EVENT | UK Games Expo 2018 – The Highlights

This year’s UK Games Expo (UKGE) – a weekend-long celebration of all things gaming – has been and gone. This year was truly massive, extending across 2 trade halls – and it needed to be, to house the thousands of gamers attending! One thing I love about UKGE is that there is so much going on that everyone goes for different reasons and has an experience unique to them.

Here are my highlights from this year’s EPIC UKGE 2018!

The Games

One of the things I love most about UKGE is being able to play as many games I can fit into the weekend. And this year I squeezed in a lot! But I barely scratched the surface; there are so many games I don’t think it’s possible to play them all!

There was a good mix of games to buy (through designers or other retailers), as well as pre-releases and Kickstarters. Being able to view and demo games at UKGE was great because you can to try before you buy. This is definitely an advantage if, like me, you’re a bit budget conscious and want to make sure your spending your pocket money on games you’ll definitely like!

Another advantage to demoing games is that it gives you a chance to try something that you wouldn’t normally try out. Perhaps with a different style of game play, or maybe designed by someone whose games your yet to try. If you don’t enjoy it, just move on to try the next game.

Some of my favourites were Last One In published by City Gate Games (currently available on Kickstarter), Century: Eastern Wonders published by Plan B Games and Terraforming Mars published by Stronghold Games.  I’ll be going through the games I played in more detail in my next UKGE post, so don’t forget to pop back next week to check it out!

The Haul

I resisted buying any new board games on the run up to UKGE 2018, so that I could save up money to buy a good selection of games. I was hoping to find some good bargains in the Bring and Buy, and some good priced new games from the retailers. And I’m pretty chuffed with the selection that I came home with.

A selection of games that I bought at the UK Games Expo 2018. It Includes: Pandemic Legacy S1, Burger Up, Fungi. Pocket Mars, 5 Minute Chase, Norsaga, Lanterns, 51st State, 5 Seals of Magic, Sakura, Draco Magi, Jamaica and a Dwar7s Fall collection.
My UK Games Expo 2018 2018

As always, the Bring and Buy was a bit hit and miss. A high proportion of games were overpriced, some even exceeding retailers prices! But, after rummaging through the offerings (for what seemed like eternity), I found some pretty good deals. My aim at the Bring and Buy was to find some more games that my wife and I could play together. So my eyes were peeled for some 2 player bargains.

A Picture of My Bring & Buy Bargains! Draco Magi, Norsaga, Fungi, Sakura, Lanterns, Burger Up, Five Seals of Magic, 51 State
My Bring & Buy Bargains!
  • 51st State Complete Master Set (published by Portal Games). This was my big find! The post-apocalyptic theme caught my attention straight away, and a quick check on Board Game Geek told me that it was best as a 2 player game! I was also keen because it was designed by Ignancy Trzewiczek, and I’ve yet to try any of his games. Finding it for around £22 when it’s typically somewhere in the range of £30-£40 made it a must buy for me.
  • Fungi (published by Pegasus Spiele). I’ve played Fungi a few times at board game cafés/events and I’ve always enjoyed it, there is something about foraging mushrooms and cooking them up that captures my imagination. This was definitely a bargain as I found it for £7! At that price it would have been rude not to buy it…right?
  • Lanterns (published by Renegade Game). Again, I’ve played Lanterns at board game cafés/events and really enjoyed it, as both a 2-player and 4-player game. It’s a nice little tile-laying game that’s competitive, yet relaxing. I got it in the B&B for £15. And later on we noticed that it even included the expansion, Lanterns: Emperors Gift, so double win for us!
  • Five Seals of Magic (published by Hobby World and Igrology). I picked this game up for £5. This was my gamble bargain: I know nothing about the game. But for £5, I thought it was worth giving it a go. I was definitely drawn in by the box art and the magical theme; a theme that has proven popular with my gaming group in the past.

The other games I picked up in the Bring and Buy were also good deals; Norsaga (Published by Meromorph Games), Draco Magi (Published by Robert Burke Games), Sakura (published by Osprey Games) and Burger Up (Published by Rule and Make).

I also picked up a handful of new games as well and I’m sure you’ll agree that I picked up a some excellent choices!

A photo of my new buys! Pocket Mars, 5 Minute Chase, Dwar7s Fall, Jamaica, and Pandemic Legacy Season 1
My New Buys!
  • Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (published by ZMAN Games). So here’s the thing… I’ve never played a legacy game before but have wanted to try one for a while. So, one of my main missions at UKGE 2018 was to find the perfect legacy game for my gaming group. We settled for Pandemic Legacy as we‘re big fans of the original game and we wanted our first legacy to be cooperative.
  • Jamaica (published by Game Works). I’ve played Jamaica a few times this year. I loved it. It’s hands down one of my favourite games to date. And again it really appeals as game for 2 and 4 players game. So, when I found it at UKGE, I couldn’t pass it by!
  • 5 Minute Chase and Pocket Mars (published by Board and Dice). I was already on the lookout for 5 Minute Chase and really excited to try it at the expo. And I wasn’t disappointed! It’s a brilliant real-time game, that’s typically intense and slightly chaotic. I played a very quick demo (it more than lives up to the name!) and grabbed a copy for myself. Board and Dice were also selling Pocket Mars, one of the favourites from last year’s UKGE. I had massive fear of missing out when I saw everyone else playing it after UKGE 2017, so I just had to add it to my stash!
  • Dwar7s Fall (published by Vesuvius Media). My wife’s choice. She picked up a Dwar7s bundle, which included Dwar7s Fall, Dwar7s Fall Empires Expansion, Dwar7s Fall Royal Decrees Mini Expansion and a neoprene play mat. I don’t know much about this worker placement game but my wife was talking to the developer and completely fell in love with it. I’m excited to try this one out.

