In Games: UK Games Expo 2019 (Sunday)

Players' boards and pieces for the game Villainous. There is a gold lamp and an apple with a skull around it.

Jobby reports on the final day of UKGE 2019…

And so it was that the last day of UKGE 2019 arrived. With sadness in our hearts and exhaustion filling our bodies we met with Rob and Kelly once more to brave the crowds. Although, with this being Sunday the crowds were much depleted!

Inuit

First up, and from Rob’s list, we headed straight over to try out Inuit. A game about trying to survive in the Arctic Circle. In this game, players take turns drafting cards from a central display of cards. The card they take might just end up being worth points at the end of the game (like the animal cards) and is placed above their board. An adult or child card can be added below the player’s board so that it becomes a ‘worker’ enabling a player to take more of the associated cards on future turns. For example, a Shaman lets a player take more Spirit cards.

This weirdly felt like an extremely cut-down version of Greenland, which is a game I love. Sarah refuses to play that Phil Eklund game because of the seal hunting and in this game she refused to take seals as well. Still, with her army of spirits, she won!

A player's board which has a couple of cards showing people placed below it and some cards showing seals above it. There are also some face down cards above the board.
Beating up the opponents and hunting seals, that’s how I play Inuit (and I lost!)

Silk

We then moved across the aisle to hop onto a game that I had been looking to play, Silk. We got possibly the cheeriest demo guy that I’ve ever met! I have no idea how he still had so much energy but he made a good job of explaining this game to us.

Players in Silk are farming weird, giant silkworms. They have a shepherd and a sheepdog/goat thing that functions like a sheepdog. These pieces are used to move the silkworms onto better grazing land so they score more points. Once land has been grazed it becomes useless so the silkworms need to be moved on again.

Oh, and there’s a scary black monster called the Ookami. If that ends up on the same space as any silkworms it puts them in its cave to eat them at the end of the game. Eaten worms are lost points. The ookami is afraid of the sheepdog-thing but scares the shepherd. All of this leads to a lot of bouncing pieces around the board before someone can score them.

A grid of tiles is laid out with pastel coloured wooden pieces on some of the tiles. There are silkworms, sheepdog/goat things and shepherds, There's also a mean looking black animal.
Lots of lovely pastel coloured sheep, er… silkworms, in Silk.

It seems the four of us play viciously! Mr Demo guy exclaimed he’d never seen so many silkworms piled up in the cave before. In retrospect, this lengthened our game as having less silkworms out meant less opportunities to score points. The game ends when the players reach a certain number of points so things dragged out a little. Only a little, mind you. This was a great game and I look forward to enjoying more pastel coloured goodness with it!

Lots of wooden silkworms piled on a board with a picture of a cave. The silkworms are in the players' colours - purple, green, yellow and brown.
So many silkworms for the Ookami for feast on! We were playing mean!

Alien RPG

Now it was time to run over to the Villainous stand where we’d booked ourselves in for a demo. Nearby I nearly wet myself with excitement when I saw this stand..

Picture from the cover of the official Alien RPG. A person in a spacesuit stands in from of the Xenomorph which has its tail curled over it's head.
Ooh, ooh, ooh! So pretty!

Yup, that is an Alien roleplaying game coming out. I don’t do much roleplaying nowadays but I’d happily buy this game just for the gorgeous artwork! Well, it’s not out yet but I may well look into pre-ordering it! So, after being told that I could take that backdrop home with me for “a bazillion quid” I caught up with the others for our Villainous demo.

Villainous

Oh wow, what a demo it turned out to be! We got to play inside the tent that I’d photographed on Friday. This had a cool table laid out with props including a genie’s lamp and a poisoned apple (ooh!). We all sat down which kind of dictated the character we were playing as (I got Captain Hook from Peter Pan) and then the rules explanation began.

I say rules explanation. We were given a very quick rundown of what the icons in the game meant but at no point did the demo lady say “On your turn you do this …” When she told Sarah to start playing, Sarah just looked at me and mouthed “Help”. We called the demo lady back and she just played Sarah’s hand without explaining what she was doing, how she was doing it or why. We were still very confused!

Players' boards and pieces for the game Villainous. There is a gold lamp and an apple with a skull around it.
Playing our demo of Villainous in the tent (lantern and skull apple sold separately)

We managed to work out that on a player’s turn they move their piece to a location on their board. But then we weren’t sure if you could do just one action or several. Cue calling the demo lady again… OK, turns out you can perform the action for each visible icon. Now to work out why…

There is a nifty concept here. Each player is playing as a different Disney villain and they each have a different goal to accomplish. There is a little booklet for each player that explains their victory condition. For example, as Captain Hook I needed to find Peter Pan (who is in my Fate deck that normally only other players can mess with). He will then appear at one end of my board which I need to find the Nevermap to unlock. Once I’ve unlocked Peter Pan I need to drag him to the left end of my board and beat the crap out of him.

