After all the fun we had last year we were excited to see if the organisers could achieve a bigger, better Games Expo this year and we were not disappointed!
We had an amazing time over the long weekend playing and discovering new games, meeting designers and geek celebrities as well as discovering, much to our surprise, that we had friends among people we'd never met; thanks for coming up to say hi! We also enjoyed taking part in the Friday and Saturday podcasts by Shut Up & Sit Down - the team were in good form and kept the whole room laughing throughout.
Cosplayers and giant games added to the atmosphere, but I hadn't expected to see the two collide quite so dramatically as in this giant version of Castle Panic.
Leaving aside those aspects I'm all about the games so here's my run down on some of the most interesting games I played at the expo:
Given how much we raved about the original last year it'll come to no surprise that this is a game we loved. The same concept as the words version but you get pictures to connect instead. The images themselves must have taken some time to develop as most of them seem to combine at least two unrelated concepts.
A great game made better, it also has the wonderful addition of making the game language neutral meaning it's more accessible to everyone.
Beautifully illustrated and fantasy themed this deceptive card game has a lot more going on than is at first apparent. Simple enough to be learnt in five minutes there is enough variety in the box and decision making in the game to keep you playing for hours. Our test game with Stuart (the game's amazingly friendly designer) was remarkable for the fact that Jay managed to pull a five card run on turn one effectively winning the game with her first play.
I'm not a fan of Football, I don't support a team and will only infrequently watch international events, but this seemed to be the year for football based games. There were at least four that I saw, but this was my favourite. A wonderfully made game with great components and I'm a particular fan of the way they've handled yellow cards. I was shouting at my players to track back and cover when the defence got out of place, but alas my opponent's team showed more discipline and took the lead. Seriously I really got into it, I'm not sure what was going on because...
This simple card game was brimming with footballing terms and flavour from the starting 11 cards in your hand to the half-time marker. This game takes the mechanics from Top Trumps and super charges them into a tactical decision making game that can be carried in your pocket.
A seemingly simple game with interesting layers, lovely components and swift game play. Quadropolis has a great selection and placement mechanic and really encourages you to go after one or two tactics - and there are several to choose from. Where it shines though is in forcing you to figure out what to do when you can't have what you want. For a game with no direct interaction what your opponents are doing has a surprisingly impact on your choices.
I had a wonderful experience playing this little gem from Battle Boar Games. A simple arena contains the player's wizards and using the cards in their hands each player comes up with the most destructive spell they can using parts 1, 2 and 3 on different cards - each oriented a specific way. My first spell was 'Faint Blowing Petals' which as you can imagine did little to worry my opponent who responded by blasting away eight of my ten hit points. My spell responding to that was better, pushing him into a trap...which exploded doing enough damage to finish me off. So our game didn't last long but I could see myself having a lot of fun with this game.
An awesome dexterity game about penguins - no I didn't manage to pull off any of the trick shots in this video...
Last, but by no means least Not Alone was my game of the Expo - complex enough to keep my attention, but quick to learn and easy to play. You play either the humans who've crashed on this planet or the creature that's hunting them. Both sides progress down opposing tracks till either the creature has blocked any escape or the humans have reached the rescue ship. Mixing mechanics from several game types this includes role selection, deck (hand) building, hidden information and bluffing.
It develops into a game of cat and mouse with the creature player trying to figure out where each player is likely to have gone. I also love that you're never out of the game - humans taken out by the creature re-spawn but there's a meaningful penalty so you desperately want to avoid it.
I can't wait for this to be released and can't say how thankful we are to the guys at Geek Attitude Games who gave us one of their pre-production copies at the end of the expo!
As usual there was so much going on that it was impossible to take part in everything, but fortunately Jess was able to cover games I missed. In particular she reported back positively on Beyond Baker Street, a game that's based on the same mechanics as Hanabi, which I love, Pandemic Cthulhu a masterful blending of concepts and Battle of the Bands which I heard was excellent - and as they were kind enough to give us a copy, one I plan to play soon.
Overall a wonderful event and one I hope continues to go from strength to strength.