12 games at GenCon I am most excited about

July 21, 2015


It's an exciting time. Every year GenCon is a mad flurry of ridiculousness, and I love every minute of it. So I am super-excited to head down to Indianapolis for 5 days of revelry. Mostly to show off Gloomhaven in (almost) all its glory, but also to see what other people are showing off. I have compiled a list of the games I will be trying to check out while madly dashing between demos and meetings. Last year I relegated Thursday and Sunday to perusing the exhibition hall, and that wasn't quite enough time. This year my schedule is more chaotic, but overall I'm spending less time running scheduled events, so maybe that will mean more time in the exhibition hall? We will see!


1. Mistfall

All right, let's begin with some Kickstarter titles. When I first announced Gloomhaven, Mistfall was on Kickstarter and there were a lot of comparisons between the two. Fantasy theme. Co-op play. Complex card-based combat mechanics. The game certainly looks interesting and I'd love to sit down and give it a whirl to see if the are any cool mechanics I can play around with.


2. Above and Below

Similarly, even I've compared some of the story-telling aspects of Gloomhaven to Ryan Laukat's latest game, Above and Below, which combines worker placement mechanics with "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style events, which sounds cool to me. There are also dice, which is less cool, but still. I don't know. I guess I just like checking out the competition to see how similar ideas are implemented just for my own edification as a designer.


3. Between Two Cities

I'll be honest. I backed Between Two Cities on Kickstarter because if I have to play 7 Wonders with my game group anymore, I might go crazy. I'm hoping Between Two Cities will be a viable replacement game for when there are 7 of us and someone gets the idea in their head that we need to all play together. Apparently a demo might be hard to come by since it hasn't been released yet and Stonemaier Games doesn't have a booth, but there is some sort of event going on Thursday night that may or may not be packed to the gills.


4. Vault Wars

I'll be honest again. I don't remember why I backed Vault Wars on Kickstarter. I'm not a big fan of auction games, but I think it was because I am a big fan of Floodgate Games. And the game looked like a lot of fun, despite the auction mechanics. The rules seem simple, but all the various vault and treasure cards apparently add a lot of depth and complexity, which is always good. Apparently I missed the opportunity for a GenCon pickup of the game, but I'd still like to try it out while I'm there.


5. News@11

Also while I'm at the Floodgate booth, I'd like to check out the story-telling game News@11. And while auction games may not be my cup of tea, I can definitely get behind a good story-telling game, even if it is sometimes difficult to find people to play them with. This one apparently has recursive elements where you tell 3 sets of stories and have to incorporate your earlier sets into your later sets. It actually sort of sounds similar to game I play tested for my friend Carl, but we could never get the scoring of that game quite right. I'm interested to see how News@11 handles scoring.


6. Grog Island

Did I mention I don't like auction games? Okay, well, I'm starting to think maybe I do? After all, my favorite game at GenCon last year was an auction game, so they can't be all that bad. Grog Island looks like it could be pretty interesting too. It has a very intricate bidding mechanic involving an ordering of dice that could actually prove fun. I'm willing to spend some time to find out.


7. Codenames

And while we're on the subject of types of games I don't normally play, let's talk about social games. Not that I don't like social games, it's just I guess I don't find them all that stimulating. I'm willing to give anything by Vlaada Chvatil a try, though, and Codenames sounds like it could be rather fun and stimulating. Plus I really enjoyed Mysterium and Spyfall at Origins, so I guess these type of games are the hip new thing, and I should just get on the train and enjoy it.


8. Unpub

And speaking of social games, who can say "No" to a Apples to Apples-esque card game about coming up with crazy board game ideas? Okay, probably a lot of people. The Apples to Apples formula is pretty played-out after all, but still, Unpub sounds like a pretty good time for my, uh, very specific demographic. I definitely need to play it at least once and see how good I am at pitching half-cocked board game ideas.


9. New Bedford

And while I'm at the Dice Hate Me booth, I should probably check out New Bedford as well. It's been a while since I played a new worker placement game and this apparently incorporates some time-resolved aspects with the whaling ships that you send out. How far you send them out apparently acts as a timer for when they are able to come back and give you some profit. Sending them farther out means waiting longer for a payout, but gives you a better chance of getting something good. Could be cool!


10. Broom Service

So what other big games are there to check out at GenCon? Well, there's the Kennerspiel des Jahres winner Broom Service. Honestly, this game didn't actually sound all that interesting to me, but it won the prize, so I should probably at least give it a shot. If I go in with low expectations, then there's a better chance that I'll be pleasantly surprised, right? I don't know. I was really underwhelmed by all the nominations this year, so we'll see.


11. Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot

Is it possible Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is the most hyped game at GenCon this year? Maybe this is just my perception since I follow Ignacy Trzewiczek on Twitter and that man loves to tweet. I've heard the game described as a tactical minis game without the minis. At first that description did not at all interest me, but you know what? I think I'm in. Maybe I should get more familiar with tactical minis games as a serious board game enthusiast, and if this game can bring in some of those mechanics without all the investment of time and money, then I think it could be worth checking out.


12. Mottainai

And finally, we have the latest iteration of Glory to Rome, Mottainai. I'm a fan of Glory to Rome and I am also a fan of the more complicated 4X iteration Impulse, so with the promise that Mottainai will simplify and streamline the mechanics of the standard Carl Chudyk engine, I'm definitely willing to give it a go. Even if it turns out to be very similar to Glory to Rome, I haven't played Glory to Rome in a good long time, so that would work out fine for me. I think that's just about going to do it for the list. Of course there are other games I'll probably take a look at, but we've gotta end somewhere, and that should cover the shiniest of GenCon's offerings. I cannot wait to get this convention started. It is going to be such a blast!

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