Tuesday, 3 June 2008
by Dave D at 21:31
This past weekend was the second UK Games Expo, bigger and better than last year, you only have to look at the programme, which unlike last year's flimsy booklet was now a glossy affair, superior to many concerts I've been to (and it was free as opposed to setting you back a tenner or more).
Before I start describing my weekend, I'll give a mention to Dave C who volunteered to help out with the show and was at the venue setting up on Friday evening, was there both mornings at 7am and spent much of the days helping out including operating moving walls in the living dungeon. Anyway he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and earned the club a name check in the programme. The downside was that I don't think he got a chance to play any games. Anyway well done Dave.
Now my weekend.
I got there about 10 o'clock and spent some time wandering about finding out where things were. Almost immediately I ran across Nick Kinzett who was demoing The World Cup game and had a brief chat. I happened on Paul manning his GamesLore stand and after a bit of a chat he pointed me in the direction of a nearby table where they were demoing Jamaica so I sat down and gave that a go. In this game you represent a pirate racing round the island collecting gold and treasure and shooting your opponents, the game finishes when one player reaches the finishing line and victory points are awarded based on how far you have gone and the amount of gold you are carrying in your holds. In the 2 player game I played, the 2 ships got separated early and we never actually got round to exchanging any broadsides, I caught up right at the end so we finished at the same time , but my opponent was carrying a bit more gold. This strikes me as quite a fun family game and the production is very good. For myself, though it's not something I would choose to play that often.
Now it was back to wandering, I visited Ragnar Brothers stand where they were demoing their new game Monastery and booked myself a demo, after that I met Dave C, who had a bit of free time, and Ben, so we joined each other in our wandering. Ben seemed to spend a fair bit of time chasing a Dalek around tormenting it, which did not seem an entirely wise thing to do considering the nature of these creatures. Oh well I supposed kids no best some times.
11.30 and back to the Ragnars. I thoroughly enjoyed Monastery and proceeded to buy a copy. The game is one of building a medieval monastery. Each player has a team of monks and they spend some of their time building parts of the monastery which are tiles that are first laid with their unconstructed side up and and are completed and flipped over when a sufficient number of monks are present on the tile. As an alternative to constructing, monks can also engage in toil or study in completed location depending on the time of day, or can start praying. All these actions earn the player points which they will then spend buying letters of their phrase or acquiring extra monks, if they have points left over then they receive blessings which can be use to add to points in later turns or count towards victory at the end of the game. 3 times a day (the day is played over 2 days) there is a service round where a new abbot (starting player) is elected. No points are scored in these rounds but praying monks are returned to the abbey and are then available for use again.
The game goes on until all the letter tiles are taken or 2 days have been completed at which time players score 3 points for each letter they have placed in their phrase and 1 point for each blessing, highest total is the winner. Dave C had a chance to see some of the game play as for part of the time he was sitting on a chair by the game guarding the door to prevent unauthorised people coming in. After Monastery which we didn't quite finish, I went off over to the Garden House for something to eat and drink, away from all the hubbub.
Returning I bumped into Roj from Wayland's Forge and then Julian, who it does not sound as if we will be seeing at the club in the near future. I played a game of something called Shout7, which is an abstract involving getting 7 stones in a row on a hexagonal grid. Following that, I met Dave again who was looking to gather Ben up and head for home having completed his duties for the day, so I thought I would go with him but got involved in the last demo of Tinner's Trail for the day, we were likely to be pushing the 5 o'clock closing time so Dave headed back without me. I had assumed I would be on the bus anyway and had bought a day ticket so that was no problem.
Tinner's Trail is the new game by Martin Wallace about tin and copper mining in Cornwall. Not surprisingly Dave had already picked up a copy earlier in the day so I would expect to see it on the table at the club in the near future. The game has been billed as a lighter Wallace design and I suppose this is true when compared to Brass or Age of Steam, but the game still has quite a bit of beef in it to my way of thinking and I enjoyed the demo game which we just got finished before we were thrown out at 5pm, having played in about an hour. I just came second in a close finish. There is a review on the geek by one of the other players in the game I played.
Also during the day I picked up a copy of Tsuro, which is a nice little filler playing up to 8 and should be done in about 15 minutes.
On Sunday morning, I woke up with the alarm but then went back to sleep again and next I knew it was 5 past 9, so I rolled out of bed and had to rush to get out for the bus. I again arrived about 10 and this time I headed upstairs to grab a cup of tea and a sausage roll as I'd missed breakfast. Heading downstairs I ran into Ben who told me his Dad was on car Park duty so I went for a walk round the building to see if I could find him. I didn't because he had already gone down the dungeon for the morning, but did meet Gordon, Keith and Daniel on their way in, who wondered if I was already leaving.
For most of the morning I wandered around. I was given a talk on Confucius, which Dave had also picked up the day before; apparently they only had 30 copies which they had sold out before lunch on Saturday. Wandering into the Board games tournament room, (which was somewhat larger and more airy than last year) I came across Steve Perkins and Mark Stretch playing Carcassonne and observed that Mark was wearing our T-shirt. I then ran across Gordon and co. again who apparently had missed out on a game of Giant Settlers, we all headed upstairs for a cup of tea and met Alex, who used to come to the club a few years ago, and his Dad.
After leaving Gordon, I went back downstairs and got a chance to try a prototype of Ascendancy, a 4X space game which is due out at Essen. This was OK, but I think my enjoyment of the game would probably be dependent on the group I was playing with. Now it was lunch time, so over to the Garden House again.
When I headed back to the show I met up with Dave who was now off duty and spent the rest of the afternoon with him. Ben had a trip down the dungeon which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy. I succumbed to the temptation which I had had all weekend and picked up Steam over Holland (aka 18IR aka 1839). This is the nicest produced game of its type that I have seen and I think it should play in an evening.
After Ben had finished I went home with Dave. I had had a good weekend and so had Dave although I suspect his was a lot more tiring than mine. We have now of course got a number of new games to try out at the club.