Category Archives: Events

Hilko’s Hoard: Game author’s fair in Göttingen 2018

This is a guest post by Hilkman translated from the German article originally published on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Among the many very good gaming events of a given year, there are three events that I only miss under the most dire of circumstances. The Nuremberg International Toy Fair in February and the Spiel in Essen in October seem to be self evident. The third of these is the game author’s fair in Göttingen, which since time immemorial, takes place in the city hall in Göttingen on the first weekend of June. I have written something about this (German) on my Blog already, which I don’t want to rehash right now (editor’s note: we have published an English article by ourselves last year).

This being the oldest and still biggest event of its kind world wide was extremely well-attended, with about 350 people this Saturday (the tables were sold out for the first time, even though some tables stayed empty due to cancellations in the end). The city hall hit its capacity limit, but it’ll be renovated next year so we’ll have to move into the notably bigger Lokhalle anyway (which is the reason why the meeting will be moved to July – at least it probably won’t be running parallel to the UK Games Expo then, which most likely has forced some publishers to do a split this time around).

This year I could especially enjoy the meeting, due to the fact that I didn’t have any prototypes ready that I would have wanted to present. So I had quite a bit of time to look at exciting stuff from other people and even play quite a bit. Of course in one and a half days there’s never enough time to try everything, but it’s a bit like in Essen: It’s mainly about getting to know new people and meeting old friends again, which you only get to meet during such events. Naturally it was a special treat for me, that there were even two authors from South America who took on the long journey. I had invited both of them to come to the open game circle on Friday to be sure to have enough time to play their games. Up first was Corruptia, designed by Fernando Casals Caro together with Camila Muñoz Vilar (who sadly couldn’t be there herself). Corruptia is, unsurprisingly, a game about politics. As a politician you try to use the mood of the people to get your projects through the parliamentary votes as unimpeded as possible. The game scores with some clever and new mechanics, and went down very well in our group of five people. For me personally three rounds instead of the five would have sufficed (I am a fan of very short games), that aside it was gripping until the end. Corruptia is scheduled to be released in Chile in September, and judging from how many people attended Fernando’s table on Sunday, I can very well imagine that it might land over here as well some day (editor’s note: it will be available at NiceGameShop before Essen).


Leandro Maciel from Brazil even brought a whole cabinet of games with very appealingly designed prototypes. Sadly we only had time to play one of them, more specifically Loony Races. The name is telling, it’s a race, where you can never be too sure of your success. It is a back and forth with foul play involved, in which I mainly only got second place due to the fact that I sneaked up too close to the finish line. A little more restraint would have been smarter, given the cards I held. So I learned something again. On Sunday I then got the opportunity to play a bit of Fire in the Hole, in which a team of rabbits and a team of moles literally undermine a farm and work towards getting the carrots to tumble down. If you’re not careful though and drill into the cowshed less appetizing cow droppings will fall down into your own hole. Since both teams are intent on manipulating the labyrinth in their own favor there are nice take-that moments. Leandros’ games are easily accessible and make you laugh – his table was also well-visited and he was not only able to just gather interest from publishers for pretty much all of his prototypes, but may possibly be sitting down to finish others right now, to send them as well.

I experienced some relief there, since of course it’s never the case that every author can garner that much attention. That being the case, I’m pretty happy that at least the ones with the longest journey managed to do so brilliantly.

Apart from that I still managed to play prototypes from Michael Luu, Sophia Wagner and Torsten Landsvogt, which were in different stages of completion and included some clever ideas all around that I would definitely like to play again. We’ll see which of those will end up on the market.

Another small treat was that I had a talk with Michael Kiesling just at a time where there was nobody else at his table and he instantly invited me to play a game of Azul with him. It’s probably not a surprise that it wasn’t a very close match. What mainly fascinated me, was the fact of how quickly he took his decisions as a veteran player, while I of course had to think way longer. Azul is just an awesome game, that only very few people that I know don’t like.

In the evening we sat in a jolly circle with Reinhold Wittig and found out, that three of the five people in our room had never played The Mind. Since we didn’t have a copy with us, we improvised a game of five with Take 6! cards, some screw-nuts as lives and something else as throwing stars. It was really, really great, there was tons of laughter and legendary scenes and we really managed to clear level 6 first try. I think that the three newcomers didn’t really understand why I was so excited (third win in my 52th game). On the next day one of them told me, that they later played some more and only then realized how hard the whole thing really is.

