Board Games Featured

UK Games Expo 2019: Press Preview Highlights

Nevi and George arrive at the UKGE 2019 Press Preview to get a taste of what's in store at the rest of the show.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: A Board Game of English Magic

George: Travel around Europe, attending parties to meet the rich and famous as you attempt to become the most preeminent magician. Sounds like my life already… if only I could make the rabbit reappear. Art looks absolutely gorgeous from the grand map of Europe and London to the tarot inspired playing cards. Very much looking forward to trying this one out over the weekend.

Nevi: Osprey always do a lovely job with the production of their games and this is no different. I looks beautiful. However, I know absolutely nothing about the source material. I did learn that it’s pronounced Mr Norr-ell not Mr Norle – which is always nice.

George: Why would you pronounce it ‘Norle’, is that a northern thing?

Nevi: I think it’s a Nevi thing.

Undaunted

George: Historic settings with nice art does seem to be the things that pulls me in to have a look at games. About half the time I end up listening to the overly complicated rules for a tabletop simulation of a battle, in this case though Undaunted looks like an interesting blend of platoon level tactics with a deck-building mechanic driving the action. Desperately trying to draw into a good hand of cards to give a stricken unit the orders it needs does seem like an interesting take on the chaos of war. Unfortunately it’s not being demoed at UKGE and is being released at GenCon.

Nevi: Ah, George’s kryptonite – anything historical.

George: My ratio of historic games I’m drawn to at cons to the ones I’m excited to play by the time the usually dense rules finish is not good.

The Menace Among Us

George: Alright who sabotaged the oxygen system? The concept of a hidden threat aboard an isolated ship is nothing new in sci-fi or in board games for that matter. With 18 different roles to try, each with something to offer the team providing unique ways to bluff, help or hinder, it does seem like there might be the spark of something to help The Menace Among Us stand out in fairly crowded space.

Nevi: I think George has covered the core of The Menace Among Us there. I will add one thing – you get a cool cardboard gun (or at least there was one on the stall).

Cutthroat Caverns

Nevi: The prospect of a new edition of Cutthroat Caverns was truely a surprise. I’ve only managed to play this once or twice but with the new edition, I hope the fix that. I know George has played it more and was clearly incredibly excited about this reveal.

George: one of the earliest games I added to my collection, I have yet to find a game that makes screwing over your friends more fun as you all compete to be the one to deliver the killing blow to the monster. The first edition is plagued by some rather ambiguous wording in the rules, which Curt Covert, the designer said was a result of his focus on creative wording rather than a tight keyword system; a problem he’s set out to fix with this new edition.

Blood on the Clocktower

Nevi: Playing Blood on the Clocktower yesterday was stressful, tense, exciting and everything I’d hoped it would be. The Werewolf amped up to 11 game, is a wonderful blend of social deduction, distinct player powers and strategy. One of the great things is that the player can never fully trust any information they gain so feuds between players don’t last long as few people have really solid information.

George: Having backed it on Kickstarter, I was relieved to play it for the first time and have an absolute blast. Despite dying immediately after nominating myself to be executed, the game was still excited as suspicion flying all over the place as new theories floated about.   

Europa Universalis: The Board Game

Nevi: Europa had such a massive board covering so much territory, that I can’t see how the final board can be any smaller. While I’m to get to play a few rounds of a game that is touted as lasting upwards of 8 hours on the full grand campaign, I don’t how much value there is in doing so. It’s a bit like playing a demo for a JRPG, you might get a sense for one or two systems but due to the scale you aren’t going to see anywhere close to what the game is actually like. That being said, I love the idea of a massive Europa Universalis board game that stays true to the video game and that you can finish in one sitting. Unlike Crusader Kings (Paradox’s other board game/video game), Europa is going to have far more of an emphasis on diplomacy and trade. Instead of playing a lineage, you are playing a nation. I’m intrigued to see where to steps away from the Europa video games and sets itself apart as a unique game and how they’ve managed to capture the heart of this stunning strategy series.

George: It’s big, it’s historical and I think I want to like it? It’s a game I could see myself really enjoying though whether or not I could convince anyone to sit down for an 8hr+ grand campaign is another story. One thing that stood out to me was that you win by collecting victory points. Paradox games usually leave it up to the player to set personal goals, whether that’s as a conqueror, a prosperous trade state or evening just trying to marry a horse – the convention of victory points seems rather bland by comparison.

Sorcerer

Nevi: Sorcerer by White Wizard Games (the folks behind Star/Hero Realms) is the first big box game from the company. In it you are a sorcerer battling to defeat your opponents across 3 locations. To do so, you pick your character, lineage and magic (those names might be wrong) cards and mix them all together. With 4 of each to choose from you have lots of different to try. Players are then summoning monsters, casting spells and trying to weaken their enemies across the three locations. Best your opponent in two and you win. I’m looking to try and demo of this as the sales pitch didn’t blow me away but as a fan of Star Realms, White Wizard have me intrigued.

The Board Game Book

George: A board gamer’s almanac, this lovely looking book aims to compile every game worth playing. A lovely resource free from BGG hype, it seems like a great way to discover new games and learn about your favourites as the book features loads of critic and designer commentary.

Thanks for checking out our preview – check back to find out how we got on actually playing these games – are they as fun as a 2 minute awkward press pitch makes them seem?

2 comments on “UK Games Expo 2019: Press Preview Highlights

  1. Anonymous

    Keep up the wonderful commentary! Looking forward to more updates

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous

    Lovely content. I found you over at Beasts of War. Will follow.

    Liked by 1 person

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