Top 10 Games from UKGE 2019 – Part 1

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Villagers Tableau

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my Top 10 Anticipated Games from UKGE 2019. Well, we went to the UK Games Expo in Birmingham last weekend, and we played loads of games. Which ones were the best? Did any of the anticipated games turn out to be as good as expected? Let’s find out…

10. Victorian Masterminds

Victorian Masterminds

I hadn’t heard about this before I went, but it’s a big-box, family weight Euro from Eric M. Lang and Antoine Bauza. The theme is fantastic! You’re each supervillains attempting to capture famous landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower) with your doomsday devices.

It uses an ingenious worker placement mechanism where you place your discs (workers) facedown onto a stack and when the stack is large enough you flip it over and resolve the actions. Some workers can prevent other workers from activating though so you have to be careful where you place them!

9. TEAM3

TEAM3 Pink

I was looking forward to this dexterity game (based on the “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” tale) and it didn’t disappoint. Trying to describe complicated structures by waving your hands is a lot of fun and building them with your eyes closed is hard! Particularly when someone is shouting instructions at you (“No, your other left!”).

The only significant issue is that you need teams of 3 to play the game. If you don’t have 3 or 6 people, you can’t really play it. When you get the right number though, it’s a blast!

8. Imhotep: The Duel

Imhotep: The Duel

I liked the original Imhotep, but it’s not a game I’ve found myself coming back to, so I wasn’t expecting much from the new 2-player version. The (rather thin) theme is exactly the same: you’re delivering goods on boats to different areas to gain points in different ways.

However, The Duel has a deceptively thinky worker-placement mechanism. On your turn, you either place a worker in a square grid or you activate one of the rows or columns of workers already placed in the grid. Those workers (yours and your opponent’s) then take the matching goods from the boat at the end of the row/column.

You might want a certain good in a ‘column’ boat, but if your opponent activates the boat in the same row as your worker, you’ll have to use it for a different boat that you might not want! It’s very clever!

7. Europe Divided

Europe Divided

I was very keen on this spiritual successor to Twilight Struggle and it lived up to expectations. It’s shorter and feels more streamlined, but somehow it manages to retain all the theme and tension of the original.

I really liked the fact that it was set post-cold war as well (1992 – present). The events give you a great sense of history – for a period that I haven’t seen any other game deal with. I loved it!

This one isn’t available yet though. It’s coming to Kickstarter from Phalanx next week.

6. Villagers


I saw this on Kickstarter, but never backed it because it looked so bland. However, Mark and I got taught the game by the designer (Haakon Gaarder) and we had a great time! It’s much more engaging than it looks.

It’s essentially an engine/tableau-builder. You acquire certain villagers who provide resources or services that can be used by other villagers. Eg. The carpenter builds houses to house more villagers using wood provided by the lumberjack (and he’s okay). The combo (almost tech-tree) element is varied and super satisfying.

So that’s the first five. Find out which games made the top 5 spots next week! Have you managed to play any of the games from UKGE 2019? Which ones were your favourites?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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