Nevi – We thoroughly loved attending the UK Games Expo this year. We played lots of fascinating games, met tonnes of fantastic people and slowly ate our weight in breakfast bars.
George – I spent the mornings demoing on the Fog of Love stand like the world’s worst matchmaker, before rushing off to try and hunt down Nevi and try other games for the afternoon.
Nevi – Since George was off loving people, making fog or something, I played a lot of games without him. This means you get to enjoy a separate article with all of those games (yay!). Now though, here are most of the games that we played together at the UK Games Expo. Enjoy.
George – Imagine reenacting the Battle of Britain via a game of Subbuteo. I loved it, and while I only had a short demo, it felt incredibly satisfying to play and had just enough mechanics on top of the dexterity element to give the game some strategy. This game made me smile the most of all the things I tried. Flicking a Spitfire perfectly onto the tail of a 109 and destroying it in one shot with some lucky dice feels great.
Nevi – Oh, boy. I was so bad at this. I have no idea who George kept flicking the ships so they rotated back on themselves. It looked so satisfying to pull off an incredible manoeuvre, but alas I was stuck with turn and flick. The map had all sorts of extra things going on such as anti-air cannons and cloud cover, these added some extra strategy to ship placement and make slick flicks all the more impressive.
George – Dice Hospital was a nice looking game but not really my cup of tea. You building an engine, or Hospital in this case, to more efficiently heal patients (represented by D6s) and the more you discharge from hospital at once, the bigger the point score. My major problem with it was that there was absolutely no player interaction. The round starts and it’s heads down as everyone takes actions simultaneously, it’s basically several solitary games running beside each other. Simultaneous actions do make each round pretty quick which is nice and when the demo ended I did get a slight feeling of ‘just one more turn and I’ll score loads of points’.
Nevi – Dice Hospital is a strange one. On one hand, I enjoyed the theme and enjoyed the puzzle of trying to cure lots of people in one turn. However, the lack of interactivity was a problem. Since all of the worker placement takes place on your own board, you hardly look at other hospitals. Other than picking an ambulance and doctor/facility at the start of a round you never consider what your opponent is doing. Which felt like a shame.
George – This is technically a 2017 release, but I finally picked up a copy. After wondering whether it was worth as I already own Letters from Whitechapel, I can report it is a huge improvement!
The constricted board and the way Jack’s objectives are set out mean the police will be on his tail within the first few turns. Unlike Letters from Whitechapel, I can’t see Jack running away with games. Playing as Jack I constantly felt like I was one turn from losing and had to work really hard to keep cool with the police breathing down my neck. The simplification from Letters from Whitechapel made it much quicker to teach, too.
Nevi – If I learnt one thing during the UKGE, it’s that George is well sneaky. Having never played Letters from Whitechapel, or this before, it was a completely new and intense experience. As part of the sexy investigator team, we would guess, second guess and then, for good measure, third guess ourselves. This game drew me in perfectly. It was a battle of wits between the investigators and Jack. The devastation when we discovered that George had miraculously doubled back or was only a single space away was equally matched by the elation we felt when he was finally caught. A fantastic game that I would love to play again.
George – This has all the satisfaction of putting a good word together in Scrabble condensed into a card drafting game. Each round you draft a hand of letter cards before creating the highest scoring word using your hand and the 3 public letters. If you win the round you get to keep three cards for the end game, 2nd keeps two, 3rd keeps one and so on (fewer cards are kept at lower player numbers). The game ends in the fifth round with all players using the cards they’ve collected throughout the game to create one super mega word and can beat everyone else’s.
Nevi – As soon as I saw the artwork, and typography of Movable Type, I knew we were going to be good friends. As somebody who loves word games, but finds they often require too much luck of the draw or a heavy time commitment, Movable Type is exactly the game I have been looking for. The addition of famous authors with specific conditions to satisfy adds an extra dash of thought and strategy to the proceedings giving you one more thing to think about. It has all the fun of card drafting and word making in one elegant package – expect further coverage soon.
George – I really enjoyed Wibbel, found it a bit like a Dobble/Boggle crossover with cards. Wasn’t particularly excited by the other games included but that’s because I immediately became very competitive with Nevi and just wanted to keep playing Wibbel++. It plays quickly and scales with players pretty well thanks to the neat catch up mechanic.
Nevi – Shout out to Bez and the wall of cats which is where you could try Wibbell. This simple deck of letters has so many intriguing games. We didn’t get to play all of them as we mainly focused on speed spelling, but they looked to bridge genres, player count and more, so definitely an impressive resume.
George – This is a new edition that re-purposes the old Ankh-Morpork game. It seemed like an early prototype with nice miniatures and board. However, it was chaotic to say the least. Essentially, you play action cards, stuff happens and eventually entropy results in someone achieving a win condition. I liked the idea of individual secret win conditions, but in practice, it just felt like we were just packing the board with miniatures then all of a sudden Nevi won.
Nevi – Yeah, this was a weird one. It very much felt like we were playing two different games. I was expecting more narrative and purpose in Nanty Narking, but it felt incredibly hollow. It’s still in development, so things can definitely change but the while the version we played looked lovely, I’d hesitate to call it a game. It was more a random nonsense generator. People who have played Ankh-Morpork, what is that like? Is it just random card play until somebody happens to win?
George – Another game that was still in the playtest stage but coming to Kickstarter at some point (seemed like every demo finished with the words ” it will be on Kickstarter soon”). Re-Floristation was a pleasant set collection game with a similar set collection system to Ticket to Ride with the ability to plant your flowers for later use ala Splendor. Theme-wise, though, players are florists fulfilling orders and it was a nice chilled game to play. As pretty much the last game we tried it was nice to sit down and play something simple after a busy weekend.
Nevi – I played a few games with similarly relaxing themes throughout UKGE and Re-Floristation was one of my favourites. Of the many Kickstarter games I played, this was one of the most complete and enjoyable. It felt more or less finished and apart from a few balancing issues, I would happily pick up a copy. Also, shout out to the lovely lady who demoed this for us, we have entirely forgotten your name, but hope you enjoyed the free stuff we left/dumped on you.
The Big Thank You
Nevi – No, that isn’t the name of a game. Instead, it is a sincere thank you to everyone we talked to, played a game with us and showed us how to play a game. You were all lovely and made the weekend a joy.
George – The UKGE is one of the highlights of my year. Getting to live in a happy board game town for just a few days is such a privilege.
For more board game coverage check out George’s article on how to use Chinese history to play them better. You might also enjoy Nevi’s attempt to get to the bottom of what makes a game in his Pizza Party (or an excuse to figure out what makes a game a game) thing. If you want to help support the website, then you can use our Amazon Affiliate link and we get a small kickback.