UK Games Expo 2018: Highlights and Anticipations
With eighteen days to go, the team here at Ellerium Games are getting excited for the UK Games Expo 2019. Travel plans have been made, hotels have been booked and, for the slightly over-organised among us, the convention’s floor plan has been printed off and coloured coded to make sure I hit all the highlights I’m desperate to see. This will be the second year that I’m attending and, boy, am I excited.
Yet, the Expo offers me the chance to do more than just an excuse to crack out the crayons. With the rise of board gaming as a hobby, coupled with the growing popularity of Kickstarter as a publishing platform; I find it difficult to keep track of all the latest game releases. It’s all too easy for hidden gems to remain, well, hidden gems. Being able to trawl all the publisher’s stands is a great chance to discover the latest releases. And also the chance to try genres you might not normally try. Last year I fell in love with the Grimm fairytale-esque miniatures of Moonstone. This led me to try my first ever proper miniature game. Two games later I found myself buying a starter set. Having the chance to play with and speak with the designers added to the experience. This gave me a new appreciation for a genre I tend to ignore. Though the Expo doesn’t just offer all the newest games. It also gives you a chance to find any classics you might have missed. One of my favourite experiences was Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. First published in 2015 by, I was dismissive of it’s twee ‘Scottish’ theme. The intriguing mix of tile-placement and auction mechanics changed my mind.
Speaking of missed classics, I recommend checking out the Bring and Buy section. Everyone loves a bargain. Last year I was able to snag some great finds. My prize find was an unpunched copy of Rex: Final Days of an Empire, particularly as it is long out-of-print. I initially spotted it sitting on an intake table waiting to be processed. I ended up lurking for around five minutes waiting for it to be added onto the sale table. I grabbed it seconds after. Though the long queue to enter the Bring and Buy section was off-putting, I recommend it as worth a look. Though I would caution any would-be bargain hunters to have a good look through the publishers stands first. There’s great finds to be had and I suspect there were a few instances of flipping going on. So ensure you savviness by shopping around and not getting too caught up in the moment.
Last year I was too late to buy tickets to any of the tournaments I was interested in. I’ve not made that mistake this year. I am participating in the Pandemic Survival Tournament. I’ve entered this event before at Tabletop Scotland. Twelve teams of two compete from a universal infection deck to either be the first to win; or in a particularly brutal game – the last team standing. Teammates aren’t allowed to confer outside the designated twenty-second ‘turns’. This competitive twist transforms the game. The tension in this traditionally sedate game becomes palpable: how have they cured two diseases already? Oh my God we’ve pulled ahead with three. Oh God, we could actually win this. We’ve lost… It was an amazing experience at Tabletop Scotland. I’m desperately looking forward to trying again at the Expo.
What were your highlights for the UK Games Expo 2018? What are you most looking forward to this year? And keep your eyes out for Ellerium Games pre-Expo podcast: Most Anticipated Games.