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UK Games Expo 2021 - Convention Report

Allen OConnor
United Kingdom
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From gallery of van00uber


UK Games Expo 2021 - Convention Report


The UK Games Expo is all wrapped up for another year now, and my friends and I had a great weekend at the convention. The four of us were a little apprehensive about going to such a large event in the middle of a pandemic, but there were plenty of considerations made by the organisers and by the individual exhibitors to keep everyone safe (more about that a little later). We attended the press preview day on Thursday and we attended on Saturday along with our friends Charlotte and Jordan. We came home with quite a few new additions to our collection, some of which we’ve already had a chance to place since leaving the convention.

The list below is made up of some of our favourite games that we came across during the weekend. This is by no means an extensive list, actually it only makes up a fraction of what was available at the convention. If you want to find out for yourself why not come to next year’s expo, it will be held at the NEC again from 03/06/22 - 05/06/22. Hopefully by then all this COVID stuff will be behind us and things will start to get back to normal.

https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk




Board Game: Paupers' Ladder


Board Game: Paupers' Ladder


Bedsit Games

One of the main games that I’ve had my eye on this year is Paupers' Ladder, designed and beautifully illustrated by Paul Stapleton. In this game players explore a map full of monsters, treasure and side quests with their trusty bird companion in pursuit of achieving enough virtues to win. There are five virtues including slaying a dragon, amassing gems and completing quests, the first person to achieve three is the winner. The theme draws from old-school RPGs while the gameplay can probably be best described as competitive exploration. I bought myself a copy which came with a free solo gaming expansion named One Lonely Pauper, I’m hoping to get this one to the table very soon. Bedsit Games were also promoting their upcoming expansion The Moon Towers due to be kickstarted for a 2022 release, which adds a further 400 cards to the game, plus 8 new characters and 14 new birds.

https://www.bedsitgames.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/bedsitgames/




Board Game: Sandwich Masters


Board Game: Sandwich Masters


Big Punch Studios

I got a chance to get a closer look at Sandwich Masters on Saturday after seeing the game pop up on my instagram feed a little while ago. This is a small box card game that sees players racing to fulfill food orders for sandwiches while taking a few dodgy shortcuts to save on the cost of ingredients. Big Punch Studios were promoting their new Bread Roles expansion too which at the time that I’m writing this has just hit it’s funding goal on Kickstarter. The new expansion adds individual player powers to the game as well as a bunch of new cards, it also takes the maximum player count up to six players. I loved the vibrant colourful artwork, and while I was visiting the booth I could see a game being played and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Click the link below to find out more.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigpunchstudios/sandwic...
https://www.bigpunchstudios.com
https://www.instagram.com/bigpunchstudios/




Board Game: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Fifth Edition


Black Chantry Productions

Back in the late 90s I had a bit of a Magic: The Gathering addiction, and at the time I remember dabbling in some of Richard Garfield’s other card games including Vampire: The Eternal Struggle. I remember enjoying the fact that the game could be played in groups rather than one on one, with each player attacking the player to their left and defending against the player on their right. Back Chantry were exhibiting Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Fifth Edition, which is by far the best looking iteration of the series, leagues ahead of the ugly cards I used to buy from the Electronic Boutique back in the 90s. I didn’t get a chance to play at the convention but I’d definitely be up for trying it in the near future.

https://www.blackchantry.com
https://www.instagram.com/black_chantry/




Board Game: Horror in the Library


Board Game: Horror in the Library


Board Game: Horror in the Library


Blue Donut Games

Another one of the games that I was eager to find at the convention was Horror in the Library, designed and illustrated by the wonderful Marcus Pullen. This is a chaotic set collection game set in a spooky library that is ever changing shape. Players race to find books while trying to prevent their opponents from doing the same. The library is made up of cardboard tiles, each containing a metal doorknob in the middle, as players can pick them up and turn them at certain points in the game. Horror in the Library will be Kickstarted around autumn along with an expansion which will take the maximum player count up to six. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pre-launch copy of the game so you should see it appear in a future blog post, once I get it played a few times.

https://www.bdgame.uk/about-the-company/
https://www.instagram.com/bdgameuk/




Board Game: Dragomino


From gallery of van00uber


Blue Orange Games

Kingdomino has been one of my favourite Spiel des Jahres winners of recent years, especially when played with two players. I liked the sequel Queendomino even more as it added a little more complexity to the game and I also have the Age of Giants expansion and the roll-and-write spin-off Kingdomino Duel in my collection. Naturally I was always going to be interested in the newest addition to the series Dragomino, which has recently won the Kinderspiel des Jahres. We bought it and we played it at the convention, and all four of us loved it. The game feels fresh but maintains some of the core elements of the original Kingdomino, it’s by far the simplest game in the series so far but that doesn’t take anything away from gameplay. I can’t wait to play this one again.

https://www.blueorangegames.com
https://www.instagram.com/blueorangegames/




Board Game: Plant-Based Riot


Board Game: Plant-Based Riot


Bubblegum Stuff

I stumbled across Plant-Based Riot on Instagram, a small box card game in which players are vying to be the dominant cartel in a gang war, only the gangs are vegetables, fruits and fungi. This is a light hearted set collection game with plenty of mean take-that elements for two to five players. The artwork is hilarious and vibrant, and the game has a real table presence. The game has just gone live on Kickstarter with a standard edition and a fancy-pants deluxe edition. I saw plenty of people playing and enjoying the game at the convention so hopefully it’ll meet its funding goal later this month.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bubblegumstuff/plant-ba...
https://www.instagram.com/plantbasedriot_game/




Board Game: Take it Easy!


Board Game: Zambezi: The Expedition Game


Burley Games

Burley Games were back this year with plenty of interesting mostly abstract games. Burley publish two of my favourites in the abstract category, Kamisado and Take it Easy!, as well as the much larger Take It to the Limit! and the Reiner Knizia crossover Take it Higher!. We also got a chance to see one of their none-abstract titles called Zambezi: The Expedition Game, which sees players racing tugboats up the Zambezi river. This one actually came out a few years ago but I hadn’t seen the game before, it looks like an interesting deviation from their normal style.

https://www.burleygames.com/




Board Game: CATAN: 3D Edition


Board Game: CATAN: 3D Edition


Catan Studio

The Catan family seems to get a new version or spin off whenever I visit the UKGE, but this year’s release is a little different. There appears to be a trend over recent years of making big chunky deluxe versions of well-loved games, and CATAN: 3D Edition is one of the best that I’ve seen so far. Every cardboard tile and frame piece has been replaced with a chunky 3D hand painted miniature. The wooden player pieces have been replaced by highly detailed coloured buildings and roads. The set looks incredible and the box is absolutely enormous. I can see this one selling for a small fortune in years to come.

https://www.catanstudio.com
https://www.instagram.com/settlersofcatan/




Board Game: Amass


Board Game: Outbreak


Dark Frontier Games

I was fortunate enough to get a closer look at a prototype copy of Amass earlier this year and I really like the look of it. Players act as different mining companies competing for resources on a hostile alien planet. Not only must they fight each other off in the pursuit of assets, they also have to deal with alien raiders from the planet itself. The game uses a slightly blocky art style along with an 80s arcade colour palette to really make you feel like you’re in a retro arcade game. Amass will be Kickstarted in the near future so be sure to click the link below to be notified of the launch. I also got a brief chance to see one of their other titles called Outbreak, which has to be the most vibrant post-apocalyptic zombie game I’ve ever seen. Dark Frontier is definitely one to look out for over the next year or so.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dfgames/amass-the-battl...
https://www.instagram.com/darkfrontiergames/




Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary


Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary


Days of Wonder

I have a pretty large collection of Ticket to Ride games in my collection including the incredibly fancy Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary edition, which combines the original base game with its 1910 expansion and replaced the plastic trains for actual train miniatures. I like the look of the 10th Anniversary Edition and it’s great for introducing people to the series, but the North America map is probably my least favourite in the series because it’s too easy to win the game without focussing on tickets due to the large number of five and six routes. Now Days of Wonder have given Ticket to Ride: Europe the same luxury treatment in Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary, which has a new set of train miniatures, oversized board and also contains the Europa 1912 expansion. This allows fans of the series to play a premium edition of a far better game, one which I’ll probably be adding to my collection before they all get snapped up.

https://www.daysofwonder.com/tickettoride/en/europe-annivers...
https://www.instagram.com/daysofwonder/




