One of the many perks of being a Zatu Blogger is the potential to be brought along to one of the UK's fantastic gaming expos. Recently, this led me to Tabletop Gaming Live (TTGL). Here I was able to demo a range of games on our stand and elsewhere. Some of these games have not even been released yet.
Games on the Zatu Stand
One of the titles I had chance to show the lovely people of the expo was Copenhagen. It turned out to be a pretty popular request. The aim is to construct a facade on the front of a building in Copenhagen. Gameplay consists of drafting Tetris-like, coloured pieces, with little window illustrations in some sections.
This is done by discarding cards of the corresponding colour. The more cards discarded, the larger the piece collected. The piece is then placed on the player board, with points scored for filling columns and rows. Points are doubled if the row/column is entirely windows. Additional abilities can be unlocked by completing specific rows or covering a particular icon. These can make your turns more productive, giving you multiple actions or letting you draft more cards.
I found the game to be generally fun at first, but this one was particularly popular. After my fourth or fifth game, my enthusiasm for it was beginning to lag a little. It was an intense dose for a 24-hour period. It was also a bit ugly, but that's just my subjective taste in artwork. Read Nick Welford's review for more detail.
As I did at UKGE, I demoed Corinth again here. This is a roll and write game, involving a big fistful of dice - super satisfying stuff. Dice are rolled and distributed across different resources. Players, beginning with the active player, pick which resource they want, taking it out of play. More dice on the resource means more of it.
Most of the time, resources translate directly into the points you need to win. However, you can also purchase upgrades, which can translate into further resources. There is also a little maze in the corner of the sheet where you can guide a 'steward' around a district, collecting resources, points, or earning you extra dice.
There is plenty to do on this small sheet, which is probably why I'm not yet tired of it. It also helps that I had a few months since my last Corinth binge and that this one was pretty brief. Regardless, I do recommend this one. It's typically well-received and accessible for kids too. Read Andru's review for more.
My demoing highlight on the Zatu stand has to be Tiny Towns. I'd known about this game for a while. Especially given its huge success at UKGE. The gameplay looked interesting. Resource cubes are selected, either by players or a deck of cards, and need to be placed on a player board. Different resources in specific orientations are turned into buildings which can produce points.
Relatively simple stuff. But it quickly turns into a puzzle of your own making, as you try to shoehorn in an additional farm, otherwise your extra few cottages won't be fed and the neighbourhood will be kept awake by the cries of hungry children.
I had great fun playing it at the table and, once I found out that there were loads more buildings to swap out and use in a game, I was sold. Our demos had convinced me to part with my cash. We were almost too good. Read Matt's review to learn more.
Around Tabletop Gaming Live
Alongside the Zatu stand at Tabletop Gaming Live, I was also able to go and explore. I perused many of the other stands and got stuck in with something new.
KeyForge: Age of Ascension
Now, not entirely new to me, but still pretty fresh. I battled out a game of KeyForge with a colleague, using Age of Ascension. KeyForge, for those that don't know, is a card game sold by the deck. Each deck is entirely unique, made with an algorithm to keep them all usable.
For anyone thinking about it, just grab yourself a deck - they're nice and cheap. Use can use an app for point tracking and RPG dice for damage counting.
I was able to test out some of the newer cards with a Mars-Logos-Shadows deck. There are some really exciting stuff that keeps the game fresh in there, so definitely check it out if you're a fan of the first set. One of my cards, Collector Worm (Mars), archived anything it fought and, with five armour, fighting came easy to it. My opponent was new to the game and I admittedly should've held back more than I did. Well, a win is a win.
Magnate: First City
One exciting new title I got chance to play at Tabletop Gaming Live was Magnate: The First City. Now, after years of balance tweaks and aesthetic changes, Naylor Games are preparing for their Kickstarter launch this November.
With Halloween on the horizon, this is unexpectedly appropriate. This 1-5 player experience sees players buying and selling property, until the world undergoes a financial collapse and the game ends. Too real.
Different property will benefit from the surrounding areas. For example, a family home will both easily attract tenants and be of higher selling value, if built by a nature reserve. Equally, you might have trouble if you choose to place the same building next to the airport. To represent these buildings, we had access to detailed, 3D-printed buildings, which included modest shops and fancy-looking, skyscraping offices.
