Sunday of the Expo was a bright and early start, in order to try and hit the breakfast before the rush. Rooms were emptied and cars were packed for an early checkout so that we didn’t have to return to the hotel just for that purpose.
We were early into the main hall, and found our way straight to the tables of Reign of Chthulu Pandemic. We’d hopefully lurked by this game on the Friday and Saturday, but tables had always been too busy. With two spare seats at the table, Vicky and I didn’t need to be asked twice to take part in this game.
For fans of Pandemic, this game is familiar enough that it’s easy to pick up, but with enough variation to make it exciting.
Characters start with four sanity tokens (well, it wouldn’t be right to have a lovecraftian game without the possibility of going insane would it??), and an individual character ability similar to in the Pandemic game.
Disease cubes are replaced by cultists, but instead of an outbreak happening, a shoggoth appears! Three shoggoths and the game is over. Symbols on cards mean that shoggoths move towards gates, once they get through the gates, an ancient one is awakened. Ancient ones affect various abilities and actions of the investigators. As with vanilla Pandemic, there are many ways to lose, but only one way to win!
Several copies of this game were raffled off over the course of the weekend, and though I wasn’t fortunate enough to win , one, Jeppers did, so he’s going to have to make a trip over to Sheffield and play it sometime soon! Hope you’re reading this Jeppers!
A visit to the play-test area proved promising. We took part in a game of Temp Worker Assassins, with the designer of the game, David Newton. I really enjoyed this game.
Players take on the role of disgruntled, under-appreciated temp workers, with a real grudge against those with full time permanent contracts. Management are suspicious, given the amount of mysterious deaths of late, so nobody can enter the building with any deadly weapons.
Part worker-placement, part deck-building, this game is engaging and a lot of fun. It’s played over the course of 5 rounds (a Monday to Friday week), with each day having a bonus for the first assassination of the day. Workers visit different locations to find items, such as ‘sadistic safety scissors’ used to complete the assassination. Each target for assassination has an amount of damage needed to kill it, and the amount of points gained from the kill. After an assassination, the worker used must report to security. The art work on the cards is fun, and humorous, with characters such as the Public Relations Troll as targets awaiting their untimely death! I’m looking forward to seeing this game on Kickstarter on 28th June!
After a busy weekend of gaming, walking around the hall, to and from the hotel, it was all too soon time to go. Counting down to UKGExpo 2017 already ….
Saturday dawned, and it was time for day two of the expo. Vicky and I had arranged to go for breakfast at 8.30 am, under the misapprehension that some of the late night gamers would not be up early. It turns out that we vastly underestimated the sheer volume of residents already waiting for breakfast. As we shuffled slowly forward among the crowd, one of the hotel staff called out that she had a table for 4. A voice from behind announced volunteered Vicky and me to join them as a four for breakfast, which we readily accepted. And so it was that we breakfasted with a couple of guys from Esdevium games. Fuelled for the day by a full english breakfast, and a cup of tea (but not quite enough tea …), we set off once more for the NEC.
We called in at the Czech Games Editions stand, where Codenames:Pictures was available to play. This game is based on the same principles as the popular Codenames. Instead of using words, as in Codenames, players have a set of pictures to give clues for.
As a team game, we needed an extra player to even things out. A fourth player was soon recruited from the observers to make two teams – Vicky and Jeppers on one team, and me and the fourth player on the other.
This game proved to be both fun and challenging. I enjoyed the guessing part more than the giving clues part – I struggled a bit trying to think of ways to link pictures together which the other team member would ‘get’, but we managed to scrape a victory. I duly took my selfie which I tweeted to enter the competition to win a copy.
This is certainly one I’d like to add to my collection.
We took the time to have a go at Ice Cool, which is a game of flicking weeble-like penguins through the “school” doorways and over walls to gather fish, before being caught by the hall monitor.
Another hit from Saturday was Five Tribes, from Bruno Cathala, and Days of Wonder. This is a variation on meeple placement. The game starts with meeple on all tiles, and players manipulate them around the board, to land on tiles such as Anothdesert, villages, temples and oases
The game is brightly coloured, with each colour of meeple having different special abilities. Play order is determined each round by auction.
When a player removes the last meeple from a tile, they get the bonus for that tile, and can place one of their camels on that tile to indicate ownership.
Goods can be collected in sets for points, money converts directly to points, and Djinn can grant bonuses in different ways by sacrificing elders.
