Dates: 2-4 June 2023
Location: NEC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Organizer: UK Games Expo

I visited the show last year as a member of the press. I spoke to a lot of exhibitors and spent time in the evenings catching up with friends and playing a few games. However, this year was different. For the first time, I came up to demo games on behalf of Asmodee. That meant my travel, food and accommodation were all paid for and I even got a bit of an hourly wage. At the same time, it also meant I only had an hour’s lunch break to wander around the halls. It really changed my experience of the UK Games Expo 2023.

My journey started on Thursday morning, taking two trains to get to Birmingham. It was a really pleasant journey. In a way, the show already started for me on the train actually. There was a group of people sitting at a table playing card games. It was really nice to see.

When I arrived, I headed straight to the hotel, checked in and dropped off my stuff. After a short rest, I headed over to the halls which were only one train stop away from where I stayed. I was there to get a quick introduction from the Asmodee team about demoing and seeing where everything was. I also got my exhibitor badge, which gave me entry for the whole event.

After I was done familiarizing myself with the game I was going to demo and the whole setup, I headed over to the press event in the hope that I could say hello to a few people as well as get some sneak peeks at some of the games on offer during the exhibition.

Thursday’s Press Event

It didn’t take long to find Naylor Games and speak with James Naylor about their upcoming 21x, which is a twist on Blackjack. They got Marcus du Sautoy, a well-known mathematics professor, to design a card for the game and there are other people they’re talking to. So watch this space…

I also saw Gavin Jones, who was working for Ravensburger. We didn’t get to talk for very long, but it was really great to see the stall so very busy.

I also had a lovely chat with Nikita from Atikin Games about the upcoming cooperative game Malum Hortus. It has been in the making for some time and will be their first bigger box game. I just want to use this opportunity to say that all of Atikin‘s games are not only designed and illustrated by Nikita, but the final game is assembled and shipped to people by her own hands. So when you receive a game from her, you know it has had all her love poured into it. Saying that, Malum Hortus may be the first game that Nikita won’t assemble herself. If the crowdfunding campaign reaches a certain amount, the factory will put all the components in the box instead. So back it when it starts.

the Malum Hortus box
the Malum Hortus box

As I was talking to Nikita, Rob Harper, who you might know from Playtest UK, also came over and we had a quick chat. Rob‘s blog, First Take Some Dice is all about his journey as a board game designer and is a really interesting read whether you’re a designer yourself or not.

I also bumped into the always wonderful Jon Purkis of Actualol fame, Ross ‘More Games Please‘ Connell who now works for North Star Games and Russ Chapman, who you will know from For Chits & Giggles.


After a slightly interrupted sleep, I got to the halls to start my first shift on the Asmodee stand to demo the two-player card-drafting, engine-building game 7 Wonders Duel. It was a real pleasure to introduce this game, which I only recently learned myself, to lots of excited people who were interested in a two-player game or who had previously played the game’s big brother 7 Wonders, but wanted a two-player experience. On my first day, I got a good 10 demos in and it was really invigorating.

While I was demoing, a few lovely people popped over to just say hello. First of all, Adam Richard from Punchboard, a blog with reviews I strongly recommend you check out, turned up and we had a quick chat. A bit later, the lovely Dirk from the German board game podcast Ablagestapel also said hello. It feels as if we only ever meet at UK Games Expo.

I wish I’d had more time to talk to everyone, but of course, I was working, so could only have a quick chat with everyone. I’m just so pleased that people made the effort to come and find me.

Friday Lunchtime and Evening

I used my lunch break to pop over and see the always wonderful Bez from Stuff by Bez. Her stand was busy, as it always is, but I got a chance to chat and get a quick demo of one of her new games, “A game about auctioning cubes after winning an auction to become the auctioneer“. Yes, Bez‘s game titles are always snappy, which makes them so charming.

