Top 15 UK Games Expo Booths & Games

This weekend I’m heading to Birmingham for the UK Games Expo (2nd – 4th June 2017). I’m only going to be there for the Saturday, I hope to get around the whole place but it’s huge! There are a tonne of booths, many hundreds of games and a sea of people, so to keep me focused I’ve put myself together a hit list to prioritise. Fifteen booths I must visit, and games I must demo on the day.

The Hit List:

1: Alien Artifacts @ Portal Games (Demo)
Players: 2 – 4 | Playtime: 60 min | Age: 10+
Designer(s): Marcin Senior Ropka, Viola Kijowska
Publisher(s): Portal Games (Booth B21)

Portal Games is one of those publishers that makes me pay attention. So I will be hoping to demo Alien Artifacts. The Portal games booth is on my hit list as I have Imperial settlers and have a pre-order of First Martians, so hopefully I will get a glimpse of a physical copy of that and want to see what else they have on show.

Alien Artifacts is a 4x-style card game in which you play as an interplanetary corporation, sending your research vessels into uncharted space to expand your knowledge and power. Build your ship, research tech, and explore the galaxy for anything — or anyone — you can exploit.

2. Caverna: Cave vs Cave @ Mayfair Games (Demo)
Players: 1 – 2 | Playtime: 20 – 40 min | Age: 10+
Designer(s): Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher(s): Mayfair Games (Booth B2)

Caverna has been on my wishlist for years but I’ve never commited to the investment in both money and space. I have pre-orders for a few new heavy games so not sure I’m ever going to get Caverna. The 2 player only version of the game however looks very tempting for being able to have the Caverna vibe in a much smaller box and price tag. I’m going to demo this one if I can. I’m really liking some of the games coming out of Mayfair at the moment, especially the ever expanding range of two player games. I also want to check out Saboteur Duel as Saboteur is a great party game, and The Colonists too.

In the two-player game Caverna: Cave vs. Cave, each player starts the game with only two dwarves and a small excavation in the side of a mountain. Over the course of eight rounds, they’ll double their workforce, open up new living space in the mountain, construct new buildings and rooms in which to live, and dig for precious metals.

3. Century: Spice Road @ Esdevium (Shopping List)
Players: 2 – 5 | Playtime: 30 – 45 min | Age: 8+
Designer(s): Emerson Matsuuchi
Booth: Esdevium (Booth A29) Available to buy from The Thirsty Meeples (J30)

I’m looking to buy this one while at the Expo.  It looks about the right weight for the kind of games I enjoy playing at the moment. It is being compared to Splendor which is a game I wasn’t that keen on, but this seems a bit deeper. It’s been described a game for people who didn’t like Splendor, and that’s me. I’d lie to demo this first ideally.

Century: Spice Road is the first in a series of games that explores the history of each century with spice-trading as the theme for the first installment. In Century: Spice Road, players are caravan leaders who travel the famed silk road to deliver spices to the far reaches of the continent for fame and glory.

4. Dice Hospital @ Alley Cat Games (Demo)
Players: 1 – 4 | Playtime: 45 – 90 min | Age: 12+
Designer(s): Stan Kordonskiy, Mike Nudd
Publisher(s): Alley Cat Games (Booth B1)

I really like rolling dice, in Dice Hospital the dice are your patients, the lower their number the sicker they are. I’ve seen this compared to Waggle dance which is a game I really enjoyed so would like to demo this.

In Dice Hospital, a worker placement game, players must treat as many patients as possible to appease the local authorities! Players use their hospital staff to treat patients on their personal hospital player boards. However, players may also call in specialist staff to react to certain situations that arise to score more points with the authorities! The game uses worker placement mechanics for the staff, dice as the patients were low scores indicate low health and a personal player board of actions to treat patients. The player with the highest reputation wins the game!

5. SUPERHOT Card Game @ Board & Dice (Shopping List)
Players: 1 – 3 | Playtime: No info | Age: 0+
Designer(s): Manuel Correia
Publisher(s): Board&Dice (Booth H2)

A first person shooter card game? Take me money! This is a confirmed buy for me and I will be getting over to the booth as soon as I can.

The Boards & Dice booth will also have Beer Empire which is another game I’d quite like to demo.

A bullet misses you by millimeters. A dozen more come from every direction. Armed red guys are everywhere. You take a breath, check your options…and play a card.

Part strategy, part shooter, and undeniably stylish, SUPERHOT is the bestselling independent FPS in which time moves only when you move. After its Steam and Xbox One releases, SUPERHOT is taking its unique game mechanisms to the world of tabletop games.

6. Secrets @ Esdevium (Demo)
Players: 4 – 8 | Playtime: No info | Age: 0+
Designer(s): Bruno Faidutti, Eric M. Lang
Publisher(s): Esdevium (Booth A29)

Social deduction games are one of my favourite genres. Eric M. Lang and Bruno Faidutti are two of the biggest names in game design right now, so getting a copy of Secrets seems like a no-brainer to me. I doubt it will be for sale at UKGE, but if it is I will grab a copy.

In Secrets, the second co-design between Eric Lang and Bruno Faidutti, players are assigned a hidden team — the CIA or KGB — and are trying to collect the most points for their side. In addition, one or two players are secretly anti-establishment Hippies who are working for nobody. Their goal is to fight the Man and have the fewest points.