The aim is to gain as many points as possible.
This one is on my wishlist, …. it certainly seems to be quite replayable, with different djinns, arrangements of tiles, meeples and goods for each setup.
We lunched once again at the food fair, and again quenched our thirst courtesy of the beer bus throughout the day. Having attempted to attend the evening live podcast and found a queue snaking around the corridor, we opted for an early dinner in the vain hope that we could find somewhere to sit and play some of our purchases.
We wandered from room to room, seeing others similarly hunting for elusive gaming space. After a while, the hotel staff opened up some extra rooms for gaming, and our hunt came to fruition in the aptly named Norfolk room. I say aptly named, as though Vicky and Jeppers have no ties with Norfolk, I do, and it was occupied by quite a few members of a Norwich Boardgaming group.zt
We were invited to sit by a father and son, who were open to playing some of our purchases.
Jeppers opened his copy of Contagion, as Vicky had never played it before. Contagion takes the theme of each player developing a disease to infect as many places as possible. A number of cities are set out to infect, and an event deck is created. A players turn consists of drawing a number of cards according to their incubation rate which match the colours of the cities, and place a number of their disease cubes according to their infection rate. These are tracked on a player card. Incubation, infection rate and resistance can all be increased by discarding a certain number of cards. At points determined by the event deck, new cities may appear, or scoring can occur for whichever player has the highest number of cubes on each city. Cities are destroyed when the number of cubes matches their population. Destroying a city gives 3 players on that city points, and a bonus for the player who placed the final disease cube.
The game ends when either the event deck is exhausted, or the number of cities in play is reduced to 2.
By this time we had been joined by some others – James and Lewis being two from the Norwich group. We were joined by Colin, who very kindly and patiently took us on a play through Mysterium.
I really enjoyed mysterium, a game of murder mystery, with some beautiful card art.
Another one for my ever-expanding wishlist!
Next up was Secret Hitler, a game to brew distrust. There are a number of liberals, fascists, and (thankfully) only one Hitler. For the eight players we had, the fascists knew who each other were, and they knew the identity of the Hitler player. ‘Hitler’ didn’t know who his supporters are. Each round a person takes the role of president, and nominates a chancellor who the other players vote for. the chancellor and president act together to enact policies. Each party has a certain number policies to enact in order to win.
At 10pm we experienced the fun of The Dark Room.
This was an hour of fun, based on text based games of yesteryear. A hapless audience member is selected as the escapee, who much choose from options on the screen. Responses to these choices are shouted back by the presenter, John Robertson, with great energy and much enthusiastic audience participation. Inventive and charismatic, the quickfire responses from John ensure there is never a moment of silence. This was well worth a visit.
You can find out more at John’s Website.
After this experience, I returned to the Norfolk room to see if there were any fun games I could get in on. The guys we had met earlier on in the evening were mid-game when I arrived, but this soon finished and I was introduced to a beautiful game named Kodama, a kickstarter game, courtsey of James .
In Kodama, players are caretakers of the tree spirits (these are the Kodama the game takes its name from). The game is played over four seasons, with each season having a seasonal ‘decree’.
Trees are grown by playing branch cards.Placement of these cards is key to the game, as at the end of each season a Kodama comes to visit, and points are scored depending on their individual requirements.
This was a lovely game to round off the end of a fantastic day. It was time for sleep and refresh for the final day!
So this is me, entering into the world of blog writing …. again. A few months ago it seemed like a great idea to blog about things which I enjoy. This I started, but soon I lost momentum and hadn’t posted for some time. My intention wasn’t to start completely over, but in trying transferring the domain name I managed to ‘lose’ the original site.
So here we are, a fresh and clean attempt. Hello folk of the internet!
Hosted at the Birmingham NEC, the UKGames Expo is the largest tabletop gaming convention in the UK.
Way back in January a good friend of mine, Victoria (http://www.randomnerdery.com/) asked if it would be something I’d be interested in. We share an interest in boardgaming, and so it was that on New Years day 2016 we were booking 3 day event tickets and rooms at the hotel (Hilton Metropole).
Soon enough, early June arrived and it was time for the big event! I arrived at the hotel around 11am, checked in, and took the short walk along the leafy path to head to hall 1 of the NEC. When I arrived there was no queue, so I went straight to the ticket desk to pick up my pre-ordered 3-day expo ticket before meeting up with Vicky and Jeppers.
