So in a spontaneous moment we decided we would go to PLAYGlasgow this weekend! (Can you see a re-occurring theme here?)
After seeing a tweet pop up on our dashboard, the promise of tabletop games amongst retro and more modern video games really piqued our interest. We decided to drive down to Glasgow on the Sunday and with the sun out shining what better day to stay inside and play games! The event was held at Braehead Shopping Centre, inside the centre there is an arena normally used for events like Disney on Ice and this is were the Expo was held. Being in a huge shopping centre was really nice compared to our experience at UKGE, we weren't being charged £2 for water, parking was free and the food court was right outside meaning we had more of a decision than which of the four Subways we'd eat in that day.
The arena itself was partitioned into a variety of open sections from retro, indie & modern gaming, a pinball machine area, tabletop & VR (weird mix I know) - they even had a huge Minecraft area with PCs set up to play on a shared LAN server. A huge section was dedicated to traders selling their wares from Overwatch trinkets, Japanese food and SEGA games to an incredibly detailed 'Death Note note book', there was quite an array. We both really liked seeing some local Etsy shop owners there too!
We started off down the retro gaming area which was a massive trip down memory lane for me. I actually still have my working 16-bit SEGA Mega drive but I haven't dusted it off in years so picking up the controller felt so weird. This was the first time in years I've picked up a controller attached to a wire that can't be removed! We had to untangle the wires to work out which controller was plugged into which port making us feel like slightly entitled millennials after complaining - god knows how anyone under the age of 16 coped. Mindboggling wire sorcery aside, we jumped into a game of micromachines racing around a 16-bit track - I never owned this game but it was so fun! After a close race (that I won), we moved over to the SNES and played some casual Street Fighter. I thought I would surely win after all my years of playing countless Mortal Kombat games but no, turns out Catherine is a hustling, button mashing pro and I lost all 3 games :\
After a 5 minute sulk we were back on talking terms and decided to visit the pinball machine area. This section was lit up with a bunch of restored pinball machines (provided by the Scottish Pinball Association) all with cool and interesting themes; Batman, Spider-man, Indiana Jones, South Park, they even had an Austin Powers one!
It's at this point that I have to admit - neither of us have ever played on a real life size pinball machine. The closest I've ever came to a pinball machine is the '3D pinball' game with its pre-rendered graphics that came bundled with Windows XP. Safe to say we had a blast, in fact it was hard to tear each other away.
We paid a quick trip to the Minecraft area and well... it was a bit drab to be honest. There was a room with 30 computers mostly running Minecraft with the others running Doom, Counter Strike and some other games all in a separate room from the main hall. No posters or props just a room of computers - everyone looked like they were having a blast though and that's all that matters! We then went for a browse around the stalls, the traders were pretty well packed in but luckily for us we had enough room to meander through.
We were quickly nabbed by a nail artist who wanted to show us her admittedly novel stencil kit where you essentially print nail varnish onto the nails and can choose from hundreds of patterns. Now, Catherine had literally just spent over £30 the day before on getting acrylics done so I bit the bullet and let her try it out on me. I ended up with a little blue feather on one nail and some moustaches on another. The weird thing was that after she worked her magic that was it. No upsale of the kits, no business card or anything like that even though there were kits on the display table. Just prettied me up and sent us on our way - not that I'm complaining.
After the nail painting ordeal we went up to the top tier of the arena where the tabletop games were being displayed. The first stall had a demo of the modular wargame 'Wreck and Ruin' which we admittedly didn't check out as we didn't think it was our cup of tea. In hindsight (and looking at it's website) it does look pretty cool and we're hoping maybe he'll be at 4TG in Aberdeen next month so we can get a closer look at it. Alongside Wreck and Ruin, Esdevium were demoing a range of games such as Ticket to Ride, Dice Forge, The Captain is Dead, Pandemic Iberia and Century: Spice Road. We quickly noticed at UK Games Expo weeks previous that everyone was walking around with Century:Spice Road, we had both assumed it again wasn't going to be our cup of tea. Seeing all the hype there was we were glad to get a demo by two lovely chaps from Esdevium.
They sat us down and explained the premise and the simple rules. By the time we had three turns each we had a pretty good grasp of the rules and started working towards getting all our spices and trading them for victory points. It was very chilled and there wasn't much talking as we was all focusing on the best moves to efficiently earn as many points as possible. It got really competitive towards the end which was fun but what really sold it for us were the simple, but fun mechanics of the game. After around 20 minutes one of the Esdevium guys obtained the 4th card and closely won the game. Minutes later we had pre-ordered the game from Zatu Games for a very good price of £22.52 after the 5% discount (JUNE5OFF). They still have 4 copies as of writing and it's the cheapest UK deal around that I could find.
And as for the tabletop gaming, that was about it! We weren't expecting UK Games Expo level turn out but definitely expected a little more. It would have been nice to see more small time developers demoing new games, games about to hit Kickstarter etc. but unfortunately this wasn't the case. This could be due to the fact that we only went on the Sunday and there could have been more on Saturday but the whole tabletop section seemed to be a bit of an after thought. If we had gone solely for that purpose I could image being really disappointed but the pinball machines, retro consoles and arcade machines made up for it ten fold.
We decided to go for one more lap around the stalls before we left to see if there was any loot we could walk away with. I spotted a stall with beautiful geeky lino prints and as soon as Catherine saw a Xenomorph it was an instant sell! We now have this nightmare inducing alien hanging above our bed and she couldn't be happier. It would have been nice to see board games for sale but maybe it was a good thing there wasn't as it has already been an expensive month!
All in all we did have fun, the pinball machines were definitely the highlight and we'll have to try and see if anywhere has them in Aberdeen so we can get our fix before we invest in one for the game room 😉 Talking to the guys from Esdevium was great and we're glad we got to demo Century: Spice Road and add yet another game to our collection. If it's there next year we would definitely think about going again especially if they decide to expand their section of good ol' cardboard games.
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