Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over 18 months and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every other Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- My Thoughts on the UK Games Expo

What's it like visiting the UK Games Expo for just one day? Incredible and upsetting all at the same time! There was so much to see and one day was certainly not enough! This year was the biggest yet for the Expo and currently it ranks as the 3rd largest tabletop convention in the world. It's still not a place where publishers make their big announcements and release their bit new titles, but it seems to be steadily getting to that point.

Luckily, the press preview was a god-send for flying visitors like us, letting us see around 30 publishers and loads of their new games all in one place. There was by no means representation for all games at the convention, but at least we felt like we'd seen a lot of games and talked to a lot of designers and publishers.

It wouldn't be a good expo for me unless I did a lot of buying too. Given that we were there for just one day, I probably did too much buying and not enough trying and trading in particular was stressful and took up a big chunk of our precious time. Our haul was 31 unique items and you should be seeing reviews for many of the games in the coming months.

So here's some thought on games at the expo...

Games we Played

Admittedly it was day one, but it was obvious that some demo-ers had not been given any understanding of how to teach their games. On two different stands we resorted to either guessing or looking at the rulebook, rather than going through the pain of asking another question.

  • Petrichor is a game we almost backed on Kickstarter due to it's unique theme about rain and growing crops. It's a very attractive game with colourful raindrops and whimsical artwork and some really strong mechanics. I think it would work slightly better with more than two players because of the voting mechanic but otherwise it was a good game that I'd like to play some more in the future.
    Petrichor from Cloud Nine
  • Secrets is an imminent release from Repos Productions. It's a social deduction game which really isn't my scene, but some friends wanted to play and I'll give anything a try. There are three teams in the game, trying to get the most points by taking different role cards. Each role has unique abilities and you make a choice of two to offer to another player during the game. Unlike some social deduction games, there's some meaningful decisions here and although I am not overly keen to play again, it still rates higher than most games of this style for me.
  • Burger Boss is a game that was quite strange to see demo-ing at the expo. Whilst some stalls were trying to clear stock of this at deep discounts, another stall had it as their key demo game. It's a dice worker placement game, with the big gimmick of all being stored in a big plastic burger. Although it's nothing special, it seemed to work quite well, with your dice as workers to obtain different food types and cook them to sell to customers with different tastes and levels of hunger. Dice luck and the lack of ability to manipulate your dice is probably the biggest draw back here.
  • Dark Souls is a game that Amy is still expecting to receive from a friend who was a retail backer, but since it has been delayed she was excited to get a sneak preview. Our demo was a boss battle, so the part of the game that seems to be getting the best reviews. I have not been looking forward to Dark Souls because it seems like a dice-chucking dungeon crawler but was pleasantly surprised by how this one worked out. The way that you are tying to predict which direction the boss will attack and catch them on their weak side does add some element of skill, but we also got very lucky with some dice rolls which helped our impression of the game - we were told we were the first to win that day!
    Dark Souls - If nothing else it has incredible minis!
  • Glux is an abstract game from Queen Games which I was keen to demo. The game is very simple, placing numbered buttons (double sided like dice with numbers 1-6) and building up  a network where you can build your next button X pips away from one you've previously placed. There are scoring zones on the board and you win a zone if you have the most buttons in the zone at the end of the game. It's very simple, but with an interesting decision to make each turn. This type of game is one that Amy always seems to win, but the fact that I managed to win makes the game quite interesting and sets it apart from some abstracts in our regard. 
    Glux - deceptively simple looking!
  • Lightseekers possibly had no place being at a tabletop expo, but it is a cool toy! It builds on ideas like Skylanders and Wii motion capabilities, using buildable and upgradable characters as the controllers to control a very intuitive app. There is a also a trading card game counterpart to the game which is fully interactive with the app, so that when you have a card you can scan it into the game. There's nothing too unique here, but the slick combination of elements could make this a big hit for TOMY if it catches on.
Interesting Games we Saw

It's fair to say that there as well as some bad demos, there were also some companies who could not explain their games for toffee, which was really sad and in particular put us off Beer Empire and Kerala, games that could've been interesting for us. On the other hand we saw some really cool stuff, a lot of which looks like it will eventually end up on Kickstarter, although it would be nice to see some in the standard publishing routes too.
  • Ticket to Ride Germany is a standalone game in the Ticket to Ride series from Days of Wonder which takes some of the ideas from Marklin, which is now out of print and hard to find. This version adds passengers, which add another element of majority set collection and scoring at the end of the game. This looks like a great addition to me, although I'm not sure why it is not just an expansion to bring down the price point for people who already have trains in another base game.
    Ticket to Ride: Germany - We understand this should be released in English in the next 2 months.
  • When I Dream was being shown by Esdevium, although I believe it is a reprint of a 2016 release. It's a social, party-style game where one player is blindfolded and given clues so that they guess a card correctly. Most of the players want to give good clues but one player wants to throw them off the scent whilst another player wants them to get an equal number of right and wrong answers. This looks to me like it could be our next hit party game, and I can't wait for it to hit the shelves.
  • Genie Express is a prototype from Triple Ace Games which has an interesting mix of tile laying, pick-up and deliver and interesting movement mechanisms. It looks like quite a complex blend, but one I'm very interested to follow as it develops. 
Genie Express (Prototype Components)
  • Ironclads is a 3D printed game from Triple Ace Games which looks to have an X-Wing feel, but with a very interesting movement mechanism. I'm not sure about the delivery mechanism where you are simply buying files and then finding a facility to print your components, but hopefully by the time it releases this will be less of a barrier to entry for people.
  • Tumble Tree is one of many games that Coiled Spring seem to be bringing to the UK market, including games from Blue Orange and Gamewright. Its a very attractive dexterity game about balancing cards horizontally to form a tree canopy, obeying different placement rules. I'd like to give this one a try.
    Tumble Tree
Regrets

There's a whole area of the hall we didn't even see, so I'm sorry if you were in the vicinity of stands B1-D24, but there just wasn't time for everything! I also made a list of games I wanted to take a look at prior to the expo and completely failed at it - I think I saw or bought 6 out of the 15 games I was excited about. I'll be looking for local people to try these games with over the coming months! My biggest regrets are;
  • Missing out on a First Martians demo with Portal Games
  • Not trying or even seeing Klask!
  • Not demoing Codenames Duet at the CGE stand.
  • Not trying anything from Devir Games.
  • Forgetting to look out for an buy some games I really want to try, like Covert.
  • The demo tables for Pocket Mars being too full to give it a try.
We've learnt from our mistakes and we've already booked for next year. We'll be at the Premier Inn from Thursday through to Sunday and hopefully we can do plenty of open gaming, meet more people who follow our blog or twitter account and can actually see the full hall, go to some seminars and demo more games!

Let us know, what were your highlights of the expo?

2 comments:

  1. Hi Fiona,
    thanks for the overview! To me, porbably Glux was the highlight of the Expo. I never heard of that game before, and was surprised, how much fun it was.
    It was my first time at the UK game Expo, and I liked the atmosphere!

    Linda Czelik

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  2. It's a cool abstract game. For £20 we probably should've picked it up.

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