The Best Four Days in Gaming
Folks, it’s 2017 and that means GenCon has celebrated 50 years of dice rolling and game playing. This year brought turnstile attendance to just over 200,000 people. What’s more, for the first time in GenCon history, the convention completely sold out of badges.
If you are totally unfamiliar with GenCon, take a second to revisit our coverage from last year, or if you don’t know a thing about tabletop conventions, check out what it’s like to go to a board gaming convention.
GenCon is the largest US based board gaming convention, and potentially the largest in the world. Publishers of board games, card games, RPGs, miniatures games, artists, jewelers, cosplayers, board gamers, role-players, and people of all sorts flock to Indianapolis, Indiana for four days of buying, selling, gaming, and laughing.
Here are some of the highlights and exciting things coming up in the world of board gaming.
As usual, the leadup to, and at, GenCon was full of various big announcements from publishers.
Renegade Games announced a standalone expansion for Clank!, called Clank In Space! At GenCon, Restoration Games announced a hotly anticipated reprint and remake of the classic Fireball Island.
Fantasy Flight Games—who basically needs their own section at this point—made a few huge announcements leading up to GenCon including a Fallout board game, and a reimplementation of Sid Meier’s Civilization, called A New Dawn. I’m personally still waiting on reprints of the original game’s expansions. Fantasy Flight also announced a ground level Star Wars Miniatures game called Star Wars: Legion. Likely FFG’s biggest announcement was a the fourth edition of Twilight Imperium. What’s more, Twilight Imperium 4 was available to purchase at Gencon.
One of my first stops at GenCon was with Clay Ross and Capstone Games. Capstone recently began publishing Three Kingdoms Redux, an incredible three player game, and had it on sale at the show. While Capstone is known for heavier games, including Arkwright and Haspelknecht, a new line of games called Simply Complex launched with The Climbers. This one seemed like it sold quickly, and I played a brief demo at Origins this year.
My highlight at the booth was demoing the second game in The Coal Trilogy, called The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade. In The Ruhr, players send coal up and down the river to various factories and towns in order to get gold, and ultimately unlock upgrades. The Ruhr is a reprint of Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890, and follows the same suit of historic replication as Haspelknecht.
In one of the few geek out moments of the day, I met David Turczi, designer of Anachrony. First of all, Anachrony is a top runner for my top ten of 2017. Second of all, David is also responsible for an equally beautiful game called Petrichor.
In Petrichor, players are clouds who decide where and when to rain on various plant life and vegetation. Bizarre, right? It gets better. Players attempt majority control on voting for various seasons to take place, all the while maintaining majority control over different plant life. By establishing presence on these plant tiles, players must fulfill a variety of different criteria to score points.
In the APE Games booth, I also took a peak at Mindclash Games’ upcoming game, Cerebria: The Inside World. The game has a lot going on, so I’ll link the BGG page here for those interested. Needless to say, because I loved Anachrony, I’ll buy anything else Mindclash touches. Look forward to this one!
Finally, my brother-in-law and I succumbed and he purchased Dark is the Night. I hadn’t heard of this one, but we sat down and played half a dozen games Thursday evening. Dark is the Night is a two-player game where one player plays as a vicious creature hiding in the woods, and the other: a tenacious hunter, ready to survive. The creature uses hidden movement on a dial around a 3×3 grid to move adjacent to the hunter to eat them and win. The hunter can stab into the darkness, drop meat to learn the creature’s distance, shoot an arrow that might be on fire, etc. Each time we played, I wanted to try a new strategy, so the game didn’t grow boring for us. Games also play quickly, so it was never a buzz kill when one of us was defeated in the first round or two of the game.
Looking at and playing some of these titles has now put APE Games on my radar.
IDW has a stellar lineup of upcoming titles, including games already released. IDW has published well known games like Machi Koro and Arcane Academy, and we’ve already reviewed Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail and King of the Creepies. IDW does seem to be moving toward publishing a slew of games based on intellectual properties.
At the show, I saw Centipede in action. Centipede is one of three upcoming games from Atari from the duo of Nicole Kline and Anthony Amato (Lazer Ryderz) featuring Jonathan Gilmour (Dead of Winter). The three are also at work on Asteroids, a dexterity-based game, and Missile Command, a light diplomacy game. Centipede is a 2-4 player game where one side controls the centipede, and the other, the gnome, both trying to destroy each other.
IDW hosted other titles not associated with an IP, including Seikatsu and Outpost: Siberia. Seikatsu is a beautiful, tile-placement game, and Outpost: Siberia is a cooperative, survival title. IDW will be launching The Planet of the Apes and Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena this autumn.
Greater Than Games (Dice Hate Me Games)
Towards the end of the day I met up with Greater Than Games (Fabled Nexus) and finally had a chance to meet Chris Kirkman. After geeking out over my love for Brewcrafters and VivaJava, Chris gave me a quick runthrough of the upcoming Legends of Sleepy Hollow. In this game, Ichabod Crane has disappeared and four friends play as four residents attempting to solve the mystery of Crane and reveal the secrets of Sleepy Hollow.
Legends of Sleepy Hollow is currently intended to be a four player game. Players develop their characters, which are each suited for different playstyles. One player might be a support role as Elijah Kappel, the priest, and another might play the role of a tank as undertaker Jeremiah Pincke. Legends of Sleepy Hollow seems like a dungeon crawler with a focus on storytelling, and will be coming to Kickstarter this autumn.
In an article we’ll publish at a later time, I had the chance to interview Christopher Badell, of Sentinels of the Multiverse fame. Christopher and I talked about the upcoming Sentinels Comics RPG, which we will be reviewing down the road. Greater than Games also featured new releases of Exoplanets, Fate of the Elder Gods, and Spirit Island.
USAopoly dropped the new Harry Potter Hogwarts Battles expansion The Monster Box of Monsters. In addition, USAopoly also demoed Codenames Marvel and Disney, which Derek will be covering in future months. We also saw Super Mario Bros. Power Up Card Game, and Rollers Deluxe.
I only had a chance to play a few rounds, but I was able to demo The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31. This social deduction game pits players against each other, attempting to resolve dangerous situations, all the while knowing one or more players are secretly infected by a horrific organism. Much akin to The Resistance and Battlestar Galactica, players are sent on teams to turn in specific items to help the team survive. Of course, players might be infected, and turn in incorrect items in an attempt to mess up the round and make things more difficult on the survivors.
I’m not a huge fan of social deduction titles like this, but from my experience, the game puts more emphasis on intrigue rather than direct confrontation. We are looking to review this in the fall, so if you have a soft spot for social deduction and John Carpenter, be on the lookout for this title.
I didn’t spend as much time at GenCon this year, so I don’t have much else to talk about. I mean, I could tell you that I finally broke down and bought Snake Oil. Or I could tell you about the countless games of Junk Art I played over a huge breakfast the next morning. Or maybe I could tell you about how excited I am to review Mountains of Madness, because who knew Quelf could spawn such fun games!
I am very excited to announce Derek and I have quite a load of games to review in the near future, so we’ll have lots of awesome games to talk about for months. Stay tuned!
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