…of Even More Aire’s and Graces
And so my second year at Airecon, but this time I was there officially as BSoMT with fancy press pass and all…I was a bit disappoint at the absence of complimentary cream cakes, but we cant have everything I suppose.
This year was destined to be bigger and better than last year and it most certainly was. Around fifty exhibitors, if memory serves, and about a bazillion square metres of free gaming space. I did read at some digitally enhanced social media location, that it was Europe largest free gaming area and I could well believe it….table upon table upon table. That description lends itself to creating an image of stacked tables…this would not facilitate good gaming experiences and was, in fact , not the case. They were all side by side…just to clear that up.
I used to live in Leeds and spent a lot of time over the boarder in North Yorkshire, Harrogate being one of the places I used to frequent…back in the 1990’s. So last year was my first venture northwards for some twenty plus years. Last year it absolutely wazzed it down on my way there and this year was no exception…only this time snow was added to the deluge of rain. Over the more exposed parts of the A65, visibility was roughly down to the end of my car bonnet (hood for US readers). Fortunately as I approached Harrogate, the clouds parted slightly, rain abated and I could see the road once more…thankful I had not deviated across the more and crashed into one of the giant golf balls at RAF Menwith Hill Early Warning Radar station.
I did much wandering and spent a huge amount of my time chatting to people, which, considering I am not blessed with particularly good social skills and a general dislike of humanity, was quite surprising.
What surprised me more was the fact that I knew personally (or digitally on social media) virtually all the exhibitors…this was a very strange experience indeed, as usually I know no one at these events.
Hall or Nowt:
It wouldn’t be a gaming convention for me if I didn’t pop by and have a natter with Tristan and Francesca Hall on the Hall or Nothing stand, and I did clutter their stand for a time or two. Gloom of Kilforth and 1066 Tears to Many Mothers firmly under my belt, it is time to look to the delivery of the Pimp My Gloom component upgrades and to the new project, Shadows of Kilforth on Kickstarter and ridiculously well funded. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tristanhall/shadows-of-kilforth-a-fantasy-quest-game-for-1-4-h
The halls are always very welcoming and it is a pleasure to drop by and chat. Francesca and I had a discussion at length, while his nibs entertained real punters, about the need to toughen up in this business. I was advised to start getting tougher and pushing the BSoMT name out there with all the game companies…which sort of goes against the grain as, although happy to review a game if asked to or offered a preview copy, but I never like to ask for them, like I was scrounging…or worse, that I thought I was special and should be given such.
But Fanchesca’s point is valid that if they don’t know I am out there, they will unlikely approach me for my services. As with HoN, taking criticise to heart about their games…we all have to develop Kevlar skin.
Dragon Dawn productions:
I spent a goodly amount of time with Lee and Timo, firstly chatting about a new outdoor expansion for the brilliant Perdition’s Mouth (which is a little unnerving as it has cannibals in it) Similar game play but more focused on less enclosed movement, more cooperation and even more solo-gamer friendly.
From there I shuffled across the table to Lee’s new prototype Dwarf. An interesting worker placement game with a perpetually changing play area. Dragons, Orks and all manner of implications to thwart our Dwarven mining business… what’s not to like?
oh, and there is a solo specific variant which, thanks to a preview prototype deck of cards thrust my way by Timo, will be played and reviewed shortly on BSoMT, before the project goes to kickstarter. There are other projects in the pipeline, one of which is earmarked for an an appearance on both sides of my table, and features a hero with disabilities…a steampunk wheel chair…powered by steam, no less…this is really up my ally for theme, so I am really looking forward to seeing more.
Emmerse Studio & Cards or Die:
I have been trying to try Emma’s game Quirk!, out for ages. Each con I bump into her there are too many people about or I am off elsewhere gazing into thin air or whatever, but this time I actually managed a game..I
n fact two games of ludicrous proportions with Ann from Cards or Die and Eilidh Smith.Very silly, but most entertaining family fun in this trick taking game…I don’t drink but imagine this to be the most raucous of affairs after the odd half a shandy. It was great to finally sit down and have a game.
Wotan Games & Unlucky Frog:
Unlucky Frog: https://www.unluckyfrog.com/
It was not so easy to spot the Wotan stand without their double decker bus controlling an imposing position of the exhibition hall, but having only just bumped into Ben from Unlucky Frog Podcast when we were cajoled into trying out a new game Wotan are taking to Kickstarter.
Another Brexit themed game on the premise that England, Scotland, Island, Wales and Cornwall are all vying for trade contracts with the remainder of the world even though Teresa May has mad the UK even more hated by the rest of the world than before her time in office. It is a game of bluffing and, with the hidden bonus objective, an element of set collection…(I did worry about my Estonian friends and readers when I saw the big cross through the Estonian flag…not sure what that signifies???)
…as for the game…well… it all felt a little…hmmm, how can I put this? Like Mark and I were just going through the game motions. It felt that there needed more emphasis placed on the bluff bidding, and, perhaps, being able to draw more than one card so that we had more cards in hand…opening up more opportunity to bluff. I am not sure this is quite polished enough to take to kickstarter just yet, but I am sure things will eventually turn out for the better.
I have exchanged numerous chatty type conversations with James in the virtual world of Twitter, but this was our first meeting.
Magnate:The first City is an expansive property development game, seeing players buying, selling building all in an attempt to control crucial areas of real-estate to claim those all important tenants.