I also went to see Spiel des Jahres. Martina Fuchs, who is a member of the jury, was there and we had a lovely chat. We discussed my taking the nine nominations and a handful of other games back with me to donate to a good cause. That way, the games didn’t have to be lugged all the way back to Germany. I was more than happy to help, so keep an eye out on my social media feeds for announcements of which games were donated where.

the nine Spiel des Jahres 2023 nominations and some other games
the nine Spiel des Jahres 2023 nominations and some other games

The evening was spent having food and time talking with friends. At first, I wasn’t sure if I could stay. The hotel was a quick train ride away, but unfortunately, there were train strikes. The alternative would have been a 45-minute bus ride, which I didn’t really fancy. Luckily, someone else who was demoing for Asmodee also wanted to stay after the show was closed and was happy to share a cab with me. It wasn’t necessarily cheap, but worth it to socialize in the evenings.


After another interrupted night, I got back to the halls for more demoing on Saturday.

During my lunch break, I headed to hall 2 to find Minerva Tabletop‘s stand. I didn’t get a chance to speak with Scott James, but had a quick chat with Matt Hoather. They were demoing the upcoming Crumbs!, which looks really exciting and is worth a closer look.

I also got to speak with Jessica Metheringham from Dissent Games, who were showing off their production copy of Library Labyrinth, which I reviewed a while ago. It’s a great cooperative game of finding women from the world of literature and getting them to defeat monsters that are terrorizing the library. I strongly recommend you check it out.

Saturday evening was spent socializing more with friends. We tried to get one of the open gaming tables in the Hilton Hotel, but they were all jam-packed. So we ended up in the bar to chat instead.


I slept much better and was ready to tackle the last day. Saturday I had been demoing around 15 times and was going to achieve the same on Sunday.

On the day, Shaun Newman came over to say hello. Under their label Gamealot, he and fellow designer Christoph Scheiblhofer work on a number of games. I first met them virtually back in 2019 for the Board Game Workshop Design Contest. The game they presented really grabbed me and I urged them to publish it ever since. Maybe it will happen soon. Let’s keep an eye out…

left to right: Shaun Newman of Gamealot and Oliver Kinne (photo courtesy of Shaun Newman)
left to right: Shaun Newman of Gamealot and Oliver Kinne (photo courtesy of Shaun Newman)

I was also really pleasantly surprised when my favourite trick-taking game designer Daniel Newman, from New Mill Industries fame, came to visit. I tried not to fanboy and turn into a pile of mush. The timing was perfect, because I was just about to start my lunch break. We found a food place nearby, ordered fish-and-chips and started nerding out over trick-taking games. It was amazing. It felt like we’d known each other for ages. We played the upcoming Enemy Anemone and he showed me some of the games due out early next year. My favourite was Six of VIII, which I can’t wait to see published. It was so lovely hanging out with him and talking to someone who knows trick-taking games.

As the icing on the cake, Roland MacDonald, whose illustrations you can see in the Undaunted series of games and many more, also came over to the stand. It took me a moment to realize who it was, but one look at the art book he was holding and I knew. We had a quick chat and he promised to come on the Let me illustrate podcast as soon as he has time.

UK Games Expo Was Fun

I also met a few other people and it was really nice to chat with each and every one of you. I didn’t get a chance to speak to a few more, but I am making a concerted effort to have more time next year to get to see more of you and also have time to play games in the evenings.

Overall, UK Games Expo 2023 was a lot of hard work and long days, but more importantly, it was a lot of fun and just walking into the halls each day energized me a lot. Seeing so many of you and being able to introduce people to a game they hadn’t played before and watch them have fun was amazingly rewarding.

I also want to give a shoutout to the amazing Asmodee demo crew. It was amazing to work with you and get to know some of you a little more. I am not sure if I will demo next year, but whatever happens, I will definitely pop over and say hello.

Thank you to everyone who made the UK Games Expo a reality. It was another great and successful event in my books. Here is to 2024…


Transparency Facts

I feel that this review reflects my own, independent and honest opinion, but the facts below allow you to decide whether you think that I was influenced in any way.
  • I was paid to demo for Asmodee at UK Games Expo 2023, including getting paid for travel, food and accommodation. As part of this, I got an exhibitor badge for all three days of the show.
  • At the time of writing, Shaun Newman, James Naylor and Gavin Jones supported the blog financially through Patreon.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Del Sol by MusicParadise
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):
Artist website:

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Cool Morning by MusicParadise
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):
Artist website:

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