23 must-play board games at Tabletop Gaming Live 2019
Last year, we hosted the first Tabletop Gaming Live convention. Thousands of you came to London’s Alexandra Palace to play the latest games, expand your collection thanks to exclusive show deals, win amazing prizes in tournaments, hear from designers in talks and pick up some new skills in workshops. It was a fantastic two days filled with the best that the hobby has to offer, and we couldn’t wait to do it again.
2019’s Tabletop Gaming Live is even bigger and better, with more games, more tournaments, more talks and workshops, more to buy, more to play and even more reasons to get involved and have an unforgettable weekend later this month!
Whether you’re taking part in tournaments for Pandemic, Catan, the Dragon Ball Super Card Game and more; brushing up on your miniature painting skills or learning how to design your own game in one of our interactive workshops; listening to designers reveal how some of your favourite games were created in in-depth and entertaining talks; or simply checking out the biggest and best releases of 2019 – many of them making their UK debut – we’re confident that this year’s Tabletop Gaming Live brings everything that makes the hobby and UK community so brilliant together in one place.
So grab your ticket and come along to London's Alexandra Palace on Saturday, September 28th and Sunday 29th to see what's in store, join in and – of course – play loads and loads of games.
To whet your appetite ahead of the show, we've picked out just a fraction of the many, many games you'll be able to play at this year's Tabletop Gaming Live – read on to find out why you won't want to miss out!
Out of print for 35 years and considered ‘lost’, this tabletop adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic finally returns in 2019. Designed by the seminal creators of Cosmic Encounter, it’s a game of tense negotiation and treachery that’s kept fans hooked for decades.
Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon
The next game from Kingdomino designer Bruno Cathala, Ishtar puts a spin on abstract classic Go. Players plant trees in the desert to recreate the world wonder, carefully using the limited water supply to expand their territory ahead of their rivals.
After bringing the speed of first-person shooters to the tabletop in Adrenaline, designer Filip Neduk’s latest game is a tribute to hack-and-slash video games such as Diablo. The players are heroes who must cut their way through hordes of enemies to gather loot and ultimately confront the mighty Lord of Demons, equipping and upgrading the gear they gain from defeated foes to improve their combat rolls. Although the players are all looking to take down the big bad, it’s a competitive experience for two to four players. Sanctum is due for release at Essen Spiel in October, making this your chance to play it early!
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition designer Nikki Valens moves away from Lovecraftian horror in this cute co-op game about robot cleaners. The players are working together to make things spick and span, but must contend with the chance of getting their wires crossed as the program in the robot’s movements. With a number of different scenarios to tackleas a team, Quirky Circuits looks to be a tidy treat.
Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared
The second standalone expansion for the hit game of Disney villains adds more iconic nasties to the rogues’ gallery of unique characters, including The Lion King’s evil uncle Scar, Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove, and The Great Mouse Detective foe Ratigan. Wicked!
Set in a future afflicted by rising sea levels and overpopulation, MegaCity tasks players with constructing a magnificent floating metropolis. The city that players build each game is completely unique, made up of pieces that must be positioned and balanced carefully to create towering skyscrapers. The aim is to fulfil contracts that grant points, carefully constructing buildings in particular materials or placing monuments next to parks to make you the top architect around the table. With its combination of dexterity and strategic placement, MegaCity is one of the most impressive-looking games out this year – you can see for yourself on the show floor.
Escape the Dark Sector
A sci-fi follow-up to co-op throwback adventure game Escape the Dark Castle, Dark Sector challenges the crew of players with surviving their escape from a deadly space station, using their wits – and some weaponry – to make it out alive.
Hangman meets Hanabi in this clever word game about guessing letters you can’t see to spell words you don’t know. You’re trying to figure out the letter cards in front of you based on other players’ clues, before rearranging them to decode a secret word. If you’re looking to scratch that Codenames itch, this is the game for you.
2019’s winner of the prestigious Spiel des Jahres ‘Game of the Year’ award, Just One is simple: everyone tries to help someone to guess a mystery word by giving them one-word hints. But any matching clues will be discarded, so you’ll need to be inventive without being too vague. Can you come up with the one perfect word?
Pandemic: Rapid Response
The latest entry in the hugely popular co-op series, Pandemic: Rapid Response takes things in a brand new direction. Here, you’re playing in real-time against a sand timer, trying to work together to deliver supplies around the world to stop the spread of disease. Each player’s character has a unique skill they can make use of as they move around the aeroplane, spending dice results to produce food, medicine and other essentials before flying the plane to a location in need and dropping off the goods. It sounds simple enough, but when every single second counts it quickly becomes a tense and frantic challenge of co-operation, planning and luck. With Fuse designer Kane Klenko in the cockpit, Rapid Response is unlike any Pandemic game you’ve ever played before, but manages to capture the same sense of racing against the clock to save the world. Are you up to the task?
A simple but challenging puzzle game, Feed Me! asks you to feed Chooie sweets by adding walls to one of 40 levels. The sweets are balls dropped from the top, making careful placement of the walls key to getting the candy in his gob.
