Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Over, Under And By The Sea

Blairdrummond caravan parkrhododrendrons and a chocolate cake in the oven.
“That was some excellent reversing! I could never do that!” the man in the neighbour pitch announced after Timo had parked our caravan to the most beautiful camping place we had ever seen. Large rhododendrons were blooming all around us. “Would you like to drink tea or coffee?” his wife asked. I was quite confused. During the over 5 months of travelling, we had never had conversations with other campers. Just the polite “Good morning!” and that’s it. I told the lady I’m a coffee drinker, Timo drinks tea and our child likes hot chocolate. She disappeared in their own caravan and arrived after a while with three large mugs. What an excellent start for our holiday in Scotland!

Left is the new right

We had planned to spend the whole of June in the UK after UKGE. We had several team members we wanted to see, and Scotland was an area that really interested us. I didn’t dare to think much of that month beforehand, because the left side traffic gave me nightmares.

We arrived in the UK via Eurotunnel, under the sea. Not the cheapest way, but very easy. Although, so far the only passport control we have had, was in Calais where police officers also checked our caravan. In Finland, there has been news about the illegal immigrants' attempts to enter the Eurotunnel, so we were not surprised by the strict security checks.
The further north we drove,
the more amazing was the view.

The left side traffic did require some attention though. In all the crossings and roundabouts it was good that two people looked at where the other cars might come from and to which lane we are supposed to go.

The British Weather

After the nice and sunny time in Italy and central Europe, we were prepared to have a bit cooler June, with a lot of rain. You know, the typical British weather. But as we learned already in March: there is nothing typical in this year’s weather!
"Hector was here."

The beautiful, sunny weather during UKGE continued for the whole month. OK, the Hector-storm went over us in Edinborough and dropped a 5-meter long branch of a tree at the camping site. Then it was raining for a day, but even the rain was warm!

From island to another

The magical Fairy Pools.

The friendly neighbours at the camping site recommended us the Isle of Skye. We had been warned about the narrow roads in North, but they had been there with a caravan with no problems. The Isle of Skye has a special meaning for Timo. He has been playing for years a role game that happens on the island. So we decided to go there, to see the Fairy Pools and other sights he has been walking for years in his imagination.

Our caravan on a ferry to the Isle of Skye.

We were supposed to take the new bridge to the island, but I forgot the tell that to the navigator. So we ended up straight to the ferry harbour. And of course, we couldn’t fit into the next ferry (we needed a place of 6 cars). Driving to the bridge would have taken 3 hours, so we just waited, had lunch and enjoyed the lovely sea view. Did I already mention, that it was sunny and warm?
"So long as the gorse is in flower the kissing season is open."
An old saying I heard, and learned the gorse blooms all year round.

I had expected Scottish hills to be covered with grass, moss, heather and rocks. Of course, those existed, but the number of blooming flowers was surprising. Not only the tree-sized rhododendrons but also other bushes and trees, covered in golden yellow. I saw irises and orchids, stonecrops and wild roses. Many of them similar to home. And my soul enjoyed every single one of them.
Timo on the corner stone of the covenant of Talisker in Ars Magica. 

The Jewel Among the Slate

Väinö tried slate mining.

After an excellent week around Scotland, we headed to the Snowdonia area in Wales. There we had one colder and misty day, but we spend it underground in the old slate mine. The over 100 years old mine area provided many attractions to tourists. And due to that fact, that our home floors and yard is covered with slate (from Alta, Norway), I felt like home walking across on the grey stone.

The precious jewel of our trip turned out the be Emrys, the owner of Llys Derwen Camping in Snowdonia. We left his campsite in the Midsummer eve, planning to have a barbeque in the evening with our friend at Silverstone. To make a long story short: wrong road choice, too narrow and going up to a steep hill, caravan tire exploded, reversing broke the clutch (again!), we got stuck in a curve and blocked the whole road.

The pretty red car of Royal Mail stopped close by. Fortunately, mailman's tour ended right before our caravan, so we didn’t stop the mail deliveries. I asked the mailman our location and contacted, once again, The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (ATCF) for towing help. To Bwlch. I had to spell it many times. Welsh names are lovely!

Timo phoned Emrys, and he came to wonder about the situation. Before the British partner of ATCF even managed to confirm the request of help, Emrys had organised us a new tire, car towing and repair for the clutch and a tractor to pull the caravan back to his camping site. All this in the weirdly pleasant sounding Welsh.

Grandma’s Stories

Our family will never forget that Midsummer. I burned my neck spending hours in the sun, waiting for the towing on the hilltop, looking at the fantastic view of mountains and sea. Sheep, falcons and wild goats wondered of our caravan blocking the road. We had a great evening at Emrys’ camping site with other campers sharing our experiences and Scottish whiskey.

I bet when I later tell this story to my grandchildren, they will reply: “Don’t exaggerate grandma! We can believe everything else, except that it was warm and sunny all the time!”

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Did You Saw The Saw?

Olazábal and The Saw at UKGE.
Picture by I Play Red, thanks!
It was early morning. Olazábal was walking through corridors, alert, finger ready to pull the power button of her circular saw. She soon spotted a familiar, tall figure with grey hair. “It’s time to introduce The Saw to him..”, Olazábal thought. She approached the figure with determined steps. She pulled the trigger and The Saw started spinning with a hissing sound. “Remember me?” she asked, grinning and pointing at the guy, with The Saw. “OMG! What is that?” Rahdo asked with a surprised smile.

