Airecon 2023

So last weekend was Airecon 2023 in Harrogate. This year it was even bigger, which meant it was in the larger halls. I was there for three days. On the Friday, I ran two roleplaying games; on the Saturday I popped in to play games and catch up with friends; and on the Sunday, I was there with family. (Previous Airecon reports here.)

At the entrance to Airecon with Megan on Sunday​

Friday was exciting because of all the snow that had arrived overnight. It didn’t last long but caused some travel chaos. I caught the bus, so I just had to contend with some slippery pavements, which I navigated with care.

I ran Perfect Organism (for ALIEN) and The Bone Swallower (for Fate Accelerated) and had time to wander around.

Perfect Organism (game files here)

Perfect Organism is my ALIEN cinematic set in a W-Y station in orbit above LV-426. The USCMC are investigating the loss of the Sulaco (from Aliens), and, well, things don’t go according to plan… Perfect Organism sold out before Airecon, so I knew I had five players. This would be my first time running it with all five players – my previous runs each had three. I was interested to see how the additional characters changed the scenario. I had expected everything to take longer, but to my surprise, we took less time than before.

This time, the players never made it out of orbit. That’s because one of the new characters shut down any suggestion that the PCs head down to LV-426 itself. Had they gone down to LV-426 (as earlier groups had), the game would have lasted longer.

It didn’t matter – the players seemed to have a blast. They leaned into their conflicting agendas – for much of the time I just sat back and watched them.

My favourite moments were the number of excuses the lead scientist had for keeping the investigators from looking at anything too deeply. She was so inventive – “There’s always a reason,” said one of the others.

Me and most of my Perfect Organism crew​

Finishing earlier than expected gave me time to chat with Graham (the organiser and someone I know from Furnace), grab some lunch and a pint of beer, and buy Ivan Brett’s two books, The Floor is Lava and Bored? Games!

The Bone Swallower (more info here)

The Bone Swallower is the adventure in my Other London: Desk 17 setting book for Fate Accelerated. Again I had five players. (I’m normally wary about running games for five players, as I find it difficult to ensure everyone has enough spotlight time. But from what I can tell, I think I got it right at Airecon in both games this year. Although I may not be the best person to judge.)

My players knew of Fate, even if they hadn’t played it before. Except for one – for whom this was their first time roleplaying! While they were hesitant at times, they soon got stuck in and played along with the rest of them.

Five players is a bit much for an investigative scenario (it can feel like the players are going in mob-handed at times), but we split the party when we needed to, and their investigation took a different route to previous runs.

(It also changed one scene dramatically. Previously, there’s one scene where I’ve seen players be a little tentative. This time, convinced they had found the suspect, they went in hard and fast and quickly overpowered the bad guys.)

My favourite bit was tracking where the missing Iona had gone – using an eyewitness and traffic cameras to find the van. Nobody’s tried that before, so I was thinking on my feet.

Again, it felt like a successful session, and I felt pleased.

With my Friday duties finished, I headed back to the bus station.

Over tea, after telling Mrs H about the convention, we played Licence Plate Sentences from The Floor is Lava (but we grabbed some random letters as we were in the kitchen rather than in the car). Mrs H is so much better at it than I am!


Overnight, I dreamt that Taylor Swift had written a song about an unpopular D&D setting she really liked. I think it was pretty good – but I can’t remember anything now. Mrs H suggested it meant I had had a good time yesterday, which was hard to argue with (although I don’t play D&D…)

Anyway, I hadn’t originally planned to be at Airecon on Saturday. However, the snow prevented the planned visit from the in-laws, so I was free to brave the bus into Harrogate again and I was there by about 11.

Saturday was a day of catching up with old friends and playing boardgames.

Games played:

Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game: A Star Wars-themed Star Realms, with a few twists. Maybe if I didn’t have so many Star Realms cards, I would be interested in it.

Letters from Whitechapel: I played this twice, a hidden movement game along the lines of Scotland Yard where one player tries to avoid capture by the others. Three of us hadn’t played before, but we picked it up pretty quickly. I was an investigator in the first game, and we caught Jack (the villain) before he murdered his second victim. As that was over fairly quickly, we played a second game, and this time I was Jack. I won on the last turn, but goodness, it was stressful! I was exhausted at the end. (One of the other players, who’d played before, said it was one of the best games of Letters that he’d played.)

I found this game by spotting a lightsabre – the system Airecon uses that lets players know that people are looking for more players. It’s a great system – and along with the area where you can linger if you’re looking to play a game means nobody should be looking for a game for long.

