On the whole, I wasn’t overly impressed with the offering at the UK Games Expo this year. I really enjoyed myself at the convention, but in terms of exciting new games to try, there wasn’t a lot that really interested me.
That being said, there were a few diamonds in the rough. I didn’t get to try everything I wanted to (some games became booked out almost as soon as the show opened), but of the ones I played, these were my favourites…
3. Pixie Queen
Although it’s not a new release (it came out last year), this one seems to have flown under my radar. It’s a medium-weight worker-placement with plenty of interaction. The delightful theme pits you as pixies trying to curry favour with the Pixie Queen who spends most of her time whipping her subjects.
You steal resources to make offerings to the Queen who hates you. You start off with zero victory points and steadily lose them throughout the game. You desperately try to increase your standing by converting resources into silver and gold to create beautiful things for her, which reduces the number of victory points you lose each turn.
As you advance your pixies, they make the worker-placements spots cheaper for anyone to use, so you need to think carefully about which spots you move through. There are lots of options for plenty of replayability, the mechanisms are interesting, but the the icing on the cake is a truly unique theme!
This was the big surprise of the Expo for me. I had seen people playing it at AireCon and it didn’t grab me, but once I sat in the driving seat, so to speak, I got it. Chronicles of Crime simulates solving a crime as a detective better than any game I’ve ever played.
You use an app to look around a VR crime scene and then you have complete freedom to inspect things that you find or talk to people you meet. The app handles all of these interactions very well. Choosing what to do next is done by scanning VR codes on the cards you reveal, which is a bit fiddly, but it works.
You might talk to someone who mentions seeing the victim’s boyfriend at a particular café. You could then go to the café to look for the boyfriend. If they’re not there, you could talk to a waitress to ask if they’ve seen him. Or you could ask her about a hat that you found at the crime scene that you think might belong to the boyfriend. It’s super immersive. It was a Kickstarter and is due for delivery in December. I can’t wait!
This is the unpronounceable sequel to Tzolk’in and shares many similar concepts with it in the form of temple tracks and technologies. The central mechanism is a big rondel around the outside of the board (instead of the rotating worker-placement cogs from Tzolk’in).
It’s a heavy Euro, although it’s easier to grasp than Tzolk’in. Some of the spaces give you resources and you use those resources to build a big pyramid in the middle of the board, which scores you points. There are lots of little interconnected mechanisms running through everything though, which gives you a lot to think about!
Money (in the form of cocoa beans) is tight and if you go on a space where someone else is you have to pay to use the spot, so you’re also trying to work out what other people are likely to do to reduce the cost of your actions. I thought it was fantastic!
It’s scheduled for release at Essen later this year.
Were you able to get to the Expo this year? Which games stood out for you?