Tag Archives: UK Games Expo

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:

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!