with my friends, Richard, Alex, Dave and Drak decided to go. All of us, with the exception of Drak, turned up about an hour and fifteen minutes before the doors opened. We hadn't expected to stand quite that long in the cold as, last year, the organisers let us in an hour early to shelter from the elements. It was a good job that we did turn up so early as Alex, Richard and I had decided that we wanted to get a couple of roleplaying sessions in during the event. Apparently, many people who didn't turn up as early as us and who were someway further back down the queue complained because the sign up sheets for the R.P.G.s were full by the time they got to them in the foyer. We signed up for two sessions, the first, set to begin at 2pm was called Twisty Tales, Star Wars Episode 6.5.; The second, planned for an 8pm start, was a Sci-Fi, Cthulu combination, the premise being that we (the player-characters), wake up on a star ship travelling through space with no idea of our identities or how we got there. Revelations would come, along with (it being a Cthuluesque game) horror.

Before all that though, it was time to have a look at the bring and buy tables, the Trade Hall and the demonstration games room. Dave and Drak (who turned up sometime later) were not interested in roleplaying at the event and had decided instead that they wanted to play some demo games. Dave was particularly interested in trying out some new releases that had made their debuts at this years Essen Spiel (Europe's most influential board and card game convention)

I had brought along all of my Advanced Fighting Fantasy rulebooks (which I had purchased at a couple of previous Dragonmeets) as Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the guys who created Games Workshop and Fighting Fantasy (among other things) were going to be doing a signing. They kindly signed my entire collecton.

Over the last two Dragonmeets, more miniature gaming (think toy soldiers and tiny starships) has been showcased. One game that had a demo table this year, was Terminator Genisys (yep, that's how the movie people spelled it). I first came across this game in Darksphere (a great discount wargaming shop) several months ago. I was immediately put off by the theme.
To be fair, I haven't seen the film but the original is my second favourite film of all time (after another James Cameron classic Aliens) and I also very much like the second one.
The third film, eurgh, don't get me started, was just terrible, I mean, really bad and an insult to what had come before. It doesn't sting my mind so much now though, as in the first two episodes of the brilliant series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, everything that happened in the film was erased from the Terminator timeline by the use of time travel.
The fourth film in the series, Terminator Salvation, was watchable but out of continuity with the rest of the franchise. However, near the end of Season 2 of T:T.S.C.C., the writers had begun to play around with alternate timelines. This is where I think the show really started to loose its way after a meandering second season as a whole. Another thing about Terminator Salvation, Christian Bale was a terrible John Connor. Terrible.
So, the theme had put me off of the game. Also, looking at the back of the box to see the game components, I was less than enticed. The models appeared crudely sculpted and the paper play mat and flimsy looking cardboard terrain just looked cheap. And with a price-tag of £56, even with Darksphere discounting it from £70, it just appeared to me to be a pretty bad deal. The only thing that appealed to me was the limited edition Kyle Reese figure that was included in the box. Kyle is one of my favourite movie heroes and was played by my favourite actor, Michael Biehn.
I wanted to have a closer look though so Richard and I wandered over to the demo table. I found that I had been wrong about the quality of the model sculpts. They are actually nice and detailed and look pretty good. I think Riverhorse (the people that make the game) need to get a new photographer or printers or whoever it is that had made the models pictured on the back of their game's box look so rubbish. Richard suggested we try out a game and I agreed. Being such a Kyle Reese fan, I had to take the Human resistance fighters, including the man himself, which left Richard with the T-800s. The game is very simple for a wargame/skirmish game. After playing two rounds overseen by the nice guy from Riverhorse who was instructing us how to play, we picked up the basics and were able to play with very little additional help. I beat Richard (I must admit that I had some lucky dice rolls) but he satisfied himself by killing Kyle.
River Horse's slogan is "Sophistication Through Simplicity". I'm afraid I found the game a bit too light and simple to keep me interested though. Later in the day, Richard did buy the rulebook for £20. And, just before starting to write this blog post, I shelled out a fair bit of money on some of the models from River Horse's website. I just had to have the Kyle Reese and I'm a sucker for limited edition stuff. So I guess that I will end up playing it. Here's the link to the River Horse website if you fancy taking a look.

