Jantien’s take on UK Games Expo Press Night: Like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey.
Imagine you really like boardgames and would play them every day if you got a chance AND you’ve been invited to come to the UK games expo! This happened to me this year and look how excited I am. I even took a selfie.
My instructions were to enjoy myself and so I did. There were rows and rows of tables, all displaying their own games, some run by big companies and some run by small independents. My theme park training kicked in and I immediately started at the back of the room with a game called ‘Fellbound’, by Highfell Games.
UK Games Expo: Fellbound
The design of the game screams of Magic The Gathering and the designer explained the game to me. The game mechanics allow for a 2 to 4 player game where all players can play their creature cards by paying for them with their starting Gold. The creatures have a defined attack range of a certain amount of squares forward and or sideways. All creatures also have a defence number and when the attack number is higher than the defence number the creature dies. So far so good. While playing the game, the mechanics reminded me of a mix of chess and Hearthstone, and when the designer added in all the extras (double attacks, moving creatures sideways) the game got slightly confusing. There clearly has been a lot of thought put into this game but I found that for the number of rules there were, there wasn’t a lot of added value of those rules to the gameplay. If there were fewer rules the gameplay would be very similar. I felt I could easily break the game by trying to play things that were not dictated by rules and by challenging the rules that were there and their addition to the gameplay. I would need to spend longer with Fellbound to get to grips with its complexities.
UK Games Expo: Towers of the Sun
I walked on and some small ‘gems’ caught my eye. I stopped to see the game called Towers of the Sun and started a chat with the designer. I quickly realised the designer Stefan was from the Netherlands, where I grew up, and we launched into a detailed conversation in Dutch about his game. The design is simple and the aim of the game is to win the most points. There are many ways of doing so but the main way to earn victory is by being on top of the highest Tower to the Sun. It’s a very strategic game of planning ahead on your moves, trying to outsmart your opponents and collecting gems. Players take on the role of a mystical clan with their own regions on the board. When a mysterious mist comes in and starts blocking out their sun, the clans start competing for the bit of sunlight left. Players have to navigate a changing board, where they fight for the best positions and try and collect as many gems as possible that other players have dropped while climbing the towers to the sun. Players will score points based on which tower they stand upon and the crystals they’ve collected so far. Players must also think ahead and not be too greedy because after the scoring phase of each round the leading player will have to exercise their generosity and care by providing charity to the lowest scoring player. The game can be played with 2-4 players and has roughly 12 rounds of play. Stefan came up with the idea for the game while playing on some children’s play equipment in the park jumping from one stone to the other, almost like playing ‘king of the hill’ with the highest stone being the winner. The game is not out for production yet and all the game elements still need to be confirmed but the prototype on the table looked great and of high quality. Some of the blocks were even orange! You might know that the Dutch natural colour is orange, and so I felt very attracted to the game and very much like this was my first carrot (assuming I am the donkey in this case).
I wandered on and found games that used Disney Villains (Disney Villainous), games I would love to own if I had more money, and then a dude in a pink dress caught my eye…
UK Games Expo: BarPig!
I obviously had to go and talk to him as I always appreciate a pink dress. It turns out they are the designers of BarPig! And it wasn’t long before I found out that the Viking was Dutch as well and the Prince in the dress speaks Dutch as a Canadian. I obviously have a very good eye for my fellow Dutchies and in this instance – a good eye for fun games as well! We love BarPig at Coaching for Geeks and it has made it into our best games of the show blog. The website describes the game as follows: “Players take turns based on a dice roll to come one level closer to the winning level 5, whilst challenging fellow players to silly group activities and challenges. Losing these minigames not only cost you precious drinks on your bar tab, but also impact your character’s sobriety. Lose too many sober points and your character might find him/her-self ‘blacking out’ (sending you back to level 1)!”
I played a few rounds and enjoyed it a lot! My second carrot was dangled in front of me and I decided to catch up with our Overlord Robin. We chatted with the guys at Board Game Crate (review to follow), and another carrot was dangled in front of me. I learned my lesson this night, never to attend a press night without going to the actual event and being able to actually buy the games you love otherwise you will miss out on all the carrots! Even when all most of the developers I met were Dutch and therefore Orange by default.
Next time I’ll go to all of the expo to chase those carrots.
Jantien Kwekkeboom – as happy as a donkey with carrots at UK Games Expo