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Beginner's Guide to UK Games Expo

Are you a tabletop gaming enthusiast or curious about diving into the world of board games, RPGs, and card games? Look no further than the UK Games Expo (UKGE), the UK's biggest gaming convention, held annually at the NEC in Birmingham. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate this exciting event, packed with tips to ensure you make the most of your visit.



What is UKGE?

UKGE, or UK Games Expo, is the UK's premier gaming convention, drawing in crowds from across the country and beyond. Every summer, the NEC in Birmingham transforms into a gamer’s paradise, bustling with exhibitors, events, and enthusiastic gamers. In 2024, the expo runs from Friday, 31st May to Sunday, 2nd June, marking its 16th year and promising an unforgettable experience.

What to Expect at UK Games Expo 2024

Exhibitors Galore

The heart of UKGE lies in its expansive exhibitor halls. Here, you'll find the latest in tabletop gaming, from new releases to beloved classics. Imagine rows upon rows of booths showcasing the freshest board games, miniatures, RPGs, and card games. Meet the creative minds behind your favourite games, try out prototypes, and of course, add to your collection.

A handy map will be available online before the event to help you navigate, but don’t be surprised if you end up exploring off the beaten path—there’s always something new to catch your eye. From indie developers with their innovative games to big-name publishers unveiling their latest hits, there's something for everyone.

Bring & Buy

UKGE’s Bring & Buy is a treasure trove for gamers looking to buy or sell pre-loved games. This marketplace is perfect for finding bargains and rare games. While it can get crowded, it's worth the wait. You can preview items online beforehand, which allows you to plan your purchases in advance. Remember, transactions are cash-only, so come prepared.

New rules for 2024 include a cap of 20 games per seller and a minimum price of £5, ensuring a streamlined and manageable shopping experience. Whether you’re looking to clear some space on your shelves or hunt for that elusive grail game, Bring & Buy is a must-visit.

Open Gaming & Board Game Library

Open Gaming is a significant part of the convention experience. Find a spot in the dedicated hall to play games with old friends or make new ones. The sense of community and camaraderie is palpable as you dive into new games or old favourites.

Not ready to purchase? The Board Game Library, with over 1,000 titles, lets you try before you buy. Just bring an ID and a £10 deposit for a library card, and you can borrow games to your heart's content. This is a fantastic way to explore different genres and discover hidden gems without committing to a purchase.

Tournaments and Playtesting

UKGE is also home to a plethora of tournaments, catering to competitive spirits and casual players alike. Whether you're a seasoned strategist or a newbie looking to test your skills, there's a tournament for you. From popular games like Terraforming Mars to the UK Championship of King of Tokyo, there's something for everyone.

Additionally, playtesting opportunities abound, offering a chance to try new games and provide valuable feedback to designers. This not only helps the creators refine their games but also gives you a sneak peek at potential future hits.

Talks and Scheduled Games

Rest your feet and feed your mind with a variety of seminars and events. The talks cover a wide range of topics, from therapeutic gaming to game design and psychology. Whether you're looking to learn more about the industry or seeking inspiration for your own projects, these sessions are invaluable.

Highlights include a live reading of Death Trap Dungeon by Sir Ian Livingstone, Your Adventure Awaits, and Roll Britannia live show. Plus, don't miss out on booking a session for RPGs like D&D and Pathfinder. These scheduled games provide structured fun and a chance to delve deep into immersive adventures.

Food and Drink

While the NEC offers food options, take a short walk to the Hilton Metropole’s open area for a diverse selection of food trucks. Enjoy everything from Greek BBQ to vegan doughnuts, ensuring you stay fuelled throughout the day. The variety of culinary delights available means there's something to suit every palate, making meal times a highlight rather than an inconvenience.

UKGE Roll Britannia

UKGE Awards

Overwhelmed by the choices? Check out the UKGE Awards to see the best new games across various categories. These awards can guide you toward must-see games and accessories, helping you prioritise your visit. The awards cover a range of styles, from abstract to strategic games, party games, expansions, and RPGs. If you're unsure where to start, the award winners are a great starting point.

Planning Your UKGE Visit

Set Your Priorities

Start by identifying talks, seminars, or events you don’t want to miss. These often have limited spots, so book in advance. Allow extra time for each event—you never know what exciting opportunities might arise! Make sure to have a clear idea of what interests you the most, and schedule your time around those events.

Map Out Your Must-See Stands

The exhibitor halls are vast, and it’s easy to miss something. Plan which stands you want to visit and where they’re located. For instance, be sure to stop by Stand 2-1104 to meet the Roll Britannia Crew! Having a list of must-see stands ensures you won't miss out on your top picks.

Allow Time for Exploration

While planning is essential, leave room for spontaneity. Some of the best moments at UKGE come from unexpected discoveries. Take time to explore, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere. This approach allows you to experience the convention fully, uncovering hidden gems and making new friends along the way.

Don’t Miss Roll Britannia’s Shows

For those attending UKGE, make sure to check out Roll Britannia's fantastic events:

  • How To Not Suck At D&D: Join us on 31 May 2024, from 11:30 – 12:30 BST at Meeple Theatre. Learn insights on starting a D&D podcast and mastering your first game. This session is free!

  • Your Adventure Awaits: Participate in an improvised one-shot on 1 June 2024, from 20:00 – 21:30 BST at Meeple Theatre. Tickets are £3.

  • Roll Britannia LIVE: Don’t miss the live recording on 2 June 2024, from 13:45 – 14:45 BST at the Main Stage, Hall 3. This event is free!

For more details and to register, visit Roll Britannia’s event page.

UKGE Roll Britannia Live

Top Tips for UKGE 2024

  • Book Early: Secure tickets for popular events and tournaments in advance.

  • Cash is King: Bring cash for the Bring & Buy and some food vendors.

  • Comfort is Key: Wear comfortable shoes and take breaks when needed.

  • Hydrate and Snack: Keep water and snacks on hand to stay energised.

  • Be Open to New Experiences: Try new games and attend different talks.

  • Plan but Be Flexible: Have a plan but allow time for spontaneous fun.

UKGE is an unmissable event for tabletop gaming fans. With careful planning and an open mind, you’re set for a memorable weekend filled with games, friends, and new experiences. Whether you're there to buy, play, learn, or simply soak in the atmosphere, UKGE 2024 promises to be the highlight of the summer.

See you in Birmingham!


What is the UK Games Expo (UKGE)? 

UKGE is the UK’s largest gaming convention, held annually at the NEC in Birmingham. It features a vast array of exhibitors, tournaments, seminars, and open gaming areas, making it a must-visit event for tabletop gaming enthusiasts.

When and where is UKGE 2024?

How do I get tickets for UKGE 2024?

Can I buy games at UKGE?

What is the Bring & Buy?

Are there any food options at UKGE?

What should I bring to UKGE?

Can I try out games before buying them?

Are there activities for competitive gamers?

What seminars and talks can I attend?

How can I meet the Roll Britannia Crew?

Is there any way to send my purchases home if I buy too much?

What should I do if I’m overwhelmed by the size of UKGE?

Are there any awards given out at UKGE?

Can I attend UKGE if I'm new to tabletop gaming?

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