Woooooowww! What a show! I’m finally back from the UK games expo, now the 3rd biggest board game convention in the world! Considering two years ago it was just a few hotel rooms in size, we now take up two full halls of the NEC just outside Birmingham, with the biggest names in board gaming starting to show their faces. FFG, Mayfair, Pegasus Spiele, CGE and Asmodee had strong presences, Portal and TMG were testing things out with a small booth. These are exciting times for the UK board gaming scene!
The U.K. Games Expo is an absolute highlight of the gaming year for me. It’s big enough that there are some bigger, upcoming titles available to try out, but small enough that you can see everything you hoped to, and still try out a few random things on the side. The core of the expo is still the small, independent UK publishers, giving it a wonderful, familial atmosphere.
As this was my second year at the expo, and having met and spoken to so many people through my review work over the last couple of years, the UKGE is a fantastic opportunity to meet up with so many of them, and to make new friends! I only hope that everyone else had nearly as much fun as I did.
Or maybe the lack of sleep is just making me soppy. To the games!
Game of the show: The Cousins’ War
I featured this on my top games list but I still didn’t think I’d enjoy The Cousins’ War as much as I did. It’s a 30 minute reselling of the War of the Roses, with a bit of area control, clever card play, and a battle to fight each round. But the card play is inspired by the excellent mechanics of Twilight Struggle and the COIN series, while the battles are resolved by effectively playing a few rounds of Liars Dice, which is a fantastic mechanic for representing the uncertainty and chance of battle. I’ll have a full review of this out shortly (up here!) and (assuming the recording worked) an interview with designer, David Mortimer.
I was lucky enough to receive a few titles to review so expect to see these going on to the Creaking Shelves dissection table in the near future:
Pocket Mars – the new hot theme in a tiny package!
Superhot – dodging bullets and beating on guys in glowy red morph suits.
As a public service announcement, I still have a healthy collection of games in the review pile from before the UKGE that will most likely be coming out in and around the UKGE coverage, including Mystic Vale, Netrunner: Terminal Directive, The Dunwich Legacy expansion to the Arkham Horror LCG, Kerala and Word Slam. So don’t be surprised to see them mixed in!
Just Demos (for now)
The UKGE is great for trying out new games (better than Essen for actually getting to play things!) and so I’ve managed to try a great mix of upcoming big titles and smaller, interesting Kickstarters. I’ll be writing up First Impressions articles for many of these in the next couple of months, so be sure to let me know if there’s something you particularly want to hear about.
First Martians – I was the first First Martian of the convention, but I probably should have stayed in basic training. Surviving on Mars in a reimplementation of Robinson Crusoe.
The Godfather – the next CMON/Eric Lang miniatures based area control game. An offer you can’t refuse?
Codenames Duet – cooperative Codenames in sexy green packaging.
Bahrenpark – laying Tetris shapes on grids is fast becoming one of my favourite past times and this one features bears!
Alien Artifacts – a 4X/engine builder card game from Portal games.
Iunu – currently on Kickstarter, a card game about collecting people in ancient Egypt.
The Captain is Dead – chaotic coop on a starship that feels more like Galaxy Quest than Star Trek.
Santo Domingo – super quick simultaneous role selection game where you need to guess what everyone else will be trying to do.
Numbr9 – tile laying with numbers, where you want to try and not leave any gaps. Which is damn hard with these shapes!
That’s a Question – the latest Vlaada Chvatil party game about asking awkward questions.
Dance of the Fireflies – neat bidding and set collection game with some lovely art.
Scrumpy – a deck building game about making cider with some nice mechanical twists.
The City of Kings – a big fantasy adventure in a box. Great graphic design lets it squeeze a lot into a small space.
Carcosa – most easily described as Cthulhu Carcassonne, an ongoing Kickstarter with some neat twists on the classic gameplay.
Baobab – a dexterity game where you are building a Baobab tree, but which felt a little too easy in general. Good for kids I’m sure!
Dice Hospital – upcoming title from the creators of Lab Wars, this is the Theme Hospital of worker placement games. Try not to let too many people die…
Shahrazad – an abstracted two player cooperative game about trying to weave together a compelling story over many nights.
Diesel Demolition Derby – drafting battle game of fighting robots with a massive pile of locations to fight in. Think punchy, robotic Love Letter.
Alexandria – oh no! The library of Alexandria is on fire! Race to rescue as much as you can!
Well I couldn’t go to a convention without treating myself, now, could I? Since most “new” games weren’t yet for sale, I ended up buying a few older titles that I’d always fancied trying out. These will probably see a review at some point, but who knows when? If there’s anything here you’d particularly like to read about, let me know!
Barony – a games I’ve wanted to play since Essen 2015, I finally found a copy I could pick up! It’s a simplified civ style game from the same designer as Splendor.
Jorvik – The re-release of Stephan Feld’s The Speicherstadt, Jorvik was the perfect chance to expand my woefully small Feld collection.
Days of Ire – a Kickstarter title from last year, Days of Ire retells the story of the Hungarian revolution against the Soviets.
Crossing – a silly party game of pointing at mushrooms! I often point at mushrooms when I’m alone, so now I can do so in a social setting without being looked at weirdly.
Castellion – another title in the Oniverse series of solo games, of which I recently reviewed Nautilion.
And there we have it! I hope some of those titles have caught your eye! What was the best thing you played/bought at the UK Games Expo this year?