Rejoice! We will be going undercover at the UK Games Expo from June 3rd to the 5th to bring you the latest dark offerings in tabletop gaming. We’ll be shaking down game designers for sneak peaks and early looks. Shaking them like a nanny possessed (h/t Dr. Orpheus)! Here are the top 6 things we’re looking forward to at the Expo.
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu is probably the most popular horror-based tabletop role-playing game in the entire world – but this time last year it looked to have gone the way of the dodo. In brief, three years ago Call of Cthulhu seventh edition was Kickstarted, making over half a million dollars. The future seemed bright, until the release date slipped, and slipped, and slipped again…
Thankfully, company founder Greg Stafford and Call of Cthulhu designer Sandy Petersen returned to the company, sorted its problems out and have shipped what’s owed. It’s not out in stores, yet, but we’ve been assured that copies will be available at the Expo, and we can’t wait to start driving our players mad again.
Speaking of Cthulhu, that leads us nicely to…
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
Pandemic is already a pretty horrible game – you play the part of experts, traversing the globe trying to stamp out diseases before they outbreak and wipe out the human race. It’s difficult enough to play that a lot of the time you end up losing, condemning humanity to extinction. What, pray, could be darker than that? Well, substitute diseases for cults of terrible, ancient Gods, and you get this latest Pandemic spin-off.
Little is known about the game but that should all change as it will be demoed all weekend, and a handful of copies auctioned off at the end of the Expo. If it brings a sufficiently dark and terrible twist to the already-excellent Pandemic, we could have a bona fide classic on our hands.
The Dark Souls Board Game
Dark Souls, the world’s premier banging-your-head-against-the-wall simulator, recently got a Kickstarted board game spin-off. This game is going to be huge – the Kickstarter broke records for Most Backers for a Board Game, Most Retail Backers for a Board Game, Largest Funding for a Board Game, and also managed to enter the Top 15 Kickstarter Projects of All Time.
The Dark Souls board game is not due until early next year but again, demo games will be available, as will a proper, up-close look at how well the miniatures, art, and feel of the game capture the dark aesthetic of the video game series.
The Dark Room 2.0
Now, time for something completely different. Dark Room is the demented brainchild of Australian comedian John Robertson, and is a dark-humoured mix of audience participation, stand-up comedy, and 1980s text adventures.
Yes, you read that right, 1980s text adventures.
Robertson guides his audience members through an old-fashioned text adventure game, taking on the role of the computer as his contestants try to find their way out of the titular Dark Room. He plays this role perfectly, being cantankerous, smug, abusive, and pedantic as only an old-fashioned text game could be. We went last year and loved every minute, so it can only be good news that Robertson is back for multiple performances of his updated show across the weekend.
Pathfinder: The Blight
The Pathfinder tabletop role-playing game took up the mantle when Wizards of the Coast decided Dungeons and Dragons should play like a video game. It took the third edition D&D rules and refined them, keeping dungeon-delving and dragon-murder alive for a whole generation. One of the best things it did was introduce its Adventure Paths, linked scenarios that made up entire epic quest lines that any Dungeon Master could pick up and use for themselves.
Saturday night at the Expo will allow players to experience the latest Pathfinder Adventure Path early, and it sounds right up our dark, deserted street. It’s called Taste of the Blight and, to quote, “It’s Clark Ashton Smith and China Miéville, Lovecraft and Dickens, Shelley and Carroll all in a festering brew of toil, tears, and injustice just screaming for heroes to clean up the streets.” If this is half as good as Rise of the Runelords (an Adventure Path that kept my gaming group occupied for almost two years) then I’m in.
Jonathan Green’s Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland
Jonathan Green is a convention regular here in the UK, and what he doesn’t know about gamebooks isn’t worth knowing. Author of multiple gamebooks and the non-fiction history of the Fighting Fantasy craze YOU Are The Hero, he is always up for a chat and happy to sign most things you can shove under his nose.
The literary influence for his latest gamebook, Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland, is obvious. It’s an angle that’s not been tried before and we’re eager to get our hands on a copy and start playing.
If all that isn’t enough for you, the UK Games Expo will also host a board game café, demo games, sales, open gaming spaces, participation games, cosplay, and more. We can’t wait to get back to you with all the dark gaming news we can muster.
Header image courtesy of UK Games Expo.