Board Game: Mazescape Labyrinthos


Board Game: Mazescape Labyrinthos


Devir

I spotted two solo games at the press preview that seemed to be an interesting take on the traditional maze style puzzle. Mazescape Labyrinthos and Mazescape Ariadne by Devir each contain a bunch of folded double sided mazes. Players start the game by folding them a certain way and selecting a starting point, then they traverse the maze folding and unfolding the page to reveal different parts of the map as they progress through the game. Each map has a set of levels that require players to collect different icons along the way, and the game can be really quite challenging. I had a little try of the Labyrinthos edition and absolutely loved it. This is a great inexpensive little puzzle game with tons of challenges in each box, it’s probably the most imaginative maze game I’ve ever played.

https://linktr.ee/devirgames
https://www.instagram.com/devirgames/




Board Game: Solar Sphere


Board Game: Solar Sphere


Board Game: Solar Storm


Dranda Games

At the last (face-to-face) UK Games Expo I got a chance to see an early edition of Solar Storm, a cooperative space survival game in which players are trying to repair a broken spaceship before it gets pulled into the sun’s orbit. I ended up backing it later on Kickstarter and enjoying the game once it arrived. Now Dranda Games return with their new game Solar Sphere, a big sprawling eurogame with a rather innovative dice placement system. The game looks outstanding with some of the best Sci-Fi artwork at this year’s convention. The game will be Kickstarted at some point in September so if you are a fan of Solar Storm, keep an eye on Dranda’s Instagram page for updates.

https://www.instagram.com/drandagames/




Board Game: Daring Dustbunnies


Board Game: Mijnlieff


Hopwood Games

I’ve been playing with two of Andy Hopwood’s designs recently so I was eager to see what he had in store at this year’s event. Mijnlieff is a superb two player abstract game, especially if you manage to get your hands on the modular board expansion. I managed to get a game of it played too at the Hopwood Games booth. This year Andy was promoting Daring Dustbunnies, this is a card driven race game with a difference. The aim of the game is to attempt to move the fluffball you are secretly supporting to the highest scoring position (closest to the vacuum) when each round ends without being sucked-up. The game appeared to be getting some buzz at the expo and I found out after I left that it had won this year’s Best New Family Game award. I’ve taken a copy home with me so you should see it reviewed on my blog over the coming weeks.

https://www.hopwoodgames.com
https://www.instagram.com/hopwoodgames/




Board Game: Exit: The Game – Advent Calendar: The Mystery of the Ice Cave


Board Game: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea


Board Game: Lost Cities: Roll & Write


KOSMOS

There were some pretty big games at the KOSMOS booth this year. The one that we’re probably the most excited for is Exit: The Game – Advent Calendar: The Mystery of the Ice Cave, I’ve played pretty much every English language Exit game, so the idea of a 24 chapter puzzle to be played daily leading up to Christmas sounds brilliant. We also saw the follow up to last year’s Kennerspiel winner The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, this time the adventure goes under the ocean in The Crew: Mission Deep Sea which appears to add more complexity to the win conditions in each mission. Lastly we saw a roll-and-write spin off to Knizia’s classic in Lost Cities: Roll & Write, which maintains much of the same push-your-luck mechanisms with an interesting dice-driven twist.

https://www.kosmos.de
https://www.instagram.com/kosmos_games/




Board Game: Stella: Dixit Universe


Board Game: Stella: Dixit Universe


Libellud

Dixit and Dixit: Odyssey are absolutely two of the best games in my collection to play in a larger group, the latter being one of my only viable 9-12 player games to play at family gatherings. Stella: Dixit Universe is a new game that can be played with your Dixit cards which adds a new twist. Each player observes the 15 Dixit cards and secretly associates these cards with the clue word, marking on their erasable personal slates the cards that they choose. The aim of the game is to try and select the same cards as your opponents, being the only person to select a card can be quite punishing. This one is most certainly going to be added to our collection in the near future, it sounds excellent.

https://www.libellud.com
https://www.instagram.com/libellud/




Board Game: Mini Express Map Pack 1: Taiwan & United Kingdom


Moaideas Game Design

Like quite a few of the exhibitors this year, Moaideas Game Design were struck with some misfortune as they couldn’t get their stock over to the expo in time for the convention and could not sell games at their booth this year, but that didn’t stop me from getting a look at their prototype for their new expansion. After having success with Mini Express by Mark Gerrits a new map pack is scheduled for release called Mini Express Map Pack 1: Taiwan & United Kingdom. I get a chance to see the UK part of the expansion and took a print-out of the map away with me, click the link below to find out more about the expansion and to find out about their next game Jiangnan: Life of Gentry too.

Jiangnan Landing Page
Map Pack One Landing Page
https://www.instagram.com/moaideasgame/




Board Game: Color Code


From gallery of van00uber


Queen Games / Chili Island

Queen Games had plenty of games on show at this year's convention alongside their sister company Chili Island, with their first release Color Code. This is a party game in which players associate colours with concepts such as surfing, music and magic. My friends got a chance to play this one and they seemed to enjoy it. I was interested to see their new range of roll-and-write spin offs, because I’d really enjoyed playing Copenhagen: Roll & Write. I saw Escape: Roll & Write and Alhambra: Roll & Write, both of which maintained the theme of their parent game re-imagined into a new genre.

https://new.queen-games.com/en/start/
https://www.instagram.com/real_queengames/




Board Game: Wibbell++


Board Game: A game about WEE WHIMSICAL CREATURES and trying to identify them after someone makes noises.


Stuff By Bez

Although I didn’t get to the Stuff By Bez in time to get one of the 50 copies of A game about WEE WHIMSICAL CREATURES and trying to identify them after someone makes noises., I did get to see the game in action at the press event, and hopefully Bez will do another print run in the future because I loved it. As in previous years there was plenty of activity at the Stuff by Bez booth, and some gorgeous new additions of the “Ell” deck, including one with vibrant bold letters and another with a more organic look, which I believe is being marketed as the deck for Coupell. Annabelle and I have played Coupell in the past, and it’s a great cooperative two player game in which players must work together to make the longest word. If you haven’t got an Ell deck in your collection I would highly recommend getting one, you can play all kinds of games all with the same system of cards, click the links below to find out more.

http://www.stuffbybez.com
https://www.twitch.tv/stuffbybez
https://www.instagram.com/stuffbybez/




Board Game: Lux Aeterna


From gallery of van00uber


From gallery of van00uber


Surprised Stare Games Ltd

I have almost every game that Surprised Stare Games Ltd have published so I was eager to visit them at this year’s expo. This year they were exhibiting Lux Aeterna, a solo space survival game by Tony Boydell set either to a time limit or to the Lux Aeterna piece of music itself. Last year saw the follow up to The Cousins' War, with The Ming Voyages and The March of Progress making up parts two and three of the Pocket Campaigns. These were two of my favourites from last year, both combine war game mechanisms with some clever card play to provide an incredible gaming experience. Alan Paull pulled out a prototype for War of the Three Sanchos which will be the fourth part in the series, this time the game accommodates one to three players with every card in the game impacting all three factions. Alan was also kind enough to give me a couple of “1” stickers to make my copy of the Cousins’ War fit with the numbered boxes of the other two games in the series.

http://www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk




Board Game: Ukiyo


From gallery of van00uber


Walnut Games

Ukiyo was one of the main games that I was looking out for this year. Players in turn add a card from their hand to a central tableau, which is limited to six symbols in either direction, hoping to achieve the win condition printed on the last card in their hand. We also grabbed a copy of Take The Kingdom, a beautiful card battle game for two to four players in which you are either trying to be the last kingdom standing or the biggest kingdom by the time the last card is played. While we were at the booth we got to look at a prototype for a new game called Zillertal which sees players creating a landscape with overlapping cards. Ian Walton has some great ideas for his designs, he's definitely one to look out for at future conventions.

https://www.walnutgames.co.uk
https://www.walnutgames.co.uk/blog-1




From gallery of van00uber


Board Game: Longboat


Board Game: Hexapod: The Curious Pastime of Entomology


Wight Hart Games

Another title that I had my eye on this year was Hexapod: The Curious Pastime of Entomology, it’s a theme that I haven’t seen used before and I tend to like small card games with overlapping mechanisms. While I was there I was also drawn in by a card game called Longboat and ended up grabbing a copy of that too, which seems to be a set collection game in which players are building viking longboats to amass loot. We got a first look at a game called Expænd which is due to be Kickstarted later this year. I loved the vivid cyberpunk artwork in this one, it’s certainly one that I’ll be backing when the campaign goes live.