King of Tokyo: I entered the Airecon King of Tokyo tournament at the last minute. (I was nearby as it was setting up.) I was knocked out in the first round – the winner of our table obviously loved the game and was a worthy winner.

Other moments of note included chatting with gaming pals and telling Ivan Brett (author of The Floor is Lava and Bored? Games!) about Freeform Games. I cursed myself for not having a business card with me…


Over breakfast, we played the gloriously silly Brian? Brian! From The Floor is Lava.

Anyway, Sunday was family day for me. I had deliberately avoided the demo and playtest areas so far as I knew I would likely spend time there today with my family (my daughter Megan, brother Phil and nephew Jack). And that’s what happened.

Megan at the Airecon sign​

We had a lovely time – games played included:

7 Wonders: An Asmodee demo (some cards removed, I think). I knew how to play, but it was new to the others. However, they all liked it, and Jack won. I like 7 Wonders, but I don’t own it because it needs 3-7 players, and I won’t get it to the table often enough. (Lots of my friends have it, though, so I get to play it when I see them.)

My shelfie: Build a point-scoring bookshelf. I won this. It was okay, but nothing to write home about.

Silly selfie while playing My Shelfie

In the footsteps of Darwin:
I played this with Megan and came last. Megan was pleased to beat me. Gorgeously illustrated tableau-building game. Not too heavy. A game I’d happily play, but not one I need for my collection.

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza: I was terrible at this – a crazy loud snap variant. Jack won, and I definitely lost. Megan wanted a copy as she knew her friends would enjoy it. Unfortunately, the copy she bought was the FIFA version, which she wouldn’t have chosen had she realised. So she’s going to tailor it.

Cobra Paw: Roll dice and take the matching dominoes. I thought I’d be rubbish because Megan’s so good at pattern-spotting (she thrashes me at Dobble and Panic Lab and Set). But Phil won, and I came second. Not too bad for the old folk.

Scout: Phil was looking for a game to play at restaurants, and after asking around, we tried Scout, an intriguing trick-taking game. It fitted the bill, so he picked up a copy. (I often put Timeline or Red 7 or No Thanks or some dice for Perudo in my pocket for those situations.)

It was then time for us to head back, so that’s what we did.


I was fairly restrained at Airecon—my loot is shown below.

Airecon loot - small by many standards​

I’m very happy with the books and counters, and Megan is happy with Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (despite the FIFA branding). The freebies are fine:

  • The extra card for Dixit reminded me to get it to the table more often.
  • I’ll give the Ticket to Ride promo cards to someone who has TtR: Europe.
  • Megan and I played with the Dobble, Time’s Up and Cortex cards when we got home. Dobble was fine—she beat me as usual (we have a set), and she’s taken the cards as a portable set to play with her friends. She also beat me at Cortex (which neither of us liked). Time’s Up might have been fun (like Articulate but with some twists), but we only had the two of us, and there were too many pop culture people that neither of us knew.
  • The King of Tokyo character was a freebie for playing in the tournament, and Megan has taken that for a friend who has the game.

Gloom of Kilforth tempted me—but I need to do some research first. Megan was more interested in the upcoming version, Call of Kilforth (pirates!), so I may get that when it comes out.

I was also tempted by Earth Rising, a new cooperative game about making the world a better place (fighting poverty, solving climate change, reversing biodiversity loss and so on). It’s a great message, and the game seemed interesting. Maybe if there had been a copy to buy, I would have walked away with it. But only maybe – I don’t know how much overlap there is with the upcoming Daybreak (which focuses on climate change).

I was also tempted by the journalling RPG Be Like A Crow, which looked beautiful. But I already have (and don’t play) Thousand Year Old Vampire and I don’t suppose Be Like A Crow would be different, and I don’t need more games on my shelf to sit unplayed.

(Isn’t it interesting that the games that tempted me are all solo or cooperative? I think that’s because I know I can get them to the table. If I buy a multiplayer game, I’m relying on it appealing to my family.)

Airecon 2023 - final thoughts

Overall, I had a wonderful time. Megan was sorry she could only go on the Sunday – next year, she wants to go on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought the new halls were good. While the smaller halls are much nicer (the large halls are rather industrial - not that anyone notices when they have their heads down, studying the board), Airecon never felt overcrowded, even with the obvious increase in attendees.

Airecon 2023's industrial vibe​

And although I would love to do Airecon every weekend, as an introvert, I did find it exhausting. Time to recharge the batteries!

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Excellent convention, but takes more real estate this year, so, yes, it can be exhausting. I walked 10,000 steps from parked vehicle to walking about AireCon and back.
I'm not surprised. On Sunday I walked the dog before driving to Airecon, so I don't know how many steps I did that day!