The UK Games Expo is the biggest (and best) board game convention that the UK has to offer! Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham, thousands of board gamers from across the UK, Europe and the world will be converging on the city to play, try and buy new games.

This includes ourselves! This will be our fourth year at the UK Games Expo (UKGE) and we’ve seen it grow and shape itself to be a major player in the board game convention scene; arguably being one of the top 5 in the world! (No bias there I promise).

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Each year has provided the opportunity to either try out or even get our hands on a new game. From Tajemnicze Domostwo (The original Polish edition of Mysterium from Portal Games) in our first year attending. To demoing Codenames (The smash hit from Czech Games Edition) in our second year.

In addition to that, having to comprehend the sudden rise in game releases last year after the expo moved from the Hilton Metropole to the NEC. Some of those games include The Networks (from Formal Ferret Games), Guild of London (from Tasty Minstrel Games) and Ice Cool (from Brain Games). All of which sold out over the weekend!

The UKGE is growing, and is increasingly making itself a much more popular board game convention that needs to be talked about. Having said that, here’s 5 games that we’re looking forward to taking a look at (and buy if possible!) while at the expo.


#5 – Alien Artifacts

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This is a 4x (expand, explore, exterminate, and exploit) style card game in which players are building a corporation to send out into the unexplored areas of space and attempt to create dominance over the other players.

I’m unaware of another 4x style game which classes itself as a card game (let us know if you know one!) but the idea intrigues me. I’m a fan of the card drafting mechanic as a whole and combining this with this style of game could be a match made in heaven!

Portal Games are the publisher behind my favourite card based game at the moment, Imperial Settlers, so I have high hopes in that regard. Most 4x games can take a few hours to play through.. Some take a lot of hours!

This game boasts to ‘provide a true 4x experience in under an hour’ which (if it’s true) would be immense and certainly a game that will one day sit proudly in my collection. Looking forward to (hopefully) giving this a try!

For more information on this title, visit the BGG Game Page.
Portal Games will be at stand B21!


#4 – Caverna: Cave vs Cave

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Like previous Uwe Rosenberg games (Agricola and Le Havre), Caverna is the next big box game that is getting a two-player standalone version! As a fan of Caverna, my interest in this one was peaked as soon as I saw the title.

Despite it’s naming being a little less than desirable, that won’t take away from the level of excitement I have for this one! I usually play Caverna two player most of the time anyway and think it’s a solid game at two player.

So to try a version that is specifically tailored to a two-player game? Yes please! I have not played the two-player versions of Agricola (All Creatures Big and Small) and Le Havre (The Inland Port), but have heard good things from those who have given them a go. Some of which prefer the two player versions to the original, which shows promise to this new title.

Not too sure if this one will be released at the UKGE, but it certainly should be there to tryout!

For more information on this title, visit the BGG Game Page.
Mayfair and Lookout Games will be at stand B2!


#3 – Between Two Cities: Capitals

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Stonemaier Games has a fantastic reputation of producing and publishing some fab games, such as Scythe and Viticulture. Yet Between Two Cities doesn’t seem to get the same buzz as the previously mentioned titles. We think the game is great!

Players work cooperatively with the players either side of where they are sat at the table to create a city between them. This is done using tile drafting and tiles score in a variety of ways. A player’s lowest scoring city, of the two they’ve created, is their final score. This means players are encouraged to ensure both cities are thriving, rather than focus all their attention into one of them.

This is a family favourite at my household and the announcement of an expansion has us super pumped. Players are going to have to deal with different challenges in the form of landscapes, districts and civic buildings.

Looking forward to seeing what the challenges hold, and hopefully this game can get some love that it deserves as a result! If you haven’t played Between Two Cities, I urge you to give it a try!

For more information on this title, visit the BGG Game Page.
You can find the game at the Board Game Extras stand H3!


#2 – Century: Spice Road

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I think this game will be one to watch at the UKGE this year. Century: Spice Road, is the latest game from designer Emerson Matsuuchi who has some pretty decent games under his belt at this point.

This is a family weight game that is easy to play but offers plenty of strategy for those looking for it. Players are spice traders collecting and trading spices with the aim of collecting as many points as possible. Think Splendor with a little more going on.

Reviews have been coming out thick and fast for this one in recent weeks and months with many touting this one a ‘Splendor killer’! That’s saying a lot seeing as Splendor was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres in 2014.

The game comes with some nice components, including metal coins. It has been announced that the game will be available to buy at the expo, in limited quantities, from many different stockists. Certainly one I’ll be buying!

For more information on this title, visit the BGG Game Page.
The list of stockists at the expo can be found here!


#1 – Bärenpark

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As a fan of Zoo Tycoon and Tetris, this game grabbed my attention immediately as it combines the thematic flavour of Zoo Tycoon with the puzzling nature of Tetris.

Bärenpark is a game where players are building a bear park through placing different shaped tiles on their grid. Players will be scoring points for many different things. This includes animal houses, outdoor areas and completed construction. The game will end when a player has finished expanding their park, so efficiency is key.

The game has a Patchwork and Cottage Garden vibe to it, both games I haven’t played (mainly due to theme) but have been interested in giving a go. This is the second game on this list from Mayfair/Lookout Games which means I’ll be spending a bit of time at that booth come the weekend!

The mechanics here are interesting, the theme has me hooked, so I will be instantly buying this game as it’s being released at the expo. Hopefully it won’t disappoint!

For more information on this title, visit the BGG Game Page.
Mayfair and Lookout Games will be at stand B2!


So that’s what we’re looking forward to giving a go and buying at the UKGE! There’s loads going on over the weekend with events, tournaments and special guests. What are you looking forward to? Anything we should go and check out?

Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in the comments! Be sure to give us a follow to see what we’re up to and coverage of what we find interesting. We will see you at the Expo!

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Becky and myself meeting Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower at last years UKGE.