https://wighthartgames.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/wighthartgames/




Board Game: D6 Dungeon


Board Game: Carrooka


Self Published Games

There’s always plenty of first time designers self-publishing their designs at the convention, some certainly stood out more than others. D6 Dungeon caught our eye and the four of us ended up playing a game at their booth. Players have a “waffle” in front of them which houses a bunch of dice with different symbols on. Essentially players are trying to create a completely connected dungeon from their perspective of the waffle, as well as collecting enough tools to fight their way through it. The game is for two players, but with two sets you can play with up to four people. We both bought a copy to allow us to play together in the future.

http://www.d6dungeon.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/d6dungeon/

I’m a huge fan of Carrom, so when I saw Carrooka I was instantly drawn in. This is essentially Snooker rules played on a modified circular Carrom board, which is incredibly well produced and even rotates. They’ve had success so far with their design to the point of having a waiting list for new orders. I’d love to add one to my collection in the near future too.

https://carrooka.com
https://www.instagram.com/carrooka/




Board Game: Book of the Dead


Board Game: Ukiyo


What Did I Play?


Over the course of the weekend we got a chance to actually play a few games too. I played a full game of Mijnlieff at the Hopwood Games booth with another visitor, who ended up buying a copy shortly afterwards. All four of us played D6 Dungeon and walked away with two copies of the game, and my friends played a round of Color Code while I was chatting to Alan Paull at the Surprised Stare booth. We all took a break from perusing the exhibitors hall for some overpriced food and a game of Dragomino, which was outstanding. After eating we played a five minute game of Ukiyo which was won by Charlotte, then we were joined by fellow BGG blogger Lindsey (BGG user: Linsonix) and her husband John. We chatted about the convention, put the world to rights then played one of their games called Book of the Dead in which players must work together to restore the pages of the Necronomicon under a strict time limit. We beat the game with a minute to spare and made some new friends in the process, hopefully we'll meet again at a future convention.

Lindsey writes the Superfluous Somethings blog, make sure you subscribe if you haven't already: https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/11016




From gallery of van00uber


What About The Pandemic?


I certainly wasn’t the only person to be a little apprehensive about attending such a large event in the middle of the pandemic, I have friends who took the decision not to attend this year and I completely understand their reason for doing so. I was impressed with the level of COVID security at the event, but I know that some people have been “pinged” by the COVID app since the event took place. I’d say that roughly three quarters of the attendees were wearing masks, all visitors had to have an NHS COVID pass to attend proving that they had either been fully vaccinated or had received a negative PCR or LFT test just before the event. I’m fully vaccinated but took a test anyway, as we all did, before attending each day. Most of the exhibitors only allowed people to try their games after using alcohol gel on their hands and there were plenty of opportunities to do so dotted around the venue. Only one of my group wasn’t fully vaccinated, however Jordan got a chance to get his second jab at the event with a pop-up vaccination centre located at the event. All things considered I think that the organisers did a great job this year at mitigating the risk of further infections, hopefully by the time next year’s event comes around again life will be a little more back to normal.




From gallery of van00uber


My Favourite Prototype - War of the Three Sanchos


The UK Games Expo isn’t just a place to buy and play new games, visitors also get to see prototypes of what is to come in the future. For me the prototype that I was most excited to see was War of the Three Sanchos by David J. Mortimer, soon to be the fourth part of the Pocket Campaign series by Surprised Stare Games. There’s definitely some similarities to The Ming Voyages in that all cards help your opponents also, but this time each card has one primary faction that gets a better action. There’s a new dice combat mechanism which is unlike anything that I’ve played before and it’s brilliant. Alan Paull went through a full round of combat to show me how it plays and I can’t wait to add this one to my collection. I was told that the prototype is pretty much final and that we can expect to see the game hitting Kickstarter in the near future. I’ll make a seperate post about that closer to the time.




Board Game: Dragomino


My Favourite Game of the Expo - Dragomino


I don’t usually go out of my way to play the winner of the Kinderspiel des Jahres but this year was a little different because it was the next addition to the Kingdomino series. We sat down and played a game of Dragomino and I absolutely fell in love with the game. The tiles look similar to the parent game and there is some correlation with the original drafting mechanism but that's where the similarities end. There are no restrictions to where a tile can be played but for each side that matches colour, players take a coloured token matching the terrain and flip it over. Each terrain has 7 dragons and the rest of the tokens have broken eggs, some terrains have more tokens than others so consequently have a higher chance of finding a dragon, the player with the most dragons at the end of the game wins. It’s simple, short and has the constant excitement of flipping tiles over in the hope of finding another dragon. We all enjoyed playing this one and it was only £16, I’d highly recommend this game for fans of the original.




Board Game: Paupers' Ladder


My Favourite Game by an Independent Publisher - Paupers' Ladder


I’ve grown up playing fantasy themed video games such as Zelda, Final Fantasy and the Elder Scrolls series, then later with role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. So when I first set my eyes on Paupers' Ladder with it’s gorgeous and unique artwork and fantasy theme I was drawn in. After learning about how the game plays I knew that I would have to add this one to my collection. This is essentially a competitive fantasy exploration game with players trying to be the first to achieve three “Virtues” to win the game. There are five different ways to achieve a virtue with players traversing a map, fighting monsters and amassing treasure throughout the game. Much of the gameplay includes traveling to a new location and flipping a card to find out what they encounter. That could be a side quest, treasure, monster or even a dragon. The game looks incredible, it’s one that I can’t wait to get to the table in the near future.




From gallery of van00uber


The 2021 UK Games Expo Awards


Best Abstract Game
Judge’s Award: DISTRIX
People’s Choice: Flash 8

Best Children's Game
Judge’s Award: Micons
People’s Choice: Dragomino

Best Family Game
Judge’s Award: Daring Dustbunnies
People’s Choice: Zombie Teenz Evolution

Best American Style Game
Judge’s Award: Kitara
People’s Choice: Kitara

Best European Style Game
Judge’s Award: Excavation Earth
People’s Choice: Excavation Earth

Best Strategic Board Game
Judge’s Award: Prisma Arena
People’s Choice: Undaunted: North Africa

Best Strategic Card Game
Judge’s Award: Schotten Totten 2
People’s Choice: Imperium: Classics

Best General Card Game
Judge’s Award: Village Green
People’s Choice: Village Green

Best Dice Game
Judge’s Award: Escape the Dark Sector
People’s Choice: Escape the Dark Sector

Best Party Game
Judge’s Award: Inkling
People’s Choice: 50 Clues: The Pendulum of the Dead

Best Expansion
Judge’s Award: Dice Hospital: Community Care
People’s Choice: Stuffed Fables: Oh, Brother!

There are several other awards for categories outside of board gaming, click the link to see the entire list:

https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/content/news/award-winners-uk-...




From gallery of van00uber


This Year’s Haul


Aqualin - A beautiful little abstract game for two by KOSMOS.
Coral Islands - Two dice games in one box for a fiver, you can’t go wrong with that.
D6 Dungeon - We got a chance to play this and it was fun. Also because our friends bought a copy too, we can combine them and play with four.
Daring Dustbunnies - A card driven race game by Hopwood Games and winner of the best family game at this year’s UKGE awards.
Dragomino - The next addition to the Kingdomino series and our favourite game at the convention.
First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet - Ignacy Trzewiczek’s kind-of-sequel to the incredibly popular Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, only with a better theme.
Hexapod: The Curious Pastime of Entomology - A tableau building game where players are Entomologists putting together their collection of insects.
Horror in the Library - This is one of fifty pre-launch editions of this light-hearted game, complete with a wonderful sketch by the designer.
Longboat - An interesting set collection card game with some beautiful, vibrant artwork.
MicroMacro: Crime City - This year’s Spiel des Jahres winner, all I know is that it has a huge map inside.
Mini Express Map Pack - Not the expansion itself but a print-out of the new map to try with the base game.
On the Cards - One of the only Surprised Stare Games Ltd titles that I don’t own, plus it was only two quid.
Paupers' Ladder - Probably the game that I wanted most before the convention started. A gorgeous competitive exploration game.
Paupers' Ladder: One Lonely Pauper - A solo expansion that came free with the base game.
Photosynthesis: Under the Moonlight - An expansion to one of our favourite games adding moonlight and woodland creatures.
Take The Kingdom - A card driven battle game by Walnut Games that caught my eye when I visited their booth.
The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls - The card game spin off to one of my all time favourite video games.
Ukiyo - I played this at the convention and I loved it, the whole game is made up of 18 cards.
Viewpoint Reflections - This was £1, I have absolutely no idea what this is.

