UK Games Expo – Press Preview Board Games

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By | June 11


The dust has settled on another successful UK Games Expo, the halls have been swept and cleared and people are trundling back to work eager to get home to play their newly wrapped purchases from the weekend (If you’ve managed to hold out that long). I’m sad that it’s over because how often do you get to walk around a convention looking and playing boardgames for several hours in a go. I’m glad it’s over, because I can give my feet a rest and I think I’m getting a sore throat from all the talking.

First Impression, Great, Awesome, and I look forward to doing it again next year !

So after arriving on the Thursday at the hotel (and moving rooms because we wanted a view of the airport at the hotel we were staying at), the family and I began to plan the weekend and relax knowing that the next three days were going to be non stop.

Friday – 1st Day of the Con – Press Preview

So the morning arrived after not getting much sleep due to a condition known as nerves, I started to prepare what I needed for the press release where I would have the chance to meet with publishers who wanted to tell me all about their games. So after a light breakfast, I drove to the NEC and arrived at the venue at just before eight. I wanted 1) To be sure that I found the right hall considering that I had only been to the Metropole last year, I had no idea where the new venue of Hall 1 was. At first, I went to the Metropole to see if it was in there (It wasn’t).

As 9:00 approached, more people turned up and I started to recognise people by what they were wearing that showcased their media outlet (Creaking Shelves , Luke Hector from The Broken Meeple) or I recognised them (Efra and Elaine from No Pun Included, Breacher 18, Polyhedron Collider).

I didn’t have to wait long before they ushered us in and I could tell immediately that things would be different, the space within Hall 1 was huge compared to the rooms at the Metropole. For one, you could actually breath and it looked like a proper convention with all the stalls laid out and what’s that, a bus in the middle of the room (yeah, that was due to Wontan Game).

Suddenly, they let us loose and the intrepid reporters (who knew what they were doing) went through the rows looking at the wares like shoppers on market day. I had a loose gameplay in who I wanted to talk to but as with everything, you roll with what you’ve got. So on to the designers, people I talked to.


CoiledSpring Games

Hannah was one of the first people from a game publisher to reach out and offer me games to review so I’ve wanted to talk to her about the range of games that CoiledSpring Games had on offer. As you can see from the brief clip, Hannah had brought a wide selection. However, I wanted to focus on a few games

Coiled Spring Games

Supertooth (Gamewright – Neil J Opitz) – Supertooth is a set collection game that features dinosaurs and what kid doesn’t enjoy dinosaurs (in fact, what adult doesn’t enjoy dinosaurs). There is an element of dinosaurs scaring or eating other dinosaurs but this is all done in a family friendly way. I didn’t get a chance to sit down and play this with the family as I was doing the ‘media’ thing, but my son and wife have played this numerous times and this is one that he always carries around in his school book bag to play when we’re out.

Neferious (USAopoly – Donald X Vaccarino) – I’m always interested in science, so it was only a matter of time before my eyes were drawn to this whacky game designed by Donald X Vaccarino. In this game, players are mad scientists to trying to threaten the world into submission and racing to build terrifying inventions before your opponent can do the same. Now, you can pretend to be a mad scientist like Brain (from Pinky and the Brain) or Dr. Doofenshmirtz (from Perry the Platypusand TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!! *EVIL LAUGH* – This is on my wishlist.

DragonWood – This is a nice simple game where players have a set of cards, that has a rummy mechanic in that you are an adventurer going through the woods. As you ‘travel’ through the woods, you come across creatures that you have to defeat by three different methods (Strike, Stomp or Scream). Each action is dependant on what cards you put down, so Strike is a card run (3,4,5,6), Stomp is the same number (7,7) and Yell is the same colour (blue). The player than grabs the number of dice that is equal to the number of cards that you put down (so in the example of Strike, I can roll 4 dice). In the middle of the table is a creature that has a Strike, Stomp and Yell value. It is up to the player to roll the dice and hope that the total dice result is equal to or greater than the creatures value. It really teaches children maths skills as well as the risk/reward element. We played numerous games within the Family Zone and enjoyed it so much that we brought a copy. This game is just as enjoyable for adults to play without children around. This one is Angel approved. I’ll do an unboxing, playthrough and review ASAP.