When I look at those two gaming experiences in the space of a few hours, I get reminded why I keep my fingers crossed for The Mind as choice for game of the year so much. Azul is a cool game, very balanced and with a nice level of interaction, that’s neither too confrontational nor too much of a hug box. I would play it again any day. The Mind, however, brings up emotions and that’s what I especially wish to get in a game.

On Sunday evening I hosted Rustan Håkansson as a guest. At least his game Nations should be known to many of you. We sadly didn’t try any of his games, but it was simply a very stimulating evening with a bit of gaming and good conversations. That’s also a strength of the meeting in Göttingen: I take more time for individual people.

So, overall a really fantastic weekend for me and I’m very much looking forward to next time.

Global Boardgame News (June 13)

Welcome back to a new edition of our global boardgame news!

In May we were travelling to East Asia and you can read our reports from Tokyo Game Market and Moonlight Boardgame Festival here on the blog. In early June we were also travelling and in fact three important board game events were happening around that time: UK Games Expo in Birmingham, the Game Author’s Fair in Göttingen and in Tokyo the art/board game event Is This A Game? So let’s get ready for a world tour of board games.

At first let’s start with the show we did not attend by ourselves: Is This A Game? in Akihabara, Tokyo.

As per the title this exhibition was not so much a regular board game event and more like an art event all about the question what a game can be. There is an article up on Sugoroku’s Blog with many pictures to look at. Seeing many of the designs you can tell that the games were made specifically for the show and are not meant for daily use. Our friend Jason Franks from Games For Gaijin also visited the show and recorded an excellent runthrough. The show saw new releases by several famous Japanese companies, most notably Void by Oink Games and a Yeti in the house by itten.

Yeti in the House is a team game. One team hides the yeti and two footprint pieces anywhere in the house and gives clues in form of photos to the other team. The other team wins if they find the Yeti. However if they find the two footprint pieces before the actual Yeti they lose the game. If you want to find out more about the new Oink game Void look for #voidgame in social media where many people already posted pictures of the game.

Games for Gaijin is giving away one copy of the extremely limited Void when his Youtube channel hits 500 subscribers. We have already subscribed and if you are interested in game overviews of Asian games we can recommend the channel!

At the same weekend on another island at the other side of Eurasia the UK Games Expo took place. We visited last year for the first time and boy has it grown since then. This year you could play, buy and learn about all the new hot games in two halls for three full days. We were mostly there for scouting for new game ideas to publish and found a many at the excellently organized Playtest UK booth, but of course we also checked out what other publishers showed at the Expo.

First I would like to give a shout out to Osprey Games. I (Leon) have been a Osprey fanboy since the last expo (you can read the report here) and that has not changed this year. Osprey was showing Wildlands, an entry level miniature skirmish game. Okay, you might say there are tons of that out there already and you may be right. What makes Wildlands stand out is the following: It is designed by veteran designer Martin Wallace, it is illustrated by Yann Tisseron who did also the artwork for our Fantasy Defense and there are no dice in the game. We are looking forward to the release in Essen later this year.

Moaideas had a booth for the first time at UKGE and with good reason, since their clever train game Minirails was nominated for the UKGE awards. Moaideas were also showing their next clever game – Symphony Nr. 9

The theme is quite unusual. The players take on the roles of patrons investing in different famous composers of the baroque and classical era like Bach and Mozart as they are composing their 9 symphonies. The legend has it that every famous composer dies after their 9th symphony as all their life juice is used up so to speak.

The gameplay is a fascinating mix of composer influence tile drafting and blind bidding in order to find out which composer will give a concert this round. As the blind bidding basically dictates how much money you will make in a round you really have to get into the heads of the other players at the table.

Athens is the new game by Korean publisher Baccum which was shown at the Expo in a pre-release form. Athens is a kind of reworked version of Baccum’s own Azuchi Castle and will be released at Essen with English, German and Korean rules.

In this worker placement engine building game players try to thrive in Ancient Athens by investing in different trades and solving events which award victory points. The artwork is funky and there are a lot of different strategies to pursue.

Taiwanese publisher EmperorS4 did not have a booth at UKGE but we met Johnson during the show, who showed us 2 prototypes of games coming later this year from EmperorS4.

