UKGE 2018 Roundup - Saturday
By Ben Porter
Ruthless: Alley Cat Games
Our first port of call (nice) on Saturday was the Alley Cat Games stand in Hall 1. Featured in our preview article, the game caught our attention for its stunning piratical artwork. The game is being published by Alley Cat Games, but has been developed by Roland MacDonald (not a typo) who we were fortunate enough to have demo the game for us.
What’s most impressive about Ruthless is that Roland has created the game and has also done all of the artwork for it, too – something most other developers outsource. And everything in the game looks amazing. I am something of a cynic when it comes to deckbuilders; most of them devolve into essentially playing concurrent solo games with other players, primarily consisting of watching who can draw the most ridiculous volume of cards in a single turn.
This is not the case with Ruthless.
The game sorts cards into suits and uses poker-esque mechanics like flushes and straights, essentially making it a poker-pirate-deckbuilder game. And there’s plenty of scope for playing dirty tricks on one another. The use of poker mechanics within the game makes for a particularly elegant marriage of theme and gameplay. It was only Josh and myself that played in this instance, however, so we’re keen to see how the game plays and feels with a higher player count; scoring in particular wasn’t quite as exciting as in a 2-player game each player is basically guaranteed to score at the end of the round.
Ruthless is currently up for preorder and we’ll hopefully have some more coverage of the game before then.
I was disappointed with Games Workshop’s stand, to be honest. Considering the size of an event like UKGE – and the fact that they were one of the main sponsors for the event – I would have thought it would be the perfect opportunity for them to have shown off something new. All the revealed – and this was during their seminar on the Friday – was a new character for the Nighthaunt, a new warband for Necromunda, and a card-only expansion for Warhammer Underworlds.
Whilst they are all nice things, it would have been nice to at least have seen a bit more Blitz Bowl (their travel-size version of Blood Bowl) or some of the upcoming releases for the new edition of Age of Sigmar. I suppose they’re taking a leaf out of the Nintendo playbook and are choosing instead to reveal things in their own time, not wanting to share a stage with anyone else. At least they showed up this year – the mere suggestion of a GW presence at an event like UKGE would have been laughed at during the Kirby years.
That being said, it was really cool to see so many people playing the boxed games in their range. They also had a huge bar set up where people were being taught how to paint a space marine – and there were lots of wee kids taking part, too. We spent most of our time ogling the display cabinet, which featured some of the new Idoneth Deepkin models and some of the yet to be released models for the new edition. There was also a couple of scaled-up versions of some of the miniatures. Charlotte wants a 3-up of the Eidolon of Mathlann for the garden.
Board Game Crate
It was great to finally catch up with Phil Collins. We’re such big fans of his music and the Board Game Crate is a clever idea, too.
That was a completely original joke that Phil has probably never heard before. He’s going to laugh and laugh when he sees it and will not be irritated at all. Trust me. You loved it, too – don’t kid yourself.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of our respective systems, Phil was telling us that they have designed an algorithm for subscribers that examines their Board Game Geek collection, recognises trends within their collection, and makes selections for their board game crate based on that. It means that you’re not going to be given a game you already own and, on theory, you’re not going to be given one that is of no interest to you.
Not only does the internet know that you’re lonely and nudge you in the direction of a Russian bride, Geoff, it now also knows that you hate deckbuilders. And we hate you, Geoff.
Board Game Crate is something that we’ll be looking into as we’re very interested to see how this algorithm works. Also, who doesn’t like getting stuff in the post?
Ice Cool: Brain Games
Whilst we were skulking around, waiting for our next appointment, we wandered over to the Brain Games stand where we were quickly accosted by one of the staff. He gave us a quick demonstration of Ice Cool and his mad flicking skills (the demo couldn’t have been longer than a minute), then left us to it.
That may sound like a very poor sales pitch, but it’s a testament to the game’s streamlined, elegant game design. We didn’t have long until our next appointment, so we only played a couple of rounds, but I was seriously impressed with this game. The use of the game box for the board is a very clever feat of engineering, and there’s just something really satisfying about seeing your wee penguin skate through the doorways - so satisfying that I may have decided to buy a copy there and then.
Seriously. Go and play Ice Cool. If you don’t like it, seek help.
