Monday, 5 June 2017


 I've just got back from this years UK Games Expo....It is officially on Fri-Sun, but I went for two days this time, travelling down early on Saturday morning and leaving in the afternoon on Sunday. My friend Aneurin from the Sheffield boardgames club drove down and we shared a hotel room.

   Aneurin was in an all day tournament playing Imperial Assaul skirmish... so we got in to the tournament hall about 8am, found a quiet table and played a game of the escape room style game "UNLOCK" - which we managed to complete with a bit of a struggle... was good fun! I left Aneurin with his Imperial Assault mates and I went to join the, by now, very long que of gamer folks waiting for the doors to open at 9.30am...

I spent most of the day wandering around the trade hall, looking at stuff and demoing games... I managed to get my FROSTGRAVE rulebook signed by the author on the Osprey Games stall, which was cool - he was a very friendly chap...

Highlights of the day were:

 * Getting to play games of COSTA RICA and FIGHT FOR OLYMPUS on the Mayfair Games stall. COSTA RICA was very good, and especially interesting as I recognised it as a game I had played a paper prototype of in the playtest zone a couple of years earlier, and it has now been published.

* Being taught to play COUSINS' WAR by the designer on the Surprised Stare stall... An excellent and very strategic small box game for 2 players  about the War of the Roses, Some multi-use cards, a few cubes and a few dice, lead to a very strong, tense game. I snapped up a copy.

I picked up some games in the bring and buy sale that I thought would interest my family: MAUNA KEA (like Escape from Atlantis... but with a volcano!) and ATTILA (small box quick strategic abstract game)... and new I bought KINGDOMINO - which seems to have been a hit with everyone that played it, and a couple of expansions for IMPERIAL SETTLERS.

Some nice Frostgrave Scenery

Dropzone Commander battle grounds...

General business in the trade hall...
I bumped into Paul and Kathy from Sheffield who'd just met up with a friend of theirs - and we all played a demo of a daft game called LAZER RYDERS... it was silly but fun!

Playing a demo of Lazer Ryderz
When the trade hall was shutting I wandered over to the Hilton Hotel where the open gaming spaces were for the evening, to find that half the space had been taken up by a big wedding party... space was very limited, but I met up with some more Sheffield folks and after some negotiations we managed to secure a table and settle in for some game playing into the for me I think was MAGIC MAZE - crazy co-operative game of fantasy characters lost in a shopping centre! We made it back to the hotel around midnight in the end...

Open gaming with some of the Sheffield boardgames crew.... (Dread Curse)
  Day two - Sunday morning started with veggie breakfast at Weatherspoons in the N.E.C. followed by a very close game of COUSINS' WAR at a café table....

  We were near the front of the queue for when the doors opened, so we made a determined dash for the Mayfair stall to get at a go at playing the prototype version of the unreleased CAVE vs CAVE 2 player CAVERNA game by Uwe Rosenburg. I really enjoyed it - I'll definitely get a copy when it comes out.

Prototype version of Cave vs Cave (2 player Caverna)

Some very nice laser cut scenery from TTCombat
  A game that was creating quite a buzz at the Expo was SUB TERRA. We went over to their area and got in on a demo game. The game is a co-operative escape from a cavern as a team before bad stuff happens kind of thing.. kind of like Forbidden Desert, only not as good. The guy who was supposed to be explaining the rules (unlike the very professional people on the Mayfair and Kosmos stalls) did not do a very good job - He neglected to tell us some rules, and he must have got some things wrong, otherwise it seemed a very easy cavern to escape from. The artwork looked nice, the gameplay was "meh"...

Demo game of SubTerra
Currently I am very interested in 2 player strategy games. KOSMOS games do a strong line in these, a nice lady at their stand played a game of KAHUNA with me. I liked it, an abstract area control game... I already have EIGHT MINUTE EMPIRE though, and that scratches the same itch as this.

Demo game of KAHUNA on the Kosmos stand (I lost)
A handful of Sheffield BoardGamers that were still there on Sunday afternoon...
   This year the expo was huge. Saturday was very busy indeed. Sunday was a more relaxed affair. There was a very fun and friendly and inclusive atmosphere for the whole thing, and there was a huge range of folks there, from little kids to casual gamers, to hardcore euro fiends... I really enjoyed it, I would have liked to have gone for three days, but the prices for hotel rooms are prohibitive, and next year (I've looked) they've hiked the prices up even more. We're going to have to come up with a plan B for accommodation. I will be there though. See you at UK GAMES EXPO 2018!

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