The first is Discovery: The Era of Voyage which will be coming out very soon. It is a new edition of the Japanese game Era of Voyage by AI Lab which was well received in the BGG community. In this quick playing engine building game the players are sailing the ocean in a rondel and trading on the different islands three types of goods. If they invest on an island they can get more out of one island when trading. EmperorS4 added rules for 2 players and gorgeous new graphics to the game.

Realms of Sand is a quick playing pattern building game in which the players build houses and palaces with tiles on their player board only to destroy them like sand castles in order to score points. The artwork is once again by the talented Maisherly, who also did the illustrations for the smash hit Hanamikoji.

UK Games Expo became bigger and also more international: Our friends from Oink Games and Smiling Monster Games (showing the German edition of Tofu Kingdom!) had a booth set up once again. We spotted Spy Tricks by Wizkids and Pocket Pharma by Alley Cat Games which both were Game Market releases originally. Then for the first time Smoox and Taiwan Boardgame Design had a booth at UKGE and had a successful fair with their new title Dice Fishing Roll and Catch and other hot new titles from Taiwan.

We will definitely come back next year to the Birmingham for the UKGE!

And then there was also the Game Author’s fair in Göttingen the same weekend. We will have a report by Hilko Drude up on the blog shortly but until then you can read our report from last year if you like.

In other links:

Moonlight Boardgame Festival 2018

When I first heard about the Moonlight Boardgame Festival in Kaohsioung I thought: “Neat, there is this local convention in Taiwan just one week after Tokyo Game Market, which I will be visiting anyway. But will it really be worthwhile to go, especially because I can already try out and buy many Taiwanese designs at TGM?”.

Then a few months later I saw the list of publishers Moaideas managed to invite to Kaohsioung and I knew I had to go. Not only most of the Taiwanese publishers agreed to have a booth there, but also many publishers from Mainland China, Hongkong and Japan.

Here I am: jetlagged and holding a sign with Citie and Tsai at the Tokyo Game Market.

Our last article was about the Tokyo Game Market, which has to be the biggest board game event in East Asia. That makes sense, since Japan is the biggest board game market in East Asia and the output of new games is very high (but only a fraction of those games make their way to Europe). Since a few years back now also games from other parts of East Asia getting more attention: For quite a few years now the Korean Pavillion is one of the biggest booths in Hall 3 in Essen and many successful games like Coconuts and Fold-it come from Korea. One thing you can notice about Taiwanese games is that the Taiwan Boardgame Design booth in Essen is getting bigger each year. So Taiwanese board games are on a rise, and I think everyone reading this blog knows about the great titles EmperorS4, Homosapiens Lab and SwanPanasia (to name a few) have put out.

From what I understand there are quite a few board game conventions in Taiwan. We never visited but know about SwanCon, which is organised by SwanPanasia and also Golden Donkey and a few others. But as far as we know Moonlight Boardgame Festival is the first convention in Taiwan attracting international publishers and an international audience.

So I was really excited going into this fair and I am happy to come back next year.

Totally off topic, but from Seoul to Kaohsioung I was flying EVA Air for the first time and I found it amusing that their safety video was very low on (visual) safety instructions and instead filled with Pina Bausch style dance choreography. In case of emergency, dance dance otherwise we are lost.

You can see the full video on Youtube.

The convention took place 12-13 May in the International Convention Center in Kaohsioung which is in the south of Taiwan. The pics above are from setup and showing pretty much all the booths that were in the hall (except for the booths that were right behind me). So the convention was not big, but it was still worth visiting for people hunting tabletop treasure because of the publishers exhibiting. There were quite a few new (to-me) games from publishers I did not hear of before.

One of those more unknown (to me) publishers was Boxed Lightning, based in Shanghai. They previously released Rescue Polar Bears, which was picked up by Taiwanese publisher TwoPlus and released as Rescue Polar Bears: Data and Temperature. At the Moonlight Boardgame Festival Boxed Lightning was showing 3 beautiful Ticket-to-ride size strategy games. I don’t know much about them for the moment, but the publisher told me that English rules will be available in the next months.

Kanga Games is mostly a distributor of European and North American titles to the Greater China region. Now they published a reimplementation of the classic O Zoo Le Mio, called Zooronga. This new edition is fixing the runaway leader problem and has all new artwork. If you like blind bidding games, this one is a game to check out.

