UK Games Expo Report from Alan How


The 2019 UK Games Expo was the best one so far. Easily. It was extremely well organised, had a wide variety of events and larger than ever games halls. There were 97 new games launched and you can check the list. Many of them are from new companies, but there were a few larger companies releasing games at this show. Perhaps the best known was Star Wars Outer Rim, from Fantasy Flight but many other games were close to release Kickstarters, recently released Kickstarters or Kickstarters that will be coming in the next few months.

I’ve played Outer Rim a few times now and it is a pick up and deliver style game in the Star Wars universe. Similar to Xia and Firefly in many respects and works pretty well.

The show is expanding and so are the size of the exhibitors. This was the first show for Ravensberger, Quined Games and a few other well known board game companies though there were no new releases from them. When I spoke to them I think that this might well change. Portal Games had their largest ever booth and released their roll and write in the Imperial Settlers universe called Imperial Settlers Roll & Write, adding to the Imperial Settlers branding.

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Nominated Games for the 2018 Meeples Choice Awards

The Spielfrieks user group has finished their first week of voting for the Meeples Choice Awards.  26 games have received nominations.  During the coming week, the voters will select their favorites from that group and the top three vote getters will be crowned as the MCA winners for 2018.

If you’re a member of Spielfrieks, please help us out and head over to the Yahoo User Group to participate in the final round of voting.  If you’re not a member, but would like to participate, all you have to do is send an email to and you will be signed up and ready to join us.

Here is the list of nominated games, in alphabetical order.

Architects of the West Kingdom
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
Blackout: Hong Kong
Brass: Birmingham
Carpe Diem
Concordia Venus
Drop It
Endeavor: Age of Sail
Forum Trajanum
Just One
Key Flow
New Frontiers
Space Base
Teotihuacan: City of Gods
That’s Pretty Clever
The Mind
The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Underwater Cities
Welcome To…
Yellow & Yangtze

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The Crusoe Crew (Baïam)

Designer: Shuky
Artist: Gorobei
Publisher: Van Ryder Games (Makaka Editions)
Players: 4
Ages: 7+
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Times Played: 4 with purchased copy

Baïam first crossed my radar while preparing for a trip to Essen in 2017. I’m a fan of the Makaka graphic novel adventures and the prospect of one that could be played by 4 friends simultaneously was enticing –though I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s take a step back.

The Crusoe Crew is a sort of multidimensional Choose-Your-Own-Adventure graphic novel –designed so that 4 players each have a book, and while playing mostly in sync, and with books that are largely the same, the players embody specific characters with special abilities: strength, dexterity, animal communication, etc. If there is an element where a character’s special skills come into play, that player will have some extra options in that panel that your fellow adventurers won’t be able to see.

OK, another step back for a moment.

The Crusoe Crew is one of the newest titles in the “Graphic Novel Adventures” series that Van Ryder Games is releasing.  So far, each of these was originally published in French by, Makaka Editions (and if you’re following along very closely, the French edition had a name change to “Kuala” shortly before it was released, so there is no “Baïam” edition; it’s just the first name associated with this game in my head.)

The books are a mixture of a choose your own adventure type book, where you most often will be selecting which path to take, but a series of riddles, puzzles, and hidden pictures might unlock alleyways, wormholes, or secret passages which skirt the more visible routes.

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Ice Team

Ice Team

  • Designers: Bruno Cathala and Matthew Dunstan
  • Publisher: The Flying Games
  • Players: 2
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by distributor (Blackrock Games)

Ice Team was a game that I had honestly never heard of before it arrived on my doorstep, but there has been a steady stream of small 2p games from this publisher (The Flying Games) including Little Big Fish and Jurassic Snack – both of which I have played in the past.

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Dale Yu: Review of Solenia


  • Designer: Sebastien Dujardin
  • Publisher: Pearl Games
  • Players:
  • Age:
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Pearl Games/Asmodee NA

So, this is one of the final reviews that I will write from Essen 2018 – mostly because I’m nearly at the end of the stack of games. Yet, this is one of the games that I played early on – and due to a less than awesome first experience, I found that I had a hard time getting it back to the table to play a few more times in order to write a review. And, in the end, I’m probably to blame for that bad experience for not sticking to my guns. In the end, I’m glad that I decided to play this one again as I have found that I really enjoy the game now.

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Tiny Towns (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designer: Peter McPherson
  • Artists: Gong Studios, Matt Paquette
  • Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
  • Players: 1-6
  • Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Times Played: 6

“Do you think there is going to be a sequel where Cthulhu comes and takes over all these tiny towns and gets rid of all the anthropomorphic creatures? Those things creep me out.”

In Tiny Towns players are competing Mayors trying to build the best scoring tiny town. You do this by using resources placed in your 4×4 grid to build buildings that will allow you to score the most points.

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Meeples Choice Preliminary Round Voting Has Started

So the Spielfrieks user group has started voting for the Meeples Choice Awards, in which we select our three favorite games of the previous calendar year.  Right now, we’re choosing our 25 nominated games.  Next week, we’ll vote to weed those nominees down to the three winning designs.  If you’re a member of Spielfrieks, please help us out and head over to the Yahoo User Group to place your votes.  If you’re not a member, but would like to participate, all you have to do is send an email to and you will be signed up and ready to join us.  Keep an eye out for some Geeklists listing the nominated games and, eventually, the winning ones!  Thanks!

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Space Gate Odyssey

Space Gate Odyssey

  • Designer: Cedric Lefebvre
  • Publisher: Ludonaute
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Times played, 2 with review copy provided by publisher

Space Gate Odyssey is a game set in the “not-so-distant future” where humans are working to colonize newly discovered exoplanets.  There is a new system of five planets surrounding a central one, named Hawking. Travelling to this system (Which apparently ignores usual space physics) is done through space gates, some sort of teleporter – which must be built in space.  The game centers around the activities on the Odyssey, an international space station. Each player controls an unnamed, but conveniently uniquely colored, confederation, trying to build the modules and control the settlement of the exoplanets – with the overall goal of being the most influential confederation, and thus being given control of the entire system when the colonization process is over.

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Dale Yu: Review of Neta-Tanka


  • Designer: RV Rigal
  • Publisher: La Boite de Jeu
  • Players: 1-4
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by La Boite de Jeu / Blackrock distribution

The Neta-Tanka is the leader of the Frostrivers tribe, and when it is time for the current leader to pass onto the next world, there is a ceremony where the potential new leaders of the tribe compete to show who is best suited to be the next Neta-Tanka.  While this sounds a lot like the Hunger Games, it really is a much less violent sort of boardgame… Here, each player performs different actions which score them victory points, as this is obviously how the Frostrivers tribe measures greatness.

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Dale Yu: Review of Hex Roller

Hex Roller

  • Designer: Rustan Hakansson
  • Publisher: Renegade Game Studios / Frosted Games
  • Players: 1-8
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Times played: 5, with review copy provided by Renegade Games

Hex Roller is one of the newer entries into the very crowded roll-and-write (RAW) genre. This little game has 8 special d6 (numbered from 3-8) that come in 4 different colors; though this is somewhat un-necessary as the color of the die never comes into play, and a pad full of scoresheets to write upon. No writing implements are provided, so the next time you come across a box of golf pencils, grab you eight of them to stash away in this box.

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