Sneaky Cards (Gamewright – Cody Borst) – In my travels around the board game universe, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game like Sneaky Cards, a game where the other players could be anyone in the world. In the pack, there are certain cards that tell you what to do? Some are simple tasks while others get you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The card I was shown was to give the card to someone that was dressed up as a superhero. (Which at an expo, would have been pretty easy). So, you give the card to that person and as the originator of that card, you can register that card online and see where that card ends up. It’s a novel way of socialising and as soon as I buy a copy in the future, I’ll be sure to review it.

Bring your own book (Gamewright – Matthew Moore) – Bring your own book is a, let’s be honest, different concept that I haven’t seen before in my gaming journey. In this game, you are given a phrase and you have to scan your book, leaflet, shopping brouchure, comic book to find a line or sentence that is entertaining and funny to the other players around the table. If you think of Cards of Humanity, it’s the same concept but family friendly. As a parent, this would be a great addition if you wanted your children to read more books.

Playmore Games

Dized – Have you ever grabbed a rule book and sit down ready to digest the rules, only to give up 5 minutes later. On maybe, you’re the type of person that prefers to play the game while having the rule book open. I know that while I can digest information in a rule book, I learn better by doing. I guess I’m the visual/tactile type of learner. There is also the other situation like I am, where your colleagues are new to board gaming in general and you have to explain the rules to them in such a way that everyone at the table gets it. Sometimes, it’s easy while at other times, it’s a headache.

This is where the app ‘Dized’ comes in, this is an app developed by Playmore Games that aims to ‘teach players how to play the game’ at the table. By using the easy to use UI, players will be guided through the game as they play. At this particular moment, the app only supports ‘Race for the North Pole’. However, as more publishers get on board, it’s only a matter of time before this app will be rich with content. It’ll be interesting to see how well it does on a good heavy euro.

Fat Chance Games

Highwayman – Highwaymen is a game where you are playing as bandits trying to rob the stagecoach that is attempting to get through the words. In a nutshell, you get to pretend that you are Dick Turpin attempting to get rich before the coach escapes from the woods. It boats modular tiles that ensure that the landscape of the woods is different every time you play. There is also another mechanic where you get to steal the gold from other players. I mean, it’s not like you’re playing upstanding citizens.

It’s not an easy task to ride up the stage and rob it as there are guards that are protecting it. Each turn, the guards replenish as the word gets out that the stagecoach is in danger. If the bandits are lax in their robbery, they will soon face a gruesome end as they get overwhelmed.

So throughout the game play, it is a balancing act of dispatching the guards and attempting to rob the stagecoach. It can get tense and frustrating when you realise that things are not going your way but hey, that’s the fun of it.

Currently they are on Kickstarter

Tinkerbot Games

Ghostel – Back in 2003 when I was a younger lad, I remember playing a game called Ghost Master, a game where you had to play as ghosts to scare away that particular levels inhabitants, so when I saw Ghostel designed by Gino Brancazio of Tinkerbot Games, I knew that I would be impressed. In summary, Ghostel is a dice rolling worker placement game for 2-4 players that plays in roughly 45-60 minutes. In this game, you play as ghosts scaring visitors away from a hotel that used to be YOUR haunted house!

The artwork is superb, and reflects the comical nature of the game. It’s a shame that it was only available as a KickStarter pre-order as the wife would have parted with our money to take one home. She hadn’t heard of it before so she was just impressed on how it looked and a quick look at the Tinkerbot booth, so expect this one in our collection.

No Loading Required

Lantern: Lost in the Dark – When it comes to the Ancient One, I’m not that well versed on Cthalhu or HP Lovecraft so I know it’s quite popular (hence Pandemic: Cthalhu, Elder Signs – Which I like to play often). So I was impressed when I was told about Lantern by Cari from No Loading Required. This is a cooperative horror game for 2-8 players where investigators go around to try and defeat the darkness. It has elements of Arkham Horror and the PC game Amnesia, a game where you explore without any weapons of any kind, just a light. In this game, you have to survive the dark armed with only a lantern in an effort to collect relics so that you can perform a ritual to defeat man’s primal fear, the darkness!

