On Friday 2nd of June, James and I headed down to Birmingham, UK, to the NEC to attend the UK Games Expo. Once more the crowds had increased, making the Expo the third largest gaming event in the year (only beaten for size by GENCON and Essen Spiel).
UKGE is not just a chance for new games to be shown off, but also for players to attend huge tournaments and listen to informative seminars (this year, Ian Livingstone gave an excellent talk about his career in the games industry).
For the Press Preview, we got to see and chat to a wide array of people.
DUST is back once more, with a new edition and new releases. DUST is the brainchild of Paolo Parente, with new rules, “DUST 1947”. Dust also has rpg content by Modiphius, which includes some non-canon crossover with Cthulhu.
DUST is a cool-looking “weird world war” setting with mecha and alien technology. It’s far more approachable given the axis forces are not Nazis (the Axis leaders wiped out that facet of their forces), and the minis do come pre-painted. This means it is easy to get playing straight out of the box.
4Ground, makers of a whole array of different laser cut MDF terrain, are in the process of preparing their Kickstarter for their new miniatures game, Fabled Realms. Fabled Realms features humans and other fantasy races, though divided along social lines rather than racial, fighting each other and against a ghoul-like faction. These ghouls, called the Dragoul, are not dead, but clearly mutated by a virus, and driven to feed on the flesh of others. Their state of mindlessness is linked to how much they’ve fed on blood and flesh. Some are more intelligent than others.
The spin cast PVC miniatures look superb, and are a larger scale of 28mm, closer to true scale.
Rules wise, the game uses a collection of dice types, where units can improve in their abilities either by gaining more dice in a dice pool, or by changing the dice type in that pool. Also, the game features a number of cards that allow you to customise your warbands beyond just the miniatures, and a legacy play system, where your warband can evolve with each battle, but where you can still play games against players that are not using that system.
Our friends at Inside The Box games, creators of Molecular, were back this year, having successfully Kickstarted their games Statecraft and Sub Terra. Statecraft is a clever little game, where each player must win the majority of the electorate (represented by different cards), by using particular policies to increase their standings in certain aspects. The point of the game is that it’s impossible to ever win over all of the electorate, as not all will favour your policies or rankings in certain aspects. Adding some fun to the mix are cards that represent global issues, such as nuclear war.
Sub Terra was pitched to ITB Games last year by its creator during the competition at UKGE. In this game, you play a band of cave explorers who must race against the clock to find the way out. Slowly, tiles are revealed that are connected up, and dangers are revealed, such as places that could be flooded, or falling rocks, or spawning points for monsters. It’s great fun, as players play as character types that have useful skills to aid your escape. Also, the tiles glow under UV light.
War of the 9 Realms, by Wotan Games, is a wargame, but much more zoomed out. It uses grid based movement, and a more abstracted form of gameplay, perhaps closer in nature to Might Empires. For a wargame that’s self contained, it’s perhaps something to look at.
What happens when you cross dice with Beyblades? You get Masters of Gettown. Cards represent the characters you play as, offering different amounts of dice, dice types, and special rules, and the gameplay focuses on throwing dice into the arena, where the aim is to knock and change the results on your opponents’ dice. An interesting concept, but one I will skip.
Carcosa is Carcassonne with Cthulhu. Players lay down tiles, aiming to create arrangements that will win them points, using their meeple cultists to claim these points or defend locations. What makes this game different is the hidden tile aspect. Each player will be using a pool of tiles, but it also matters what’s on the other side of the tile, as the board can be reshaped.
Grublin Games Publishing showed off Perfect Crime. In this game, one player takes the role of the security team: placing guards, cameras, laser trip beams, and more, in order to defend the vault. The other players take the role of the crime gang breaking in, who previously will have obtained numerous pieces of information and gear to aid them in their heist. It looks to be an excellent asymmetric game.
On the roleplay front, Paizo was present with their new sci-fi rpg, Starfinder. Starfinder, of course, is based on Pathfinder, but with the right amount of tweaks and changes to the system to further focus the game on exciting and fast paced scenes, rather than dungeon crawling. For instance, there are two armour classes to deal with kinetic and energy damage, stamina points which quickly replenish and soak up initial damage before your hit points get used.
We also met some fun cosplay people, like this guy!
Battlesystems were back with their new urban terrain kits, plus updates and additions to their sci-fi and dungeon terrain. Their kits are perfect for those set piece scenes in rpgs, or for wargames.
Daruma Productions showed off a number of kits for their Cannibal Sector skirmish game, based on the rpg SLA Industries. Speaking of which, we will be interviewing the team at Daruma to get more information on the upcoming 2nd edition of the rpg.
Endure the Stars, by Grimlord Games, is a sci-fi miniatures game in the same vein as Zombicide: the players take the role of a variety of crew members, and use a combination of weapons and systems to defend the ship from the outbreak of genetic experiments.
The models are high quality single piece Unicast models.
Games Workshop was present, running demos of Warhammer 40,000 8th edition. The game features a lot of changes that bring it more in line with 2nd ed (such as the return of variable movement rates), but also changes that make it more similar to Age of Sigmar. The new models are excellent, and huge. The new Marines are towering in size compared to the pox shamblers.
From Monolith Games and soon to be on Kickstarter, is the Batman Board Game, which features some highly detailed models. Gameplay wise, it runs much the same as the Conan game, where one player takes the role of the bad guys. The other players play as Batman and other members of the Bat Family.
Guild Ball Season 3 has been out for a while from Steamforged Games, and just recently shipped their Dark Souls game. The miniatures coming out from Steamforged are looking excellent, what with the new additions for the Hunters, the new Farmers Guild, and new players for the Union.
Hawk Wargames were back again as one of the event sponsors, and they won the award for best miniatures game with Dropfleet Commander (written by Andy Chambers).
Demolition derby never looked so good with Word Forge Games and their newest expansion for Devils Run: Route 666.
Bushido, by GCT Studios, looks incredible. The Tengu are really awesome.
Titan Forged were back, with their production version of Lobotomy. It features tons of horror minis, as you play patients seeking to escape the terrors of the asylum.
It can get pretty busy, even on the Friday, at the Expo.
James tries his best to terrify a Primaris Space Marine.
Lucid, by Metagames Inc, is a very atmospheric card game. The three colours represent either nightmares, memories, or dreams, where the object of the card game is to remain asleep.
Overall, Expo was great this year. We were able to get a couple of good interviews and have more lined up for the future. The variety of games on show, and the quality, really help to show how we are in a golden age of gaming. Nowadays we have printing on demand, allowing for quicker prototyping – and, of course, crowd funding. The show this year felt far more focused on people demonstrating new games, rather than simply selling them.
Next year, I definitely need to to stay down there for at least 2 days to really get the chance to talk to more people. But for now, that’s all.