It’s that time of year again. That time of year where it is beautiful outside, the sun is shining and the birds are tweeting… And avid tabletop gaming fans like myself look forward to spending an entire weekend inside the Birmingham N.E.C’S Hall 1 exploring the UK Games Expo. I’ll be covering this year’s event in a press capacity, if you missed my article about last year’s expo, you can find it here. Otherwise, read on for a sneak preview of this year’s event.
The Games Expo is, in a nut shell, a weekend of gaming, nerds and special events complete with an army of cosplayers who descend upon Birmingham with joyful abandon. My friends and I have already booked to attend the fantastic Dark Room, Knightmare Live (yes, THAT Knightmare) and the Starship Bridge Crew simulator for maximum nerd points. Throw in the fact that comedian Bill Bailey is performing at Arena Birmingham on the Saturday night and you’ve got an epic weekend lined up. If you’re really into your pop culture, then you could also check out Collectormania which takes place in the N.E.C directly opposite the Games Expo at the same time and is packed full of famous film & T.V guests. On top of all that, there are a ton of board game designers and companies showing off their latest games at the Expo, which is sort of the main purpose of the event in the first place! A couple of them have already been in touch with me, so here’s just a small selection of the many games to look out for at this year’s Expo.
DANCE OF THE FIREFLIES
I’m not just putting this here because I made a video playing it with the game’s designer, Oliver Brooks – who has just confirmed that he and his game will indeed be at this year’s event. I’m putting this here because it is a fantastic game, I really enjoyed my play through of it and I would seriously recommend checking out at this year’s Expo if you get a chance. Sit down, spare half an hour and have a play through. If you’re on a limited schedule (as most of us are on this particular weekend) take a look at a bit of my Let’s Play video and decided if you’re interested or not. However, I think you won’t be disappointed.
HERO MASTER: AN EPIC GAME OF EPIC FAILS
The Noble Artist, Jamie Noble Frier, has been in touch with a press release about the above titled game that he created. I’m interested in checking this one out because anything that is a riff on popular tabletop gaming tropes is good in my books. Not only that, but I’ve played many a game of Dungeons and Dragons where the party has seemingly imploded by virtue of comic relief rather than saving the princess. This game sounds very promising, read his press release for yourself!
“There’s a Dragon in Snoozehaven… The adventurers had been pouring in for days; knights in exquisite armour, wizards with abundant talent, holy warriors with tenacious zeal… and you. Having been oblivious to the rising level of excitement in the tavern and even the swooping dragon overhead, it finally dawns on you that there could be an opportunity for a little coin, and maybe even a bit of the respect you’re sure you deserve…
As you try to look appealing as a worthwhile companion, the brave and the hardy band up and quickly disappear, avoiding your desperate gaze. Maybe they heard about your last party: the one you managed to trap in that cave-in when you decided to pull that lever… Or when you rubbed that lamp, and they all were crushed by the gold you may or may not have wished for…
Surely it’s good luck that you’ve always ended up walking away without a scratch? As you turn to see who is left, you only see pitiful faces and dopey expressions… The Halfling is actually asleep. As you try to console yourself with another drink you realise your mug is empty… and so is your purse… It’s probably worth a shot, what could possibly go wrong? As the most competent here you figure you’ll at least be the leader of this rag tag bunch of misfits. Right? Or maybe you’ll just focus on grabbing all the gold before they can.”
“In Hero Master: An Epic Game of Epic Fails you don’t play the bold hero. You’re the other guys… the accident prone, the lazy and the borderline useless. But… You’ve got a point to prove! So get your axe, and try to swing it in the right direction! With a mixture of a very simplified D20 combat system for failure-fraught-fighting, deck building and hand management, with a healthy dose of take-that mechanics among adventurers with only themselves in mind: Two to Four players must take their heroes on a quest to find the terrifying dragon Crackletooth the Tepid, avoiding the mishaps of their foolish fellowship while defeating the denizens of Snoozehaven.”