Thank you for reading, hopefully I’ll see you all at next year’s event

From gallery of van00uber





From gallery of van00uber


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UK Games Expo 2021 - Preview

Allen OConnor
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From gallery of van00uber


From gallery of van00uber


UK Games Expo 2021 - Preview


It’s that time of year again, and this time the biggest UK board game event of the year is going ahead, along with a few changes to make the event more COVID friendly. I’ve been to the convention every year since 2013 and it’s been one of the highlights of my year since I became more committed to the hobby. I was saddened to find out that the 2020 event was cancelled but I completely understood why it couldn’t go ahead.

For those who don’t know, the UK Games Expo is a huge board game convention held once a year at the Birmingham NEC. You can meet your favourite designers and publishers, grab a bargain or three at the bring-and-buy and play some new titles in the open gaming area. I spend most of the year chatting to people online from across the board gaming community and the UK Games Expo gives me a chance to meet those people face to face.

I thought that I would share a few of the things that I’ll be looking out for at the convention. This is by no means an exhaustive list, if you want to find out more click the link below to see a full list of exhibitors:

https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk

If you intend on attending the event, make sure to read the full COVID guidance, as all adults will need an NHS COVID Pass to enter. Click below to see the full guidelines:

https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/plan/before-the-expo/playwithc...

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Bedsit Games 2-344

When we started looking through the exhibitors to this year's expo we found this gorgeous game from Paul Stapleton of Bedsit Games who not only designed the game, but also did the artwork too. A self published title by the name of Paupers' Ladder that sees players undertaking a fantasy adventure along with their trusty bird companions. Bedsit Games will also be demoing their new expansion called Paupers' Ladder: The Moon Towers which adds a huge amount of content to what is already a massive game. I’m looking forward to taking a proper look at Paupers’ Ladder once I get to the convention.

https://www.bedsitgames.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/bedsitgames/




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Big Punch Studios 2-919

Sandwich Masters is a fast paced, sandwich themed card game from a couple of years back that sees players combining ingredients while occasionally sneaking in a few bad ingredients to cut costs, hopefully without the health inspectors noticing. They’re back with a new expansion to the game called Sandwich Masters: Bread Roles which adds 10 new oversized roles with individual player powers, and another 260 cards to different parts of the game. The expansion is currently on Kickstarter and is due to finish straight after the expo, so if this sounds like your type of game be sure to click the link below to find out more.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigpunchstudios/sandwic...
https://www.bigpunchstudios.com
https://www.instagram.com/bigpunchstudios/




Board Game: Horror in the Library


Blue Donut Games 2-672

Blue Donut are promoting their new game Horror in the Library which, from looking at the game’s BGG page, was originally shown in prototype form at Essen 2019. This is a horror themed set collection game for up to four players, or up to six with the addition of an expansion. Players are exploring a haunted library made up of a series of randomly placed tiles, which can shift and change as the game progresses. Players compete to collect all the items they need to confront the Horror they have been challenged with by the Mad Professor. Once all components are collected it is a race to the Portal to win the game. You can currently order a limited pre-launch edition of the game to be shipped in August, I get the impression that the game will be launched on Kickstarter at some point in the near future. Either way I’m looking forward to taking a closer look at the game at this year’s expo and maybe playing a round too.

https://www.bdgame.uk/about-the-company/
https://www.instagram.com/bdgameuk/




Board Game: Dragomino


Coiledspring Games 2-538

Coiled Spring is a UK distributor for some big publishers such as Blue Orange Games, NSV and Schmidt Spiele, so they have loads of great new games this year. As a massive fan of Kingdomino the game that I’ll be looking out for is Dragomino, a follow up that is a little more child friendly and also this year’s Kinderspiel des Jahres winner. If you haven't had a chance to try it yet The Mind is truly one of the most unique card games I've had the pleasure of playing. They’ll also be promoting the expansion to Photosynthesis by the name of Under the Moonlight which adds a new lunar mechanism and some woodland creatures too. Zombie Teenz Evolution is the successor to the incredibly well received Zombie Kidz Evolution, and the two games are compatible with each other. Also they'll be promoting the The Quacks of Quedlinburg: The Alchemists expansion, we have that one in our collection and it's absolutely brilliant.

https://coiledspring.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/coiledspringgames/




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Cubiko Games 2-455

Gavin Birnbaum hand makes all of his board games, mostly out of wood and sells them at conventions. We currently have seven in our collection with Cubiko, Carreau and JamSumo regularly making appearances at our games nights. He’s back this year with a new edition of Q.E. including the Digital Reserve Currency expansion which allows the game to be played with up to six players. If you're in the mood for an Olympics tie-in then Gavin has a new title called Velodrome for two-to-four players. There’s a new version of JamSumo which now accommodates up to six players and an early look at a new game called Pass Time. The Cubiko Games booth is always one of my favourites to visit at the UKGE, make sure that you swing by and take a look too.

https://cubiko.webs.com
https://www.instagram.com/cubiko_cat/




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Dranda Games 2-417

At the last UKGE in 2019 I got a chance to take a look at an early version of Solar Storm, a cooperative game for up to four players that sees them trying to fix a broken spaceship as it is slowly being pulled in by the Sun’s gravity. I ended up backing the game on Kickstarter and it lived up to my high expectations. Now Dranda Games is back this year with a new game called Solar Sphere and the early pictures look outstanding. This time it is a big sprawling competitive dice placement game with some beautiful artwork. I can’t wait to get a closer look at the game and get a better idea of how it plays.

https://www.drandagames.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/drandagames/




Board Game: Daring Dustbunnies


Hopwood Games 2-421

Readers of my blog will know that I’m a big abstract games fan, and one of the best abstracts to enter my collection in recent years is Mijnlieff, which is even better if you can get your hands on the Modular Board expansion. Hopwood Games will be promoting Daring Dustbunnies this year, a card driven race game for two-to-five players with some brilliant artwork. The game is also nominated for the Family Games section of the UKGE awards this year, having played and enjoyed two of Andy Hopwood’s games so far I hope that he takes the award home with him.

https://www.hopwoodgames.com
https://www.instagram.com/hopwoodgames/




Board Game: Mini Express Map Pack 1: Taiwan & United Kingdom


Moaideas Game Design 2-411

Moaideas Game Design will be demoing their new expansion to Mini Express by Mark Gerrits, which will include maps for Taiwan and the UK. They’ll be giving away free print-outs of the UK map for people to try at home so if you have a copy of Mini Express, don’t miss your chance to get a free map. There is also a new title called Jiangnan: Life of Gentry which is scheduled for a 2022 release, this is a worker placement & action tile bag building board game about life in Ancient China, that can be played either as a single game or as part of a campaign. The artwork looks beautiful and I like the idea of the game, hopefully I’ll get a chance to see it at the convention. If you want to be notified when the Kickstarters go live click the links below and drop your email addresses on the page.

Jiangnan Landing Page
Map Pack One Landing Page
https://www.instagram.com/moaideasgame/




Board Game: A game about WEE WHIMSICAL CREATURES and trying to identify them after someone makes noises.