Z for Zombie is a game from Hongkong and based on a popular HK-comic with the same name. The game was designed by Percy Chan who designed the successful Mage Craft and will be published by Time2Play later this year. In this game the players try to escape the approaching zombies while at the same time scavenging for resources. Goal of the game is to reach the ice cream truck to make it our alive. In a round we simultanously reveal one card and then take the actions on them, for example move, scavenge or looking secretly at the top card of the Zombie deck to check how many spaces they will be moving. If they move on a space with a player on it, that player is eliminated from the game.

 

Soso Games was showing two new games: Formosa Flowers and Strange Vending Machine. Formosa Flowers was playable as a production copy and is coming out very soon and Strange Vending Machine was still in prototype stage. Both games will be available at Essen Spiel where Soso Games will have their own booth.

Formosa Flowers is a gorgeous looking Hanafuda-style card game. Play 1 card and collect cards that have the same number. Collect cards with the different weather icons to score points, but watch out for the leaves as three leaves mean you have to discard those cards. This is an easy playing card game and as I never played Hanafuda before it felt fresh for me.

Strange Vending Machine is a push your luck game with a great gimmick: Little Vending Machines. Every player starts with a certain number of coins of which are 2 fake coins which are minus points at the end of the game. In a turn a player can choose 1 out of 2 different actions: Pay the price shown at the front card and take it out of the vending machine, thus revealing the lower half which is showing something different than the top half, or taking all the coins out of one vending machine. Goal is here is to set collect certain items depicted on both halves of the cards which will award victory points at the end of the game.

I think Soso has here a hit on their hands as the mixture of exciting push your luck gameplay and the great tactile gimmick in form of a vending machine made the game a pleasure to play.

Mozi Games was showing Garden of Gardens. This game has a fantastically beautiful presentation and is quite a bit heavier than older Mozi games. In the game we are drafting cards/resources with which we can build the palace and the surrounding garden. The game will be released later this year and is one to watch out for.

I have no clue what this game is about but I definitely want to learn more about it.

That’s all for now. As always there were many more games unknown to me and/or worth talking about and if you are interested please go to our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels where we posted many more pictures and descriptions.

Many of the games will also be available to buy on NiceGameShop soon, so make sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

We have also filmed quite a few of overviews and convention runthroughs which we posted on Youtube.

Now we are off to UK Games Expo. See you next week with a new edition of Global Boardgame News.

Tokyo Game Market May 2018

In early May I flew over to Japan for the Tokyo Game Market Spring edition which took place on May 5 and 6 at Tokyo Big Sight. We already talked in the last few Global Boardgames News articles about many new releases there and at the convention we had the chance to play them and buy them for our NiceGameShop.

Traditionally the Game Market weekend starts one day before the actual Game Market with the preview events, the biggest being the Yellow Submarine preview event organised by Macoto Nakamura and the Japon Brand Gaming Party hosted by Japon Brand of course with many international guests.

The first game I tried at the Japon Brand gaming party was this beauty called Monster Empire by Freaky Design.

In this 3-8 player game players try to get 6 different jewels by defeating the various monsters. In a turn a player describes the monster they want to battle with with three features, like “the monster I am going to battle has wings”. But they have to only tell the truth about 1 of these features, the other 2 could be lies. Then all the players simultanously place their pawn to the monster they think the leading player wants to battle. Then the leading player battles the monster by dice rolling and using equipment if they have. If other players participated in the battle the also battle and if they manage to defeat the monster they split the treasure, with the leading player having the first choice.

For many monsters you need your fellow players to defeat it, but you don’t want to many players knowing which monster you want to battle, as you share of the loot will decrease.

Another beautiful game which went kind of hot at the fair was passtally by analog lunchbox. In this 2-3 player game players have two actions in a turn with the actions could be placing a tile on the board and/or moving the player piece on the outside of the board. At the end of the turn it is checked which of this player’s pieces are connected and through how many tiles the connection goes. The more, the better and scoring depends on how many. As you can imagine this is getting brain burny quite easily which is why the publisher put a rule into the rulebook to use a timer and limit a turn to 1 minute.