Lewis at Braincrack Games has also been in touch with us bloggers, their stand will be found not too far from the entrance to the main hall – just near Games Workshop. These guys have a few games they are demoing throughout the weekend, if you’re interested in playing one of these brand new games you can actually book a demo slot on their website over at this link. Here’s a couple of games mentioned in their press release that I’ll be checking out.
DEAD & BREAKFAST
“To kick off 2018, we launched our horrifying hotel builder Dead & Breakfast, from designer Rodrigo Rego and artist Louis Durrant. UKGE will be fans’ first chance to play with the production copy of this newest release and place their pre-orders for delivery in July!”
Extract from Braincrack Games’ website, “Dead & Breakfast is a spooky tile-laying game about building horrible hotels that frighten the guests. It’s designed by the talented Rodrigo Rego, and illustrated by the equally good Louis Durrant.”
“Downsize has been our most popular release, so when we sold our last copy at UKGE last year, it was time to think about getting it back in the world. Downsize “2.0” is a slimmed down version of our favourite fast-paced corporate card battler, with new employees, actions, and a new ‘risk and reward’ returns system!”
Extract from Braincrack Games’ website, “In Downsize, each player commands cut-throat corporation, firing Employees in various combinations to carry out actions. During the game you’ll try to make smart investments, and sabotage rivals – all whilst keeping a close eye on the Returns deck, which, when it runs out, leads to an inevitable Market Crash and the end of the game! Try and keep your company light and nimble, and – if you think you’ve got enough cash to win – fire your last employees and “downsize,” protecting yourself from other players’ actions.”
“Enter, stage left, The Gig – a dice drafting jazz improv game from the minds of Robb Smigielski and Jamie Gray. Players must work together – whilst vying for the spotlight themselves – to ensure one of several songs is completed, without clashing for leadership, whilst independently crafting their own solos in a roll-and-write mini-puzzle!”
If all of the above doesn’t already entice you to join me at the expo, here’s a little extract from official expo press release.
“The 12th annual UK Games Expo (UKGE) will run from 1st to 3rd June, 2018. Last year the event attracted around 32,000 people, making it one of the largest hobby games conventions in the world. Visitors can take advantage of our games library packed with all manner of board games, grab a bargain at our huge trade halls, which feature more than 300 companies, attend fascinating seminars about the games industry, pick up top tips at our Publisher-Designer Track for budding game designers, and more.
Gamers will also be competing in a host of national and international competitions, which could see them winning a trip to compete overseas. And when all that fun has worked up an appetite, visitors can enjoy our street food festival. UKGE welcomes guests from the industry including one of the founding fathers of modern tabletop gaming, author of the Fighting Fantasy series and founder of Games Workshop, Ian Livingstone. Tom Vasel from the hugely successful The Dice Tower podcast and you tube channel and Martin Wallace, prolific game designer are just some of the game industry celebrities in attendance.
UKGE attracts more than 300 games companies, from independent startups to major players in the industry. who are looking to release new games and demonstrate exciting prototypes. These include the event’s major sponsors, Catan Studios, Games Workshop and Warcradle Studios, and its associate sponsors, Geeknsons, Osprey Games, Paizo, Greater than Games and Czech Games Edition and Family Zone Sponsors, HABA.”
Adult day tickets are £13. Family tickets available. Dates for the 2018 Show: 1st to 3rd June. Location: NEC and NEC Hilton Hotel. Visit their website for the full details www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk.
I’ll be there all weekend covering the event both on here, Twitter and for the Youtube channel as well. If you’ll be there, don’t be afraid to say hello! I love meeting people who read the blog, and I love meeting fellow tabletop gamers. Otherwise, there will be a full vlog released after the event concludes. Bye for now!
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to check out some of my other articles and leave me a comment below with your thoughts. You can follow me on Twitter @cptnmingo for all the latest updates and you can also find weekly vlogs of my adventures on YouTube right here.