An American in Britain for the UK Games Expo part 2

Saturday came early for me…perhaps too early as I awoke before anything was happening. After a shower (some people still didn’t get the memo that this was a good idea. Not many, but some) and breakfast I met up with the Go Halves on Games duo of Rhyannon and Geraint and we got to play our first live game all together joined by some random guy. Way back I did a post on playing boardgames online and I mentioned playing with friends…that was this lovely couple. Until Friday we had never met in person and Saturday was our first opportunity to sit down with each other and play a game.

Room 25

We played the game, Room 25 which can be played cooperatively or competitively. Basically it is the movie Cube in boardgame form. In the game you are stuck in a series of rooms and the goal is to get out alive. In the cooperative game you pre-program 1-2 actions and then try to help each other find room 25 and escape together. There were only 4 actions to choose from so it wasn’t a super deep game, but I enjoyed it. Apparently the competitive game can be much more vicious and exciting. I’d like to try that out some time, but beyond that I’ll only play this game if someone asks me to.

Once the trade halls were open I made my way to see some people and games that I wanted to see and possibly pick up some games too. I stopped by the Portal booth to say hi to Ignacy and Merry, swung by the Surpised Stare Games booth to get a peek at Guilds of London (I wanted to demo it, but there was rarely a free spot. It looks really good though.) and bought a Snowdonia expansion (I’ll do a proper review of that game some day), checked out the plethora of game stores that set up shop at the convention and bought Stak Bots as my difficult to obtain (or at least more expensive) outside of the UK game.

Lords of War

Then I met up with James (who is horrible at dexterity games) and Amy who introduced me to the game, Lords of War. Lords of War is a two player game where you are battling each other’s troops in order to gain supremacy over the other. Each character card has directions that it can attack and in each direction a value for that attack as well. It is a tactic based game where every new card you draw can determine what you attempt to do next. The game comes with two factions, but more are available for purchase as well. This is not my normal style of game, but if you like dueling card games, this is a good one.

Homeland

Trying to find another game to play, the three of us wandered the halls and decided to try Homeland by Gale Force Nine. This is another traitor game based on the Homeland tv show. Each round the players get assigned cases and can send good guys or bad guys to any case on the board. Each case has a time limit and when it is reached you see if there was enough good guys to cover the threat. If there is, the responsible officer gets a bonus; if not, a penalty. There is more to this game, but it isn’t the easiest to explain without physically showing a sample round, so I will leave it at this and say that I would play it again. It is intriguing, but I don’t know if there is a ton of replayability. I could be way wrong on that though.

After Homeland I rushed off and attempted to get food before meeting Ricky Wilkins (@Rickyroyalbod) and try out his soon to be released game; Renegade. The convention had a nice set up for food with somewhere around 6 different food trucks in the hotel parking lot, but unfortunately they were not enough to satisfy the desire, therefore the lines were ridiculously long at times. I thought I had enough time, but sadly I didn’t and missed out because I was late to get to the Playtest area and the table had to be given up. I felt like a moron and was very disappointed I couldn’t meet Ricky and play his game.

Just a bit before the closing of the trade halls I grabbed some prototypes from Ignacy (Portal) and Paul (Czech Games) and headed to the open gaming room to snag as many tables as possible in order for them to demo their games. After using my intimidating presence and shear size (oh, and the other four people with me) we got the tables secure for the demos to begin. Ignacy showed off his upcoming releases while myself, Rhyannon and Geraint were treated to a game of the newest version of Through the Ages.

Through the Ages

I had never played Through the Ages and since it is ranked #4 on BGG I jumped on the chance to try this game out. I am not normally a heavy gamer or a long play-time gamer, but I wanted to see if this was a game that I could love. We started this game around 6 PM and since I was a bit sick, my mental capacity was lacking. Paul did a great job explaining the game, as was expected, and we hit the ground running. By running, what I mean is my style of running…so a slow jog. We hit the ground slow jogging. The first couple rounds were a bit difficult to remember everything that needed to be done and what could be done, but pretty soon we were all making our turns pretty quickly. If you aren’t familiar with the game, you start off with a very basic civilization and progress through the ages (surprise) by buying upgrades to current buildings and  governments while also building new buildings and recruiting leaders. Each round involved simple mechanics that were not difficult to grasp, but when you put them all together it involves a very brain-burning sense of, “What the heck is best to do?” I don’t know if I could ever get this game to the table, but this demo made me want to try. I might be buying at least two games from Czech Games this year as they were two for two for me at this convention and Castaway Club could possibly be my third, but I haven’t seen it played…yet.

Rhyannon, Geraint and I decided to end the game after the 1st age so we could get some other games played and not see our brain come out of our noses. I headed off, found some of my friends and we rented Arboretum from the Thirsty Meeple’s library (they did a fantastic job at the event and I hope are back every year).

Arboretum

This pretty little game is really good. While I have a little complaint on some of the colors of the trees being a little too close to each other and the font of the tree names being pretty bad, that is all of the negative I can say about the game. Our first game we played without a full grasp on scoring so we scored very low, 6-5-0 but our second game was better. The game plays simply. You collect two cards from either the draw deck, or one of the discard piles (one for each player), then play a card and discard a card. The trick in this game is the scoring. You have to qualify to score a path in your arboretum. A path must begin and end in the same color and consist of increasing valued cards in order to score that path. You also need to have the highest sum of that color left in your hand. If you do, you get the points, if not someone else does (or not, if they don’t have a path with that color). It is a quick-playing gem of a game and I will own it sooner, rather than later.

Then we got a bigger group together and played 7 Wonders with me teaching (bad idea since I haven’t played it much), but after we slogged through that play, we discovered an awesome dexterity game.

Riff Raff

We had too many players so we created our own variant of teams in order to play this game. The game consists of a wooden boat on a very rickety base with a whole bunch of differently shaped playing pieces. Quite simply you play a card to determine where you place a piece on the boat and then one at a time, you place your pieces on the boat. The pieces are a variety of sizes and shapes and placing your pieces in a difficult location will force others to place around your piece. It’s a fun game that gets ridiculous when people start bragging or accidentally drop a piece before placing it (both of which happened).

Because my memory is bad I have no idea when we played the last game I want to talk about, but it was played nonetheless and provided one of the most memorable moments of the convention for me.

Luchador

For months we had been planning a Luchador event where Amy (@ByAmyReid), Geraint, Rhyannon and I would sit down with Mark Rivera to play his game Luchador. Luchador is a game, where if you allow yourself to let go you will have way more fun than you thought you would. To be honest (sorry Mark) I didn’t expect to like this game, but I did and ended up buying it, because of how ridiculous we were by screaming “Luchador” and “Table slam” in the middle of a huge group of people. The best part of the tag-team game was when Rhyannon tagged Geraint in and his health was low enough to be pinned. Amy knew what she needed to do and boy did she ever. She got the ability to roll the giant Luchador die and performed her biggest move which was enough to KO Geraint. It was a one in six chance and she nailed it. The look on Geraint’s face was classic and then he said, “Why did I accept the tag?” Why indeed Geraint, why indeed?

UK Games Expo Conclusion

Overall my experience at the UK Games Expo was a positive one, and I hope I can come back next year. While the space was tight, the food trucks were limited and the WiFi was iffy (not the conventions fault) I have heard what it was like last year and it was vastly improved. It looks like they have plans to make it even better next year and they allowed me to have a great weekend despite any complaints I might have had, so well done UK Games Expo, well done.

Leave a Reply