Our UK Games Expo 2019 hit list!

As this year’s UK Games Expo (UKGE) draws tantalisingly closer, we’ve taken a look at who (and what) is going to be exhibiting and whittled it all down to our UK Games Expo 2019 hit list. An almost impossible task – because of course, we want to see EVERYTHING!

An old meme of a cartoon, fist in the air with the text 'play all the board games'

But experience tells us that the UKGE weekend flies by and we just can’t fit everything in. So, we’ve put together the top #12 games at this year’s UKGE that we’re most excited about (in no particular order).

#1 Sushi roll (Gamewright)

Oh boy, I haven’t started with an easy one. We were torn as to whether to include Sushi Roll or Lanterns Dice (Renegade Games), as we like both of the original games that these are based on (Sushi Go and Lanterns: The Harvest Festival). We want to see how both will be adapted into dice games, but Sushi Roll won us over because we think it’ll work better as a light-hearted sushi-collecting dice game, keeping true to the original. It’s much harder to imagine Lanterns as a dice game that will keep the calm, relaxing nature of the original game.

Box and prototype design of components for Sushi Roll.

#2 Dust in the Wings (Board and Dice)

We’ve yet to play a Board and Dice game that we didn’t like, so we’re expecting big things with this year’s UKGE offerings – of which there’s many!

It was hard to pick, but the one we’re most looking forward to demoing is Dust in the Wings – a game where players spread butterflies across a beautiful meadow to score points. The components for Dust look beautiful, especially the gorgeous butterfly meeples. We’re also starting to grow into the abstract strategy genre and the nature theme combined with abstract play seems to work really well.

Two rows of cards from the the Dust in the Wings game. The top row of cards shows different numbers and types pf butterflies. The second row of cards shows square pattern layouts for the butterflies to form on the game board.

Really, we’re hoping to demo all the Board and Dice games we can. Shout out to World Shapers – another beautiful looking game that fits into the smaller, lower-priced category. We’ve already resigned to the fact that we will probably walk away with both Dust in the Wings and World Shapers, if not more!

#3 Bosk (Floodgate Games)

Speaking of abstract nature games, we’re also keen to grab a play of Bosk. A pretty looking game where players grow their trees through the seasons: from growing their trees in the spring, to covering the forest floor with leaves in the autumn. Based on the storming success of Sagrada, we can assume Floodgate Games know their stuff when it comes to aesthetic abstract games, so our expectations are set high.

Box cover of the game Bosk. The box art is a scenic picture looking through woodland, with a hiker in the distance and falling autumn leaves.

We’re also intrigued to see how Bosk sets itself apart from the similar tree-cultivating abstract game from 2017, Photosynthesis (Blue Orange Games), which is still very popular today.

#4 Escape the Dark Sector (Themeborne)

OMGOMGOMG. We are SO excited about this. Escape the Dark Castle is one of the best games we’ve played this year (possibly of all time). It works brilliantly as a 2 player game. The story elements and moody monochrome aesthetic are amazing.

Photo showing the box art and game components for Escape the Dark sector. All the artwork is in black and white.

It’s easy to imagine how well the Escape concept will work with this theme. I can’t wait to take make my dark and eerie escape through the dark sector!

#5 Museum (Holy Grail Games)

This one is more a Lauren must-see, although neither of us knows that much about it. We’re drawn in by the artwork, and mainly the theme – collecting artefacts during the golden age of museum curation. For years, Lauren’s favourite film was Mummy Returns (I know….what taste), so I think Museum being set in that kind of era is what makes it so appealing to her.

Museum game box. It shows several characters in a museum, appraising new artifacts that have been delivered.

#6 Cat café (Alley Cat Games)

We had our first dip into roll & write games recently, with Railroad Ink (Horrible Games) and Welcome to… (Blue Cocker Games) – not technically a roll & write, we know, but often classed as one! We enjoyed both and are now looking at picking up a few roll & writes to add to our collection.

Cat café sounds like the ideal option. We. Love. Kittehs. And in this game, you draft your dice to build the cuddliest, most appealing café for your four-legged friends.

Photo showing the box of the game Cat Cafe. The box shows a large cat climbing tree, with multiple cats on it drawn in different styles.

Hopefully, we’ll get to demo Cat café, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to pick up a copy… the game is only getting a soft release and Alley Cat has said that only 50 copies will be available at the UKGE. Some copies were available for pre-order, but have sold-out.

