Robert Searing

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Asmodee USA recently announced Unexpected Games, a new studio headed by designer Corey Konieczka, which will be focused on “innovation and idea incubation.”

Konieczka, who joined Fantasy Flight Games in 2005 and has designed notable titles such as Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, Star Wars: Rebellion, and Mansions of Madness: First Edition, has departed his role as VP of Research & Design at FFG to take the lead on this new project.

According to Konieczka, “Our goal is to create games that are novel, fun, and accessible. We hope to surprise people and create experiences that they’ve never had before.”

While the details about the first game to be released under the Unexpected Games brand are still relatively under wraps, it is expected to be released in 2020 and, according to Konieczka, it will be a “multilayered experience that tells a story in a unique way.”

You can find more information at Asmodee’s official page here.

So day 3 brought bigger crowds for sure! Indystar.com reported over 70,000 attendees and the crowds in the corridors certainly seemed to validate that! So my first visit was to the Plaid Hat Games’ booth (823). Many that know me may know that Mice and Mystics is my family’s all-time favorite game and PHG certainly doesn’t continue to disappoint.

Aftermath

Aftermath, from designer Jerry Hawthorne, was available to playtest. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which players control various critters in a story-book cooperative game similar to that of Mice & Mystics.

” In the game, you play as a misfit band of critters known by their colony as “providers”. There’s the guinea pig with anger issues, a hamster that talks fast and drives faster, a small mouse with keen eyes and a lot to prove, and a mysterious vole who’s borderline feral. These characters each have their own personalities, play-styles, and personal goals. “

Also available to demo and purchase is a new release, Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein, designed by Dan Blanchett. The game pits you, competitively, against other players as you test your monster-building skills.

“Through worker placement and careful management of decomposing resources, you’ll gather materials from the cemeteries and morgues around the city, conduct valuable research at the Academy of Science, hire less-than-reputable associates, and toil away in your lab — all in an effort to assemble a new form of life and infuse it with a “spark of being”.

The artwork was phenomenal and it really combined a great set of mechanics – blending worker placement with set collection and a touch of variable player powers! Stop by the booth to give it a test!

It was next off to the iELLO booth to take a look at one of their newest releases – Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon, designed by Bruno Cathala. Ishtar was a beautiful tile-laying game that just rang of high quality! The circular tile pieces were of the thick card stock that we’re used to from iELLO and Cathala didn’t disappoint with game mechanics. Players are responsible for turning an arid desert into a flourishing garden by placing trees and flowers.

“Get them before your opponents, recruit apprentices, send them to earn points in the copses of flowers you have created, block others and think carefully of the upgrades to purchase if you want to become the best gardener at the end of the game!”

As you’re undoubtedly aware, there is much more to Gen Con than JUST board games….there’s board game upgrades! And one of the leaders in the upgrade business is Top Shelf Gamer (2051). The folks over at TSG offer a variety of upgrades from token and resource bundles to coins and gaming overlays and for tons of current and popular games!

My last stop of the day was near and dear to my heart. I’m a HUGE fan of the old Diablo game. Sanctum, from CGE Games (room 237) scratches a very large itch for me. I was able to see a demo of this game (due to release at Essen 2019). It’s a competitive game that fans of the hack n slash genre should feel very comfortable with. Supporting up to 4-players, Sanctum will have players hacking and slashing while obtaining lots of weapon and skill upgrades. With an inventive skill leveling system, Santcum will have players traversing the map and leveling up their character while eventually heading to a boss fight at the climax of the game.

“As one of the heroes, you embark upon a quest to rid the land of a demonic invasion, fighting your way through countless enemies and gearing up to face the Lord of Demons himself. In the process of venturing deeper into the land, ever so much closer to the Demon Lord, the heroes have to improve their equipment and adapt their combat tactics to face the increasing difficulty of combat.”

Also available to purchase in the CGE room was a fun-little word cooperative game, Letter Jam! I got to play this and, although the rules took a bit to pick up, once you had a solid understanding of the game it made for a fun word game that had players puzzling out different words to culminate in a final word scramble that led to a big payoff – or a realization at just what that word was you were trying to guess several turns ago!

It’s funny, I was getting ready to title this article as “Gen Con Day 2” as it’s been my second day here…but today actually marked the first official day of the convention!

Today, I was able to get a round a bit more and spend some time at a variety of other booths. First on my trip was Calliope Games (booth 1901)!

Ship Shape, which has probably turned into my favorite game thus far, is a fun drafting, tile laying game that is quite unique. Each person has a pirate ship hold, made up of a 9×9 grid. You draw tiles that have certain areas of the grid missing from the tile and you are tasked with laying them on your storage hold so that as you look down onto the hold, whatever the top visible icon can be seen is what you score. Couple that with some fun drafting rules and you have a fun filler game that plays in about 30-40 minutes.

White at the Calliope booth I was able to also demo SpyMasters which was a bit of a welcome surprise for me. It is a “I pick-you choose” game in which you are agents trying to solve different missions around the board. It had a “Pandemic”-y feel to it only in that you had actions to take place that your cards you choose help to determine. You’re tasked with moving around the board and completing missions. This was quite a fun game that surprised me.