While the Japon Brand gaming party is all about Japanese publishers showing their games to overseas publishers, the Yellow Submarine preview event is more geared towards publishers showing their games to fellow Japanese publishers as they will have no time trying out games at the event itself.

Meteor is a dexterity dice game in which the players throw their dice on the board and where they land the resources appear. With the resources it is possible to buy upgrades and win the game.

Encyclopaedist is a fascinating 3-player only game. Every player chooses a colored ring and a post-it pad in the same color and writes down secretly one category, like for example “something you can hold in one hand” or “something that makes you wet”. That post-it you hold secretly for the entire game.

In a turn the player moves the pawn to one of the seven spaces. Now each player has to find a word that is fitting for the space. To take the example with “something you can hold in one hand” (let’s say it’s green) and “something that makes you wet” (let’s say that is red), the space where those two categories overlap could hold “water pistol”, but not “lake”, which would move in the red category and the player who chose lake would have to fold the color of their post-it so that it does not show any more. So the further the game progresses the more you can see what every category actually is and by that choosing the right words for every space. Goal of the game is to have your colored post-it with a word in every of the seven spaces.

This is a really clever game and from what I’ve been told a kind of legendary Game Market game which was sold out for a long time and got now a neat new edition by Suki Games.

On the next day I made my way to Tokyo Big Sight for the Game Market. It is always amazing to see the masses of people travelling to Tokyo Big Sight like they are drawn to a gigantic alien space ship. Game Market attendees are only a small fraction of people here, as there were several fairs and conventions on the same weekend.

 

On my way to the hall I found the nice people of Grandoor Games who were just giving the finishing touches to their new game Annecto Punch. This was barely an hour before the doors opened. While Game Market is getting bigger each year and Japanese board game market is growing, most publishers are still very indie and it is not unusual to see a game with handmade components.

This was one of the entrances to Game Market. We could go in early…

As last Game Market Oink Games were the first booth you see after entering the hall. They were one of several publishers with an Essen-style big booth and were showing their new game Moneybags and Zogen, which was just released one month before at Osaka Game Market.

Der Tunnel: Escape from East Berlin by Ficdep Games caught my eye early as I was born in Berlin myself. In this 2-player game one player is the leader of a group of people trying to get to West Berlin and the other player is the secret police trying to stop and imprison the group. In a turn the leader will play their chips facedown in the 3 different areas with Construction for building the tunnel, Funding for making money and City for doing nothing. The secret police plays cards on the same spaces and then cards and chips are revealed. If the secret police played the same person card as a chip there that person gets arrested, bringing the secret police one step closer to the victory condition. If not, the leader may build the tunnel and collect money, depending on the ability also upgrading the persons in the process.

The chips then go back to the leader for the next round but the secret police has to discard all the cards used in that round, making that people safe to play if they weren’t caught in the last round.

The publisher has previously released Kremlinology and I think they are tackling very touchy subjects. Who would like to play as the secret police? But the real gripe I have are the names for the people in the group trying to escape. Curl? What kind of name is that?

One of the prototypes I got to play was Meow-Jong by Li-He-Studio and Aza Chen. This game is simplifying the traditional game Mahjong and is adding cute cats and dogs and will be coming out later this year.

On the second day there was also a steam punk exhibition and many more RPG booths than on Saturday. Yannick Deplaedt, who helped with many Japanese games getting signed by French companies commented on that:

“Saturday was a very busy day while Sunday was kind of bland, unfortunately. The doujin scene might have suffered from the number of visitors. Many amateur designers ended up with lots of stock still available while on Saturday, many games sold out. One fourth of the venue was filled with RPG designers, and I thought that was somewhat a pity, since RPG makers have plenty of events to attend during the year.

I hope these issues will be taken into account for the next edition of the Game Market. I’m afraid most doujin will choose Saturday instead of Sunday (that’s for sure what I will do, or maybe both days if it’s financially an option), pushing the people in charge of the Game Market to draw names and ask some of them to attend on Sunday.”

I have heard a similar opinion by many publishers exhibiting only on Sunday. With the shift from a one day to a two day show only a few publishers could afford to book the booth for two days. At the same time Sunday is drawing a much more casual crowd, similar to the difference in Thursday to Sunday at Essen.

And this is it: our game haul after two days of buying, playing and scouting at Tokyo Game Market. We can’t talk about all the games here, but if you are interested chances are we already talked a little bit about them on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels. And if not please get in touch and we may be able to shoot a video for them.