Love Letter: 2019 Edition
Since it first burst onto the gaming scene in 2012, Seiji Kanai’s pocket-sized card game Love Letter has found a place in countless players’ hearts; the tale of a romance-seeking princess has since been changed into a showdown between Batman and the Joker, and even a test of mental strength against Lovecraftian cosmic horror! This new edition revamps the game’s artwork and introduces two brand new characters for players to choose between as they try to be the last player standing, knocking their rivals out by drawing and discarding one card each turn. Simple and quick, Love Letter continues to be a whole lot of fun in a little package – and this set has us falling head over heels all over again.
20 Second Showdown
Two teams battle to complete silly challenges in this rapid-fire game where every second counts. Complete the task on the card and you get to turn the sand timer over and pass the pressure back to your opponents – the faster you finish, the less time they’ll have! The first to get their rivals to run out of sand three times wins, though you’ll likely want to play again right away – and you’ll always have time.
Star Wars: Outer Rim
Take control of scoundrels in a galaxy far, far away in this sandbox game set in the Star Wars universe. Track down bounties, smuggle illegal cargo and take jobs from scum and villainy to earn fame and fortune, building up your reputation as one of the most infamous names in the galaxy – but watch out, because there’ll be some factions that won’t be too pleased with your exploits...
Tasty drafting game Sushi Go! swaps its cards for cubes in this dice-filled spin-off. Roll and keep dice to form sets of maki, sashimi and more, passing the cubes around the table. Putting a fresh spin on an old favourite, it’s a delicious delight.
Get green-fingered in this roll-and-write about flowers. Roll the dice and choose one to pick bouquets of a certain colour, creating matching bunches or mixed sets. It’s bloomin’ brilliant!
The latest revolutionary card game from Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield, KeyForge uses a clever algorithm to create billions of decks that are all unique – meaning no two players will ever have the same set of cards. The game itself is a competitive duel between players to use their creatures and abilities to obtain precious Æmber and use it to forge three keys for victory. A smart system lets players use any and all of the cards from one of their deck’s three houses each turn, meaning they’ll always be able to play something. After launching with last year’s Call of the Archons set (which was at Tabletop Gaming Live 2018!), the game has expanded with this year’s Age of Ascension and the upcoming Worlds Collide, which add even more cards and brand new gameplay ideas to the mix. You can check out some of the latest cards from the game at this year’s convention, experiencing its unique brilliance for yourself. (If you're already a KeyForge fan, we'll also have some exciting tournament news to announce very soon!)
Ticket to Ride: London
The latest trip for the Ticket to Ride series brings the beloved train game to Tabletop Gaming Live’s home of London! Like last year’s Ticket to Ride: New York, this is a fast-playing and compact version of the classic route-building game, as players collect cards and claim routes between destinations to complete their secret tickets. With a new way of earning points by visiting all the locations in one of London’s districts and a 1960s theme that celebrates the best of British pop culture – there’s even a yellow submarine! – Ticket to Ride: London is the perfect game to pick up and play while you’re visiting the capital.
Super Punch Fighter
Inspired by fighting video games, Super Punch Fighter is a furious free-for-all as the players battle to knock their opponents out of the arena. The players use button cards that mimic video game controllers – although just mashing buttons can lead to a swift defeat. Land powerful combos and use your cards wisely to be the only fighter left standing!
Jaipur: Second Edition
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a brand new edition featuring revamped artwork, this game of rival merchants remains a two-player treasure. The players take turns to gain and sell goods, using what’s in their hand and precious camels to barter for the most valuable cards. Sell bigger sets to earn more points – but don’t wait too long, or your rival might have cornered the market! – and ultimately earn the Maharaja’s favour. Just as good today as it was a decade ago, Jaipur is a modern card game classic.
Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth
Adventure through Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-earth in this epic campaign game that lets you form your own Fellowship. Powered by its companion app and combining the atmospheric storytelling of Mansions of Madness with roleplaying-lite character progression and card-driven combat, Journeys in Middle-earth is one of the most immersive and innovative Lord of the Rings games on the tabletop yet.
Try to read your friends’ minds in this word-guessing game that’ll have you reaching for a tin foil hat. (Luckily, there’s one in the box.) One player writes down three words to get the other person on their team to guess a secret word, while the other teams attempt to predict what clues they’ll write. If the guesser gets the answer, their team scores, but everyone else can grab points by matching the clues. Think up clever hints without being too obvious and you’ll score big – and don’t forget to wear that tin foil hat to stop your brainwaves being intercepted!
Race on any flat surface in this fast-paced driving game that ditches the board and lets you use its Octagon movement system to whizz cardboard cars around a track of your own creation. It’s X-Wing meets Formula D, simple and exciting, and a lot of fun. Racers, start your engines!
Tabletop Gaming Live 2019 will take place in Alexandra Palace, London on Saturday, September 28th and Sunday 29th 2019. Tickets are available now via The Ticket Factory, with family bundles and weekend passes available. Kids under 10 attend for free. Purchase your tickets before the day for early access one hour ahead of those who buy on the door. Find out more here.