The game, even in prototype form, looks great, with its collection of unique miniature buildings but that wasn’t really what caught my eye. James has developed a solo variant and has created a succinct, efficient system to manage AI opponents without the need for any excessive book keeping on the part of the live player.
I would hazard a guess (and not being a great mid-heavy Euro aficionado) very few could facilitate an effective AI. If all goes to plan, a prototype should find its way on to both sides of my table so this Bot can be put through its paces before the project goes to Kickstarter later in the year. I have to admit, even though I play few Euro games, I am really looking forward to trying this one out.
Bez is always super busy when ever I come across the Wibell++/Cataclysm table so once again only manages a brief chat, but there are even more solo variants in the offing above and beyond those I reviewed some time back. A small deck of cards is really opening up the solo word game catalogue. A new one called Portabell will be seeing the light of day shortly…and will be a play in the hand/ no surface required solo word game. A most intriguing concept!
Wreck & Ruin:
Nice to bump into Mark after the Wreck and Ruin (post apocalyptic mayhem) has become a reality, and it does look pretty spectacular set up on the table. When last we spoke, he had the glimmering of an idea to make this soloable, but would need to work hard making each separate AI unit act as intended, utilising their own unique characteristics.
Once more talk turned to solo mode and He assured me he will be continuing to work on this…with the possibility of it becoming an expansion somewhere down the line
I shall be constantly reminding him that his solo variant must become a reality.
One Free Elephant:
I managed to meet Sarah without an unforeseen crunch, as we literally bumped into each other at Essen. Nigel was away doing other things so we had a chat about this and that…
and I got to see the finished version of Micro Brew, which even in its prototype state (like my copy) looked good, now it looks fabulous. If any two player mini-worker placement fans are out there, definitely give this one a look.
After knocking around the draughty hallways of the Twittervers with Tom, I finally got to meat up and chat about the various projects he has juggling high in the air. I play-tested Kazing, which is still in the workings but has become a back-burner project while the gun-slinging two player game is completed
There is always need to recharge at a convention, even a small, relaxed, laid back event such as Airecon…
and in search of said nourishment, I found my way out back, as it were, and spotted a couple of food vans. I was not overly taken with the German meat-in-a-bun van, nor some other indistinct food offering van, but what did catch my eye was the portable wood-oven pizza stand.
I had experienced something similar on holiday in Cornwall, so was happy to give it a bash. Very well priced, considering, a delicious pizza was delivered in just a few minutes. Hats off to the operation, I must say. Friendly, polite and bloody tasty to-boot. I ate at my leisure, observing the intense gaming in one of the free play areas.
The Crafting Jones:
After much chatter on line in and around the #TeamTrevor hashtag, I finally meet up and get to chat…
and take a quick gander around her stall. Lucky my geese are well trained so didn’t cause a raucous carry on..
Sadly busy, busy, and I only got chance for a brief chat with Janice at Wren games…
but I am still testing out the follow up game to Assembly at home, so we got chance to have a brief chat about that…and, of course, the compulsory selfie.
I always manage to bump into Richard at Yay games, and being a huge fan of Ominoes, I always try to stop by for a chat. This time I managed to try out a new game they are working on called Grabbit. A family friendly, animal/environment themed game where players have to use whit, good eyesight and reflex reactions to snag animals from a central offer. A start card is turned over and then a second card is revealed with a specific set of traits or environments. This dictates the type of animals we can try and grab, based on matches of environment or superseding traits… this leads to some seriously outlandish stretches of justification…
Lets say an earthworm is revealed with a speed card… and a cat is among the offer…I could bag it and claim a cat is quicker to milk than an earth worm…and thus add the animal to my collection. Make an error and all my animals will leg it to freedom. This is fast paced and a lot of fun. One to keep an eye out for, even if it doesn’t have a ‘solo friendly’ sticker on it.
I have no idea where the other photos of the game went…curses technology!
Sadly I was only available for the day so missed opportunity for the various shenanigans that went on after the show and didn’t get to play many games either, but it was great to meet up with many of the TeamTrevor…and sorry Richard (we’re not wizards podcast) that we never got much of an opportunity to chat…maybe at UKGE 2019?
OK, Airecon is not as vibrant an affair as UKGE and is definitely not as manic hard sell as Essen, but has a sedate charm. A relaxed atmosphere that possess a distinct intimacy lost in many a giant convention. It has room to continue to grow before it loses its charm, but for those wanting to learn about game and spend many an hour simply gaming, be it from the demo tables or games from the lending library, Aircon is definitely a gamers convention where playing games is top of the agenda.
Perhaps a small event for some foreign visitors to splash out on, but I’d say definitely worth a visit. Especially as Harrogate is such an idyllic town to visit (as is the breathtaking surrounding countryside of North Yorkshire)
So, until Aircon SIX, I bid you a fond fair-well.
2 thoughts on “…of More Aires and Graces (Airecon Five 2019)”
Really glad you had a good time at AireCon, Giles, and was lovely to meet you at the Magnate stand, albeit briefly. I am totally with you on the subject of pushing BSoMT ‘out there’ and approaching games companies. I am in a similar boat, writing both for The Spirit magazine and my blog, but I’m not even bold enough to ask for a Press Pass, never mind getting products to review, etc. although I did come away from AireCon with a demo copy of a forthcoming game, so that’s certainly a promising start… lol Take care, and keep up the good work!
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Cheers for the kind words…we will catch up at UKGE, no doubt. I was brave enough to get a press pass for Birmingham….2nd year running