Many of those games are also available now on our NiceGameShop, so check it out.

One week after Game Market I was visiting the Moonlight Boardgame Festival in Kaohsioung, Taiwan which will be the topic for the next report. I have also filmed both events and the videos are now on the Youtube channel.

Scouting for games at Göttinger Spieleautorentreffen

Ah yes, Göttingen.

When I think of Göttingen, I think of the many bicycles at the train station, the beautiful medieval cobblestone streets, my friends who lived there, and a meticulously crafted ‘hobo on a train’ simulation.

Wait – what?

Each year board game authors and publishers meet in the lovely German town of Göttingen to test board games prototypes. The Göttinger Spieleautorentreffen was initiated by Reinhold and Karin Wittig in 1983, and is the oldest and biggest game author’s fair in Germany.

I recently returned to Göttingen in the quest to find new exciting games to publish. We have been doing this scouting work for many years for our partners at Korea Boardgames, but since founding Sweet Lemon back in 2016 we are naturally also looking  for tabletop gold which doesn’t quite fit traditional publishing.™

When scouting new games for a publisher, there are always guidelines and restrictions based on the company’s market and the style of games that bring them success. Generally, if a publisher passes on a game, that doesn’t mean they didn’t like the game. It just isn’t a good fit with their company at the moment.

For example, Korea Boardgames is the biggest distributor for board games in Asia and has published its own games for many years.

While KBG distributes a wide array of different styles of games for families as well as hardcore gamers, when it comes to publishing they’re looking for family games which can be played in under an hour and are fun for children (age 8+) and adults alike. There are many authors presenting games of that segment in Göttingen, so naturally it is an important event for us and we visit every year.

Four years ago, I visited for the first time and back then my colleague Simon wrote an article about the experience scouting for games:

This kind of work will always be taxing. Sometimes it is hard to judge games: Maybe it is fun but… is it -original? -marketable? -fitting your company lineup? Maybe it is not a lot of fun but you can see it could be?

 

Sometimes it is hard to communicate one’s (negative?) opinion to an enthusiastic author. Maybe you feel that the author is missing some elementary flaw in his game: Should you try to help out?

This still is true and will always be true. There are people who put blood, sweat and tears into a project and as a scout you only have the chance to snatch a glimpse of that before moving to the next table, always looking for the perfect fit for your company.  For example, we found a cute dexterity game with launchers and cups several years ago in Göttingen which later became our very successful Coconuts.

Each year we see a lot of promising games that get published some time down the road and this year was no exception. From the quirky designs of Florian Racky to the fun city building games of Filip Miłuński, I played several very cool prototypes and look forward to their proper publication.

Even if it often does not seem like it when testing: I enjoy playing board games 🙂

Last year, around 220 authors presented their games to scouts from 40 different publishing companies. Last weekend, the fair got even bigger and I can imagine it will be even bigger next year – because tabletop games are up and coming.

If you’re an aspiring game author or a publisher in or around Germany, it’s a fair you can not miss. The first day is for authors and publishers, while the second day is also open to the public (although limited to four hours).

What’s the most creative prototype you’ve ever seen? Comment below with your ‘hobo on a train’ simulation!

UK Games Expo 2017

I’ve just returned from my first trip to UK Games Expo. If you’ve never heard of it before, this year it became the 3rd biggest board game fair in the world (only exceeded by Gencon and Essen – though Origins may claim its 3rd place back next week).

Regardless, it will remain the biggest board game fair in the UK. If you are in the United Kingdom, you should go!

All the big and small publishers from the UK were there, as well as many smaller publishers I’ve never seen in Essen before. That doesn’t mean it’s a UK-only event. Queen Games, Pegasus Spiele, Asmodee (through Esdevium), Devir, Board & Dice, ArtipiaNSKN Games and more all had booths.

On my first day I also met our friends from Smiling Monster Games who presented their games CABO and Mission: Combat and also sold their Swan Panasia sleeves to the masses.

Though UK Games Expo is an excellent event to play and test games, it is even excellent-er to buy games and accessories to games.

Not only are there retailer stalls on every corner giving you the best prices on the hotness, there’s also a bring-and-buy area where you can register your old games. They provide you with a price label, so you can drop it off at the booth – giving you back more money to put into new games at the show.

