I was at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham all weekend. I had a great time last year, releasing It's Alive! and selling out of Border Reivers. This year I had nothing to sell, so I didn't have a stand. Instead I was judging the UK Game of the Year award, networking with shops and distributors, playtesting and playing games.
I'd played two of the eight games before the convention, and another three were ruled out on the day since they weren't available, which meant I had three to try out at the convention. I managed to play two of them on Saturday (twice each) and then the third Sunday morning. They were all good games, but Dean at Ludorum deserved his win for Ice Flow. It's a great game, simple enough that kids can play it, with enough strategy that adults get a kick out of it too. Plus, the artwork is by R H Aidley who did It's Alive! and will be doing Carpe Astra - so it looks great too. Tinners' Trail, the new Martin Wallace game was also very good.
I met W. Eric Martin (Hi, Eric!), the editor of Boardgame News, and played several games with him and his brother, including a couple of games of Carpe Astra and a prototype of Dominion which was really original. I'm sure with more plays, once I've got a strategy, I'll really enjoy it. It's a bit like Magic: The Gathering, but not collectible, and you build your deck as part of the game. Eric's agreed to playtest Carpe Astra some more, with some new features dreamed up during the games we played at the Expo.
After playing until 1:30am on Saturday, I was wrecked when I got home last night, but I'm a bit more with it today. I'll be making some new bits for Carpe Astra today, to try out some of those new ideas mentioned above.
In other news, I was interviewed by Jason Kong on Gamesizing.com recently, I keep forgetting to mention it. The interview was done via email over several weeks, hence referring to Carpe Astra by its working title of Codename: Network.
Update: The Gamesizing interview has moved to: gamedesigners.wordpress.com.