7. The Networks @ Formal Ferret Games (Shopping List)
Players: 1 – 5 | Playtime: 60 – 90 min | Age: 13+
Designer(s): Gil Hova
Publisher(s): Formal Ferret Games (Booth D8)

This is the only game on my shopping list that isn’t form 2017. The more I’ve seen about this game the more I feel this belongs in my collection so I’m aiming to buy this depending on my budget.

In The Networks, you and your opponents are new television networks, and you need new programming. For this, you’ll need Shows, Stars, and Ads.

Shows need Stars and Ads. Stars give you bonus viewers (points), and Ads give you extra money. You’ll need everything you can get; you’ll have a small amount of resources and time, and you must grab the latest hot show before your opponents.

And some Stars will give their best effort only if you put them on in the proper conditions. For example, some Stars only want to be put on dramas. Other Stars want to be the only Star on the show. And your Ads will give you the most money only if you put them on in the correct time slot.

Finally, Shows age and viewers lose interest, so you have to keep your line-up fresh by canceling shows and sending them into reruns. Fortunately, you can get viewers from your reruns, and you’ll get bonuses if you get a lot of shows of the same genre throughout the game.

8. The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire @ Esdevium (Demo)
Players: 2 – 5 | Playtime: 60 – 90 min | Age: 14+
Designer(s): Eric M. Lang
Publisher(s): Esdevium (Booth A29)

On the whole I’m steering clear of miniatures games but this one seems a little different. There are only a few and they add to the strong theme. I initially overlooked this game but after seeing Eric M Lang talk through the gameplay I’m very interested in trying this game out. The tactical area control and theme is very appealing.

Designer Eric Lang, known for his “dudes on a map” games, describes The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire — a standalone big box board game with high-quality miniatures — as “thugs on a map”.

In short, the game is a streamlined, confrontational worker placement game filled with murder and intrigue. In long, you play as competing mafia families who are vying for economic control of the organized crime networks of New York City, deploying your thugs, your don, your wife, and your heir on the board to shake down businesses and engage in area-control turf wars.

9. Scrumpy @ Invincible (Demo/Shopping List)
Players: 1 – 5 | Playtime: 45 – 90 min | Age: 13+
Designer(s): Paul Harris
Publisher(s): Invincible Games (Booth G13)

Well, this is a game about making scrumpy, and I like making scrumpy. Therefore I want to try this game out if I can.

An innovative deck-building cider production game where players race to produce the most money from their deck-building exploits efficiently converting apples and wood into cider and barrels, all the time ensuring they don’t over-stockpile and lose the actions they need.

The game plays differently to most deck-building games in two key ways. Firstly, cards in a players also serve as the resources that can be produced (Wood, Apples, Barrels and Cider) secondly, cards can be kept active drawing fewer cards each turn. Each turn, a player draws up to 5 cards, including the up to 3 currently active cards. After activating 3 cards the player chooses to discard just the remaining two cards in their hand or to discard active workers who have completed their tasks.

10. Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game (Demo)
Players: 1 – 4 | Playtime: 60 – 180 min | Age: 13+
Designer(s): Tristan Hall

Gloom of Kilforth was designed here in my home city of Manchester, and is now shipping. I’m looking forward to demoing this.

Gloom of Kilforth is a card game of high fantasy with a Gothic edge, playable in 1-3 hours, where 1-4 players, working individually or together, must take their humble adventurers on a journey through a dark world of magic and peril. They will visit strange places, stranger people and overcome powerful enemies in their mission to discover mysterious artefacts and mystical Spells. Players follow their Hero’s tale from modest beginnings through an epic story to an exciting climactic battle for the fate of the world. Gloom of Kilforth takes about 45 minutes per player to play.

11. YAY Games – Booth B11
I’m going to be challenging Andrew from YAY games to a rematch of Ominoes after he beat us two-nil at Airecon, also do demo what else these guys have to offer.

12. War of the Nine Realms @ Wotan Games
Wotan have a Kickstarter campaign going for their new game War of the Nine Realms and I’d like to try it out.
Players: 2 – 4 | Playtime: 45 – 90 min | Age: 8+
Designer(s): Robbie Munn
Publisher(s): Wotan Games (Booth E18)

A tile based tactical skirmish game based on the Realms of Norse Mythology.
Each realm is comprised of unique Norse characters and their wondrous abilities. The game allows you to pit these against each other in a bid to claim total victory. The victors will reshape the World in their own form.

13. Eldritch Essences – G24
Eldritch Essences sell a variety of scented products including candles and wax melts themed on various works of the Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos and can be perfect to accompany all manner of BoardGames and Roleplaying games set within this universe, or just to kick back and relax with! My gaming space is currently scented with Guinea pig wee so I plan to visit this booth.

14. Pegasus Spiele – D4
Going to a games convention in Europe and not going to the Pegasus Spiele booth seems like a foolish act. This company published such a massive range of games and always have new releases so I’m going to be making a b-line for booth D4. I think I may possibly pick up The Oracle of Delphi or Onitama while I’m there too.

15. Dice Tower Top 10 Live Recording
Ok, so this isn’t a booth, the Dice Tower Booth is at E6. The Dice Tower are the biggest name in Board game reviewing so it seems pertinent to saving some time to sit in on the live recording of one of Dice Tower’s famous top tens.

 

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