The Ruined Blog

After Action Report

Demo table at Dragonmeet 2019

In the vast gulf of time since the last blog post, we’ve checked two board game events off our to-do list!

The first was Dragonmeet last November, a major London convention with a role-playing focus but which is nevertheless board game friendly. We were joined by an extra pair of hands in Jim from Laserlout Studios who brought his expert demoing skills to the table. He helped us to deploy a new shorter version of the game for demoing which allows people to get a taste of Circulari in 20 minutes or so without having to sit down for a full game. The new demo experience was well received and helped to get more people to give the game a go.

The event itself was busy as always and plenty of people came to look at our stand. We even had enough space to run 2 demos at once when the demand presented itself. Much like buses, when demoing sometimes you’re idle and sometimes everyone turns up as once.

Stand at FBG Con 2020

Next up was FBG Con just last month in February, a new convention based in Stevenage run by review blogger The Friendly Boardgamer. It was a small event to test the waters, but it went well and they’re already planning larger premises for next year. We ran a few demos and in between them I play-tested the latest solo rules for Circulari. While I’m not normally a big solo player, this variant seems to have improved a lot over my earlier attempt and I was enjoying trying to beat my own high score.

We’ve learnt a lot as we’ve attended more events and run more demos. One of the things you get a lot of practice in doing is explaining the rules to people. It’s interesting because when you’re designing a game it can be hard to imagine what that will be like and sometimes I worried it would be too complicated to get across (apart from the times I worried it would be too simple to be fun). There are somethings you can only find out when you make contact with the real world and I’m pleased to say that actually people seem to pick up Circulari very easily and go on to have fun.

Another vital thing that we’ve learnt since our first convention is how hard it can be to read people’s hand written e-mail addresses. That’s why, starting with these events, we’ve replaced our mailing list sign up clipboard with an Android tablet!

Conventions 2019-20

Board Game Convention
Tabletop Gaming Live Logo overlaid with green tick

It’s time to take Circulari to the world, or at least trek it around England. We’re booked to exhibit at a number of key events on the UK board gaming calendar between now and the middle of next year. We’ll be demoing Circulari and drumming up interest ready for a future crowdfunding campaign.

In fact, we’ve put one event behind us already. We made our convention debut at Tabletop Gaming Live at the end of September. Read more about it in our blog post. There’s lots more to come though and we hope to see you at one of the events below:

Dragonmeet, 30th November 2019

Dragonmeet Logo

Dragonmeet, nestled in the heart of London close to Hammersmith tube station, is just two weeks away now. While the event has something of a role-playing bent, good old board games are equally welcome. Circulari will have a table in the demo area. Come and check it out.

Dragonmeet 2019 @ Novotel London West(buy tickets)

FBG Con, 8th February 2020

FBG Con 2020 Logo

Running for the first time next year, this brand new event is the creation of board game reviewer The Friendly Boardgamer and it promises to be just as friendly as he is. While primarily an opportunity for some serious open gaming, there will be a small number of games being demoed and Circulari will be among them!

FBG Con 2020 @ Springfield House Community Centre, Stevenage(sign up)

AireCon, 13-15th March 2020

AireCon Logo

Now in its fourth year, AireCon is still the trendy rising star of British board game conventions. Possessing perhaps the largest open gaming space in Europe by their own estimations, AireCon is sure to be a lot of fun. One of over 30 exhibitors, we’ll be demoing Circulari on our stand.

AireCon 2020 @ Harrowgate Convention Centre(buy tickets)

UK Games Expo, 29-31st May 2020

A giant amongst its kind, it barely needs an introduction, the UKGE is the largest board gaming convention in the UK. Held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, two giant trade halls contain hundreds of stands and thousands of products from exhibitors around the world. Not to mention, there’s more space on top for tournaments and open gaming. We’ll be there, so keep an ear out for our stand number to be announced and get ready to pick your way through the crowds!

UK Games Expo 2020 @ Birmingham NEC

Tabletop Gaming Live

Tabletop Gaming Live 2019

Our first ever exhibition took place last month at Tabletop Gaming Live. Now in its second year, Tabletop Gaming Live takes place at Alexandra Palace in north London and for the span of a weekend turns the Great Hall into a microcosm of the board game industry. Aside from the giant areas given over to Asmodee subsidiaries, lots of independent designer-publishers were in attendance such as Wren Games, Naylor Games, Stuff by Bez, and of course ourselves!

Collage of photos from Tabletop Gaming Live 2019

The stand came together on Friday in just four hours of carefully affixing velcro hooks to the backdrop and trying, failing, and ultimately succeeding to roll it onto the 2.4 metre high felted shell. While on reflection the shell walls did make the stand feel a little enclosed and hard to spot, many people commented that it looked very professional. Still, the lure of easy to use roll up banners will be hard to resist in the future.

I was fairly nervous as the show opened on Saturday morning, but fortunately the requisite Circulari marketing patter soon came to me. I saw a lot of different people visit the stand over the course of the show and we’re grateful to everyone who showed an interest in Circulari. Interactions ranged from a quick explanation of the game’s key points to the many delightful people who sat down for a full game. Despite forgetting to more often that I would have liked, I also got lots of people to put down their e-mail addresses for our newsletter.

One of things I found difficult was judging what kind of experience a given person was hoping to have and crucially the amount time they wanted to spend having it. It would great to have a more compressed but still playable demo experience for expos. It was also difficult to manage the manpower requirements of both attending to casual interest from show goers and running demos. A bigger stand with more people to run it and delineated areas for different activities would help with all of the above and is definitely something we have planned for the future.

All in the all, we had a great time exhibiting at the show, but it was also a fantastic learning opportunity. We have a long list of things to improve upon and can’t want to get started on it. We’re booked in already to exhibit at Dragonmeet 2019 and AireCon 2020, and hopefully will also be appearing at the UK Games Expo in 2020 too.