Saturday morning I required industrial-grade blasting equipment to get me out of bed. Not only was I shattered from all the construction, but Dunk and I had stayed up fairly late (for me at least) chatting over a couple of beers, and then when I finally went to bed a couple of drunken fools across the road were having a massive row in the street. I struggled out of bed, we then packed and headed over to Stoke. It only took forty mintues to get there, so we arrived early enough for me to nip to WHSmiths to buy a receipt book (optimist that I am) and then to go to a local cafe for a fry-up breakfast - I really needed the coffee.
We arrived at the convention around 10:30am, half an hour after it had opened, and once we had followed the sound of voices to the convention location (signage in the entrance hall wasn't that obvious) we reached the sign-in desk and met the organisers: Nick and Sue of Shire Games. Nick and Sue were very welcoming, and proved excellent hosts all weekend.
The place was very busy already, and Dunk and I set up on a table right up the far end of the top room - not an ideal location, but there you go. That'll teach us to turn up a bit late. We set up for a 2-player game and arranged the boxes in an 'attractive' display. I could do with some marketing experience - I'm sure someone with a marketing background could had done better.
Dunk and I played a quick game before a passing couple were drawn in by the name - Russ and Jen. Jen was from Carlisle, so it's local history for her. We set-up a 4-player and played that out while I chatted about the game and it's history. Russ and Jen seemed to enjoy it and made all the right noises - I felt like I was off to a good start. After that game, I asked Nick to introduce me to Steve, who had ordered a copy based on very limited information several months ago. We were introduced and as soon as Steve's game of Tempus was over he joined us for a game. Ivan joined in too, so we settled down to another 4-player. Halfway through that game Russ and Jen came back from lunch and bought a copy, and seeing as I had the paperwork out Steve paid for his copy too - this was getting better and better :-). Jen's quote also filled me with a warm fuzziness:
We were still talking about the game when the food arrived - we knew then we needed to get a copy.
We finished that game, and I got more positive feedback, although I don't think Ivan was enamoured of it - especially the gambling for re-inforcements.
Next up was a 3-player with David, which Dunk won, breaking my winning streak. At some point Nick swung by and bought a copy based on the feedback he'd heard from Russ and Jen. He also told me it was the first game to go from the Tombola table where winners got to choose a game from those on offer - things were going very well.
At that point Dunk and I packed up and headed off to a local Italian restaurant for some dinner. Seeing as Dunk and I had now played for about seven hours straight, I decided that I'd have the evening off playing and selling, and give Dunk a break. When we got back in however, we bumped into Nigel and Jed who had wanted to play earlier but were in the middle of something else. So I sat down to a 3-player game with them. I think they were the least keen of the people I'd played it with - which is fair enough - it's not to everyone's tastes.
After that Dunk and I joined Nigel and Jed for a couple of dexterity games: Hamsterrolle and Polarity. Hamsterrolle was great, like anti-Jenga set in a hamster wheel - it's got to be seen to be believed. Sadly, I was hopeless at both of them, and as a result Nigel and Jed beat Dunk and I both times. During those games, a couple sat down next to us and the guy - Ben - noticed my carrier bag full of Border Reivers. He'd been reading my blog and was glad to see I'd got them finished in time. He said he might buy a copy the next day, and asked to look at a copy. I passed one to him, and five minutes later he bought it. Yeay!
During one of those games I spotted Luke (from this blog), by his BGG avatar printed on the back of his T-shirt. He was obviously leaving so I popped over to say hello - I was hoping to get a chance to play First Past The Post and his Tour De France game with him during the weekend. Sadly he was leaving, and he wasn't going to be there on Sunday - so I missed the boat on that one. Still, he said he had a good convention and that his Tour De France game was well received (you can hear about it on the latest Into The Gamescape podcast from Mike Hibbert). I'll have to catch him earlier next time.
After Nigel and Jed left, I introduce Dunk to Lost Cities a great card game by Reiner Knizia. Then we headed back to Derby for a well-deserved night's sleep.
If I'm honest, I had hoped to sell three copies over the weekend, plus the two pre-orders to Dunk and Steve, and I'd sold that on the first day - I was feeling exhausted, but pretty chuffed.