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Gav Thorpe Blog - Chillcon 2017 € Event Report

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#1 Bugman


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Posted 03 June 2017 - 03:33 PM

ChillCon-2017-Logo.jpgI may have dropped a hint or two (translation: spammed social media) that I was at the ChillCon event in Sheffield on Saturday. My main reason for going was to introduce some nice folks to the joys of Big Stompy Robots but as it turned out the event presented even more opportunities than I was expecting.

It’s always difficult getting a new wargames event up and running. Organisers are caught in the catch-22 of trying to attract trade stands and demo games, who want to know there will be a good turnout, and getting people through the door by offering a tempting selection of traders and demo games…

That there were two halls of attractions spoke testament to the efforts of the team in promoting their new venture – one that was timely and geographic after Triples disappeared from the wargaming calendar. It was good to see companies putting their faith and effort into making the opening event a success, and seeing the traders list included the likes of Warlord, Oathsworn Miniatures, KR Multicase, Pig Iron Productions, and many others beside was surely a lure for many of those that attended.

Had they known that they would be sharing the weekend with Warhammer Fest before the release of a new edition of Warhammer 40,000 they might have moved the date (although next weekend is UK Games Expo, and the season really starts getting quite busy after that). Even so and despite a brief deluge, they did manage to get a good number of visitors through the doors.

I ran three games of Big Stompy Robots over the course of the day, and had a great time doing it. Everyone that played had fun, and there was some useful discussions about the game and where I might take it both game-wise and commercially.


Everything ready to go at the start of the day.

As I mentioned in my earlier developer diary there’s no substitute for hitting the table and rolling some dice to generate ideas and highlight areas for future exploitation. In particular, I’d like to thank the teenage player who, after I created some ad-hoc ammo drop rules, was quick to ask, “Can I flamethrower his ammo crates?”. That’s the sort of input that shows what the gamers really want. And the answer is now, “Yes you can”. Free Robots!

One particularly nice thing that happened came in the week before the show. Two of my mechs for the demo game are Wardroids from Pig Iron Productions. The lovely people at that company contacted me and asked if I would like some free wardroids to give away at the show. I naturally said yes!


A wardroid from Pig Iron Productions takes on a Razorback Heavy Gear from Dream Pod 9

So thanks to Alex and Helen for their generosity, I am sure the proud new owners of these mechanical men are very happy.

As if that wasn’t enough, Johnathan Straw of Britannicus Games also gave me a couple of freebies… As sole UK distributor of the Mecha Front ranges (which Kickstarted last year) Johnathan has been keeping an eye on Big Stompy Robots. He was at ChillCon running a very nice looking game of Horizon Wars, created by Robey Jenkins and published by Osprey. I have had my eye on the Mecha Front range since I started Big Stompy Robots so it was nice to see some in the flesh (well metal, although production has now moved to resin). I will certainly be picking up a couple of others. I also need to thank him for the loan of the tape measure, when I realised I had forgotten to pack mine. I really need to come up with a demo game checklist to make sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

Mecha-Front-freebies-e1496501302488.jpegSpeaking of tape measures and free stuff, Richard of Shiny Games, based in Nottingham, not far from where I live, was kind enough to let me keep his after playing in my opening demo game. I really like the Shiny Games philosophy and its cool to see some lesser known games from around the world with a UK retailer. We also chatted a bit about the Nottingham gaming scene (and how everything seems to happen on Wednesdays) and possible future Big Stompy Robots testing sessions.



Video Killed the Games Design Star

You may have seen in the previous week that I conducted a live questions and answers session hosted by the WargamerOnline team. I’ve watched this up-and-coming venture with interest and they have arrived strong, with three thousand subscribers after only twelve weeks since their hard launch – though as I learnt chatting to them on the weekend, that was after nearly a year of practising and honing. Phil kindly offered to knock together a games table if I like – which is gratefully appreciated and I will take up at some point – and I reciprocated with a proposal to take my BSR demo down to their studios so they can have a play.

And because it’s always a little bit about who you know as well as what you know in these circumstances, I’d like to thank them also for introducing me to Word Forge Games. You may know them from The Devil’s Run: Route 666, but they also act as a design studio resource for other creators. I can see they have an eye for quality production, which I think is paramount, so maybe somewhere down the line there might be some fruitful discussions to be had if I want to take Big Stompy Robots to market.

A quick note to the WargamerOnline guys – you didn’t bring those books you wanted signing… Next time, maybe.

More Thanks

My gratitude to Benjamin Fox of Fox Box, who took the time to come over and say thank you for Digganob! Gorkamorka set him on the road to miniatures production and I’m happy to have played a small part in that. It’s sometimes easy to forget that just as I was inspired to get into gaming and games design by the likes of Donald Featherstone, Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson (and many others) there are those that might one day be inspired to work in the industry by what we are currently producing. Every creator and hobbyist is a potential ambassador to future generations.


Three new BSR pilots survey the destruction

And last, but not least, thanks to the people that turned up to play. I really enjoyed introducing you to my latest game and your enthusiasm for it is an encouragement to continue.

**To make sure you don’t miss out on any blog posts, you can keep up-to-date with everything Gav by signing up to my monthly newsletter. As a bonus, every other month I randomly pick a newsletter subscriber to receive a free signed copy of one of my books.**

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