#7 Kitty Cataclysm (Stuff by Bez)

The box artwork for Kitty Cataclysm. Every little space on the image is taken up by a sketched cat.

Another cat one! We’re fans of small, quick, humorous card games that you can fit in whenever, wherever – and Kitty Cataclysm fits the bill at a 7-10 minute playtime. It sounds like a good rumble of barely organised chaos, and likely will be one of the most entertaining demos we’ll get at the Expo.

To give you a flavour of the hijinks involved, I’ll leave you with our favourite quote from the Kitty Cataclysm Kickstarter page:

This game features depictions of cigars and cat bums. There is also a ‘catty pill’. If you do not want your kids to see cat bums, then don’t get this game. And never get a cat.

Behrooz ‘Bez’ Shahriari, at some point last year.

We sat down with Bez at last year’s Tabletop Gaming Live and played a few Wibbell++ games, so we’re really looking forward to a catch-up with her at the expo…and maybe a rematch!

#8 Jane Austen’s Matchmaker: Chapter Two & Jane Austen’s Revenge (Sabrewolf Games)

The expansion Jane Austen’s Revenge is new to the UKGE this year, but we want to try the base game, Jane Austen’s Matchmaker: Chapter Two. We’re quite keen on this one because:

  1. it’s the romance genre, which is relatively underused in board games
  2. it’s based on Jane Austin’s novels (which Lauren insists she will read…eventually), and
  3. Matchmaker: Chapter Two appears to have been designed specifically with a 2 player game in mind, which we are always on the lookout for.
Box for the game Jane Austen's Matchmaker: Chapter Two
Box for Jane Austen's Revenge, the Matchmaker expansion.

#9 Crypt X (ITB Games)

We’re fans of narrative games and love getting immersed in a game’s story. So the new narrative puzzle game by ITB Games Crypt X seems right up our street. I can’t wait to take on the role of an archaeology student trying to piece together clues to find my missing professor.

As a puzzle game it’s likely that Crypt X is going to be similar to an escape room style game, a style of game we haven’t explored that much to date.  

#10 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Osprey Games)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is definitely my pick. There isn’t a lot of information on the mechanics, but the artwork, setting and theme have sucked me right in. Players travel around Europe, attending social meetings and showing off their magical prowess, in the race to become the most dedicated magician of all time.

Game layout for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, including a game board, player settings, cards and tokens.

I love the fresh take of using magic in the alternative history setting, rather than a fantasy setting with elves, wizards and other mythical beasts. And it’s another game based on a book – which I think I’m going to have to check out!

#11 Pandemic: Rapid Response (ZMAN Games)

I’m not going to lie, this did not feature in the initial draft of our UK Games Expo 2019 hit list. But before this post went live on the blog, ZMAN Games announced Pandemic: Rapid Response… and I just knew we just had to work it into the list.

If you haven’t heard, Pandemic: Rapid Response is the newest game to join the Pandemic family. It’s still a cooperative game, but that is literally all it seems to have in common with its predecessors. This time, the world is being ravaged by natural disasters and players are racing to provide aid (Food, Water, and Vaccines) to the people in need. And it’s in REAL-TIME!!! – I actually think the added pressure of a real-time game is really fitting for something in the Pandemic line.

I can feel the blood pressure shoot up already!

#12 Endangered (Grand Gamers Guild)

Box for the Endangered game. It shows zoomed in artwork on a tiger's face, with the words "Endangered: A game of survival by Joe Hopkins".

This one is a doozy. In Endangered, players work together as conservationists trying to save a species from extinction. This is a really appealing idea, and from what we’ve seen the concept looks well thought through, well designed and well implemented.

Endangered looks so impressive, I’m actually gutted we missed the Kickstarter on this one.

We’re also keen to demo the Artemis Project with Grand Gamers Guild, which seems like an interesting take on the space colonisation genre.

These are the games on our UK Games Expo 2019 hit list, but the UKGE is more than just the games! We’re also really looking forward to catching up with people: designers, publisher and other board gaming comrades.

Disclaimer: We have been fortunate enough to obtain press passes for the UK Games Expo 2019. Our views, opinions and discussions about the UK Games Expo 2019 are our honest opinions, and not affected by this.

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