Sounds interesting but we only got to play two or three turns as we were being rushed by the demo lady. They obviously had a lot of demos booked! We asked how long a game of this would normally take and were told that a two player game would last 40 minutes and a four player game could take a few hours! Woah! That’s far too long for what this is. Disappointed we headed off.

Struggle for the Galactic Empire

Whilst playing Villainous, I had noticed the stand behind was selling expansions for Commands & Colours: Ancients. Rob and I have recently been playing this and so I was trotted over to that stand to have a look. Whilst browsing, I noticed the stand was selling Struggle for the Galactic Empire!

Box of the game Struggle for the Galactic Empire. On the cover are several spaceships engaged in battle.
Woo-hoo! A real grail game for me!

This solitaire wargame has been on my wishlist for something like four years. In my excitement I nearly punched some random bloke in the face as I lunged for it. Then it turned out there was 20% off I was so happy! I could have just gone home from the Expo there and then. Look out for a session report soon. Instead of going, we said goodbye to Rob and Kelly who had to go early and Sarah and I wandered off to try out…

Namiji

Sarah had seen this game being demoed and really wanted to try it out. It is the ‘sequel’ to Tokaido, a game that we both enjoy. Namiji is currently in the prototype stage but we sat down and a young couple joined us (the bloke looked weirdly familiar).

Just like Tokaido, Namiji sees players making their way along a path. This time the theme is fishing. Like in the predecessor, players choose a spot on the path and carry out that action. The player furthest back takes the next turn so leaping ahead gets you want you want but you’ll have to wait for your next turn.

Main board of Namiji. This is obviously a prototype as the board looks like it was printed on an office printer and is made of four piecese. There is a track with coloured dots on around the outside. Decks of cards are there and some tokens are scattered face down.
We demo’d the prototype of Namiji, Tokaido’s spiritual successor about fishing.

Many other gameplay elements are similar. In Tokaido there are Inns on the path where all the players must gather before moving on. Namiji has the same but players get cards that grant special powers instead of food. There are sets of cards to collect that make up big pictures, whales in the case of Namiji.

There are some differences, though. One action involves fishing which is represented in Namiji by taking a tile from a pile which starts face down. Once a tile has been taken another is flipped face up. These tiles are placed in a net on the player’s board. Somewhere, though, the rules about placement and scoring of fish got very muddled so we just placed the fish in the net and hoped we were doing it right!

Prototype player board from Namiji. The main area is a net divided into a grid on which fish tokens have been placed. There are a couple of tokens that look like paper boats along the bottom and a picture of a boat on the right.
My player board during Namiji. I think I’m filling my net up well!

Another difference is that players start with four tokens on their board which they must get rid of by the end of the game by taking the ‘offering’ action. If there are any left at game end then the tokens will lose the player points.

Oh, and there was prawn fishing. When doing this, a player draws tokens out of a bag, one at a time, up to a maximum of five. Any prawns will score points but if they draw two crabs then the crabs eat the prawns and the player loses everything!

Despite some of the rules confusion Namiji was a nice game. It had that same chilled-out vibe that Tokaido has and I’m sure the publisher will do Namiji justice and present it with similar art to it’s cousin. The fishing was quite fun and we always enjoy a rule where you have to draw something out of a bag! We’ll be keeping an eye on this.

Bumúntú

Before we called it a day we had time for one more demo. Sarah really wanted to try Bumúntú, or Bum-nugget as I had named it due to forgetting its real name! In this game, players are collecting African animals. The usual suspects are present: lions, crocodiles, giraffes and even Sarah’s favourites, hippos. These are all present as tiles arranged in a grid which the players’ pawns stand on.

Gameplay shares some similarity with Hey! That’s My Fish. To move, a player takes their pawn and moves it according to the ability of the animal it is standing on. Then the player takes the tile their pawn moved from. Scoring for animals is represented by a chart on the board. When a player takes a tile with a dark background they can rearrange the chart a little, obviously trying to move things to their favour.

Lots of white, square, plastic tiles with animals printed on are arranged in a grid. Some are missing. A couple of wooden pawns represent the players' positions in the game.
Hopping from animal to animal in Bumuntu.

It all plays out very well and is a pleasant game to play. Obviously Sarah has an affinity for African animals (she costs less to summon for each African animal in play) and we were tempted to purchase this but found the price simply to high for such a simple game. This must be due to the plastic tiles which, to be brutally honest, could just have been cardboard.

With our final demo out of the way all that remained was to just pick up a few last purchases, say hello to Nigel running the play zone and then hit the road. Exhausted, and with a slight tinge of sadness, we both headed away from another great three days of fun playing new games, dodging cosplayers, being bustled by big people with bigger bags and saying “Hi!” to some familiar faces. Until 2020…

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