This was my first day entering the Trade Hall of the Expo and I knew it was going to be big. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for the change in pace from last year. Occupying the cavernous interior of Hall 1 in the NEC, which was literally big enough to drive a double decker bus into courtesy of Wotan Games, the place had a really nice noise and buzz to it. Hundreds of Traders were there from smaller outfits like the Battle of the Bands guys to huge behemoths like Mayfair.
Nice stand guys!
I loved the buzz of the trade hall and how diverse the attendees were in every way. There is something for everyone in that trade hall and I can only imagine that will be the case even more so next year. I talked to several of the traders in there and it was interesting hearing a lot of them now thinking of the con as a much bigger deal then they previously had. I think Expo has now arrived at that point were it can join the International Big Cons, like Origins and Essen, and I have no doubt it will continue to grow over the years.
You can just see the bus!
I don’t tend to buy a lot at big cons like this, partly due to me flying back and having limited space, but also as I like to keep my collection small. Wandering round I had demos of a few games, First Impressions of which will be up soon, but I especially made a bee line to the Backspindle Games stall to get a shot of Codinca. You can read my first impression of the game here but know that I bought it on the spot. A lovely puzzle game with a beautiful presentation. I really love how nice the artifact of the boxes for games are becoming and Codinca has a dinky little box with a lovely magnetic closure to keep it’s nice chunky tiles in.
Codinca, sorry for the fuzz, camera issues.
Further wandering showed us minis that I will never buy but marvel at anyway in the level of detail, previews of the Labyrinth board game, demos of Guild Ball, the knowledge that Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space was now out in deluxe format, and that Chaos Cards was now doing Broken Token stuff. The last of these is an outfit that does MDF storage boxes and they have always looked great. However they are states based making their reasonable prices unreasonable after shipping and taxes. I picked up one of the mini card holders and it works a treat for Eldritch, definitely planning to pick up some more.

Labyrinth!
Broken Token’s mini card holder
At 2:30 I headed to the Playtest Zone to get Conspiracy to the table and had a blast getting feedback from people. It went down fairly well but I need to work a lot on the clarity of the cards, which I sort of knew anyway.
5 Player Game

3 Player game
After I finished up we headed back to the Hilton and took up residence on top of the Beer Bus. Proceeding to eat ourselves stationary and, along with everyone else I might add, drinking the Beer Bus literally dry we had an amazing night talking rubbish, playing Skull and generally having a laugh.
Kings of the Beer Bus!
Much as I love gaming, the thing for me with expo is the people. It’s a chance to catch up with good friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough. Sitting on top of the Beer Bus was a highlight for me, and it was because I was surrounded by good friends, great atmosphere and delicious things to eat and drink. What more could you ask for!