Games Expo – Day 1

Woo, Games Expo. Day 1 was great and it’s been fantastic catching up with old friends. Let’s have a look at what I got up to. 

The press preview this morning was an interesting affair as I really had no idea what to expect. We were ushered through along with the rest of the press pack do the back of hall 1, which was absolutely rammed with exhibitors this year. Thankfully some smart decisions on the part of expo meant that the place felt roomier, and the corridors were nice and wide as our pack moved towards the awaiting exhibitors. There were about 50 companies showing off their games and it was a good opportunity to make some first contact with a few different folks that I was interested in.

In the Press Coral

I spent most of the morning after the press preview just wandering round and getting an idea of the lay of the land. In the afternoon I started to actually press the flesh and sat down for a good number of demos, ticking off some companies on my list and also adding another in that I had dismissed. Just brief overviews of all of these for now, I will go into greater depth in a later article for each game. Let’s dive in, no particular order to these:

Escape the Dark Castle was high on my list from the get go, being a retro adventure themed game that spoke to my childhood reading Fighting Fantasy books and playing old RPG adventures on a mac classic, yeah I am that old. This was an interesting take on that sort of choose your own adventure game, with huge encounter cards and retro art evoking the feel of the books I loved so much as a child. Add into this a neat dice system that makes every enemy you encounter different each time you play, a bunch of excellent little item cards and a variety of characters to play and you can consider me sold. You can find a link to their Kickstarter here.


Board and Dice – I was super pumped for both Pocket Mars and Superhot, see what I did there, before coming to Expo, and so I made a beeline for the stand pretty early on. I didn’t get a chance to play either at the stand, they were busy from the off, but I had a little explanation of both. Honestly Superhot fell a little flat for me, as they were really emphasising the single player aspect of the game, which is something I am just not interested in. Pocket Mars caught my attention more, and the multiple use of cards in a really compact, and cheap, box sold me enough to buy on the spot. Full review of that further down the line.

Hall or Nothing – I’m in the market for a new adventure game so headed to get a look at Gloom of Killforth. It had arrived at just the last minute at the con and the designer Tristan gave me a good overview of the game. There are some well considered aspects to this RPG in a box style affair, with loads of variation into what you character can do as you can mix and match different races and classes and an interesting tech tree of abilities to grow into. On top of that you also have a personal saga, a little story that plays out as you move around the world. 

Their are both cooperative and competitive versions of the game and they have plans to produce a standalone game at somepoint that will be compatible with this, expanding the possibilities even further. The art in this project is nice but it did leave me feeling a little cold due to the washed out colour palette. I’d be keen to get a game of this in at some point so I can form a better opinion of it. 

Walrus Games – Everdark caught my attention last year with it’s strange rotating board and I resolved to actually get a game of it in this time. I was shown through two turns of the game wherein you are Guardians trying to become the new Lightbringer who, until their recent death, protected the city from the squibbly darkness outside. The board is nicely put together and a lot more robust than I thought it was going to be, allowing you to rotate different sections as you move around trying to complete the missions you have chosen. It has a semi-coop aspect to it, which I was not 100% sold on as I think it is really difficult to get that kind of thing right. Saying that if you are looking for a light strategy game, with a unique board, you should check this out when it comes to Kickstarter. 

Tinhat Games – I had dismissed Tinhat Games as they were in the middle of Kickstarter fulfillment for Dungeon Digger and the game looked ok, but not absolutely up my street. I was totally wrong. Alessandro was a delight to talk to and they were generous enough to clear some space on their stall and let me and my friend Matt have a full demo of a two player game. This is a delightful tile laying game of competing dungeon overlords and minions being sacrificed for various nefarious reasons. They are nice guys and the art and gameplay totally sold me on it. I bought it on the spot, and you should to. Full review soon. 

Osprey Games – I picked up Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space last year at expo, unfortunately it hasn’t made it’s way to my table very often. This year The Lost Expedition and Sharazad had caught my eye and it was the end of the day before I managed to get a sit down at the booth. Lost Expedition has some gorgeous art in a Tintin style, or at least that is what it reminded me of. The game sees you leading an exhibition along a jungle path to find a lost city, using your resources to overcome problems as you see fit. Unfortunately I found the game mechanics a little flat, though I was only being talked through a brief turn or two. If I get a chance I would like to give it a proper play and a full review, as maybe I am just missing something. 

I had an absolutely amazing first day and am having a a whale of time. Roll on day 2 and please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram over the course of the con.  

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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