As you search and your lantern gets depleted, your panic grows and if it ever reaches maximum, it’s game over. No, I jest, it’s worse than that, you succumb to the darkness and become the very thing that you were afraid of, a monster that is now pitted against your former colleagues.

This game has been developed by indie developers and has not got a distributor which is a shame, I’m keen to get this and add it to my collection. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get to have a go at the booth, but I’m glad that Cari stopped me in the press preview. Hopefully, in the future I can interview No Loading Required and as soon as I do, I’ll let you know. I have no doubts that this game will do well, I wish them all the luck and I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

I also liked (and it just might have been how the light was hitting the stand), but the booth was in a weird shadow as if the darkness was encroaching on the game. If this was intentional, then well done. Presentation was tip top.

No Loading Required, Print and Play – I want to play now *cough cough*

Alley Cat Games

Lab Wars – Caezar and Kuly designed a game called Lab Wars. It is a science themed card game where you build up your lab and sabotage your competitors all for scientific glory! It’s a game that plays between 2 to 4 players. I had a close look at the components and the cards and artwork is great to look and feel. I didn’t get a chance to sit down and play a demo but everytime I walked past the booth (later on), they Caezar was always busy showcasing Lab Wars. It’s currently on KickStarter and has been funded already (at time of writing). They have raised 23k with only a 5k goal. That is very impressive and shows you the quality and faith that the public has with this game.

BackSpindle Games

Codinca – This is a new game from BackSpindle Games that was released at the UK Games Expo. It’s an abstract game where players have to complete their own code of four patterns using double sided tiles on a board to win the game. When I was shown it, it looked complex but after a brief demonstration, it became very apparent that this was one of those games that is easy to learn, difficult to master with lots of strategy.

Clacks – I’ve heard of Terry Pratchett, but I’ve never read the books or watched the television adaptions. So when I saw Clacks, I had to ask what a Clack was. In essence, the clacks is a system of shutter semaphore towers which occupies roughly the same cultural space as telegraphy in nineteenth century Europe (shamelessly copied from Wikipedia). In the clacks game, there are three games in one, a vs. game where one person is switching on the towers while the other player is the ‘Post Office’. In these modes, the player has words that they have to spell using the clacks semephore system. The final play mode is a simple version of the game that is aimed at children.

The manual is endorsed by Haynes so it looks like a proper Haynes manual that you can see in Halfords. It’s quite a nice touch, it’s easy to read and well illustrated. I’ll be keen to pick this up in the future to see how it plays. I’m confident that I’ll still get enjoyment out of Clacks even if I don’t know the source material. I mean I always carry a towel around with me.

Formal Ferret Games

The Network – I had only seen this briefly on Rahdo’s channel when he did the run through, but that was a while ago. So, when I saw it on the table, I knew that I had to have a look. This is a game where the players are networks that are trying to get the highest ratings possible. This is achieved by putting on shows at certain times with actors and stars that can maximise the ratings within the particular season. I’m keen to see how the solo mode plays. All I know is that I can now choose when things go off the air, maybe we’ll get one season of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and multiple seasons of Firefly.

I was impressed with Gil Hova’s pitch and enthusiasm that the first thing I did on the Saturday was go buy a copy so watch out for an unboxing, how to play and thoughts.

Lessons Learnt

Considering this was my first time as press, I think what I’ll do next time is:

Branding – I’m talking with my graphical designer colleague in designing me a logo centered around the Angel of Dice. That way, next year I can get a t-shirt made that I can wear around the expo. I will also have some cards made up so that I can hand it to publishers and game companies as there were numerous times when they asked for one.

Networking – While I think it went well, next year I’ll spend more of the Friday when it’s quieter to look around more stalls and talk to more people about their games/products.

Games I picked up during the event

  • Supertooth
  • The Network
  • Lucador
  • Battle of the Band
  • Waggle Dance
  • Ember
  • Dragonwood
  • Pengaloo
  • Codenames
  • Beyond Baker Street
  • Pokemon Cards