UK Games Expo – Saturday 5th June

Last Saturday saw me (and my son, Josh) visit the UK Games Expo in Birmingham. This is now my 4th year, and the show has maintained a consistent level of ‘goodness’, with something new and different to see each year.

This year, somewhat contrary to what some other people have said, I thought the show seemed somewhat miniatures light – much more dominated by boardgames, CCGs and RPGs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make the show different to the usual UK games show that I attend (the vast majority of which are miniatures dominated, if not exclusive).

Happily, this year I did manage to get several games in during the day.

First up was a game of Great Fire of London – the new/upcoming game from none other that Richard Denning himself (who is one of the organisers of the Expo). It still hasn’t quite hit its final production version yet, but the version we played was still very good.

The board seemed a little small, and there has been much discussion since on BGG about the fire and pump pieces, but the gameplay was excellent, and I’d go as far to say that this was my favourite game of the day.

Next up was a game of Forbidden Island, which had just made it into the UK in time to debut at the show.

This is a very pretty game, with some very nice bits and is very nicely priced at £14.

I got to play Forbidden Island with Si from the 'Into The Gamescape' podcast

The game itself, as has already been commented on elsewhere, owes many of its mechanics to Pandemic, and as such can almost been seen as Pandemic Lite, which may very well turn people off.

It’s also been described as a kids game – which it’s certainly aimed at, but it’s pretty good fun all the same…almost a co-op filler game. whilst we won the game without too many hassles on ‘Novice’ level, I can see the game becoming much harder at the higher levels of difficulty.

The game is a good intro into co-op gaming, and I suspect it could be in the running for the Spiel des Jahres next year.

Next up was a game that saw it’s release at the Expo – Age of Industry by Martin Wallace.

Now, I own a copy of Brass, though I’ve never played it, and there has been much discussion over whether this game is simply a simplified version of that game, of whether it stands up in its own right.

Well, I certainly enjoyed the game, though not as much as I thought I might – although about 2/3 of the way through the game I had the ‘light bulb’ moment…by which time I was too far behind to catch up and I lost horribly. However, I did manage to get hold of a copy of the game (the limited edition with the extra wooden bits) so hopefully this will be seeing the light again in a few weeks (probably at Manorcon).

Finally, the game saw the release of the new Sci-Fi rulebook for Hammers Slammers, called The Crucible. John Treadway and friends had put on a truly huge 28mm display game for this (it looked to be a 30′ x 6′ table) with massed of tanks and armoured vehicles from Old Crow.

The book looks very interesting – and is a very nicely produced publication (Hardback, full colour).

I will be reviewing it on the podcast. I did record an interview with John about the rules, but unfortunately the sound quality of the recording is not good, so I won’t be putting that on the show – I will try to get a transcript posted.

My purchases for the day were actually fairly small – the aforementioned Age of Industry and Forbidden Island, plus a couple fo bargains from JKLM: Claim It! and Phoenicia, both at bargain prices  – oh, and I picked up the 2-player expansion for Sumeria (one of my favourite games from last year’s show).

By the time I’d recorded the interview with John, and had a further chat, it was time to pack away for the day.

I really enjoyed the event again this year (as did Josh, who spent the vast majority of the day in the console gaming area, I believe). The show didn’t seem to have quite the same number of new releases as it has in previous years…there were many more preview games of Essen releases, and as I mentioned earlier, the miniatures side of the hobby was less well represented, but all in all it’s still and excellent event, and I look forward to attending again.

One final note – thanks to everyone who said ‘Hi’ at the show – I’m sorry I didn’t get chance to chat with everyone…I shall have to come back for the full weekend next year.

7 Comments on UK Games Expo – Saturday 5th June

  1. Hammers Slammers
    If I may ask, do you think the rules would work in 6mm, or is geared towards 28mm, with individually based figures, rather than, say, bases with whole teams on ?
    Merely ask as I have load of vehicles/inf from GZG that I used to use for Dirtside and Stargrunt.

    Or maybe I should just wait for the review to find out… Anyway, look forward to the next show !

    • Andrew

      I must admit, I haven’t had chance to have a look through the rules yet, so I can’t answer your question – yet.

      When I was chatting to John, I was disappointed that the game was geared around troop units and individual vehicles, even in 6mm. That said, I suppose there is nothing to stop you from converting individual vehicle to mean ‘element’ so you could use vehicle elements, rather than individual vehicles. It’s a bit of an abstraction, but not a major leap, I would guess.

      More to come…

  2. Okay then, just wondered. I may stick with Future War Commander for the time being then. Liked the WWII (BlitzkriedCommander)version I and played several times (still to play BKC II), but have not tried the sci-fi version yet.
    Thanks.

    • I haven’t tried FWC either (yet) – though we are playing Cold War Commander.

      I’ve heard from several people that it’s a bit too ‘generic’ and so lacks flavour…I’d be interested to know what you think of it.

  3. Great fire was good, but my main niggle was with the cards. Tehy need a little bit of work to diffrentiate the direction of the fire. Having a small “N” in the top wasn’t enough.
    The random setup was a little weak as well I though. Otherwise an interesting game.

    Did you get to playtest the early (I mean really early) version of Tomemo? That was really good.

    • Missed that one completely.

      On the Great Fire front, it’s great to see that they seem to be taking all the comments from the Expo into account and doing redesigns, even at this (late) stage. The card backs may well be changing, as many people had the same thoughts that you did.

  4. Andrew: The Crucible and 6mm
    Bit late for and answer but I will anyway! The game is designed to work in 6mm, 15mm and 28mm. Much of the testing was done in 6mm, as it happens, simply because of set up time and space considerations. Game play centres around TUs – Tactical Units. A small force is a single detachment, a medium sized force 2 detachments and a large force 3 detachments. A detachment commonly includes between 10 and 15 Tactical Units (though may have as few as 8 and as many as 30, dependening on leadership and troop quality [or secenarios!]). A TU is a squad of infantry (commonly 4 figures to a base) which even if they are not actually based together (which in 28mm is often the case, though in 15mm and 6mm they almost always are) operate as a single unit.

    So a typical detachment for a small force might have a platoon of 6 vehicle TUs and 4 infantry TUs (making 16 figures on 4 stands).

    Have a look at http://www.hammers-slammers.com and email me with any questions you might have.

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