So that was my haul for UKGE 2018; but I did also back Last One In (Published by City Gate Games), which is currently on Kickstarter.

Gaming with Friends

Looking back on this year’s UKGE, one of my biggest highlights is definitely the evening we joined friends for an open gaming session in the Hilton. Initially we were a group of 4 and played Arcadia Quest (Published by CMON) the miniatures were great, as were all the components but I was really drawn in by the campaign style game play. We only played the first scenario but I really want to playthrough the whole thing!

By the end of the night, we’d grown to 7 strong and were playing some hilarious rounds of Sushi Go Party (published by Gamewright) and The Resistance (published by Indie Board and Cards).

We borrowed Sushi Go Party from the games library. It was in a horrific condition and a little bit gross, but fear not! We had our hand sanitiser at the ready (I’m not even joking…). Despite the condition, it was brilliant have a chance to play a couple of games for bigger groups; we normally play in small friendship/family groups so we don’t get to play with big groups very often. In fact, I bought The Resistance before Christmas (December 2017) and the expo was the first time we’ve had a group big enough to play it!

Playing into the late hours with our friends was one of the funniest, most entertaining parts of my UKGE experience. It goes to show that it’s not all about big and flashy games; with a great bunch of friends you can have a great night with any game!7

The Shows

At last years expo (UKGE 2017) I focused on games in the main halls. This year I decided to expand my horizons and check out a couple of events, of which UKGE has many to choose from!

First off, I made sure to check out Pandemic Live (by James Cook and special guests!). This was an easy choice; Pandemic was my first game and is still a firm favourite to this day (read more in my Pandemic Review). The show was exactly what it says on the tin: 4 people (one being ‘the audience’) play a live game of Pandemic, and there are some surprises along the way! It was very entertaining, with some fun facts and random game-related humour.

A Photo of Pandemic Live. Image shows a projector screen with the Pandemic Game being projected onto the wall.
Pandemic on the big screen!

The second show was The Dark Room (by John Robertson). For me, this was hands down the best. The premise of the show is fairly straightforward: volunteers (or in some cases the volunteered) from the audience try to escape The Dark Room, a text-based adventure. As the brave soul trying to escape The Dark Room chooses options from the screen, Robertson dramatically reveals the often-hilarious consequences of that choice. This continues till Ya die, Ya die! YA DIE!!! I don’t want to talk too much about it because I don’t want to give too much away, but the setting and character that Robertson portrays an entertainingly uncomfortable atmosphere. It’s been a long time since I found myself laughing quite as much as I did when I woke up to find myself in a dark room…

A picture of the set of The Dark Room. It was taken prior to the lights going out and the show beginning.
Before the lights went out…

The People

As always, all the UKGE volunteers and staff were extremely helpful and friendly. One volunteer even put down a box he was carrying to offer to take a picture for my wife and I, even though he was obviously busy. It shows that they care about you having a good experience and are willing go the extra mile to make it happen.

The exhibitors and demonstrators were also brilliant; friendly, welcoming, and keen to get you on the table to try out the game they were showcasing. Mark from City Gate Games (the designer of Last One In) in particular was a delight to meet. He came across as 100% genuine and, as with all the designers, his enthusiasm and passion for his game was contagious! Soon after leaving the City Gate Games stall I got my phone out and backed Last One In, not only because the game totally caught my attention, but also because helping guys like Mark fund their passion project is exactly what Kickstarter is for!

Jamie from The Noble Artist was another super friendly designer when my friends and I turned up for a demo of Hero Master: An Epic Game of Epic Fails. It was brilliant that he brought his sense of humour to the demo, making it really fun and exciting!

It was also great to meet Graeme from Accentuate Games, the designer of FreNeTiC, after a couple of months chatting over Instagram. He’s just as friendly and enthusiastic in person as he is in on social media.

The thought of having to wait 12 whole months till next year’s UKGE is always hard. I love being absorbed into the atmosphere of it all. It’s great talking to and playing games with like-minded people  and it’s an awesome community to be part of! So as always, when I left the UK Games Expo to head home, I left with a heavy heart.

HP GIf

But I have the amazing memories from this year to keep me going – and some cracking games to get playing. See you next year UK Games Expo!

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Disclosure – I’ve been fortunate enough to be granted a press pass for the UK Games Expo 2018. My views, opinions and discussions about the UK Games Expo 2017, or the UK Games Expo 2018 are my honest opinions, and not effected by this.

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