Plus, if you don’t want run around with bags full of games, you can even store them at the Shop & Drop for 2 pounds.

There were also some really interesting seminars by Ian Livingstone and Cartamundi, and of course the guys from Shut Up & Sit Down recorded live podcasts each evening.

But let’s get to the games, right?

Since I was mainly there to to playtest new designs, I didn’t have the chance to play all the new hotness, but here’s my list of games that interested me at UK Games Expo 2017:

Zombies, Run! The Board Game

Although not yet released, the publisher was showing a pre-production copy and I was able to play the tutorial mission.

Zombies, Run! The Board Game is a real-time card game featuring an app which gives audio story and puzzles to solve. As the title suggests, the players are in the zombie apocalypse and have to run so that the zombies don’t kill them.

Along the way, they can rescue other people and solve puzzles. The app notices what you choose and changes the story accordingly. The card play itself is basically color and icon matching, but under a lot of time pressure which makes it nerve-wracking.

I rather enjoyed the tutorial and am curious to see more of this game.

Anything Osprey

I fell in love with Osprey Games at the fair.

Despite only playing The Lost Expedition and Odin’s Ravens – which I absolutely loved! – I can also imagine loving their other games. I already like Shahrazad (which I played as Tarot Storia before), but also Agamemnon and Escape from Coldlitz looked rock solid.

There’s something about their graphic design which lets me gravitates towards them. After this show, I am definitely  curious about everything Osprey puts out.

I’m an Osprey fanboy now!

 Lightseekers

Although a game I would personally never play, Lightseekers nevertheless stood out by virtue of the sheer amount of stuff presented. I’m pretty sure it will be a hit for the publisher (Asmodee, of course).

It’s a collectible figure/app/trading card game taking more than a few cues from Blizzard’s graphic style, especially Hearthstone. I played one of the app minigames in which you used a figure’s gyroscope to fly through a course and collect coins… it was rubbish, but just one of the gajillion uses.

There’ also a (free) WoW style app in which you can use the figures to equip your heroes and use the trading cards to equip even more. On top of that, you could play the TCG by itself if you’re feeling traditional.

Blank: The Card Game

Another game riding the legacy hype train, this time using UNO.

Blank: The Card Game from The Creativity Hub is basically UNO Legacy. After each game, you can write on a card and change the rules of the game. So simple… but could be fun with the right group of people.

Apart from that, I pretty much playtested the day away at the Playtest UK booth – shoutout to Rob Harris for organizing this! I played many cool, new and interesting games, and hope they get picked up by a publisher at some point.

The atmosphere at the playtest was  amazing, with everybody supporting  each other and the tables always full with people wanting to test the  hotness of tomorrow. Maybe someday, someone will organize something like this for Essen? The author’s booths in Essen are a bit neglected…

So that was my first visit to UK Games Expo. If, like me, you’ve been to Essen many times, and are considering the trip to Birmingham, here is a short comparison of the two events:

Size

There are no two ways about it – Essen is much much bigger than UK Games Expo, with all the advantages and disadvantages that come with size.

It would be impossible to check out Essen in one day, but if you know what you want it would be possible (although difficult) to do so at UK Games Expo. On the other hand, many publishers don’t have a booth at UK Games Expo (yet), which means Essen is still more international.

Gaming

I’ll give the nod to UK Games Expo here.

There is a huge open gaming area with a huge library of games. While you could play all the new hotness at the publisher booths in Essen, they are often crowded.

Buying

While the flea market/bring and buy is a great idea for a wide array of games, fewer publishers means also fewer new games available to buy.

Especially for geeks interested in more obscure games, you have to go to Essen, because many publishers won’t go anywhere else. On the other hand, the retailer-to-publisher ratio is better at UK Games Expo, and there were many bargains to be had for older games at the stalls.

Food

Let’s talk about food.

UK Games Expo, please invite some food stands, because everything at NEC sucks big time. I think I gained a few kilos because of all the chips and burgers.

While the food at Essen is not amazing, it offers a good variety of different styles.

If I had to choose between the two, I would still go to Essen, but nevertheless I enjoyed my visit at UK Games Expo tremendously and hope to visit again soon.

Were you there? Let us know your favorite new games!

Festival International des Jeux 2017