Stuff By Bez 2-451

Bez aka Behrooz Shahriari always seems to have something new and interesting to see whenever I’ve met up with them at a convention, and this year is no different. Bez will have a limited number of copies of A game about WEE WHIMSICAL CREATURES and trying to identify them after someone makes noises. for sale, a micro game whose name tells you exactly how the game plays. Bez’s new feature “ELL” deck game this year is Unfinishabell, arguably the most 'hardcore' wordgame out of all the featured ELL deck games so far. you need to work hard to avoid making words and ideally trap your opponent so they can't continue a word without finishing it. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays. The Dice & Ink: A Roll & Write Anthology will be available for the first time at the UKGE which features one of Bez’s games and finally Bez will be teaching people how to play their new “read and write” game named Make a wordsearch. Make sure you swing by to see what they have on offer.

http://www.stuffbybez.com
https://www.instagram.com/stuffbybez/




Board Game: The March of Progress


Surprised Stare Games Ltd 2-202

The Ming Voyages and The March of Progress make up parts two and three of the Pocket Campaigns series, and they're two of the best games to enter my collection last year so I'd highly recommend checking them out. If you missed the Kickstarter campaign for the Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set then don't fear, they'll have some copies for sale alongside Tony Boydell's solo space survival game Lux Aeterna. Alan Paull will be displaying his prototype for a new version of Kingmaker, one that I managed to take a brief look at a few years ago. This year they'll be demoing a prototype for the fourth game in the Pocket Campaigns series called War of the 3 Sanchos by David J. Mortimer, I'd say that it is probably the prototype that I'm most interested in seeing at this year's expo.

http://www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk




Board Game: Ukiyo


Walnut Games 2-350

Walnut Games will be promoting two games this year, both have been made possible by successful Kickstarter campaigns over the last year and both are available to play on Tabletop Simulator if you wish to give them a try. Ukiyo is a fast paced 18 card game for up to four players where cards overlap to create a six-by-six grid of symbols, while trying to complete a set of tasks printed on the cards. Take The Kingdom is a lightweight battle game with a medieval theme for two, three or four players. Ukiyo has a similar style to a few of my favourite games so it's definitely one that I'll be picking up while I'm at the convention.

https://www.walnutgames.co.uk

Thanks for reading. I’ll be at the convention on Thursday evening then all day on Saturday. I’ll be looking for games to write about after the event so if I haven’t mentioned your game already, drop me a message and I’ll be sure to pay you a visit.

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Mon Jul 26, 2021 4:56 pm
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Tawantinsuyu, Mount Rushmore and Canvas

Allen OConnor
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Board Game: Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire


Board Game: Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire




Ta-WAN-tin-SOO-yu

Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire comes from a line of hard-to-pronounce heavy euro games beginning with the letter T from Board&Dice, they all have a native ancient south american theme and a big table presence. There’s quite a lot going on in this game so I would say that first time players need to allow a bit more time to get their heads around the rules. I’m not going to try and explain how to play the entire game, but rather I’ll just give an overview of the main mechanisms. The huge central board features a five sided, three tiered hill covered in interconnected symbols, as well as four conquest regions and a variety of different trackers. One of the main things that players will be doing on their turn is placing workers from their supply onto the board and using some of the actions connected to the space they’ve chosen. Alternatively players each have a High Priest in the centre of the hill which can be moved in rondel-fashion between five icons to provide other effects. When placing a worker, players will save resources by keeping them in line with their High Priest plus there are five types of workers that all interact with the board in a slightly different way, so planning your moves ahead of time is essential. As the game progresses players will amass a bunch of different cardboard tokens giving them points or ongoing bonuses, this is definitely a point-salad type game in which players will be scoring points with almost every move. God cards, building tiles, statues and my personal favourite weaving tiles which must be placed like dominoes matching symbols to give extra benefits. The last major part of the game is Conquests which are initially triggered by a High Priest action and see players trading in their conquest cards for spaces on the various conquest tracks, each with its own reward. The game is busy, chaotic and complex, but somehow the various moving parts all interconnect so well that play flows at a nice steady pace. I love trying to solve the puzzle of where to place your workers to get the most out of the actions on the hill, where to move my High Priest to make those steps easier, and trying to make all of the other bonuses and benefits synergise with each other. This is a superb design and if you're willing to engage in a eurogame on the heavier end of the scale then Tawantinsuyu might be the game for you, it’s highly recommended from me.

My BGG Rating -   9  




Board Game: Mount Rushmore


Board Game: Mount Rushmore




Finding Founding Fathers’ Faces

Well, half of them are Founding Fathers at least. Mount Rushmore is light-hearted party game that sees players trying to find the correct version of Mount Rushmore before anyone else does and quickly slapping their hands on top to claim it. If, after seeing an opponent claim a card, you think that the correct card differs from the one that was claimed, you may also claim a card in the hopes that your guess is correct. Each card in the four-by-four grid shows every permutation of each president facing either left or right. At the start of every round a search card is revealed showing the correct arrangement of presidents and players must all simultaneously look for the correct answer. Most of the search cards have some or all of the presidents coloured in red, in such cases players are actually looking for the opposite direction to the one printed on the card. The winner of each round keeps the search card for scoring and the first person to score three times wins the game. Although this may sound like a fairly simple game I can assure you that it is surprisingly tricky, having to reverse the direction of the red faces mentally before searching through 16 near identical cards with the pressure of the other players doing the same is quite hilarious, especially when all four faces are coloured red. For me this game plays best after a couple of drinks, because alcohol has a way of impairing your judgement and makes you more likely to confidently guess completely the wrong answer. I’m sure that it’s probably a great one to play with kids too.

My BGG Rating -   6  




Board Game: Canvas


Board Game: Canvas




State of the Art

Canvas has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing games to enter our collection in recent years. This is a light card-drafting, set-collection game with an art theme so rich that you can display it in a gallery. That’s no exaggeration, the box is designed to look like a painted canvas and features a hole in the back for you to hang it on your wall. The cards are transparent, the board is a rolled up piece of cloth and players even get their own personal wooden easel to display their paintings. Players are given three sleeved canvas cards during set up to make their three pieces of art as well as four inspiration tokens to be used during card drafting. The clear cards feature a portion of artwork which is purely for design and a set of coloured icons at the bottom which is where all of the strategy of the game lies. Canvas comes with a bunch of cards with different scoring conditions with each game being dictated by the rules of up to four of them. You can just draw these at random but the rulebook features a bunch of different combinations for different styles of game, whether you want something laid-back or a little more strategic. On each turn players have two options, either take a card into your hand without exceeding a maximum hand size of five, or combine three cards with one of your sleeved canvas cards and score it as a completed piece of art. Each scoring criteria that is met awards a rosette in the matching colour giving players points towards their final tally. Play continues until all players have made three pieces of art then scores are totalled up and the winner is declared. This is a beautifully simple, speedy card game that feels original and offers a different experience every time. The only thing preventing me from giving this game a higher score is that drafting the cards can feel a bit restrictive, quite often you don’t get the chance to pick up the right cards. Thankfully this problem should be fixed once the expansion Canvas: Reflections comes out next year, enhancing the drafting mechanism and adding double sided art cards.

Thanks for reading

My BGG Rating -   8  

Board Game: Canvas





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Fri Jul 2, 2021 6:54 pm
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Ultimate Image Uploader

Allen OConnor
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Board Game: Five Tribes


Ultimate Image Uploader


I became the 65th owner of the Ultimate Image Uploader microbadge Microbadge: Ultimate Image Uploader today, meaning that I have over 1000 images with at least 3 thumbs. I posted my first picture at the start of 2013 so it has taken me quite some time, I thought that I’d share a few of my favourites.

The picture above of Five Tribes is actually my most decorated image with 72 thumbs, it’s also one of the only pictures I have of my old cat Merkel. She always looked pretty evil, not just in this picture.

Board Game: Hamsterrolle


A rare picture of me playing a game of Hamsterrolle, looking like I’m about to lose the contents of my bowels at any second. I love this game, but it makes people pull the funniest faces.

Board Game: Santorini


It isn’t hard to get a good picture of Santorini, it has to be one of the best looking abstract games in our collection. This is my favourite of our pictures. If I remember correctly this one was taken by my wife.

Board Game: Carrom


I take quite a lot of pictures of my family playing games, and this is one of my favourites. This is my Grandad, two of my siblings and my Brother-in-law all enjoying a game of Carrom. The game was a great birthday gift from my parents.

Board Game: Marrakech


I feel like everyone has one of these pictures in their collection, find a game named after a place and play it there. Mine is Marrakech in Marrakech, a great game and an enjoyable holiday. Though I would say that I'm far too English to be in Morocco in August.

Board Game: Terra Mystica


I like this picture of Terra Mystica because it shows just how intense a five player game can be. This one was taken at the local board game meet-up in Warrington. I think that I came last but went out and bought a copy of the game anyway.

Board Game: Terror in Meeple City


I managed to capture the exact moment that the wooden meeple token wiped out one of the skyscrapers in Terror in Meeple City. There are plenty of opportunities to get pictures like this but getting the timing right can be tricky.

Board Game: Telestrations


Telestrations is my favourite game to play with my family because of moments like these. The look of pure joy on my Nan’s face is priceless. I seemed to remember that my Mum guessed something filthy instead of the correct answer, which was "Puss in Boots."

