UK Games Expo 2019: New Games Preview
The UK Games Expo 2019 is nearly upon us and with that it's time to take a look and compile a list of things we simply have to see on the convention floor. With a show as big as UKGE has become it's quite easy to miss a lot of really cool stuff and get lost among all the retailers and stockists trying to find a bargain for a game you already know about. The idea behind this list is to scour just the new stuff and see what looks cool and what we have to go see.
The list was made using the UKGE official New Games page, which lists all of the games that are New to buy, play, or back on KS at the show. This does mean that games that are making a second appearance, or came out recently but will be here to play are not on that list, and as such not on the list below. This isn't a perfect process either, and if I've missed something cool do let me know so I can go check it out! It's often the hidden gems that surprise us!
Another thing to note is this also only shows the new games at the show, some of the best parts of going to UKGE are the various accessory stalls selling custom meeples and game bits, artists selling prints, and many other types of stall. I'm equally excited to dive into those, as well as the bring and buy and stockists, panels and seminars, but for now, let's check out what's on the New and Upcoming list in alphabetical publisher order!
Aegir Games (Hall 2, Stall 324)
The Norway based developer has done a deal with Paradox Interactive to bring it's huge strategy PC game Europa Universalis to the tabletop, which is a massive undertaking for sure. Paradox are renown for making incredibly deep and complex games that are not for the feint of heart, and Europa Universalis is among their most flagship games. It will be interesting to sit down and hopefully get a closer look at how it's coming along and if it can bring the feeling of the PC strategy experience to the table.
Alley Cat Games (1-936)
Alley Cat, for lack of a better phrase, are BRINGING IT this year, with 6 games on their docket we will definitely be swinging by. I've already preordered a copy of Cat Cafe to collect, a roll and write about attracting the most amount of cats, a theme that will go down well with the family, and there will be demos for their latest Kickstarter success about running a chocolate factory, aptly named Chocolate Factory which has me intrigued with some innovative looking gameplay. They're also showing the expansion to last years hit Dice Hospital, a demo of in development Marquesas, as well as appearances from Coral Island and Welcome to DinoWorld. In short, there will be plenty to play and see at the Alley Cat Games booth which makes it one of the key stops on the show floor. I just hope they've secured enough help to bring all of it into the expo hall or they'll be setting up for days!
Black Box Adventures (1-693)
I've not seen a game from this Netherlands based developer before but on first look the have a very strong visual flavour to their games, and tackle some interesting themes, such as a game about seafood and spaghetti... The two new games on show, Adventures in Neverland and Climate Oasis are both a little sparse on details at the minute but both give a strong initial impression from their covers, themes, and their brief description which has piqued my interest enough to add these on to the list. Climate Oasis in particular sounds like a game we need right now, even if it doesn't tackle the theme head on.
Czech Games Edition (2-148)
Following up the hugely successful Codenames (and various spinoffs) and the brilliant but underrated Trap Words, CGE will be showing their latest in development party word based game Letter Jam. I've heard only good things about this combination of word game and Hanabi so far from people who have had demoes and CGE have a good track record in this space so all signs point to another winner. They also have Sanctum coming out this year, a 2-4 player fantasy adventure game and there is not too much detail out there on it yet so should be worth a check in at least to see what it's all about and how it's coming along.
Floodgate Games (2-336)
Unfortunately the first thing I think of when I hear 'Bosk' is a bounty hunting space lizard and not trees, but this could hopefully all change as Floodgate bring their game of 'Majestic Trees and Falling Leaves' to the expo. A beautiful looking game reminiscent of Photosynthesis but with a bit more to it, it's been on my radar (aka, I've seen it on Twitter) for a little while and with release scheduled for early July it's a good time to go and get a demo and see what it looks like in person, as with Photosynthesis I think this one will really pop off the table when you see it in real life.
Hall or Nothing Productions (1-1016)
With multiple successful Kickstarter's under it's belt, the makers of Gloom of Kilforth will be bringing their incredibly beautiful follow up Shadows of Kilforth to the show to play, as well as a new in development game ready to test out, 1565, St Elmo's Pay. With beautiful art and production across every title they have put out so far it'll be interesting to see if they also have the gameplay there. And with both Kilforth games super sold out, this might be the only chance to play them for some time, for us non-backers at least!
Inside the Box (1-714)
With a larger booth and more games than ever before ITB are bringing what looks like some real interesting games this year, with a good mix of available titles to demo and purchase such as Newspeak and Statecraft, as well as some in development goodies including the follow up to last years co-op survival horror game Sub Terra, Sub Terra II, and a sneak peek at their latest project going to Kickstarter, Crypt X. Last year they had plenty of space and demo copies available which is always a plus, and after a very helpful tutorial from the staff and playthrough of Sub Terra one of our group ended up picking it up, so having table space, copies to play, and good friendly people really does work!
Lucky Duck Games (..?)
