Airecon – Day 1

After avoiding the snow and settling in nicely on the Thursday, Friday represented the first day of Airecon proper. The exhibitors had been setting up the day before but now their area of the con was open along with the rest of the gaming halls.

My first stop was at the large Hachette Boardgames UK stand. Flavien Loisier taught myself and some other folk their game Food Truck, which was a fun action programming game with a theme I don’t think I need to explain. It was a quick game about anticipating how other folk are going to play as you decide which foodstuffs to sell from your trucks. As the game goes on you get new options and each round are trying to anticipate how everyone else will programme their deck, as you don’t want to put out the same product they are.

Iain looking to camera with the Food Truck game in the background.
What do you think of the hat?

I had couple of games booked later in the day but the morning I had kept free to have a look around the exhibitor hall. I had a chat with Andrew Harman from Yay Games who I had interviewed recently as well as the folks from Aleto (UK distributor), Beyond Cataclysm (RPG distributor and publisher), and Meeple Design (custom 3D printed accessories). I’m hoping to chat with some of those folk in future Meeting of Minds about their businesses.

The bring and buy had opened and was busy with people dropping off and browsing the hundreds of games on its shelves. I skipped it for now and went wandering to get a sense of the convention centre layout. Back of the halls I was in the previous day where the all important food trucks of which I partook a couple of times over the day. The fried chicken from Canoodle was especially good!

Upstairs contained the RPG areas and an event space where large participation games would be happening later on in the day. There was also a quiet space for those who don’t like, or want, the hustle and bustle of the main halls. This is a great consideration from the con to make it more accessible to folk.

I found Robert again and got involved in a game of My Shelfie. This game had been doing the rounds on social media a little while ago due to the theme, how organised are your Kallax Shelves and the presentation. It’s a pretty straightforward puzzle game where you pick up tiles from a central reserve and drop those tiles into a single column on a standing plastic grid. As you do you are trying to get large contiguous areas of various colours as well as fulfilling a secret goal for colours in certain places, and some public ones. All very charming, but not a huge amount to it.

A little wander later and a quick stop for lunch brought me to my first booked game of the convention with Sarah, Andrew, and Chris. War of the Ring; The Card Game, had peaked my interest with its great looks and attempt to squash a notoriously dense game into a card game format. Sarah and I partnered up as the good guys and Andrew and Chris took on the role of the baddies.

Over the course of the game you are scoring victory points for successfully advancing along the path of the Lord of the Rings Story as the goodies, or corrupting that journey as the baddies. Simultaneously there are battles going on that you need to send troops and characters to attack and defend, depending on who the aggressor is. Although you are working in partnership Sarah and I had different decks. I was playing the Elves and Gondor, whereas Sarah had Rohan, Hobbits, Dwarves, well Dwarf, and Gandalf.

I’m not going to dive too deep into my thoughts on this after one play but I really enjoyed it. There are really tough choices to make every turn and I especially loved that you need to discard a card to play any card, making every play a decision as to which direction you are trying to take the game. I am not sure it is one I’ll pick up as I don’t get to play with just 4 players very often, but it is definitely one I am keen to play again! Thanks to Andrew especially for teaching the game. Not an easy thing to do!

Iain (right), Chris (left), Sarah (back left), Andrew (back right) all look to camera.
A lovely group to play a game with!

A gentleman called John had reached out to me through the facebook page and invited me to play a little later in the afternoon. I made a beeline for the table to find an absolutely humongous version of the game. John loves Scythe and has pretty much everything for it and some bling upgrades. It looked absolutely awesome.

It took me a little while to remember how to play. Last time I had played Scythe was Games Expo pre-Covid and only the once. I picked it up again relatively quickly though. Despite a slow start as the purple faction and managed some acceleration towards the end and came in second! I was pretty pleased with that and it was another lovely experience with friendly folk. Thanks very much to John for the invite and teach as well as Gary, Dom, Norman, Phoebe, Steve.

I was planning to head to the pub quiz along with Adam, Punchboard UK, and met up with his group to play some games beforehand. I quick round of Ominoes and another of Scout were very welcome before heading upstairs. Our team name was to be Full Fact Hunt and during the quiz came to realise I was sitting with AJ Le Brun who I had interviewed back in August of 2020. It has been a truly lovely experience meeting folk in person that I have known only through digital means at this convention.

We came fourth! Not bad.

The convention hall was closing at 11 and we just had time to play some more games. That is what we are here for after all. Adam taught us Gorilla Marketing, a party game where you are making up terrible names for companies, bands, products etc. You then have to come up with taglines for them, all restricted by what letters you can use at the start of words in the names and taglines. It was great fun and a lovely production and had just a little more to it than other party games I’ve played. It still relies on a vote for what is best but I really enjoyed the interaction and restriction the game provides to the creative space.

We finished the night by playing Cards Against Disney. I will be drawn no further on this matter.

A quick goodbye to folk and then it was off to bed to rest up for what will be the busiest day of the convention!

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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