I’m in the unusual position that I first heard about Tabletop Scotland long before the Media Coverage and press releases hit, as I’ve known David, Simon and John for the last three years, as they are regular attendees at the local gaming club I go to in Dunfermline (DWARF). We’ve played some games together and in fact both Dave and John were guests on the podcast in the past.
It was really interesting to hear the snippets of information as the planning progressed. The excitement of reaching 250 ticket sales and the nervousness of how far it would climb before the big day. How much of the Dewar Centre was going to be taken up by cardboard? and the proud moments when the partnerships were announced tentatively. In the background was always whispers of ‘this is going to happen isn’t it?’
As the days rolled ever onwards and the ticket sales increased, the next question that arose was ‘I hope this is good’. And not meant in a way to be cruel but more in the way that you hope that the team delivered something remarkable that would be a first, and lead on to be something that became an Event in the tabletop calendar.
For us, we supported from the sidelines, as a house move seriously restricted what we could do on the day in terms of helping out. Though we clearly helped John being banned from being allowed in Perth itself after his glorious contribution to podcast him and Duncan took part in while Dave was at Gen Con. (I dunno if Dave mentioned he was going to Gen Con, that might be an exclusive)
To me, Tabletop Scotland couldn’t be at a better place in terms of geography and travelling. I’m one of these people that when they go somewhere they like a base, or somewhere to escape to or even an easy exit like on The Matrix. With Perth being a mere 40 minutes away, I enjoyed all of these benefits, because at the end of the night at any point when I knew I was leaving, it was only going to bed 40 minutes until I was back at home and as far as hassles go. That is pretty much nothing. So like a selfish man I drove up with a wallet full of change ready for parking.
This was mistake number one. As on arriving and parking IN THE VENUE and taking my parking slip, I discovered that by validating it, I was only paying a pound for parking, so I had to spend the rest of the time, carting about the other £6.75 on loose change that I was expecting to spend on that day. This was an irritant but something that I powered through, despite the huge inconvenience to me.
First stop was to collect my pass and then into the main hall to have a look round, and it was spacious and extremely well laid out, and they had a crew at the door ready to welcome you, friendly faces and happy smiles. With the Haba demo team waiting on the right hand side eagerly showing families games they could play that weren’t Frustration or Monopoly and ten times more fun, and ahead of me was the Games Library that was exceptionally well managed throughout the day to make sure that there were almost no queue times, and that you weren’t left with the scraps to play even when you were looking for something at the busiest time.
The main part of the hall was full of people sitting around playing games together, whether they were with old friends or new, and backing on to them was the playtesting zone, with Iain from The Giant Brain doing an exceptional job of running the area and supporting the designers showing off the creations. The rest of the area was taken up by a mixture of vendors and creators, and it was brilliant to see Kevin, Justin, Keith, Sarah, Keith, Bez and Nigel again demonstrating their wares, with Mark of fully funded and operational Wreck and Ruin fame still guiding people through the wasteland. It’s always strange to meet up with people you’ve had guesting on the podcast, even if you have met them before but at the same time, it added to the delight I experienced at Tabletop Scotland. I also bumped into Iain (unpopular Mechanics) and Ross Connell from More Games please, both of which were wonderful company and I hope to spend more time with them soon. Ross was spending the entire weekend at the event and it was great to meet him in person. I bumped into the Unlucky Frog crew on several occasions (OH MY, BEN IS TALL) as they were setting up recording in the smaller venue room for various talks by the likes of Michael Heron on accessibility and Games Design by Bez. Hats off to them for a brilliant job especially on Room D100+1 and the Ever so Hard Pub Quiz.
Even though the hall was busy, it never seemed crowded. There was never the slightly claustrophobic feeling you get when attending the bigger venues. I’ve had experience of attending Trade fairs at the NEC and at points you just never seem to be able to just stand without feeling you’re up against the current. At Tabletop Scotland you were given the chance to stop and think and gather your thoughts, without having to move out the way of the other visitors. If you wanted to play a game, grabbing a table wasn’t a quest in itself, if you wanted to wander, you were never having to the queue. Granted you had to be quick to grab something special at the bring and buy sales but ce la vie.
Ross From More Games Please Showing an Old Man About the Show.
This was the story throughout the venue and throughout the day. I find it difficult to comprehend the planning and detail that must have gone into making Tabletop Scotland what it was and what it achieved, especially having to deal with the sudden lack of a game library a couple of weeks before the event.
I went along to Tabletop Scotland with the intention of supporting some friends with their event. I left thoroughly impressed, delighted and happy. I met some great people and left feeling that Tabletop Scotland is the Tabletop event that Scotland needs in its calendar without a shadow of a doubt. Unlike Terraforming Mars, this was well produced, well thought out and ultimately a huge amount of fun for all involved.
AND THE METAL CUBES DIDN’T GO EVERYWHERE WHEN SOMEONE BREATHED.