Ok so not technically on the New Games list for some reason, but they definitely have a good number of new games that I knew about so they're going on our list! Lucky Duck are an interesting developer with a good mix of games, so will be definitely worth checking out. They have last years critically acclaimed Chronicles of Crime, which has players working as detectives, using their phones as Augmented Reality devices to actually peer into the crime scenes, and should have some expansion cases to show off. They have also been turning old mobile phone apps into board games with surprising amounts of success. Having already tackled everyone's first phone game Fruit Ninja, they have moved on to everyone's 2nd and 3rd phone games and had funded Kickstarter's now for both Jetpack Joyride and Kingdom Rush. They were both incredibly popular on mobile, and with both not yet delivered to backers this should hopefully be a good place to give them a go (especially as I backed Jetpack Joyride and someone else in our group backed Kingdom Rush!)
Portal Games (2-552)
This year is the 20 year Anniversary of Portal Games, which is a huge milestone for any company, and this year they are bringing us a lot of new games to celebrate, with a nice mix of old and new. Firstly they have jumped on board the roll & write train with an adaptation of the Imperial Settlers game, the art looks great and it seems to be a fun little distillation of the main game all intertwined with rolley writey goodness. There's also a new expansion for Monolith Arena, the very well received follow up to Neuroshima Hex, which is called Monolith Arena Academics and contains a whole new Army to play as. They also have follow ups to Detective, more Imperial Settlers goodness, new Neuroshima Hex packs, and a new absolutely gorgeous looking new edition of Pret-A-Porter scheduled for 2019, though these aren't on the UKGE New Games list so are not likely to appear. Boo! (let's hope that's just a mistake!)
Renegade Game Studios (1-514)
If there's one thing Renegade usually get right, it's the artistic style on their games. From Fox in the Forest and Tea Dragon Society to Reykholt, Architects of the West Kingdom, and Arboretum, they have been behind some of the best looking games out there in the last few years. This looks set to continue with a number of games they have to demo this year with a funky game called Bubble Tea about shaking and making the hipster beverage of choice, as well a dice version of their game Lanterns. They also recently wrapped up a successful Kickstarter for Terror Below, a 'game of government experiments gone wild in the Nevada desert', that tasks players with driving around a desert to do the most science before a giant worm destroys them. It looks like great fun, and can't wait to check it out.
Shadowborne Games (1-821)
While I am hesitant to recommend going to see a game based on so little information, the website for Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood does leave an almighty first impression. Described as a 1-4 player dungeon crawler, this game comes with a full audiobook to guide you through, and multi-phase 100mm boss fights. Whatever that means. But it's the art direction that really grabs, and if the concept art on their teaser site is anything to go by then this should be one big box of gorgeous. With their first newsletter not until June and a launch on Kickstarter over 100 days away this will be an ideal first chance to go have a look.
Sinister Fish Games (2-412)
One of the cleanest looking games I've seen in quite awhile, Villagers from Sinister Fish was a huge hit on Kickstarter, with it's striking colourful art on white backgrounds it looked modern with a unique style, and it seems a lot of people agreed as it was the 7th most backed Kickstarter ever when it finished. With the official release date for Villagers scheduled for the Monday after UKGE, hopefully they will have a few copies to sell on, but if not it will be worth a play to see what the fuss was about, and to check out that unique style in person.
The City of Games (1-730)
With a bit of a departure from their last release, City of Games will be showing Vadoran Gardens at the show this year, a low priced competitive drafting and tile laying game with colourful art. Set in the same universe as the City of Kings, their first game which was a puzzle based coop fantasy game that was a bix box filled with characters, cards, bits, dice, more bits, and tokens. I've still yet to try out City of Kings so hopefully there will be a demo there, but the gameplay and whimsy of Vadoran Gardens looks enough to also entice us in.
Wren Games (2-624)
Small British designers Wren Games will be bringing 2 new boxes of goodies to play, with both coming to Kickstarter later in the month. Firstly an expansion called Re-Sequence & Override for Assembly, the creative and replayable 1-2 player co-op game about building a space ship to escape a station while a defiant AI attempts to block your way. We played Assembly as a demo last year and have since picked up the final version and love it, so looking forward to the new bits. There is also a completely new game and the follow up to Assembly, and that is Sensor Ghosts. Set just after Assembly this tasks players with navigating space debris to make their way to safety. With the crowdfunding about to begin, and the solid Assembly foundation to build on it will be exciting to see how these do, and to give them both a play.
I wanted to list a couple of honourable mentions below as well - these were games that caught my eye going through this process that also seemed worth checking out, but had I written a paragraph for everything then this would have been way too long!
Bad Cat Games - Gladiatores (1-565)
East Street Games - Robot Royale (2-320)
Highfell Ganes - Fellbound (2-379)
Intuitive Games - Equity the Game (2-324)
Paco Sako - Paco Sako (2-491)
Quined Games - Terramara (1-699)
Studio Agate - FATEFORGE (1-251)
White Wizard Games - Sorcerer (1-864)
That's it then for the UKGE list of New Games that we think are worth checking out this year. As always though it's important to stress that it's not all about the shiny and new, the best part of the Expo will always be meeting new people and more importantly playing games! Playing brand new games, in development games, available to purchase games, old games, classic games, any games really, preferably with a beer or two and a few laughs along the way.
See you all there!