A few weeks back we went to the UK GAMES EXPO in Birmingham. Of course I’m going to tell you it was purely research purposes for Sugar and Dice, but we all know we were really there to check out new releases, play them and buy as many as our arms could carry back home with us!
Without further ado, I’m going to tell you about a few of our new favourites and about some of the artists we met.
The best placed stall goes to YAY Games – they were literally in front of you as you walk through the doors. We hadn’t even stepped into the place properly before we were beckoned over to play Ominoes by the designer Andrew Harman. I knew instantly that I would love the game – rolling dice to get a specific pattern whilst trying to annoy your opponents? What’s not to love?! Then Andrew showed us Sandcastles… We played a timed variant where you have 10 minutes to build the best sandcastle before someone steals your bucket! This was my favourite game at the Expo and I’m not surprised many many other people have said the same. It’s easy to learn, has a great theme and makes everyone giggle.
Over the weekend, I was most excited to finally meet Andy Allen, the designer of Hexagony, a game for 2 to 3 players in which you place tri-coloured hexagons on an ever-growing mass of tiles in order to make complete hexagons of your designated colour. The rules are super simple, just take one of your tiles, place it so that it touches another tile of the same colour and make sure that all other sides touch the matching colour of the adjacent hex. Once all the tiles have run out, the player with the most solid colour hexes wins. That’s pretty much it. For something that is so simple, it is a real brain burner. You agonise (get it?) over where each of your hexes will be placed as you don’t want to set up your opponents for an easy point. The game won an award at the UK Games Expo for the Best Abstract Strategy Game of 2015 and I can clearly see why. It was so good to finally meet Andy, as we’d chatted to him over Instagram for ages and even won a copy of Hexagony in a competition. We enjoy the game so much, we’ve even made Hexagony-themed cupcakes – something for the café!
Our must-pick-up game this year was Tatsu by John Yianni at Gen42 Games. We actually met John at the Essen Spiel Board Game Expo in Germany last year and he taught us how to play this game. We planned to grab it then, but we were limited by our Ryanair luggage space – we’ve since learnt to take the car to expos, so we have plenty of space for a massive game’s haul – haha! We love John’s game Hive and Tatsu is another two-player game. We like to describe it as Backgammon on steroids – a similar idea of moving your pieces around a board, but with extra rules, plus it’s dragon-themed, which basically makes it amazing! It’s easily the game we’ve played most since the Expo and I can foresee this being a firm favourite of many of you too!
Interestingly, all the above games are from UK designers – a market we really wish to promote. There have always been tonnes of games coming out of Germany and then America, but the British market is here and it’s amazing. There is so much talent in this country and we can’t wait for you to discover these games and many more at Sugar and Dice… Where everything is very nice 🙂