UKGE is the largest gathering of indie (independent) board game designers in the country – I know this because it was my job to fold the hundreds of raffle tickets left by their playtesters. Rob’s container was too small to hold them all, so we had to borrow Andy Hopwood’s hat.
I’m pleased to say that the seven games I played at expo were all prototypes by indie designers:
First off was Doruk Kıcıkoğlu’s Props, a storytelling game in which players wrote new chapters, then voted on which should be added to the narrative. Since we were rewarded for using certain words, the unfortunate bird flew into the window several times.
Although it doesn’t have a website, Chris from Plymouth showed me his historical eurogame set in ancient Rome. Players took on the role of senators, spreading their influence around different types of district and hoping not to get wiped out when the baths flooded.
We also got in a round of Zsolt Batki’s The Pooper Heroes, the card game featuring an ever-growing poo deck players had to get rid of. On hand to help us were a sets of food types and a group of superheroes.
New to the indie scene were Steve and Sarah, aka The Board Game Couple, whose prototype of Midgard Mischief had a theme right up my street. Completing godly quests was fun but introduced an element of Chaos, which the Loki player could profit from.
Hailing all the way from Norway, Frode Brændø’s Fjordar was a dark depiction of his country’s 12th century civil war. The atmospheric 3D hexagonal board of mountains and fjords was reminiscent of A Game of Thrones. In the picture you can see my Hirde attempting to rescue two princesses by shuttling them back to my capital (sound familiar?)
I’ve been lucky enough to play Andy Hopwood‘s pirate booty game several times throughout its evolution. The game includes a simple set of actions which influence how the booty is divided up, with the boldest pirates making a guess at the hidden action. “Aye, aye, Captain!”
Tom Lovewell had an innovative way of promoting Six Gun Showdown: he was selling a small demo copy containing only rules, a die and two sets of character cards. I tried to shoot him, but the speed stats of both his character and his dextrous card-flipping were too much for me. Next time, I’ll just stab him with my trident.
I took a break from the crowded halls to listen to Bez Shahriari’s talk on game systems, using Wibbell++ as an example. To (badly) summarise: a gaming system is a set of components which can be used in a number of different games (think traditional playing cards). Bez argued that this has many benefits (including environmental) over the usual gaming model, provided the system has good curatorship.
Towards the end of the day I bumped into Tyler Lipchen, whose recent successes in the industry had earned him a fascinating resource for board game designers. His chosen custodians of it were, of course, the Birmingham Game Designers. But what was in Tyler’s Mystery Box? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.