I bought three games at Dragonmeet this year and only one of them did I pay full price for.
That one is called They Come Unseen. Here is it's Boardgame Geek page. It's set during The Cold War and sees N.A.T.O. submarines attempting to carry out secret missions while evading Soviet destroyers which are trying to hunt them down. It was designed by a former Royal Navy commander who served aboard a number of subs during The Cold War.
Leisure Games were again at the convention and, as last year, they had a discount shelf. They had some amazing bargains and, for less than half the original price, I picked up a copy of Grind. It is a Science-Fantasy sports game made by Privateer Press and features warjacks from their popular skirmish game Warmachine. Warjacks are magic imbued steam powered robots controlled by a warcaster, a soldier-sorcerer and in Warmachine they are deployed on the battlefield. In Grind, they are the players. Here is the B.G.G. page for Grind and here is the one for Warmachine  .
The third game I bought, which I picked up really cheaply from the bring and buy,  is called Asteroyds ( I can only assume that the name "Asteroids" already was copyrighted, maybe by the 1980's arcade game). Here's it's B.G.G. page. I first played this at my Wednesday night boardgames club, Isleworth Boardgamers, here's our B.G.G. guild address. If you're ever in West London on a Wednesday evening and enjoy board and card games, feel free to join us, all the info of how to, is on the guild page. There are a number of different modes of play in Asteroyds, as yet I have only played the first, a race scenario. Players each have a tiny spaceship which they must navigate around an area filled with asteroids, viewing pods, and which is surrounded by more rock. Sound pretty simple right? Well it would be but for the fact that the asteroids keep moving. Dice rolls determine where they move and you get to see these but the rocks aren't moved to their new positions until after the players have programmed their ships' next five or six maneuvers, oh and they only get fifty seconds in which to do this. It will  furrow your brow but it's great fun.

After some lunch, Alex, Richard and I went to our Twisty Tales Star Wars roleplaying session. We had a bit of trouble finding the room it was to be held in at first as the games master had had to request a bigger table and was moved to the Pathfinder Room. (Pathfinder is a D20 System fantasy roleplaying game.) He still wasn't entirely happy with the table we ended up on as he had been promised one twice the size. The reason he needed such a large table was that he had an absolute load of Star Wars Lego which he was to set up as a Tatooine thoroughfare.
Here is just a small section of it. (I apologise about the blurriness of the picture but I only had my phone on hand to capture it.)
We had to wait for about half an hour for our G.M., Dicey Dave (a great name for a G.M.) to set the table up, but the scene that awaited us was worth it.
After Dicey Dave and Myself, Richard, Alex and the other players were seated around the table we had another delay before the game itself started. At every other roleplaying session I've taken part in at Dragonmeets over the years, the players have been given a choice of pre-generated characters to choose from and play. This time, all we had to choose from were six archetypes, which we then had to customise ourselves. We got to choose the race, appearance, abilities, flaws and a whole host of other bits and bobs to really make the characters our own. I chose, The Force Warrior and made him a former Imperial Sith who had fallen on hard times since the fall of the Empire. After this, we had each to tick, from a three page list, two plot elements that we wanted to see in the game. We then discussed further what the scenario might be. The character creation and plot choices took about an hour but when the game actually started, the real fun began.
We, the players, had decided that we would be working for the Black Sun Syndicate, a criminal organisation in opposition to the Hutts. We had been sent to Tatooine to retrieve a force power enhancing crystal for our bosses. Our first stop was a cantina (the front of which can be seen in the above picture), as one of our number was to meet a contact there who could provide us with useful information. After bribing our way past the Gamorrean guards, we got in. All of us except for our Jawa. Jawas were only allowed in this particular cantina as unwilling participants in games of Toss The Jawa. While most of the party were retrieving the info, my character, Calix and Alex's character, another fully dark Sith (who's name I can't remember) decided to pick a fight with two Jedi in a side room. Echoing Episode four, we used the previously chosen plot element "He doesn't like you.". The pair we picked on looked very much like Old Ben Kenobi and a young Luke Skywalker but, as this adventure was set 20 years after the end of Episode 6, it turned out that it was in fact Old Luke and his young apprentice. Old Luke attempted to use a Jedi mind trick to pacify me but I had chosen the "Immune to mental Force powers" move (moves in this game are a character's unique skills and abilities). With our lightsabers, Alex's character cut Old Luke in half up the middle and I cut his apprentice in half laterally.

