A bit of a detour from our usual programming: I’m going to take look at some wider tabletop gaming stuff in this post.
This weekend is the gaming event of the year on our fine little island: the UK Games Expo.
Regular readers will know that we’ve had a number of Dice Masters Nationals at the UK Games Expo, but with no DM Nat to compete in I’m visiting as a regular punter rather than a competitor to enjoy all the demonstrations and previews on offer in the exhibition section of the event.
For those not in the know – the UK Games Expo is a tabletop gaming convention that traditionally takes place at the Birmingham NEC over the first weekend of June.
It has pretty much something for any interest any gaming enthusiast may have. At the core there is an exhibition centre where game designers can promote and demonstrate their games, specialist services can show their wares, and retailers can help you find that hard to find game.
In other sections of the NEC you’ll find the gaming spaces. In there you’ll find both official competitive tournaments and casual gaming taking place.
There is a range of seminars, talks and shows too. Whether you’re an aspiring game designer looking for tips or looking for a gaming-themed stand up comedy show the UKGE have got you covered with an impressive schedule of live content over the weekend.
The website is crammed full of details and you can find it here:
As I am so incredibly famous (running a multimedia gaming powerhouse that’s chartered by Royal appointment) I get early preview access on a Thursday night (y’know, before they let the riff raff in) so here’s a selection of the games I had a nosy at during the preview…
First up – I bee-lined over to the Wizkids stand. “For Dice Masters” you ask? No, not this time. I headed over to say ‘Hi’ to Zev (Who I had met at last year’s Expo) and to ask Zev a very important question from my Daughter: “When are we getting some ew animals for Kung Fu Zoo?” . Well – sweetheart – I’ll let you know when I get home but if you can’t wait then here it is: they are on the way and the most likely animals will be the Monkey, the Flamingo, the Crocodile and the Kangaroo. Dad points earned.
They were also promoting Smash City, which looked like it’s a fun Monster themed game that had these cool over-sized foam dice. You can smash into buildings, fight the army, throw cars or attack the other player’s monster. Smashing fun.
I also chatted about gaming with my kids with Zev, and so he showed me Kibble Scuffle. It’s a fun card game with colourful cat artwork that is all about securing the best meal for you lovely pussy. It’s even got a fun little gimmick where the box has a pouring spout, just like a cat food box. I’ll be taking a much closer look at this one, my kiddie-winks would love the tactile element of pouring out the cat food tokens.
Speaking of stuff to play with the kids – outside of my love for Dice Masters it would take just one glance at the BritRollerSix Instagram feed to know that my other gaming “thing” is games to play with my family, especially the Mini Mr Sixes. Therefore I generally gravitate to family-friendly, smaller box stuff on display.
One such game that caught my eye as I was going around was a card game called Canine Kleptomaniac.
I chatted with the game designer for quite a while, and loved that the game had been developed with his own family involved, even to the point where all the artwork and design was his son’s.
The theme of the game is that you’re playing naughty family dogs that like to pilfer stuff from around the house. You hide, steal and trade socks, underpants, and food to win the game. It was certainly eye catching with the clean, minimal design and what appeared to be simply but tactically engaging gameplay that would suit a family of players.
Looked fun, so keep an eye out on it hitting KickStarter in July.
The guys over at the Ultrapro stand were super-friendly, and sooooo incredibly happy to help when I explained that my deal was family play.
To start with; they showed me a really cute looking roll & write called Sunflower Valley. You’re going for the highest score by drawing structures, animals & other such ephemera around your valley, all determined by your dice rolls. Certain combos accrue higher points. As fans of Loony Quest and games with an artistic element this really caught my eye as one my little ‘uns would enjoy.
They also showed me Rocket Squad , a small box card game all about card placement with a fun theme of imaginative kids creating cardboard rockets in their garden.
Both are reasonably priced (although all the pricing on the catalogue they gave me is in USD, so who knows how they may differ in GBP), met the visually eye-catching and family friendly criteria, and the game-play as described to me seemed ideal for the type thing I like to get on the table with the little ones.
This was another game that I was drawn towards because of it’s colourful, playful aesthetic.
Funky Fruit is coming soon to KickStarter. It’s a strategic Card Game that’s all about collecting the finest selection of fruit before the insects come along to devour your fruit basket.
It appeared to be quick, simply to grasp, and fun to play. I was also drawn into the genuine passion & enthusiasm from the guys on the stand, who sold me somewhat on that alone. we had a lovely chat, joking a bit about playing games with children, and I wish them luck on their upcoming KickStarter.
Look at the outstanding artwork on this bad boy. A gorgeous, gorgeous game called Towers of the Sun by Quality Beast.
I didn’t get very long to chat to the guy on the stand (We actually got interrupted mid-conversation by Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower, who muscled his way in on the stand. Even Tabletop Gaming has its privileged personalities apparently) but did get a few moments to swoon over incredible aesthetic and the eye-catching game board. I’ll be tracking this one down tomorrow in the exhibition hall for a demo and a closer look.
It seems that the current ridiculous state of UK politics can’t even be escaped at a Tabletop Gaming convention.
Brexit – the real deal and Party Politics are a pair of satirical card games for those who like a bit more topical irony in their party games.
Brexit – the real deal is a bluffing game where you can win by achieving your secret agenda, securing votes, or stalling the game long enough it lasts more rounds than is reasonably required or necessary.
Party Politics is another card game all themed around the Machiavellian political manoeuvres of Cabinet members avoiding blame for a recent political disaster. Trust me – the cards were funnier and the game more engaging than I made that sound. It also has a shelf-life of relevance that will outlast it’s Brexit themed partner, I think.
A double-whammy pre-order option is currently available on their website.
Some Other tidbits
I was getting hungry and running out of time at the preview so I quickly snapped up a few pics of a handful of other bits n bobs.
There appears to be a new Pandemic game on the way…
There was a scary old witch getting interviewed at one point…
The artwork on this one caught my eye – I’m heading back over for a demo tomorrow…
And I had a go on this solo game called Feed Me, but it was so noisy around us I couldn’t hear the lady giving me a demo, but had asked her to repeat herself so often I just started to feel embarassed and resorted to politely nodding. So can’t tell you much about it I’m afraid…
I’ll be at the Exhibition centre tomorrow so swing by for more from the UK Games Expo. We might not have our UK Dice Masters Nats here this year, but plenty of fun to be had…