Board Game: MegaCity: Oceania


A picture of Tony Boydell and Alan Paull playing MegaCity: Oceania at one of Tony's Gathering of Chums one year. One of my favourite gaming events that I've been to. COVID cancelled the last one, hopefully I'll be able to go again in the future.

Board Game: Lift it!


One of the first times that I attended the Warrington Board Game Meetup I ended up playing a dexterity game using a crane strapped to my head. Lift it! is definitely not the most dignified game that I’ve ever played.

Board Game: Dixit: Odyssey


Remember when you could get 11 people together to play a board game? It’s strange to think that this picture of Dixit: Odyssey was taken at the start of 2020 before the first lockdown. Still I'm glad that we got to play before the apocalypse.

Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel


What you can’t see in this picture is that my friend Matt and I are both wearing our 7 Wonders t-shirts while playing 7 Wonders Duel, fresh from Essen 2015.

I’ll leave you with a picture of me buried in games after Essen. Thanks for reading!

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Tue May 25, 2021 9:40 pm
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Mandala Stones, Upside Drawn, Kluster and Deep Sea Adventures

Allen OConnor
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Board Game: Mandala Stones


Board Game: Mandala Stones




An interactive piece of modern art

Followers of this blog will know that I have an appreciation for games that blend euro-style scoring with abstract strategy, especially when they can accommodate four or more players. Mandala Stones is the newest game by Filip Głowacz of Board&Dice and it suits my tastes perfectly. The stones are stacked four high on each available space on the main board at the start of the game, players will first move the stones to their player board then on a later turn score them, moving the stones a second time to the spiral pattern board which gives bonuses and also acts as a mechanism to trigger the end of the game. When taking stones players move one of the tall black pieces to an empty spot, take all of the stones that match their pattern and are not adjacent to another black piece, then place them on one of the five spots on their player board. When scoring players have two choices, either take several stones off top of different stacks of the same colour and trigger the scoring mechanism for each space, or take the top stone off as many different stacks as you want and score one point for each stone. The game makes you plan your movements ahead of time, for example making several stacks that have blue on top then yellow immediately underneath would allow players to score many points on two consecutive turns. Players will also have the opportunity to score a secret objective dealt to them at the start of the game, so it isn’t always clear who is going to win. My wife and I absolutely love this game, we can’t stop playing it. I’ve tried it with every player count and it scales perfectly, though I probably like it best with four. Mandala Stones is easy enough to learn but has a deceptively complex strategy to it. Also it has to be one of the best looking games to enter our collection in recent years. This one is highly recommended from me.

My BGG Rating -   9  




Board Game: Telestrations: Upside Drawn


Board Game: Telestrations: Upside Drawn




Drawing pictures with another person’s hand

I am a huge fan of Telestrations logging over 100 plays of the original game, so when I found out a while ago that they were making a follow up I was super excited to play. Then when I got my copy I couldn’t play for a little while due to the UK lockdown, but I have played it a few times now that restrictions have eased a little. This is another drawing-and-guessing game but it differs in almost every way from its parent game. In Upside Drawn players are split into teams and on each round one person from each team will know what the secret word is, but the clue giver is not the person drawing the clue (sort of). Another member of their team holds the pen and the clue giver instructs them to either raise it or lower it, while they maneuver a dry-erase board to create the picture. That may sound simple but I can assure you that it is really quite challenging, especially if the person holding the pen doesn’t have a steady hand. All teams are drawing the same picture so the first team to guess correctly scores the points for that round. I like the fact that the game provides a different experience than its predecessor, the main change for me is the emphasis on winning and competition. I tend to play the original Telestrations without keeping score, focussing more on the humour generated by the terrible drawings and the grand reveal at the end of the game. The funniest part of Upside Drawn for me is the moment that you hear someone on the opposing team call out the correct answer and you realise what your teammate was trying to draw. This is a great party game for fans of the original, one that I’m excited to play in a larger group once the COVID restrictions are lifted fully.

My BGG Rating -   8  




Board Game: Kluster


Board Game: Kluster




Probably the most fun to be had with magnets

Simple dexterity games are great to have in your collection because you can play them with pretty much any group even with young children, and Kluster couldn’t be any simpler. The game is made up of 24 highly magnetic stones and a string loop, the rules can be taught in under a minute and the game is hilarious every time we bring it out. The 24 stones are divided equally between players and the loop is placed in the centre of the table. Players take turns in placing their stones in the loop and if they force two or more stones to connect they must add them to their supply, the first person to rid themselves of all of their stones is the winner. Players are allowed to use the stone in their hand to move the string and change the shape of the playing area, they’re also allowed to attempt to move other stones using the magnetism of the stone in their hand. If you want to be really mean then you can stand the stone on its end making it more volatile to the influence of other stones. There’s no way that you can possibly fit all 24 stones in the loop so at some point somebody’s turn is going to end in disaster. Every time I’ve played this game it’s been absolutely hilarious, there’s something about Kluster that makes people pull the funniest faces as they carefully lower their stone into the loop. It’s a great filler, fun to play with kids and even better to play with drunks. This game is an absolute gem, and unlike anything else in my collection.

My BGG Rating -   8  




Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure


Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure




Diving tragedy simulator

Like many people Deep Sea Adventure was my first experience of playing a game published by Oink Games, and it remains one of my favourites from the company. This is a push-your-luck dice game for up to six players that comes in a tiny blue box, it used to be quite expensive but the price of Oink games has slowly come down over the years. Players are diving for treasure but they’re using a collective oxygen supply, and any players still in the water when it expires will die and lose all of their treasure. The game is played over three rounds with the higher scoring treasures getting closer to the submarine as the game progresses and lower scoring tokens are taken. The treasures themselves come in four ranks with each containing a number on the reverse side, so it’s almost impossible to see who is winning at any one given time. Players roll the dice to see how many spaces they will progress, and they move straight through spaces occupied by other players. Every treasure collected will reduce your dice roll by one point and also make the oxygen supply run out quicker, so you really have to be careful not to get too greedy. I’ve owned this game since 2015 and I’ve played it a bunch of times, it’s almost always gone down well with the groups I’ve played with. The game is very swingy, a few bad rolls and you have no chance of winning, but that doesn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of Deep Sea Adventures. It’s light-hearted and fun to play, especially with new players. Although this game can feel a little bit random I can still see it getting plenty of plays in the future.

Thanks for reading

My BGG Rating -   7  

Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure





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Tue May 11, 2021 7:57 pm
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Zombicide 2nd Edition: Ordered Before The Plague

Allen OConnor
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Zombicide 2nd Edition: Ordered Before The Plague


October 2019 was a better time for me. I had no idea that a global pandemic was just around the corner, I was still having regular board game nights and it was still socially acceptable to blow the candles out on a birthday cake and all eat a slice. I was working in a temporary Hospital Manager post at a higher wage and consequently I found myself making some frivolous board game purchases. I’d played a friend's copy of the original Zombicide many years earlier and remembered enjoying it. I used to play video games like Left 4 Dead and Call of Duty: Zombies, and Zombicide is about the closest thing to a board game version I’d come across. Seven years after its original release CMON Global Limited announced Zombicide 2nd Edition, with streamlined rules and a quicker set up time. CMON tends to run huge over-the-top Kickstarter campaigns with dozens of stretch goals, daily additional content and quite frustratingly, expansions that are introduced as the campaign progresses. I sunk a rather large amount of money into the project and after roughly six months of pandemic related delays I finally received a massive box in the post last week.

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This is everything that was in the box, It cost $250 plus $47 shipping. I didn’t actually go “all-in” because some of the extras I’d never use. There was also a travel edition that seemed pretty pointless, a Zombicide RPG that I would never play, a 7-12 player upgrade that I’d never use and some $28 metal dice that seemed like a bit of a rip off. Now I just need to find space for 11 more boxes in my collection now.

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The Zombicide 2nd Edition is by far the largest box. This is the version that will be available for retail.

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The Zombicide Reboot Box contains most of the daily extras and stretch goals from the Kickstarter campaign.

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The Zombicide (2nd Edition): Fort Hendrix is a story driven 10 mission campaign with new survivors and military zombies.

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Zombicide (2nd Edition): Washington Z.C. is another story driven campaign, this time set in the White House in Washington.

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Zombicide (2nd Edition): Chronicles Survivor Set contains 12 more playable characters for either the main game or for the RPG.

