We are fast closing in on this years UK Games Expo and I am starting to get together my list of ‘priority targets’ for the event. So here’s a short run down of those games I am most eager to check out. This is by no means meant as a definitive list though, so for a more expansive run down of what you can find you can check out this impressive geek list from Tom Heath. What I’m bringing you here is just my own personal hit list for the Expo, and I’m sure I’ll be adding more soon! Let me know what you guys have on your own hit list and what you think I’m missing out on!
Pocket Mars: (purchase)
If you read my previous blog post about the UK Games Expo, you’ll know that my favourite game of 2016’s Expo was a clever little card game from Board&Dice called Multiuniversum. Well, Board&Dice have peaked my interest again this year with two new little offering. The first, Pocket Mars, from designer Michał Jagodziński has been billed as a ‘fast paced and wildly dynamic card game’ where players are competing to colonize Mars. At its heart Pocket Mars is a lightweight Area Control game, where players vye for control over various buildings. Now, before I get too excited, there are a fair few small box Area Control games out there that really aren’t all that exciting, but what seems to set Pocket Mars apart is its variable use cards. More specifically, depending on where cards are played from dictates the action that they trigger. Increasing the strategic decisions players are faced with will hopefully lead to a small game that packs a decent punch. Having watched a playthrough, there is plenty to make me want to take a closer look and I’m certainly excited to check it out!
SuperHot Card Game: (purchase)
Next up, we have the second game from Board&Dice that I’m eager to check out. This time from designer Manuel Correia. Now, without wanting to repeat too much of a theme here, yes that’s the same guy that brought us Multiuniversum. This year he’s bringing us this neat little card game based on the first person shooter. It’s billed as a micro deck builder and having watched a playthrough already, it looks like a fun little head scratcher with some clever synergy between your own deck and the enemy deck. The game plays 1-3 players and has variable game modes. I’m expecting another success story for Board&Dice and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy… Aren’t you glad we got through that little preview without any ‘super’ bad puns?
Next up I’ll be hoping to get a look at this interesting offering. A Tile Placement game from designer Phil Walker-Harding. This is a guy who already has some impressive games in his resume, including the incredibly popular 2016 release, Imhotep. In a game that seems remenisant in style to Uwe Rosenberg Patchwork or equally similar Cottage Garden players lay tiles in an attempt to build the most impressive bear enclosure. Mechanically this is a game I am very excited about. I’m a huge fan of Patchwork and will happily find room in my collection for a well executed, higher player count game, in a similar style. Cottage Garden went someway to filling that void, but didn’t quite nail it. My only reservation on this one would be the theme. Building bear enclosures isn’t something that really captivates me. That said, I hope and expect the theme to be well handled and to translate to the tabletop in good taste.
Another great looking game I’ll be demoing at this years Expo is Defection. This title is still in development, so we have limited information, but there is plenty to be excited about. Described as a tile turner, ship upgrade, space horror game, it sounds right in my wheelhouse. The game is set on a war torn planet, in a world already well established by designer James Tomblin. Defection is due to hit Kickstarter at the end of this year and I can’t wait to see how it plays!
Alien Artifacts: (Demo)
Here’s one from Portal Games that you’ll want to take a look at if you get chance. Designed by Marcin Senior Ropka and Viola Kijowska, I can’t wait to play this 4x style card game. That’s ‘explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate’ to you and me. Playing Alien Artifacts you’re going to spend your time researching new technology, exploring new planets and expanding your military capabilities. Now, a lot of 4x games usually come with a lengthy time commitment, but Alien Artifacts card driven system claims to play in under an hour and deliver the same experience as those lengthier 4x games. It definately has my attention!
Here’s another one from Portal Games that looks like it could be a real winner. Robinson Crusoe…. in space! OK, so it appears to be a retheme of an already popular cooperative game, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited! There will be an integrated app to help manage and maintain gameplay, which is something we are seeing more and more in the tabletop world. The luddites amongst us will recoil at the thought of ‘alien tech’ making its way onto our gaming tables, but it’s a trend that is becoming more and more common and when executed well is certainly an effective tool. First Martians has the option of playing in campaign mode or can be played as individual missions. There’s also a sandbox option where players can test themselves against the environment and see how long they can survive. I expect this to be a big success for Portal Games and an instabuy for fans of Robinson Crusoe.
Ether Wars: (Demo)
Published by Burning Games and scheduled for release later this year, Ether Wars already has a successful kickstarter campaign behind it and looks like its worth a closer look. It’s a dice chucker with worker placement, area control and asymmetric player powers. It boasts more than fifty custom dice and lets be honest here, there are few things more awesome than custom dice! Designers Alvaro Arteaga and Javier Alaiz Dominguez look to have created a really intriguing game here and I can’t wait to give this one a whirl!
Next up I’ll be taking a look at Lander, a sci-fi themed game of resource management. In Lander players will be racing against time to colonize a new planet and complete the missions they are assigned. Players will spend their time cultivating the planet and developing their crew. They’ll be busy collecting items, gaining new skills and discovering new areas to increase their available resources. With variable resource tiles used to create a unqiue environment to explore, Lander should have plenty of replay value. It sounds like there’s plenty of player interaction and lots of strategic decision making too. Looking forward to demoing this one!
Cauldron Master: (purchase)
Here’s a neat little set collection game from Caezar Al-Jassar and Kuly Heer. Cauldron Master will hopefully be available to purchase at the Expo with a price of just £12 (standard retail version). Players take on the role of a coven of witches, each trying to concot the most impressive potions, using their witches to collect a variety of ingredient and condiment cards. There’s a little deduction thrown into the mix too as you need to anticipate your opponents decisions or be left with no ingredients to collect! A light game with some gorgeous artwork and a nice price tag. Check it out!
Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization. (Expansion- Demo)
I’m also eager to get a look at an expansion for the gaming leviathan that is Through the Ages. I picked up the second edition of Through the Ages at last years Expo and am excited to see there will be an expansion available to demo this year! Designed by Vlaada Chvátil, Through the Ages is one of those games that doesn’t get to the table as often as I’d like but when it does it is always a real treat. The expansion will be bringing new leaders and wonders to the table, adding plenty of new content to keep games feeling fresh. If you like deeper strategy games and don’t have Through the Ages in your collection, then go out and get it! If you already know how amazing this game is, then I’m sure you’ll be checking out the expansion at this years Expo! Czech Games Edition are always bringing something fresh to the gaming world and I’m looking forward to spending some time at their booth this year!
And finally, I’m looking forward to getting in a demo of Ghostel, a light weight dice chucker and worker placement game from designer Bevan Clatworthy. Ghostel has already completed a successful kickstarter and is receiving tons of positive feedback from the community already. It sounds like Ghostel is simple enough to be enjoyed by the whole family, but still has enough depth to keep the more strategic gamer satisfied. The artwork looks absolutely gorgeous and the theme should be enough to make anyone smile. Can’t wait to sit down and get a closer look!
That’s all for now folks. I hope I’ve given you a few games to think about, but remember, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what you’ll find at the Expo. See you next time!
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