Well, what a weekend! After a certain global pandemic got in the way of our holiday plans, Neil and I finally managed to get back up to Birmingham’s NEC to attend the UK Games Expo.
Less than a week before we left, our Airbnb was cancelled by the hosts with no explanation, leaving us scrambling to find an alternative! Luckily we found the most incredible new build in Tamworth with more than enough rooms, toilets and tables for 4 days of board gaming with our friends (link
here for those interested).
Since I could seriously talk about UKGE forever, here are my top 15 moments from the trip:
Positive affirmations in the Airbnb!
The first game of the weekend – Aquanauts. My friend knew the developer, so it was fun to have the loosest possible connection to a person who had made something awesome.
Seemed fitting with the Living Viking Village outside.
Since we’re on the subject of Vikings… Skora gets the award for the most interesting artwork of all the games we played over the weekend. In Skora, players must use Viking boats to catch fish.
Neil ended up buying the game with every expansion after an enthusiastic team member walked us through a small mission and we absolutely nailed it. Winning is good marketing, for sure!
My friend bought the space version, Escape from the Dark Sector. It was all fun and games until a giant mutant beast killed my friend and the team were thrown back into prison.
“Unattended children will be sent to work in the mines.”
This version of Catan was incredible; everything was so well made and satisfyingly tactile to play with. We wrapped up the game early as the majority of the group didn’t like some of the mechanics, and I lost the vote to keep playing!
Despite it being the busiest year they’ve had, we never struggled to find an empty table or a free demo.
Another amazing demo. The Thing is a brand new strategy deduction game where players must try to escape a building before being picked off one by one by a terrible monster. As well as trying to escape, players must also focus on dodging starvation, freezing conditions, bad weather, the list goes on… Unfortunately for Neil, I could see he was lying (worst poker face ever) so managed to out him as the monster early on. This meant he transformed into his true HIDEOUS form and entered into a phase of monsterous murderous intent. Thankfully, our game demo ended before he could infect us all.
It was impossible to walk by the stall of The Storymaster’s Tales without slowing for a browse. I picked up the Towers roleplaying game (and he even threw in a free pack of cards!).
This was a bit of a highlight game for me because Sub Terra is one of my favourite tabletop games of all time. The Night Cage took all of those great elements – tile placement, horror genre, co-operative play – and made everything a whole lot trickier by introducing rules around light. Only tiles immediately surrounding the players were visible, and the moment you moved away from them, they were lost to the darkness. Very atmospheric with some lovely quality game pieces.
We were very lucky to secure a demo for Sniper Elite. We booked our slot first thing on Sunday, and by 11 most of the spaces were gone for the day. I volunteered to be the sniper, and had so much fun tricking the others into believing I had entered a building on the edge of the map. As they whispered amongst themselves and plotted how they would trap me inside the house I wasn’t in, I had to suppress a cackle as I started planting mines and planning my route to my ACTUAL objective. Great fun!
Lightweight card game Tucano gave our overworked brains some much needed respite of the silly and colourful variety.
An age old favourite for some of the group. XCOM was one of those games that fuelled our tabletop love back when Neil and his friends were at uni. Like most times we’ve played this, we failed horribly, possibly faster than anytime we have ever failed before. Just look at that mass of UFOs in South America and Australia! A perfect way to end the weekend (failure and cider!).
Did you attend this year? Have you been before?
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