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The Zombicide (2nd Edition): Presidential Box comes with 6 ex-presidents including Obama and Trump to use as playable characters.

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Zombicide (2nd Edition): Urban Legends Abominations adds four more abominations to the game, each with their own powers and special rules.

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The Zombicide (2nd Edition): Danny Trejo – Badass Survivor and Zombie Set comes with a Survivor, Zombie and an Abomination mini for Danny Trejo, so that you can reenact From Dusk Till Dawn.

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And finally two Kickstarter exclusive characters, Gabriel and Nico, along with some 3D Cars that I never ordered but turned up anyway. Hopefully I’ll get to play very soon, thanks for reading

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Sun May 2, 2021 2:44 pm
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New Party Games Incoming: Risky Chicken and What Was The Question?

Allen OConnor
United Kingdom
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Board Game: Risky Chicken


New Party Games Incoming: Risky Chicken and What Was The Question?


In the UK we’ve finally got to a point where we can start meeting other people again albeit outdoors, and from May 17th we’ll be able to start having indoor gaming sessions again too. We’ve used the opportunity to start seeing family and friends when the weather permits and we’ve even played a couple of board games. I thought that it would be a good time to talk about some upcoming party games that Annabelle and I have been playing now that we can involve enough players. I’ve lost count of the amount of unplayed games in our collection that require three or more people to play. I feel like this COVID nightmare is finally coming to an end and I, like everyone else, just can’t wait for things to get back to normal.

Board Game: Risky Chicken


Board Game: Risky Chicken




First up is a party game that uses a concept called “the Prisoner’s Dilemma” as its central mechanism. Players ascend up the mountain in pairs, negotiating at every level whether to carry on climbing for greater rewards, or to Chicken Out and split their winnings. The way that the decision is made is that players first talk, then select a card with their decision and reveal it at the same time. If both players select Chicken Out then the current points are divided, if both select Climb then play continues for better rewards and the active player has to roll a slightly harder dice roll to succeed, if however players select a different outcome the person who chose to climb takes all the points. Play continues until one person has scored a certain number of points based on the number of players and the game can accommodate up to eight people. The active player gets to choose which other person climbs with them, so as the game nears its conclusion cooperation becomes strategic and you might even find yourself trying to sabotage somebody else’s turn.

Before the game begins each player receives their unique Chicken Trick card providing them with a variable player power. Some have ongoing abilities while others can only be used a limited number of times, but all of them are powerful enough to dictate your behaviour over the course of the game. I’ve seen the Prisoner’s Dilemma used in board games before but this is the first time it’s actually worked in my opinion. Risky Chicken is exactly what I want out of a party game; easy to learn, hilarious and flexible to accommodate larger groups of players. Follow the links below to find out more about the game.

https://instagram.com/risky_chicken

https://riskychicken.com/products/risky-chicken-board-game




Board Game: What Was the Question?


Board Game: What Was the Question?




Next up is a light-hearted party that tests how well you know the group that you’re playing with. In each round one person is going to call out an answer, then players try to work out which of the four questions in front of them the answer relates to. For example a question card might state:

1 Who in this room is best at games?
2 Who in this room is the most competitive?
3 Who in this room is the biggest sore loser?
4 Who in this room would definitely cheat at a game if they could get away with it?

Before the game begins each player is given four cards, labelled A, B, C and D. When it’s your turn to give an answer you first randomly select a card, then reveal a set of questions and give your answer. After hearing the four questions players all select an answer card and place it face up in front of them. Everyone reveals their cards and players who chose the correct question each gain a point. After a set number of rounds the game ends and the person with the most points is the winner.

This is one of those games that I feel is simple enough to play with almost anyone, but engaging enough to be enjoyed by hardcore gamers as a warm up or a filler to their games night. I would recommend playing with people that you are close to rather than an unfamiliar group, as you need to have at least some knowledge of your opponents personalities and behaviours. Also the set comes with enough components for up to 20 players, which works because everyone participates in every round so there is almost no downtime. I’ve played a six player game and a four player game via webcam so far and my friends and family enjoyed the game. Follow the links below if you want to know more about What Was The Question.

https://www.instagram.com/gamenightcreations/

https://www.gamenightcreations.com/wwtq/

Board Game: What Was the Question?





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Before I finish this post, just a quick reminder that there is a Kickstarter for the next four expansions to another party game called Board Royale: The Island. If you enjoyed the base game or if you’re looking for a party game about survival on a desert island, be sure to check it out. Thanks for reading

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ovalimertcan/board-roya...

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Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:09 pm
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Herbaceous, Weird Things Humans Search For, Kodama Forest and X: Ganz schön knifflig

Allen OConnor
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Board Game: Kodama Forest



Competitive teamwork

Kodama Forest was released as part of the Kodama: The Tree Spirits series, though mechanically it deviates significantly from the other games. On the surface this looks like a fairly generic polyomino game, with players trying to fill spaces using a combination of randomly drawn tetris style shapes, in reality there’s a lot more to the game than meets the eye. Player boards sit between each player with each person placing a polyomino on their two closest boards every turn. The aim of the game is to finish with the fewest points, which are found on the uncovered spaces of their two adjacent player boards. Pairing the edges of certain polyomino pieces grants extra moves so cooperating well with your neighbors is vital, though when one player looks like they’re running away with the game you may choose to sabotage the board you share with them. Every move you make is essentially a move for another person too, which creates an interesting dynamic between players encouraging communication and negotiation. My copy also came with the Kodama Forest: Decrees Promo Pack which can add one of 15 additional rules to the game for more variation. I tend to enjoy polyomino games and this one feels like it brings something new to the genre, it also accommodates up to six players and thanks to the simultaneous gameplay there’s no downtime between turns. A great addition to our collection and one that I’m excited to play again, hopefully with bigger numbers next time.

My BGG Rating -   8  

Board Game: Weird Things Humans Search For



Browsing Google meets Family Fortunes

I think that everyone at some point has started typing a search into Google and laughed at the suggested searches. Now Big Potato have turned that idea into a game and it’s actually rather good. Players hear the start of a Google search such as “Could robots…” “Can a dolphin…” and “the Earth is…” and write down two potential answers (Yes, “The Earth is Flat” is unsurprisingly the top answer). Their main answer will be worth 2 points if it’s correct or 4 points if it’s the top answer, their second guess is considered to be a bonus guess and will only be worth 1 point if correct so players are encouraged to put something a little more eccentric. Each game will be five rounds long so will only use 5 of the 70 cards in the box, meaning that you can play the game 14 times without repeating an answer, there’s also a larger edition of the that comes with 160 cards. The game is genuinely very enjoyable and it’s easy enough to play with basically anyone, the first time that we played it we ended up playing three times in a row. I think that our copy was around £7 from Asda and we bought the game on a whim, I’m glad that we did. Recommended for anyone looking for a lighthearted filler or a casual game to play with non-gamers.

My BGG Rating -   7  

Board Game: X: Ganz schön knifflig!



Roll-and-shite

The roll-and-write genre has certainly become oversaturated in recent years, some have been absolutely fantastic and others not so much. X: Ganz schön knifflig or X: Pretty Tricky (according to Google translate) follows the same blueprint as many other games in the genre, roll some dice, cross out some boxes, take actions on your opponents turns and so on. On your turn you roll four dice and cross two spaces out using two pairs of results on the left hand side of the scoresheet, other players use one pair of dice and put the result on the right side. Completing sets on the left side will always be worth two points, but completing sets on the right is worth points equal to the number of corresponding sets on the same row on the left side across all score sheets. It’s possible that a completed row can be worth zero points, or could be worth up to four points in a four player game. There just isn’t enough here to hold my interest, I don’t feel like X brings anything new to the genre and for that reason I don’t think that I’ll play it again. The game isn’t terrible, but I have so many similar but better games in my collection already. Off to the charity shop you go.

