27 Games and why we left the UK Games Expo with them
We left the UK Games Expo 2018 with a lot of games. Some are big, some are small. Some are literal, and some are abstract. Some have nice art, and some have very little. Our cheapest game was free, and our most expensive one cost £70.
Before we move on to all of the reviews, and writing about these games from here until the foreseeable future, I thought I would do a brief article explaining why we bought each game that we did buy at the UKGE.
Those who follow this blog regularly know that Spirit Island has been on my radar for a while. Usually, it costs around £80 on Amazon, but at the Expo we picked it up for £70. Spirit Island is an absolutely stunning game, both visually and mechanically. It exudes style and the idea that the designers really love this game. I also love the idea that it is the natural counterpart to a game like Catan. In Catan, you are the settlers trying to settle on the island. In Spirit Island, you are the island’s spirits, trying to get rid of the settlers.
We didn’t go to the Expo expecting to pick up Cyclades; however, after being unable to pick up Kemet, Cyclades seemed like a natural option. Rather than Egyptian theming, there is Ancient Greek instead, but it is still a large map style miniatures game, with 92 miniatures.
Cyclades became a must when we found out it was designed by Bruno Cathala, who is one of the all-time great game designers. He is especially known for 7 Wonders and 7 Wonders: Duel, which are a couple of our all-time favourite games.
RYŪ has dragon meeples and was ridiculously cheap for a big box game at the Expo. It is a bag drafting game, and in it you are looking to build a Leviathan. The game only cost us £15.99, when its usual RRP was something like £27.99. I have since found it on Amazon for £14.99, so feel a little bit done, but it intrigued us anyway. It looks cool and they threw in some Dragon Age cards for buying it.
Another one of those games I have heard a lot about online – Sagrada is a dice drafting game that seems to have really limited print runs. As such it only occasionally appears on Amazon, and when it does, it is for a ridiculous price. At the moment it is £55.98, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it break the £60 barrier on occasion. I picked it up at the Expo for £29 (although the image says £30-something, the stall was having a further sale). That felt good. This is one of the first games we have played since the Expo and I have to admit that we absolutely love it. It’s fab.
Dare To Dream
Made by a small indie designer, Dare To Dream is a game we actually invested quite heavily in. The concept is that one player is the bogeyman, and up to three other players are toys trying to protect sleeping kids from nightmares. It’s a one-vs-many game, however, what really sold it to us was the art. It is a stunning game, with lovingly crafted components, that feel awesome. We ended up buying a playing mat as well, and the whole thing is beautiful. I can’t wait for us to play.
Weird Things Humans Search For
As a digital analyst, when I found out that Big Potato had a game coming out about Google and what people search for, that was for 3 to 20 people, I immediately said yes. There are four reasons why I had to buy this game –
- My job means I know very well the kinds of weird things humans search for.
- Our board game group is growing so 3 to 20 players is amazing.
- It’s Big Potato Games, who made Scrawl, which is one of our most played games of all time. They also made such classics as Bucket of Doom and Mr Listers. These guys really are one of THE game companies to watch at the moment, especially in the party game space. They just keep innovating.
- I love the idea that there will be a sequel called something like The Weird Things Robots Search For that is just like a version where it takes misheard searches from Siri, Google, and Alex and goes with those.
I’ve had Trickerion on my radar ever since I was recommended it on the Quantic Foundry. It has two basic appeals. The first is that it a worker placement game in which you play as an illusionist wanting to create the perfect show in the 1850s. This means you need assistance (from assistants) and raw materials and ideas. The whole theme sounds unique and amazing.
The second is that it is meant to be really complex. It is meant to be more complex than games like Anachrony, and only just slightly less complex than Mage Knight. That makes it something juicy to try and sink my teeth into.
There was a phase, around a year ago, when we could not get enough of the game Spyfall and that ignited a love of Social Deduction games. From there we have played more and more deductive games, increasing the weight of Spyfall to make it more challenging. This has meant adding more and more theme.
Well, with The Chameleon (also by Big Potato) we are not increasing the weight of the theme, but instead adding in a new element of puzzle solving instead based on lexicon and wordplay. It’s something new to spice up the Social Deduction genre and, to be honest, the box is also really cool.
Truth Bombs (also by Big Potato) is a game about dealing truths out to your friends, anonymously. At the moment I don’t know a huge amount about it, as we were given it free for having bought both The Chameleon and Weird Things Humans Search For. Still, it looks fun!
Pocket Mars was again purchased for three reasons. Firstly, it is the same company as Multiuniversum, a game we love. Secondly, it has been described on the back as a “heavy-weight filler”. Those words aren’t usually put together and so we thought we would give it a go. Finally, it’s a Mars-themed game. I love Mars and space exploration as a theme, especially when it is more speculative than just sci-fi.
New Angeles is a game that was my partner’s choice actually. She is a huge fan of the idea of it, as well as the artwork. It was on our list last year but we just didn’t get around to it. This year, it made its way to our list because it is a political board game for 4-6 players. This gives it a relatively good scope for a growing group. It’s a bluffing game, with politics, corruption, a potentially co-op style of play (etc.) set in the Android Netrunner world. The board and pieces are stunning. To be completely honest, I don’t know a huge amount about it but it should be great.