Here's a nice picture of my character with his victim.

The information lead us to a Gungan who knew the whereabouts of the crystal. Unfortunately for us and him, he was due to be executed by the Pizza The Hutt (yes, I know it's a cheesy name for a Hutt (and from Spaceballs) but I didn't choose it) that day. The plot element "The Gungan must die" was triggered. We had to act fast.
Our team located and infiltrated the facility where the Gungan was being tortured and was due to be executed. After entering, Alex and my character's hung back. Using The Force, Alex psionically plucked the location of the crystal from the Gungan's mind, then activating the plot hook "There is a traitor among us", we set the alarms off and ran, leaving the rest of the party to die at the hand of the Hutts. I was the one who, in the preparation stages of the session had ticked "There is a traitor among us" and had pretty much decided at that point that, if the opportunity presented itself,  it would be me. At the point our characters had gotten to the facility, Alex and I had begun muttering among ourselves and had formulated the plan to stitch up the rest of the party and take the prize for ourselves. I had also decided that, if I could, I would stitch up Alex and attempt to be the sole claimant of the Force crystal. Please don't think to harshly of me. After all, I was playing a Sith and, as it turned out, Alex was thinking the same.
We had found out that the crystal was in a safety deposit box in a casino across town. We bribed our way in. Rolling spectacularly highly on a test we got to the crystal which split in two, giving us a functioning piece each. Trouble then came our way. Our former associates, who we had left to die, had survived, reached our location and had alerted the casino's Wookie guards to our presence. Faced with a group of Wookies, Alex decided to betray me and using a wall walk move, ran over and past them leaving me to fight them alone. Again, rolling spectacularly and aided by a move that meant I didn't suffer any penalties when fighting up to nine opponents, I disarmed and then cut down half of their number. The high dice roll meant that I was then able to dictate what happened next. I decided that the surviving hairballs had become demoralised at the sight of their comrade's deaths and would run away. I was about to make my exit when the rest of the party turned up. They demanded that I hand over the crystal. That wasn't going to happen. Playing some of the flaws that I had taken for Calix at character creation, those being, quick to anger, reckless, violent bloodlust, and very arrogant, a fight with my former comrades was inevitable. First, the pesky Jawa fired his bazooka at me. Using my lightsaber, I deflected the bolt back on to him, nearly killing him. My early success wasn't to last however. With two opponents armed with blasters and Richard's character who had a lightsaber of his own to face, I was outnumbered and met an end on Richard's character's blade.
All the other characters made it off of Tatooine. Calix had died but playing him true to his flaws, I had had great fun. I rarely play an evil character in roleplaying games unless forced into it but Calix was very entertaining. At the end of the game, the players who's characters had survived got to make one last dice roll to determine how those character's lives would turn out. A couple of the players rolled badly and this meant that their characters didn't meet with success in the long run. As a bonus, as my character had died, I was allowed to embellish this. I made it just a little bit worse for them.

I didn't get an un-blurry picture of the main floor in the cantina but it did have a Gungan's head on a spike.
In the  picture below, you can see a bag of pawns. Each player was given two large ones to start the game with. These could each be spent to add an extra die to a two six-sided dice roll. In addition to this, each time we roleplayed one of our flaws for the first time, we received a small pawn. These could be spent to add one point to a dice roll, for instance turning a roll of seven into a result of eight.
the most important thing in the picture below though is the Gungan in the Sarlacc Pit.

Pizza The Hutt and his court.

A side room of the cantina. The thing that looks like a Malteser is actually Han Solo's head. Look, he's got his blaster out and Greedo hasn't. Proof...Han drew first.

Wait...What?...Wrong franchise.

Unfortunately, we didn't get our evening roleplaying session in. Unbeknownst to us, it had been moved to a 4pm start. As we were messing around on Tatooine then, there's no way we could have made it. It was a bit disappointing but as the Star Wars game had been so great, easily one of my top two roleplaying sessions at all the Dragonmeets I have attended, it was okay.

I'm already looking forward to next year.