Our experience at the first Tabletop Gaming Live at Alexandra Palace (And thoughts on KeyForge and Wildlands)
2 CommentsSunday, 30 September 2018 | Russ
Yesterday was the first Tabletop Gaming Live event at Alexandra Palace in London, organised by the magazine of the same name. As it was fairly local to us we decided to go along (as visitors) and see what it's like...
Now, the first thing to make clear is that this in not another UK Games Expo - this was the first event (compared to the UKGE being 10 years old now) - and if, like us, you were expecting something akin to another UKGE then you'd be disappointed. We were expecting something like that at first and were disappointed, but once you adjust your expectations and realise it's a different event (and much smaller as it's it's first year) you realise it's actually a very promising start :)
The venue was absolutely beautiful and has great views over London (I swear I took a photo of Alexandra Palace itself, but my phone disagrees lol) and was extremely spacious! In fact, it possibly felt too large - there were separate halls for open gaming, demo gaming and the trade hall. As someone who will no longer attend UKGE on the Saturday due to the crowds and lack of personal space, this was a breath of fresh air - it made the event feel much more chilled and I think made visitors feel more relaxed too and it had a really lovely, friendly feel to it.
It also felt like there was a good mix of traders and exhibitors too, not too many - but, on the upside that also meant it wasn't overwhelming with too many choices. And there was space to actually browse what was on offer without having to squeeze through crowds.
Catering appeared a little limited at first, but it was decent, and while a little pricey due to it's location prices weren't extortionate....when I went to get coffees I noticed that they also had a couple of craft ales on tap and 'accidentally' bought one of those instead ;) Lunch options appeared to be pizza or pasties inside the trade hall and a pizza van outside (where we went, £6.50-£8 for a decent sized, freshly cooked stone-baked pizza). It turned out there was a bar serving food as well, but we didn't realise that until it was too late.
My aim for the day was to get a demo of KeyForge, and we arrived when it opened, so we dived straight in there while it was still empty. It looks to be a really interesting game with decks that play VERY differently from each other... as a quick example, we were there with friends so we started our demo games together - they burned through forging all of their keys and finishing their game before we even got halfway through ours. One of their players was generating aember and managing to protect it - in my game, whenever I generated much aember my son wiped out half of it! He also kept killing my monsters too! I was curious about the game, but we don't often play 2 player card games (and I dislike having to craft decks), but based on our demo game(s) I will be getting myself a set :)
One other demo game we got to play was Wildlands by Martin Wallace - I'd not heard of it, but our friend had and really want to play so he booked us a slot. The game looks beautiful with washed minis & a gorgeous board. Gameplay was surprisingly simple and fun but I really struggled with some of the graphical design aspects - it wasn't always clear which colour each player was, but the main problem was that the mini's pose didn't match their card's pose and that made it hard to tell which characters each card applied to. (Cards have symbols on, which relate to your characters' cards in front of you, which in turn relate to minis on the board) - I feel that the mini's either need that symbol on them somewhere as well, or at least should have a pose matching the character cards to make them easier to recognise. I may have preordered a copy for myself as gameplay was fun - but I felt those design decisions make it harder to play and frustrating.
Aside from that our day comprised of meeting friends, old and new, and forgetting their names (sorry again! I'm awful at remember people until we've met several times) and some shopping (I brought some beautiful paint-brushes home for Kelly (she was home with the kids)...at 55quid for 4 they'd better be awesome! lol). We left about 2pm and had a couple of pints in the pub on the way home.
All in all it was an excellent day out and I hope that the organisers feel it's worth doing again next year and growing the event.
(After speaking to a few people and reading other comments I do hope that the organisers can open themselves up to help from the community in future, I feel that would really help the event to grow)