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Our UK Games Expo Experience 2023

In June 2022 we visited the UK Games Expo at Birmingham NEC in awe. Having launched Strong Point just 6 months prior we didn't quite know what to expect so we ordered ourselves visitor passes and made the trip down to the West Midlands. Back then it was just us with our Strong Point tees & totebags, no prior expectations, no stand to organise, a cheap hotel booking a few miles out from the NEC and the nearest thing to exhibiting was randomly placing a copy of the Strong Point game 1st Edition in random places along with the UK Games Expo branding for a few photographs.





In contrast, in June 2023 we returned having booked a 2m x 2m exhibition space in Hall 2 - Stand 1043, the problem being that with almost 12 months passing since last years event could we even remember what tips and advice we took from experienced exhibitors the year prior?


Not really!


What should our stand look like? How much stock should we take? What other merchandise and freebies should we have with us? We'd been grappling with these and many more questions over the last few months and now the event is over I think we can say that we didn't get everything right this time but we didn't get everything wrong either. We'll take it as a lesson and improve for the next one.


This years journey began with a car full of games (and more being delivered which we had no clue if we'd need or not), new display furniture, new marketing materials and branded merch and a hotel just around 1km out from the NEC.



Build Day was daunting, we arrived at the hotel the night before so we could rock up bright and early. Our first mistake was not realising Hi-Viz jackets were mandatory. No Hi-Viz and you're not coming in! Miss Trunchball on the door immediately sent Simon packing much to his annoyance (apologies for the harsh comparison if the lady in question happens to read this but on reflection a little more understanding of our cluelessness as newbies would have been appreciated). Simon wasn't fazed though and off he went on foot in search of a shop nearby which supposedly stocked them and returned victorious.


We're in!


We thought we were making good time, our extra stock arrived safely from https://westboundglobal.com/, thanks to UK Expo volunteers helping the driver deliver the games to the allocated dock. One of the organisers, Keith or 'Expo Yoda' was we like to call him, was so calm and he walked around cool as a cucumber with a headset on and just seemed to fix every issue or answer every query we had.


Our new display furniture was bought at that well known Swedish homeware store https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/ .

We used some North East companies, local to us in Tyne & Wear, for some cool stacking cubes ordered at the last minute from https://www.wherethetradebuys.co.uk/ and some funky branded pens from https://www.buybrandedmerch.co.uk

Both companies offered a great product selection and super fast turnaround!





All of our efforts to get our stand ready were delayed because a banner we'd ordered from a different company, didn't arrive until 5pm. Our frustration just built up over the course of the day as we couldn't build until it was in place. In the meantime we just had to make use of our time having interesting conversations with other exhibitors while we waited or find other productive stuff to do. In actual fact, one of us even managed the very important task of sleeping for two hours on a 12 inch wide bench with all the build day chaos going on around them... any guesses who?


Luckily we were set up by 6pm, just in time to take our roll banner and demo of the game to our allocated spot at the preview show. This was a 2 hour show which allowed exhibitors to show their games to a huge amount of people in the industry including press, board game reviewers, podcasters, tabletop game players & YouTubers.

Si noticed Gerry from OnTableTop, a guy who he'd followed recently on YouTube to watch playthroughs of games we played. https://www.youtube.com/@OnTableTopLIVE

We'd just finished an Undaunted Stalingrad campaign, one of the Undaunted Series, Gerry was half way through the campaign and Si grabbed his attention to see how his campaign was going.

The conversation moved to Strong Point and Gerry offered to interview one or both of us to explain our game in more detail for their channel.


Gill hid.


You can watch the interview with Si here:






The Expo opened on Friday morning and the halls soon flooded with visitors. Si fell immediately into his comfort zone talking to potential customers. We tried to achieve a more interactive vibe than what we had done at markets previously and it worked!

It was fun to watch so many people to stop and play the game. Families pitted their wits against each other, couples went head to head and groups of friends competed to see who knew who best.

One of the most obvious conclusions we made from observing these trivia battles was that kids and teenagers know their Greek Mythology! We aim the game at age 14+ but this proved it's also well received by the younger generation who are very competitive and ultimately want to take their parents down a peg or two.


We had a couple of meetings pre-arranged at our stand with people from the industry. At the end of the first day it was great to meet Giliam again from our manufacturing company Boda Games who were also exhibiting. https://bodagames.com/ and discuss up & coming plans for an expansion pack.


Everyone we spoke to was friendly and extremely helpful, other exhibitors & publishers, distributors, logistics companies, manufacturers, reviewers, podcasters. There was so many things to think about, as well as the urge to go off and buy some games for ourselves!

Which we did.


We hadn't booked a table where we were staying at the Holiday Inn Express https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/gb/en/birmingham/bhxec/hoteldetail

or a table at The Little Owl, a cosy looking Vintage Inn next door https://www.vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/midlands/thelittleowlsolihullnec/restaurantsfood#/so we made do with fish & chips from the nearest takeaway and washed them down with a pint back at the hotel restaurant.


The hotel was a hive of activity on an evening with other exhibitors & visitors.

'Hive' is actually the operative word in that last sentence as we purchased the game on the Friday and played it in the hotel bar that evening. It's a great 2 player game, good for the mind, it's like insect chess. We both loved it and Gill had never played chess in her life, we would definitely recommend you check it out! As for the hotel staff, we guessed they must be used to seeing groups partaking in the playing of board games in their bar & restaurant areas after dinner for 4 nights annually but other guests however, unaware of the event looked a little confused!


Find out more about Hive https://www.gen42.com/games/hive


Hive wasn't the only addition to our collection. We also came away with the latest addition to the Undaunted series by the aforementioned Osprey Games https://ospreypublishing.com/uk/osprey-games/

One of the highlights of our UK Games Expo experience was opening the official brochure and finding that our quarter page ad took pride of place beside the Undaunted, Battle of Britain ad. It's always a bit surreal looking at Strong Point in publications, so to be side by side with an ad by a company we are inspired by was a definite 'pinch ourselves' moment





In addition we bought The Thing boardgame, which Si found for great value at the Chaos Cards stand, another brilliant games retailer that seemed to be doing a thriving business. It is worth checking out their deals here: https://www.chaoscards.co.uk/


We were also lucky enough to be gifted 7 Wonders Duel by Si's niece, Lauren and her partner Joe, who came to the Expo for the first time on Saturday! Yet another fantastic game to add to our growing collection (that we are now calling research)!





After 3 long but rewarding days exhibiting, packing up on Sunday was thankfully quick and the journey home to the North East was fuelled by the buzz from the whole experience. We are already thinking ahead to next year because there's no doubt that we will be back for more, armed with more knowledge, more experience and the prospect of more products added to our range!


Our next big event will be in Perth, Scotland on August Bank Holiday Weekend.


Gill & Si









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