Thursday, 11 June 2015

UK Games Expo 2015 - Part Two

UK Games Expo - Day One

Let the con begin!
We had planned to meet for breakfast but we all failed miserably at meeting at the same time.  Perils of my body clock meant I woke up at 5am but fortunately I was able to get back to sleep.
Breakfast (and parking at the hotel) are all included in the room rate which is great and does make the approach of staying on-site much more reasonable.

So on Day One what did I do?
Well I played lots of games, mostly through use of the Board Game library system they have at the con which is provided by Thirsty Meeples game cafe. £10 deposit and you can borrow 1 game at a time to play. Nice and simple really.

Games played on Day One were -
  • Mr Jack - Greg and I tried this 2 player game which I'd discounted from my to-buy list because it's "only" a 2 player game. More fool me as it's a fun game of deduction where 1 player is Jack The Ripper and the other is a detective trying to deduce which of the characters in the game is secretly Jack. It benefits from very simple mechanics and pretty fast game play and overall was a lot of fun. Does that mean it goes onto my to-buy list? No, 2 player games just won't get the table time unfortunately... If that were to change however then yes it probably would.
  • Ventura - Greg and I tried this one too, largely down to an ENT related reason.  At ENT in 2015 we've played games starting with all the letters of the alphabet other than V and X so I wanted a look at this.  Made by FFG so lots of bits but we got the hang of it pretty quickly and for a game that is essentially an area control game with some bells and whistles it was pretty light although I suspect if played with more people (2-4) it could be very tactical.  Is it on my to-buy list? Not sure but it's in that neck of the woods.
  • Noir - One of my purchases from the convention. It ticks a number of boxes for me; deduction, good range of players and it has a variety of "modes" which keeps the game quite fresh. Greg, Ross and I played one of the modes suitable for 3 players and after a few minutes we'd all got the hang of it and were scratching our heads trying to deduce who each other was amongst an array of 25 spies.  Sorta "Guess Who" but with a lot more to it as you arrange the grid to get closer to your suspect before capturing them.
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf : Daybreak - So I own the non-Daybreak version of this bluffing game and have to say I won't be buying this version... The additional roles are a bit more clunky than the core game and it certainly seemed to make it harder for the Werewolves to bluff their way through the game. Played it with a group of 7 (Douglas, Laura, Scott, Michelle, Ross and Greg) and whilst it was fun it's not as good as the original.
Other highlights of the day were the Beer Bus and the food trucks.
Last year the con didn't have these and I think the consensus of people I've spoken to is that these are a winner. Good food and decent beer go a long way to improving the overall experience.  The hotel seemed to have a bizarre pricing policy as depending on which bar you went to and at which time you went some beers were varying from £3.50 to £5 a pint for the same beer... One of the few real negatives of the event.

The trade halls don't compare with Gen Con and it'd be unfair to really compare them given the scale difference.  Good selection of stands albeit it seemed to be heavily retailer focussed rather than publisher focussed. Now that might just be a perception thing but that's what I took away from Day One.

Purchase wise I picked up -
  • Noir (as mentioned earlier)
  • 2 mini-expansions for Sentinels Of The Multiverse
  • Monster CafĂ© (as it reminded me of an iPad game my daughter plays)
  • Lords of Scotland which looks good
  • Cockroach Poker (another bluffing game) and 
  • Timeline General Interest.  Timeline is a game I was highly sceptical of at first but having played it at PEGS launch I think there's a good knowledge game there and of course it's semi-educational.
I also picked up 5 copies of the new Tabletop Gaming magazine which is being launched at the con. They aren't all for me (obviously) and I am slightly confused by a new print magazine but it looks professional and has the backing of a publisher that makes a variety of other niche market magazines so time will tell.

The night of Day One ended with some more beer and chat, Day Two (Saturday) was looking like being the busiest day for attendees so we shall see what that brings.