My BGG Rating -   4  

Board Game: Herbaceous


Board Game: Herbaceous



Push-your-luck herb gathering

Every now and again we come across a simple card game that feels original and leaves us wanting to play again and again. I’ve seen Herbaceous pop up a few times on my Instagram feed and remember loving the artwork, Annabelle grabbed a copy recently and so far we’ve had a chance to try with two and four players. The game is easy to learn with simple streamlined rules. Each turn players will turn a card over, either add it to a central pool of face-up cards or add it to a personal pool in front of them, then they add a second card to the opposite place to the first card. Before taking their turn players will have an opportunity to score by taking cards from the central pool and/or their personal supply and stack them up on one of their four scoring cards. Players can only ever score points at four moments in the game in four different ways. Score too early and you’ll find yourself missing out on big scoring opportunities, leave it too late and someone could take all of the cards that you wanted from the centre of the table. Timing is everything in this game especially when you play with bigger numbers, and I feel that I’m going to have to play it a few times before I work out when the best time is. It plays in around 15-20 minutes and turns come around very quickly because players have a limited number of choices to take. The game ticks all the boxes for me in what I want out of a card game, it’s strategic but simple, visually appealing yet functional, and short enough to play multiple times in a row. Herbaceous is highly recommended from me, thanks for reading

My BGG Rating -   9  

Board Game: Herbaceous





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Thu Apr 8, 2021 2:25 pm
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Board Royale: Four More Expansions Incoming

Allen OConnor
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Board Royale: Four More Expansions Incoming


Board Royale: The Island is a rather fierce survival style party game for two-to-six players. It’s a fairly light hearted and humorous experience full of confrontation, tenuous alliances and all round scumbaggery. Arvis Games ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign for Board Royale in 2019 adding a number of optional modular expansions, now they’re back with four more and we got a chance to try prototypes for two of them (Thanks Arvis!). In addition to the two modules detailed below there will also be a Zombies set, a semi-coop experience where eliminated players join the army of the dead; and a second Skills expansion adding more character classes such as Salesman, Spy and Social Influencer. The Kickstarter will be go live on April 6th, follow the game’s page on Instagram to find out more:

https://www.instagram.com/boardroyale/

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From gallery of van00uber


Wild Hunt Expansion Pack


This expansion transforms Board Royale from a mean spirited competitive game to a fully cooperative monster hunt. A new Wild Hunt deck is added to the setup consisting of Creatures, Companions and Boss cards; all Escape cards are removed from the Items deck as the win condition is different with this module. Players turn one card over at the start of every turn and deal with the consequences. Creatures and Boss cards (which are simply larger tougher Creatures) stay in front of the active player and must be defeated in the same fashion as fighting the other players in the competitive mode. Companions are helpful giving the player an extra ability or bonus, but each person is restricted to owning one. Players can attack any of the Creatures or Bosses at the table and the game is won when the team has defeated the same number of Bosses as there are players. We enjoyed seeing such a wide variety of different Creatures each with their own abilities and challenges, players are constantly forced to reevaluate their strategy as more Wild Hunt cards are revealed. If one player dies everyone loses the game instantly, and some of the creatures are really quite challenging to defeat. It took us three games before we beat Wild Hunt and even then we got a bit lucky with items. This is a great addition to the series and poses a genuine challenge for fans of the game.

From gallery of van00uber


From gallery of van00uber


Missions and Traits Expansion Pack


Missions and Traits provides a slightly more peaceful way to play Board Royale, changing the win condition and removing player elimination entirely. In much the same fashion as Wild Hunt players remove the Escape cards and draw one card from the expansion deck each turn. The deck is made up of two types of cards, Traits award passive bonuses but also ongoing penalties with each player having a maximum of two active Traits, if more appear they simply discard their least favourite; Missions make up the bulk of the set each containing a goal, an award and a number of victory points. To win this expansion you must be the first player to score 10 victory points by completing Missions, which forces people to engage with Board Royale in unorthodox ways to complete their goals. In this expansion elimination is only temporary, with players returning the following turn with a new set of seven cards.

Both expansions changed the way in which the game plays considerably, we enjoyed the new win conditions and the slightly less confrontational style of play. Players still have the opportunity to gather resources and equip themselves with hilarious weapons, so the core elements of the game are the same. If you enjoyed the original I’m sure you’ll love the new expansions too. Thanks for reading!

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Thu Apr 1, 2021 4:44 am
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Qwixx: Das Duell, Glasgow and Memoarrrr!

Allen OConnor
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Board Game: Qwixx: Das Duell




Like Qwixx, but with added hostility

Although Qwixx was one of the earliest and simplest roll and write games, it’s one that my wife and I enjoy greatly and still play often. The game has spawned sequels, spin-offs and a myriad of alternative score pads, pretty much all of which sit proudly in our collection. One element that is consistent across the series is that the games are quite non-confrontational, that is with the exception of the rather brutal Qwixx: Das Duell. The general rules remain the same as the parent game, however instead of players having their own score sheet they share one oversized cardboard score sheet. Also like the original players can only score a space to the right of the last token regardless of who’s token it is, they can however claim their space multiple times if it’s still the right-most disc, or they can steal a space from their opponent but only if it’s occupied by a single disc much like Backgammon. Players only add discs on their turn but can use both the coloured and white die rolls, and miss-throws are collective so once there have been four from any player the game ends. These changes completely alter the tone of the game from being a lighthearted multiplayer solitaire experience to being an all out war full of confrontation and turn-angst. If you don’t like conflict in board games then I would maybe skip this one, but if you enjoyed the original and wouldn’t mind trying a different way to play with two players I’d highly recommend Qwixx: Das Duell.

My BGG Rating -   8  

Board Game: Memoarrr!




A modern, reimagining of Memory

I used to enjoy playing Memory as a kid, trying to find pairs of pictures from a grid of tiles or cards, remembering the positions of images that had been revealed for future turns. It’s not something that I would choose to play as an adult but it’s also not really a mechanism that you see used in modern game designs. Memoarrr! caught my eye a few years ago because it seems like a blatant attempt to turn the old classic into a new experience. We finally got a chance to play it recently and, although the mechanisms are quite different, it still maintains the same feeling as the original game. The deck of 25 cards contains five of each colour and five of each animal but no two cards are the same. Instead of trying to pick up a pair of cards a player turns over a single card in the hope that it shares a colour or an animal from the previously turned card. Play continues with each player turning over one card and if they make a mistake they drop out of the round, the player remaining at the end takes a random scoring card worth between one and four points and all cards are turned face down again. The position of the cards doesn’t change over the course of the game but players can take a peek at the three cards closest to them at the start of every round. After seven rounds players reveal their scoring cards to see who won. There are two variants included in the rulebook, one orders the scoring cards from lowest to highest rewarding players for winning the latter tougher rounds, and the other gives each of the five animals a power which might help or hinder their progress. We played with just the base rules but still found the game to be an enjoyable experience. By the time we got to the final round we had memorised the position of almost the whole playing area, leading a tense moment where I eventually turned over the wrong card leading to a narrow victory for my wife. It’s a great little game, especially if you have enjoyed playing Memory in the past.

My BGG Rating -   7  

Board Game: Glasgow




Big Lookout game in a small box

Lookout Games have a great track record for releasing small box two player games with interesting euro-style mechanisms. Glasgow is the newest title to be released in this range and it’s one that caught my eye. It combines tile laying with a kind of rondel based worker placement system to create a surprisingly thinky game. Action tiles are distributed randomly in a circle which mostly consist of gaining or exchanging resources, alongside architect tiles that allow players to pay their resources for some randomly selected building tiles. As the game progresses building tiles will be placed in the centre of the table until a 4x5 grid is created and the game ends. Players face the arrow on the bottom of the tiles towards themselves so that they know which ones are theirs, and each building tile awards points or resources upon entering the game. On their turn a player can essentially select any action to move their worker to (apart from the one occupied by their opponent), however the next turn is always taken by the player who is further back on the rondel, so taking a decent action several spaces ahead could gift your opponent several turns in a row. The constant gamble of how many spaces you choose to move ahead each turn creates a great sense of tension and requires players to plan their moves carefully, but the most strategic element lies with the game’s building tiles. Playing factories early could see you generate a ton of extra resources over the course of the game, while scoring a train station for owning a variety of different buildings can score a player a whopping 10 points per tile. There’s quite a lot of different ways to score points so I feel like it’s going to take me a couple of plays before I develop my strategy. The game is full of difficult choices and satisfying scoring mechanisms, also the variable set up means that no two games of Glasgow will ever be the same. I haven’t played a lot of new games over the last six months or so but I would say that this has probably been my favourite. A superb, surprisingly meaty strategy game in a relatively small and inexpensive package; it’s well worth adding to your collection if you enjoy two player strategy games.

My BGG Rating -   9  

Thanks for reading

Board Game: Glasgow





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Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:38 pm
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