Photograph of the prototype of Magnificent Flying Machines. Four cardboard standees of old-fashioned planes are on a board showing gound and sky. Some custom dice can be seen.

In Games: UK Games Expo 2018 (Sunday)

Here’s the last of Jobby’s adventures at the UK Games Expo 2018…

Sunday at UKGE is always a bit of weird day for me. There’s always a game that was too packed on Friday and Saturday for me to demo. There’s always a stack of games that Sarah and I wanted to buy but didn’t and now we realise we want them but can’t remember where to get them! There’s always that slightly empty feeling in the NEC as some stalls have already packed up and the crowds have really thinned out. Still, here’s how Sunday went…

Century: Eastern Wonders

We walked into Hall 1 and headed straight for the corner with Century: Eastern Wonders. We were going to play this if it killed us! Cunningly Rob and Kelly had already got there, taken a seat and told the demo lady that they were waiting for us! Well done Rob and Kelly!

This is the ‘sequel’ to last year’s Century: Spice Road. Although it’s a separate game it can be integrated with it’s predecessor but that wasn’t what was on show here. Here, we played just Century: Eastern Wonders.

Similar to Spice Road, Eastern Wonders centres on different colour cubes which players must accumulate to buy victory points. Whereas Spice Road is entirely card driven, this game has a map which players sail around to build buildings on spaces. Those buildings enable players to use the action of the space to get cubes or trade certain cubes for others. The corner spaces are where points are bought.

Photograph of Century: Eastern Wonders. Several tiles with pictures of coloured cubes have little wooden buildings on them in the players' colours. There is a ship for each player on the board.
We had to come back again and again to try this – Century: Eastern Wonders

This was very enjoyable. While it feels a lot like its older sibling, Eastern Wonders still feels different enough. The spatial element really does make the players think differently, although there is still the essence of engine building in this. Once I had access to the actions of certain spaces I just stopped building and concentrated on buying cards.

The game contains an incentive to build different buildings: once a player builds a set they gain a special ability. The special abilities range from moving further to just some big points. Again, once I’d built enough I didn’t take any notice of this. I had got the move further ability which helped me to score quickly but I didn’t feel the need to build more. Perhaps there is a strategy there for building more but point tokens were the way forward for me.

Magnificent Flying Machines

I really wanted to try the prototype of forthcoming game Magnificent Flying Machines. The girls didn’t look impressed with this but Rob was game. We quickly found the stall and got the demo guy to explain the rules to us. A couple of other punters joined to listen and we all asked to play the game. Demo guy looked totally baffled by this but we sat down and got flying our old fashioned planes through the skies!

While demo guy seemed a little fuzzy on some of the rules the basic gist was as follows. Each player has a plane which they are trying to get to the other end of the board in that old-fashioned flying race kind of way. Taking off, landing and flying all require skill checks which are basically roll a number of dice (dictated by your plane and its add-ons) and look for the right number of the correct symbol. Sometimes failures will cause the plane to become damaged reducing its ability until the plane lands and gets repaired.

Photograph of the prototype of Magnificent Flying Machines. Four cardboard standees of old-fashioned planes are on a board showing gound and sky. Some custom dice can be seen.
My plane (just above the mountain) coming in for a dodgy landing in Magnificent Flying Machines (prototype).

To mix things up there are cards which help players and some that hinder their opponents. These caused some outright laughter – at the start of the game I made the pilot to my left drunk which hindered his take-off ability! Mid way through the game after I crash landed, one of the opponents dropped a brick on my head! This is not a game to be played with people who don’t like their plans messed with!

There’s some nice touches to the rules, too. I particularly like the weather mechanic. Each strip of the board is affected by weather which can make certain tests more difficult. If a plane gains enough altitude it is flying above the weather and so not affected. Each round of play will see some or all of the weather change which makes things a little unpredictable. Take it from me, discovering you need to land for repairs but a storm has just blown in is not fun!

