Top 10 Games from UKGE 2019 – Part 2

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We covered the bottom half of the list last week, so it’s time for the Top 5. Which games from the UK Games Expo 2019 did we enjoy the most? Let’s get into it…

5. Endeavor: Age of Sail


This is a re-working of the original Endeavor from ten years ago. It’s an engine-building, civ-development game that has you colonising the world in your ships. You send your ships out to get resources to build different parts of your engine and then race the other players to grab the most lucrative locations.

It played smoothly, provided lots of options and gave a great sense of expansion and development. It came out of left field for me (I hadn’t heard of it), but Mark was keen for us to take a look at it and I’m glad we did! We brought back a copy we liked it so much.

4. Super Fantasy Brawl

Super Fantasy Brawl

Due for release from Mythic Games later this year, this is a light tactical skirmish game. Now there are lots of these, but this one stood out from the crowd for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, there’s a nifty card-activation system where you have to use one card from each of 3 different colours. But the cards also correspond to one of your 3 fighters. You might want to activate your mage, but you might not have the right cards this turn. It’s one of those where you have to make the best of the cards you’ve been dealt.

The artwork is cartoony, but very well-done and the miniatures are fantastic. Mark and I had a demo game and really enjoyed it.

3. Sanctum

Sanctum Small

This is essentially Diablo: The Board Game. It’s from the designer of Adrenaline (Filip Neduk) and does a great job of simulating a hack ‘n slash, XP-leveling fantasy quest.

You kill monsters using a clever dice manipulation system. Essentially you’re trying to match the number on the monster cards, but you can use equipment to modify your rolls. You then take your spoils back to town and buy better gear and potions.

You progress through a number of stages before facing a boss in the final showdown. It’s kind of co-operative, but you want to become faster and stronger than any of your team mates! Unfortunately, it’s not due for release until later this year, but look out for it – it’s really good!

2. Letter Jam

Letter Jam

I wasn’t sure if a cross between Hanabi and Scrabble would work, but it really did! You can’t see your own letters, but you can see other people’s and you have to give word clues using everyone else’s letters at once to indicate what letters they might have.

You really need to like making words from letters, but as long as you do, it was one of the best word games I’ve ever played. You can be very clever with the clues if you think about it and I love the fact that it’s co-operative. Played with the right group, it’s super satisfying.

1. Karuba: The Card Game

Karuba: The Card Game

I wasn’t expecting much from this. The original Karuba is great, but could you really capture the ingenious simultaneous route-planning in a card game? Well they did. And brilliantly.

Everyone has their own (identical) deck of numbered route cards and you each try to build your own route connecting the explorer cards in your deck with your temples.

You draw 3 cards and use 2 each turn, but the twist is that the person with the lowest number total on their chosen cards has to throw one of their cards away! It’s strategic, quick and condenses all the goodness of the original into a neat little package. As fillers go, it’s fantastic!

Only 3 of the anticipated games made the final list. Why is that? Well, unfortunately, several of the games (such as Cloudspire and Crypt X) didn’t have playable demos, so we couldn’t really judge.

Some games weren’t as good as I was expecting either (like Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write). There were also just quite a few surprises though! Games that I wasn’t expecting to be as good as they were. So that was great!

Which games appeal to you the most? Were any those right up your street?

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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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