Hi there, this week you have us, Leah and Chris! This week’s blog post is dedicated to our round-up of the 2019 UK Games Expo we visited at the NEC in Birmingham.
Our first official day was the Saturday and we arrived bright and early just before doors opened. We were greeted at the doors by two Deadpool Minions and a wookie, good start! We began scouring the halls to decide where we should begin and ended up heading straight to the Bring and Buy. We had a couple of games to trade in hoping someone would pick them up, especially as 10% went to charity. The booking in system was easy and the staff were very helpful. The selection of second hand games to buy was huge and we picked up a copy of Dead of Winter for a bargain price of £20, it wasn’t even punched!
The main hall was a maze of new games and demos and the first game we came across was Sorcerer by White Wizard Games. Sorcerer is a strategy card game for 2-4 players but we would only really recommend playing it with two. The game has gorgeous artwork that falls somewhere between H.P. Lovecraft and Alan Moore's vision of Victorian London. To win players must destroy two out of three districts using their own unique deck created by combining one character, lineage and mastery deck of their choice. Components are of an extremely high quality, with clear player boards allowing newcomers to the genre to jump straight in. Chris won this round and immediately picked up an early copy.
There was one game in particular we were hoping to get our hands on and that was Nemesis by Awakened Realms. After much hunting we found their booth and we have since played this game after coming back from UKGE. This is an Alien meets Dead Space CO-OP/ hidden agenda game for 1-5 people. You and your crew awake from hibernation to the sound of your ships alarms and greeted by the fresh corpse of a crew mate. You are tasked to repair the ship, plot a course for earth and get back into your snooze pods before the ship jumps to hyperspace or explodes. This would be simple if it weren't for the ships 'intruders' trying to rip you apart, or the possibility that your team mates might have a plan of their own. After several hours of play our captain turned, dooming us all on the last few turns and waved goodbye from his escape pod. His smugness quickly turned to fear when we all realised he would only win the game if he wasn't infected when checking his contamination cards via the scanner at the end of the game. That moment was tense, dynamic and as with every component of this beast of a game, dripping with theme.
The next booth we checked out was the super cool Barpig. The stand itself was stylised as a medieval cabin and all the staff were dressed appropriately as bards, knights and wenches. The whole experience from the interaction of the Barpig team, the booth itself and the artwork of the cards instantly sold the game to us and we ended up picking up a copy including a really cute pig counter and can’t wait to give this point scoring/social card game a go. We will also be keeping an eye on their first expansion currently on Kickstarter.
We visited our friends at Bad Squido Games and got to take a sneak peak at their Kickstarter ‘Amazons and Dwarves’ and Annie also treated us to a sneak-peek of the wonderful Peegasus miniature.
Best stall aesthetically (other than Barpig!) for us was Fog of Love. Was great to see them have such a large presence at the show, and even better to see it packed all weekend long with people trying out the game and sharing their experiences with each other. We also received some free promotional occupation cards to expand the base game.
Another notable mention was the Exploding Kittens stand which had an interactive cat vending machine operated by the team which was absolutely hilarious. You could use the huge makeshift furry machine to choose whether to purchase the variety of games they have or just to pay £2 for a mystery. We are now the proud owners of a cat collar and a pair of cat socks, so you guess which we chose.
We started the next day by playing Chop Chop by Djeco. There wasn’t room to play it at the stand so we went to the family zone to try it out. I’ll be honest here, the reason we chose to give this a go was that there were cats involved. When playing as the cat you have to catch all of the mice before they turn over 10 pieces of cheese. It was a good way to get the brain working for early in the morning and was a quick game that took no longer than about 15 minutes and I beat Chris so I spent the rest of the day being really smug! (So at this point we’re even right?!)
We then re-visited Mizo Games as they caught our eye previously and got to play Frenemy Pastry Party – a card game where you have to play with (or against) other players to gain enough ingredients to make a selection of cakes. The game itself needs a minimum of three players, so one of the Mizo staff joined in and taught us to play. The best part about Frenemy Pastry Party is the speed at which it can be played but also how pretty the art design is. From the ingredients themselves, to the cake artwork and even the character cards, this game is simply beautiful.
The aim is to gain as many points by either making a cake using the required number of ingredient cards, while also sharing enough ingredients with other players to help them to make a cake, scoring yourself points from the cards you provided. Players can also score additional points at the end of the game from their unique character card which rewards you for the most cards in hand of a certain ingredient. As you can tell by the photo, I really enjoyed this one!
Unfortunately we missed out on Bosk which had sold out the day before. However the game itself is being released in July so we're keen to check out this nature themed area control game with cute squirrel meeples included, squeeples? Either way we are excited to pick up this after a demo given by the Bosk team at the Expo.
We dropped by the Escape the Dark Castle stand to get our fix of gothic grime and saw the new artwork and character designs for the just launched Kickstarter for their upcoming sci-fi alternative Escape the Dark Sector.
Renegade are one of our favourite publishers at the moment and their booth had a final production copy of Terror Below. The box art and UV Ink looks gorgeous but we held back from lifting the lid as we wanted to wait for our Kickstarter edition to arrive before opening it up and delving in further to check out those graboids and glow in the dark eggs. They also had the new Clank! miniatures available, each with their own unique deck a and will be usable in the upcoming legacy expansion.
Just before leaving the expo we returned to the Fanboy 3 stall that we kept being drawn back to all weekend. Fanboy 3 are based in Manchester and stock a huge collection of Kickstarter releases. They had some really exciting releases including Escape Plan which for us is the largest and most stylish box of the show, awards in the mail. The staff were great and we walked away with On Tour (a roll and write recommended by Jaimey Stagmaier) and The Faceless (no idea what it is, neither did anyone else at the booth) stay tuned for more info on these two.
Overall we had a wonderful experience, we met some lovely people, picked up great additions to our collection as well as getting the opportunity to play some really awesome games. Another amazing part of the experience was seeing all the different types of gamers under one roof. In one hall you had tournaments going on for Keyforge, Dragonball Z and the Exit 23 Game of choice, Bloodbowl. Walking around the Expo and witnessing the plethora of activities taking place warmed our hearts to see anyone and everyone getting involved, whether they had an interest in card games, table-top games, rpgs and war games. There was also a lot of miniature painting and tutorials taking place to help teach new skills and share their ideas.
If our first year at UK Games Expo 2019 is anything to be judged by, then roll on UK Games Expo 2020!