Before all the UK Nationals Dice Masters frivolity begins on Friday I headed down to the press preview at the UK Games Expo to check out some of the exhibitor’s wares.
What Gaming treasures awaited at the Expo this year? Read on to find out…
What is the UK Games Expo?
The UK Games Expo is the UK’s largest tabletop gaming convention and takes place at the Birmingham NEC over the first weekend of June every year.
This is the 12th year of the Expo and the 3rd I’ve ever attended. Publishers, retailers and players gather from all over the world to demonstrate their games, compete in tournament events, have a cheeky drink and play the day & night away. As I write this in the pub I’m sat next to a table full of Greek gamers playing a few rounds of Magic: The Gathering laughing and joking.
I’ve enjoyed the Expo immeasurably every year and couldn’t recommend it more highly as a great weekend of gaming fun. I’ve gone on to play many a game that I first ever played at the UK Games Expo. There’s start ups and big publishers alike, with plenty to suit every type of gamer from families to the hardcore competitive player.
It’s a tremendous event. I’m clearly here for all the Dice Masters goodness but there’s plenty on offer besides. Here’s some of the highlights from the preview…
Regular readers and listeners of the podcast will know that one thing I’m always on the lookout for is family friendly games that I can play with the #CompetitiveWife and the Mini Little Sixes. So, I made a beeline for any of the games that looked colourful and tempting for the kiddiwinks.
One particular standout was “Beasts Balance”.
It’s a co-operative game (no rage quitting from Little Miss Six LOL) where the objective of the game is to balance animals on a plinth that syncs with an accompanying app to accrue the highest point total you can and unlock new beast combinations. The pieces are really vivid and interesting and I’m certain this is one that would go down very well with my kiddies. It’s expensive though at £69, and while the components all seem lovely and worth the price, this’ll be one I’d have to save up for.
Here’s another one that caught my eye I thought would be cool for family play: SOS Dino.
It’s another co-operative game and your aim is to save the dinosaurs from the erupting volcano’s lava by reaching the safety of the mountain sections. The figures looked really cute (not “Taneko” Panda cute, but still cute) and the rules as explained to me by the rep seem simple, but tactical enough it could be very involving.
Speaking of dinosaurs – I clocked another dinosaur themed game called “Jurassic Snack.”
You take your dinosaurs around the board feeding off the fauna. But watch out – for every lovely bit of sustenance you find the risk of encountering an angry Tyrannosaurus hiding in the bushes increases. Looked fun – and reasonably priced for those on a budget.
I mentioned Little Miss Six’s love of Pandas, so as I was ambling around this one leapt our at me: “Way of the Panda”
Turns out after chatting to the rep it’s designed for the 14+ market, but I still thought the theme was fun. It revolves around managing your tribe of Samurai Pandas and defeating the other player’s tribes. It had cool looking minis and a great looking board, but sadly not my pace.
I obviously had to swing by the Wizkids stand, where I met and had a brief chat with Zev.
Sadly – no Dice Masters previews on display (*sob*), but they had examples of their new BoardGames: “Awrithe”, “Heroes of Dominara”, “Star Trek: Galactic Enterprises” and “SEAL Team Flix”
“Galactic Enterprises” seemed particularly interesting with a competitive bargaining element that sounded really interesting and tactically challenging.
I walked straight past the Fantasy Flight Games stand, because Fantasy Flight Games suck.
The Spirit of the Expo
I wanted to take a moment to talk about the atmosphere and positive energy I saw at the preview, of which I fully expect more of at the main event tomorrow. There was a number of game publishers really getting in the spirit of showcasing their games.
Loads of fun. And – to top the night off – I got to meet a celebrity of the Tabletop Gaming world: Tom Vasel.
We chatted Dice Masters for a short while.
So there’s the highlights of today’s short preview – there was so much there it was tough to fit it all in during the 2 hour preview. I’ve got a couple of hours tomorrow morning before the Dice Masters event kicks off so I’m going to fit in a few more bits n’ bobs in – keep your eyes peeled for more UK Games Expo coverage in the coming days and, of course, all the UK Dice Masters National Championship news.