Fallout: Wasteland Warfare
Every time we looked at the Modiphius stand over the weekend it was mobbed, thanks largely to their upcoming miniatures game set in the Fallout universe.
Eventually, we managed to get to the table and were led through a game by the company’s wargames manager, John. The Drumlin Diner table that we got to play on was easily one of the more impressive displays at the Expo; the level of detail and decay (a Fallout trademark, of course) was something to behold.
We essentially played with the contents of the core box that will be released for the game’s launch, which contains everything players should need to take their first steps into the wasteland. Josh took control of a band of Super Mutants doing what they usually do, whilst Charlotte and myself played as a band of plucky survivors trying to hack a terminal in the long-abandoned restaurant.
Happily, the miniatures for Wasteland Warfare are of a high standard. I believe they are available in a hardened plastic or resin, with the reason being the higher quality (and more expensive) of the two.
Combat in Wasteland Warfare is fun and reasonably straight forward. People already familiar with miniature-based games like Warhammer, Infinity, etc will take to the game like a duck to water, and because the game uses custom dice for resolving most every sort of test and action, new players shouldn’t struggle much either with little to no need to consult tables. Battles are very much skirmishes, so the action all feels very in fitting with the IP.
Of course, we completely ignored the objective with Josh charging his hammer-wielding Super Mutant Brute at the baseball bat-wielding survivor in power armour, and spent most of the game knocking lumps out of each other. It was fun, it was fast-paced and it was silly in the way that Fallout usually is.
What John took great pains to stress was that the game eschews balance in favour of campaign play – particularly co-operative mode. As they did not want to simply produce another wargame with the Fallout band tacked on, Modiphius asked the fans what they would like to see, and the overwhelming response found was a desire for co-op mode. There are allegedly extensive rules for AI, upgrading your characters and even recruiting new ones. If this is something they can deliver on, it could make for a very interesting change of direction in wargaming, which has typically been overwhelmingly about 1 v 1 pitched battles.
Capital City Entertainment
We caught up with the folks at Capital City Entertainment who are currently working on a documentary about independent companies within the tabletop industry. Charlotte and myself were interviewed by Elisar about our roles within tabletop gaming media and how that role plays into the independent scene. Hopefully we managed to say something insightful. We were ambushed by Chewbacca part way through the interview.
I'm not kidding, by the way. That inconsiderate space sapien was stood in the background, waving his arms around. How many movies have you been in, Chewbacca? So bloody self-aggrandising.
Back in April I did an interview with Richard Denning (Medusa Games and UKGE), during which he mentioned a duo who perform comedy songs, amongst some of the other live acts performing at UKGE. After having met Tommy and Ed on the Thursday, we were keen to get along to one of their performances to support them. We also felt that it would be beneficial to attend a live show to experience the Expo in a more complete sense; it is far more than just a tabletop trade show, after all.
I have to say, Jollyboat far exceeded my expectations. I went in thinking that they were going to give us a few jocular sea shanties with perhaps a few references to geek culture (Ed had mentioned when we first met that they had written a song about D&D), but the two are far more versatile than that.
They performed for an hour at energy level: ridiculous and played an array of songs that I could see appealing to a rather wider demographic than was necessarily represented within that particular audience; even the song about all the stupid monsters from Dungeons and Dragons does not require intimate knowledge of the game. It’s probably worth noting that some of the humour can be a wee bit edgy at times – definitely not one to take the kids along to. Tommy is a vulgar little man. He also didn’t wear a shirt for the first part of the show. I have no idea why, but if Anthony Kiedis can do it, why can’t he?
It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see the lads after their show, but they appeared to be very busy chatting with fans, selling CDs etc. so we left them to it. We’re hoping to catch up with them later this year as they’ll be up in Edinburgh for the Fringe, and if you get the chance to see them (they also tour the UK regularly) you definitely should. Jollyboat are a very witty, musical pair.
After the gig we had grand ambitions towards staying up into the wee hours playing games in the Open Gaming areas, but a combination of everybody already being tied into games and the fact that I was going cross-eyed with fatigue at this point, meant that we settled for a drink or two and a catch up with some friends.
I seriously underestimated how tired I would be.