First impressions were just of a busy random chaotic sprawl of games shops, stacked high with hours of cardboard based fun.
There was a playtest area, a games library, new games to play. So much to take in. The allure of new shinies to play with meant that it wasn’t long before I was looking at options for purchase. A visit to http://www.boardgameguru.co.uk/ proved fruitful. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful (exactly what you need when there are so many people to purchase your wares!)
It wasn’t long before we were drawn into a demonstration game of Tatsu from Gen42Games.
In this two player game, each person controls three sets of dragon pieces. Dragons move around the board according to a dice roll (think Backgammon, where pieces can move according to individual die values or a combined total), with the aim of knocking the opponents pieces off the board.
Green (vine) dragons ‘lock’ an opponents piece such that it cannot move unlesss the players highest die roll is disregarded.
Blue (water) dragons send an opponents piece back to their reserve.
Red (fire) dragons knock an opponents piece completely off the board. The aim is to knock off all of one type of dragon, or all of the opponents dragons off the board.
Not far away from Tatsu, we found Not Alone, from Geek Attitude Games.
Not Alone is an asymmetrical game , in a futuristic setting (25th century), on a planet inhabited by a strange and deadly alien creature. One player takes on the role of The Hunter and the others the Hunted. There are a number of locations on the planet which the hunted can occupy. Each location has a different effect. The hunted have a hand of cards designating locations, which are played face down. The hunter draws their own cards, and decides which location to target. Hunted reveal their locations and any effects are played out. A central marking zone tracks the progress of the hunter and hunted, and play became tense throughout the game as both sides race for the central spot on the track. I think this will certainly be worth a look when it comes out soon.
Esdevium games had a large presence, with several tables for game playing. Beyond Baker Street looked interesting, but what really caught my eye from them was the Reign of Chthulu Pandemic, though this area was very crowded with interested onlookers.
We braved the queue for the bring and buy, and shuffled around the rows and stacks of games contained within, in the hope of finding an elusive bargain. Shopping with friends is fun, but there are those moments when you need the reflexes of a sniper when you both catch sight of an interesting game. This happened a couple of times, and I came away with a couple more games for the collection!
After a couple of hours hard shopping, we departed the main hall to drop off our purchases at the hotel and relax with some refreshments, which we found at the food stalls outside the hotel. In the warm afternoon sun, the beer bus was too much to resist!
Re-energised, and re-charged, Friday round 2 saw some more exploring, watching of games, and attending the live podcast from Shut Up and Sit Down. This included reviews of games we’d seen, (and bought in the case of Vicky) followed by a quick q&a session in their own unique style.
Dinner came from the food fair, we ate al fresco, and broke out Deep Sea Adventure from Oink Games. This game is small enough to play on a pizza box, which Vicky has pictorial evidence of. This game sees a group of poverty stricken divers chancing their lives on bringing back treasures from the deep over a course of three rounds. The divers have one shared tank of air to accomplish this. Heading down to gather treasure doesn’t use any of this air, but it rapidly decreases on the way back to the submarine. Our shameless greed meant that we didn’t bring a single piece of treasure back successfully, with our divers perishing on the mission.
We moved inside for evening gaming, finding a table in the restaurant where we started with Beyond Baker Street.
This game is a little like Hanabi in that players cannot see their own hand of cards, but instead rely on information relaid to them from others. Players must work together to collect evidence and solve the mystery before Sherlock Holmes does.
Next up was Quadropolis (Days of Wonder). This was one of the big hits of the weekend for us, we played Vicky’s copy on Friday, and Jeppers and I both acquired it on the Saturday such was its charm.
This is a very pretty city building game, with meeple and barrels which look almost edible!
Players use numbered architect tokens (1-4) to select buildings which are then placed on their own player mat in a row or column corresponding to that number.
Selection of buildings becomes restricted, as a token called the urbanist takes the place of the last building taken. The urbanist blocks the row and column for buildings for the next player.
Points are scored for different buildings in different ways, with some, such as parks, scoring more from being next to residential buildings, factories score more for ports and shops, and shops get bonus points from the number of occupants. We played the classic version of the game, but there is an expert version which looks like it should bring another level of complexity into the game.
After all this excitement, and reeling from the extortionate price of a cup of tea, it was time for some rest, ready to continue play on Saturday!
You can find me on facebook (as Katies Capers, though at time of writing this is very new and hence quite bare!), and twitter!