Finally there are packages that planes can deliver to the right areas for more points and spare parts that can be carried for repairs. Carry the parts inside your plane and you can modify the result of a dice roll in your favour. Passengers and cargo will take up room, though, reducing the number of those spare parts that can be carried inside the plane!

This was a load of fun and produced some big belly laughs from all the players round the table. As much fun as screwing up a landing is, it’s even more fun screwing up someone else’s landing for them! I will be looking out for this toward the end of the year when it should be released.

Fog of Love

Kelly and Rob had to head off to relieve their relatives from child minding. We said our goodbyes and then Sarah and I thought about what to do next. “There’s Fog of Love.” Sarah pointed out. We’d been umming and arring about playing this because of all the hype. Interest was getting the better of me and I agreed to give it a go.

Fog of Love has generated a lot of interest in the media. It’s a game about falling in love and being in a relationship. Played between two players in a kind of co-operative way, the players work their way through a story. The story we played had us falling in love at a disco. We only played one chapter which I think was meant to be enough to get a feel for the game but I would’ve been happier playing it all the way through. Some of what follows will be conjecture…

Photograph of a scenario card in Fog of Love. A card is show saying that the blue player has bought the pink player a birthday present. Blue has given a lazy weekend at home with games and pizza, pink wanted an antique brooch.
What lovely gift did I buy Sarah and what did she want? I was playing blue and she was playing pink. Fog of Love

The game starts with players selecting some attributes for their character (you don’t actually go through this as yourself!). Is your character shy? Outgoing? Disciplined? Easy going? Controlling? This is kept secret from the other player. Each player selects some public attributes for the other person’s character. We ended up with Sarah playing a priest with quirky make-up, jewellery and I was playing a criminal with long blond hair and tattoos.

It seems the goal of the game is to gain satisfaction for yourself while, at the same time, ensuring your partner gets satisfaction too. Very much like a real relationship! This is done by scenario cards being played with multiple choices. Each player secretly chooses what their character would do and then reveal their choices together. Depending on the scenario good stuff may happen if players choose the same or different responses.

The cunning bit is that each choice results in markers being placed on a kind of ‘personality chart’ that dominates the middle of the board. This gives the players a mechanism to communicate their character’s personality to the other player, thus enabling the other player to make more considerate choices and leading to happiness between the characters.

At least that’s what I think is going on. We only played one chapter and were given an extremely rushed explanation of what was going on with zero mention of what the end goal was. It was an interesting experience and has made me want to play a full game if only to find out if what I thought was going on was what was actually going on…

NMBR9

Feeling slightly unsatisfied (ironically) Sarah and I headed off into the remnants of the Expo. Stalls were now looking quite bare, staff were tired and everyone was ready to go home. We wanted one last game! We really wanted to play NMBR9 which is luckily a pretty quick game. The young lad on the stall happily explained the rules to us and we gave it a go.

Basically, players lay number shaped tiles and try to build upwards. Tiles on higher levels must be completely supported by tiles underneath. A deck of cards dictates the order that tiles are laid in with all players taking and laying the same numbers at the same time. Once the deck runs out the scoring happens.

Each tile scores its number multiplied by the level it’s on. So tiles directly on the table score zero, i.e. their number multiplied by zero. The next level score face value, the next level twice face value, etc.

Coloured numbers from 0-9 are stacked up on top of each other. There are about 3 levels.
Pretty numbers stacked up. The higher they are the more they are worth. NMBR9 was much harder than I thought it would be!

It’s hard. A lot harder than I imagined. The shapes are really awkward. Really awkward! I honestly wanted to have another game to see if I could do better but time was our enemy and we had to head off before our cat missed us too much! This may be one to buy another day.

The End

And that was it! UKGE always manages to reinvigorate my interest in board gaming. I always have a great time. Each year there are surprises, often good (IquazĂș) sometimes not so good (Bunny Kingdom). Each year it’s gets bigger and more mind blowing. Each year I seem to feel more worn out afterwards.

We had a great show and were pleased to hear our friends Rob and Kelly (for whom it was their first UKGE) had a great show, too. Looking forward to next year!

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