The best part is the economy, which is booming. Land and property value is going up and up, but you need to predict the market and sell wisely. Player actions directly influence the crash. Not enough advertising to prospective tenants or too many of you selling up property? Expect it all to come crashing down that little bit sooner.
Now, I didn't have a chance to finish the game, due to time constraints, but played for over an hour. At first, I wasn't sure if I'd like the theme, as it's far drier than what I'd normally go for. However, I did find myself invested (hah!) in the game and the time flew by. I'd be keen to get my hands on this one again and play it through until the end. Until that time comes, I'll be keeping an eye on the Kickstarter and checking its progress. I hope you will too.
Super Fantasy Brawl
When exploring UKGE, this Summer, I caught a glance at a very pretty game. With a colourful map and detailed minis, Super Fantasy Brawl captured my attention. My curiosity was piqued further by the cries of acclaim by members of the team that had enjoyed their first battle in the arena. Alas, UKGE was too busy and I missed my shot at playing it. Thankfully, Tabletop Gaming Live was a much quieter event, so I got test drive this bad boy twice.
In the setting of Fabulosa, mages rule the land and summon great warriors from across realms to fight for entertainment. This theme enables the Mythic Games team to muster up characters from an array of backgrounds, so expect a varied roster. Also, this means the audience is the top priority and all of the objectives needed to win are the desires of the crowd. That said, snuffing out one of your opponents is still a fantastic option towards seizing victory.
Gameplay is card driven, with your deck comprising of the abilities of your three heroes. That means each of the cards in your hand can only be played with a specific hero on the board. To weaken that restriction, there are weaker, general actions that any character can take, such as moving and healing one point of damage. Actions and abilities are also coloured coordinated, representing the three cores of magic: Destruction, manipulation and creation. You can only use each of these cores once per turn, so it's important to plan carefully.
Any of the characters can be combined in each team. Since characters play so differently, this opens the possibilities of what any single game is going to spit out. Strategy could vary wildly depending on how you or your opponent wanted to play. For example, I had Deryn the huntress at my disposal. She excelled at range combat but was also buffed when either she or her opponent was sat upon a trap hex. So, when using the hulking pirate, Gold'arr, pushing and pulling my opponents towards traps worked wonders for me. My favourite play was the finale of my final game, where I was able to buff my caster, Gwaien. This was followed by a fireball and chain lighting, both with forms of splash damage, to eliminate two enemies simultaneously. Epic stuff.
This title has now wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign, after earning over $491,000. The basic $49 package comes with everything you need to play and a generous 12 heroes, each with their own gorgeous mini. Although the figures I laid my eyes on at the expo were 3D-printed, I've been assured by the Mythic Games team that the plastic ones still remain detailed and distinct. For those dishing out more cash, three more characters, a neoprene board and more is available. I've been told that purchasing the deluxe package at $89 is enough to have two games playing simultaneously.
Now, I haven't backed a Kickstarter before. It seems like a slippery slope to an addiction that I've seen across multiple Facebook groups. I can't afford that kind of habit. That said, my copy is due to be shipped next March and I can't wait! Gameplay is genuinely exciting and scraps in the arena are dynamic and thoughtful. With a shorter playing time, which can be as little as 20 minutes, I'm hoping to get this one to the table often. Roll on, 2020.
I got to sample a wide range of games at Tabletop Gaming Live. This is exactly why I adore these expos. Compared to UKGE, it was much quieter and smaller. Honestly, I prefer it. With so much going on and so many full tables at UKGE, it was tough to find an empty seat for gaming. This time, there was plenty of opportunity for me to have a taster of something new and exciting.
I'm particularly happy with my purchases. In addition to Tiny Towns and my Super Fantasy Brawl pledge, I also snagged Terror Below. We were also demoing the latter, but I was introduced to it in the Zatu Airbnb. It's aesthetically gorgeous and the gameplay, of hopping around a map collecting loot and avoiding giant sand worms, is new to my collection. I'd discuss it in more detail, but I think I hit my word limit long ago. Maybe see you next year!