The first Tabletop Gaming Live board game convention was held at Alexandra Place, London, on September 29/30, 2018. Alexandra Palace is a really impressive venue, with lots of space and amenities as well as being an impressive backdrop for the convention. The different spaces included the main exhibitor hall, open gaming and seminars and a demo room for RPGs and miniature games.
We spent most of our day in the exhibitor hall, but also checked out the open gaming area which was a big space for the number of attendees and had a small library which was notably stocked with quite a number of hot recent releases.
The exhibitor hall had around 100 exhibitors in total, ranging from big UK distributors, demoing games from Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight, Iello, Gamewright, Blue Orange etc., to many smaller UK and European independent publishers and designers, as well as retailers. We were really impressed with the range of brand new and upcoming releases available to demo and it was a great opportunity to see some games that we'll miss out on seeing due to not going to Essen.
It was pretty easy to get a seat at a demo table and here are our top three games that we got the chance to try.
Monumental is due to relaunch on Kickstarter in October 2018, from designer Matthew Dunstan and publisher Fun Forge. On first impressions, the map is beautiful and the miniatures are some of the best high-definition moulds we've ever seen. However, far from being your typical dudes on a map game, Monumental is a really interesting combination of deck-building, area influence and civilisation building.
We loved how each turn you can trigger a whole sequence of interlocking actions, by activating cards in your tableau and exploring or conquering new territory. For much of the game you're just building up your civilisation, until in final turns you'll start to attack other players to gain more control around the board. Each turn is super interesting for the active player, but downtime did go a little long with four players. However, we're super excited to try a two-player game, where the modular board will scale for player count.
We 100% recommend checking this out when it launches on Kickstarter.
Dice Hospital was being demonstrated by Alley Cat Games and is one we've been trying to demo at a couple of recent conventions. It's a dice manipulation and worker allocation game, set in a hospital where dice are your patients. The game is really puzzly as you try and care for and discharge a number of dice in the same turn to score maximum points and free up space in your hospital.
It's quite a light game but also pretty unique, plus it has a fantastic art style and theme. If, like us, you regret not backing Dice Hospital on Kickstarter, then your best chance to get a copy is to check out their stand at Essen in a couple of weeks.
The River is the big 2018 release from Days of Wonder. It's a light worker placement game of adding tiles to your personal player board, collecting resources and storing them based on your river tiles, and constructing buildings with those resources. It also has turkey meeples!
It's definitely an entry level worker placement game and only lasts around 30 minutes, even with four players. It's even a light game by Days of Wonder standards, but it's definitely one I'd consider playing with the family to get them into some more challenging euro games, rather than the standard party or abstract games that they typically see as their limit.