The Making of Olazábal

In Perdition’s Mouth one of the heroes, Olazábal, is a female dwarf. She has a circular saw, powered by steam, as a weapon. For almost a year I have been preparing an Olazábal costume. The clothes and the beard were the easy part. You might remember her from the Kickstarter video of Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift Revised Edition. The weapon was trickier to do.

These machines are
just so beautiful!
A box in our car has all kinds of cogwheels and pipes for the saw but I had lacked inspiration for building it. I found the inspiration in The Technical Museum in Brno, which had big, working, steam machines! The sunny days in Czechia gave me time to spray paint cogwheels, pressure meters and the shoulder pads I had bought from Modena Play. Of course, the lack of proper tools made the build a bit demanding and I ended up finishing the saw with duct tape (at least it was orange!).

SteampunkAndFantasy had the latex wrench.
They also had some nice steampunk corsets
- but unfortunately Olazábal does not wear one...
Pyrkon and its great variation of handcrafts provided me with the one missing part for the costume: a latex wrench. Olazábal was finally ready to enter the crowded corridors of the cult of board gamers at UKGE.

Network With Faces

Good business networks are something you really need in the board game industry. It is not enough that you have a great game idea, perhaps even new mechanics to present. You need good graphics, previews, reviews, retailers and, of course, the buyers. UKGE was an excellent place to build our network.

Rahdo listening the idea of Darwinning!
This time I was without the beard.
I really liked meeting Rahdo. He made a preview of Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift when it was first on Kickstarter. He was very happy to see how far we had got with the game. I asked if he would have time to learn about Darwinning!. He noticed my lunch fruits and answered: “Only if you give me a banana, I need something to eat.” So he got his banana, and learned that there is a humorous card game coming that he can soon review.

Giles Pound makes reviews, podcasts and blogs on his site, Both Sides of My Table. It is always nice to present games to people who really love gaming. It’s even better if you can provide them with something new. You can check here what Giles has to say about Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift!

Jamie Noble, the artist of
the original 
Olazábal art.
After UKGE we drove north, to meet Paul “Catweazel” Tunaley. We really like his learn-to-play videos. During a nice dinner of Indian food we had a good talk about board games and upcoming videos.

Tristan Hall has designed
new scenario for 
and her friends in PM:RE.
Even though all reviewers are important for our business, really, I most enjoy meeting the players. The people who stop at the booth just to tell us “I’m your backer, I really like your  games”. They are the reason why we are in this business. It’s great to meet those happy faces.

Come And Meet Us!

“I dropped my pledge and I’ve been regretting that ever since. I came to fix my error.” A guy said to me at our booth, as he bought Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift. Yeah, that happens. If you have made such an error, or have missed our games and campaigns for other reasons, don’t worry! Our tour continues, just come and meet us!

Our current schedule for the next few months is:

Berlin Brettspiele Con, Germany 21.-22.7.
Brussels Game Festival, Belgium 24.-26.8.
Jokos, Spain 21.-23.9. (please don’t let it snow…)
Cordoba, Spain 11.-13.10.
Essen Spiel, Germany 25.-28.10.
Spielwiesn, Germany, 16.-18.11.
And some more...

Do send us a hint if you know a good convention!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Safe Sweating

Sylvia presenting PM:AR in Pyrkon.
Our booth is behind the crib,” I told Tomasz ja Sylvia from For2players.  They carried our game boxes to the booth. We had 15 minutes to set everything up before the doors opened to the public. The baby in the crib at the neighbouring booth was playing happily, while his mother and other exhibitors and retailers were setting up their displays. 15 minutes was all we needed. Soon the aisle was filled with fantasy creatures, pokemon, warriors and happy people offering “free hugs” on their signs. Pyrkon, an amazing fantasy festival, had started.

The Other Rulebook

Our booth in UKGE was
nicely located close to
our PM:RE manufacturer.
Two weeks after Pyrkon we were carrying games to our booth in Birmingham, for UKGE. Our son was stopped at the door: no minors allowed! I was stunned and the memories of Nuremberg surfaced. I had re-read the exhibitors guide for UKGE just the night before to check set-up times and other instructions and hadn’t found any age limits.

It was in the other rulebook, the rules of the NEC, which I hadn’t read since in March. That one had the age limits and safety regulations. I was soon told that we were breaking several of them. The worst thing was that we were wearing sandals, due to the nice, sunny weather. It was mandatory to have shoes that cover your feet. Luckily we had managed to smuggle most of our stuff to the booth in our sandals, so we just left the exhibiting hall.

Saved by Rubber Boots

The problem was that the safety regulations of the erection phase extended to the area for the press preview. Väinö and I were supposed to present our games there within an hour for the large crows of press people. I managed to get permission for Väinö to enter, with proper shoes. All our other shoes were in our caravan at the camping site but the two of us had rubber boots in the car. So we put the rubber boots on and ran to set up our playing cards and flyers. I know that all the journalists didn’t have “proper shoes” when they walked around checking new games. Man, was I feeling safe sweating in the rubber boots behind our table!

UKGE during the time when sandals were ok.
At UKGE, any time other than the public opening times was considered “building and restocking time” = safety regulation time. So every morning our exhibitor son was forced to wait at the front gate for the convention to open and he had to leave the hall right after closing time.
I remembered the baby in his crib in Pyrkon. We are in the EU - even the British are for a while - and one easily thinks we have the same rules. This tour has taught us, though, that each country is different. Each organization is different. Each board game convention is different. In some countries people can work and be safe with fewer rules.

In Pyrkon we were allowed to camp in the fair area.
That was nice - but noisy because the fantasy parties lasted all night long.