Inbetween was also made by the same guys who made Multiuniversum (so, a good record) and is a small box game about the living and the dead and where we are now and where we could be. It sounds complex, and at the moment I don’t know the nuances (hey, I’m only telling you why I bought it), however, it is a two-player game that pits players against each other in one of the most visually beautiful games I have ever seen. The artwork is just…phenomenal. I mean, the box alone, I will take a picture of it and post it in here because you have to see what the front and the back of the box look like. Of course, they tell nothing about the game – but wow, what art!
This was one of Beth’s choices (my partner). She chose Samurai Gardener again simply because we enjoy the artwork. Art goes a long way in a game, and Samurai Gardener is stunning. We also love our oriental games, with Onitama being the game you can thank for that, so Samurai Gardener is a nice one to add to the collection.
Monty Python Fluxx
Because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Fog of Love
This is a game we’ve been toying with the idea of for a while. We managed to find a damaged boxed version of Fog of Love at the Expo for half price. I like the idea of the game being a two-player, card-based RPG board game. It ticks quite a few boxes; however, I have heard mixed things online and wasn’t sure we should pay full price. Half price feels pretty good for Fog of Love.
Kaker Laken Poker
Kaker Laken Poker, also known as Cockroach Poker, is a short bluffing game in which you are aiming to get the best hand, whilst palming your rubbish cards onto other players.
I actually bought Kaker Laken Poker for our £10 challenge. Each year – myself, Beth, and my parents (who also go to the Expo) hold a competition between us to see who can come up with the best game for £10. This year, I kind of cheated. I went up to a guy on one of the larger merchant stalls and said “what’s the best game you have for £10 or under”, to which he instantly responded Kaker Laken Poker. Hence, we now own it.
After having no luck with Kemet, I felt a craving for an Egyptian themed game and thus enters Aaru. It is a small abstract card game that was described to us as similar to Whist – a classic game which I have also never played. Still, Aaru was a punt and I look forward to playing it.
Battle for Rokugan
Set in the Legend of Five Rings universe, Battle for Rokugan has been described as what happened when Fantasy Flight fixed their Game of Thrones game so it no longer lasts four to five hours. Instead, Battle for Rokugan is a shorter strategy game (only an hour and a half to two hours) in which players fight for control of central Japan.
Just from the feel, and knowing only the basics about the game, Battle for Rokugan seems like a slightly more in-depth and slightly more strategic version of Rising Sun (which is also an ace game, so fingers crossed). It is also fairly compact in the box, which is a rarity for Fantasy Flight, so all signs say Battle for Rokugan should be fantastic.
Out of all the games on this list, Cadaver is the one we played first. It is a nice little filler game that is easy to break out on the fly. In it, you are looking to raise as many bodies from the dead as you can by reanimating them with either magic, potions, or body parts. Each body has different criteria.
We actually broke it out whilst in the queue waiting to watch the No Pun Included show on the Saturday evening of the Expo and it worked perfectly. It’s only a 15-minute game, it plays fast, and it is fun to play. We bought it after the guy from Triple Ace Games told us it was one of his favourite games that they owned. He was a very nice chap so we invested.
Imps: Devilish Duels
We didn’t really have our eye on Imps, but were given it free when we bought Cadaver and Aaru. I know nothing about it bar that it is presumably about Imps, and it uses both cards and dice.
King of Thieves
See above. Change the word “Imps” for “King of Thieves”. It was free. I don’t know what it is about, but it comes in a wooden box though which is kind of impressive. The downside is it is a pain to fit on the shelves.
Escape the Dark Castle
This looks like an innovative game – kind of choose-your-own-adventure meets an RPG meets a board game. Again, I don’t know a huge amount about what it is physically like to play as we have heard such good things online that we didn’t playtest. Instead, we just took the leap. We did the same with Sub Terra last year and that turned out great.
This is probably going to be one of the first games I write about on this blog because I am excited to be playing it tonight. Woo!
Another one of the Triple Ace Games games we bought at the Expo. Rocket Race is a small, but good looking, little game to do with building a rocket to be the first person into space. Although you can go up with just the bare essentials, other people can knock you down pretty easily, so you need to build your rocket up.
It looks like a small but fun filler game that is welcome on our collection.
I love the concept of this game. In Halfling Feast, you play as halflings, looking to eat as much as possible to score points – so you fill yourself up. Then you’re full, and can’t eat anymore, so you need to clear some room. How can you do that…
…well now….let’s just say it involves burping, farting, and going to the toilet. It’s crude, but it looks like a great little laugh.
Shadespire: Sepulchral Guard
“What? When did you get Shadespire, Luke?” I hear the wargamers amongst you shout.
Calm down dear reader – and you can also wait. There is a Shadespire article coming next week.
Onitama: Sensei’s Path
I love Onitama, you love Onitama, we all love Onitama. Here are sixteen more cards. We actually have 18 more because I also picked up the Dice Tower exclusives as well.
We love the idea of Sins as an RPG and so ended up investing quite heavily in the game, getting the core rulebook and a DM screen. The concept is that the world has collapsed, and everyone is either surviving in this post-apocalypse or dead. You and your team have been raised from the dead to either help humanity or damn them. It sounds really innovative, with emotions playing a large part in the game, as well as elegant, and I can’t wait to fully read the rules. Should be amazing.
And there we have it. There are all twenty-seven games we purchased along with why. I also got some gaming accessories, which I will go into at some point as well. That article will be coming up.
SO MANY ARTICLES.
Anyway – which games do you like the look of? What was the last game you purchased and why? Let me know in the comments below.