My next stop took me by the Funko demo room (141). Ever since Origins, I had heard quite a bit of buzz regarding the new Funkoverse system. There were several 4 character and 2 character sets (combinable) available for sale. Two DC sets, two Harry Potter sets along with a Golden Girls set and a Rick and Morty set were all available. Each sported the Funko figures that have become quite popular but the games sported some unique gaming qualities that were really intriguing.

Each turn, you select one of your characters and perform two actions. Each character has access to basic actions like moving and challenges as well as several unique abilities that may be performed only by spending ability tokens. Funkoverse uses an innovative “cooldown” system — the more powerful the ability, the longer it will take for the ability token to become available again — so players have to spend their ability tokens wisely. Each character in Funkoverse is unique, so players are encouraged to try out different combinations of characters and items in order to discover their favorite synergies and powerful strategies for all four game scenarios.

There are already new packs in the works scheduled to be released next year. There’s plenty available now to provide tons of fun and this game will definitely appeal to young and old alike. Having 9 children myself, I’m real anxious to get this to the table to get some quality time spent with the family!

Yet another stop took me to the USAopoly (The OP) booth (137). New this year and getting quite a bit of hype was their Die Hard game. However, what excited me quite a bit were several upcoming games they were demoing – namely Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising and a Toy Story deck-building game. For those familiar with Thanos Rising, you’ll see many similarities with this game however this game ramps it up a bit with Voldemort interacting more with the Death Eaters and making it quite a bit more difficult. This, too, is a cooperative game that is sure to appeal to any Harry Potter fans.

A game that I was most excited about was the Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures. This game is the spiritual successor to Harry Potter: Hogwart’s Battle in that it will be a deck-builder with similar evolving additions/boxes to the game over time.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Gen Con fun!!

Well, we’re right in the middle of convention season and after a successful Origins and Dice Tower Con, we are right at the onset of Gen Con. This is the 52nd year for Gen Con and for those not familiar, is happening right in the middle of Indianapolis (at the convention center).

This year is reported to have over 65,000 attendees (the largest yet) and feature over 19,000 different events. This is the 6th year I’ve had the opportunity to attend and, as I’ve done in the past, I would like to take a little time to feature some of the highlights of what to expect this year.

First up is Blue Orange Games (booth 1813). They have a few new releases that I was excited about. The one I was most excited about is Slide Quest. Are you a fan of Sorry Sliders? Now add a fantasy theme and a bit of RPG to the mix and you have Slide Quest. In this game, you work as a team to move a knight around a board – maneuvering around obstacles and monsters. This is achieved by lifting up on one of four different levers to move the hero (who has a rolling ball at the base of the figurine). This is an extremely fun family hit!

Next up is Kingdomino Duel. Roll-and-Write’s are extremely popular these days and Kingdomino Duel brings Blue Orange into the mix of fun R&W’s. For those familiar with the domino-building kingdom game in which it is themed (Kingdomino) in Kingdomino Duel, you are combining two different dice values to form a domino and then, in turn, use it to draw it into your kingdom. To find out more about the game you can view the Dice Tower’s review here. If you’re a fan of the original game – and enjoy the Roll & Write craze – this game is for you!

Speaking of Kingdomino, Blue Orange Games will be hosting their USA championship tournament during GenCon

During each hour, 36 participants will be divided into 8 groups of either 4 or 5 players. Groups of 5 players will play with the Kingdomino expansion Age of Giants. The winners of each group will be divided in 2 groups of 4 and will play another game. The 2 winners of those groups will have to come back at 7pm for the Grand Finals.

You can find out more about the tournament by visiting Blue Orange Games’ website here.

Next we’re on to Horrible Games and their release of The King’s Dilemma
(booth 3065 – Luma Games). This game is a turn away from their successful Dungeon Fighter line-up and is more of a narrative game that features many evolving decisions made to build an evolving deck of cards.

You will draw one card from the “Dilemma deck” each round and experience the game story as it unfolds. Each card poses a problem that the Council has to resolve on the King’s behalf. As members of the King’s inner circle, your decisions determine how the story proceeds and the fate of the kingdom. Each event happens only once: You discuss and bargain with the other players, then finally you make a choice, determining the outcome, progressing the game story, and possibly unlocking more events.

Let’s now focus some attention on Portal Games (booth 2443). Portal has long been one of my personal favorite Publishers. With hits such as Robinson Crusoe and the recent hit, Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame, designer (and company owner) Ignacy Trzewiczek, along with Joanna Kijanka, have released Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North. This is a standalone game (set in the Imperial Settlers universe) where players will take on the leaders of either the Scotsmen, Inuits, or Vikings to make them the best empire in the world.

Develop your economy, deflect your opponent, and fight for dominance in the north. Learn new mechanisms, and experience a unique style of Imperial Settlers. Will you be able to create the most successful civilization in Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North?

Anomaly

Last is a visit to Starling Games & Sparkworks (booth 2225 & 2317). Available from Starling is Anomaly – a hidden movement deduction game in which one person/team plays students who are up against a feeding anomaly. What’s unique about this one is that players (students) will use special ability cards that will then be fed to the anomaly, in which case they will be used for their inverse abilities which will benefit the entity. Check this out along with some other light games such as Blindspot (an inventive word game) and Penny Lane (a small worker placement game) both pictured below.

Penny Lane
Blind Spot

Keep your eyes out for future articles that I’ll try to post over the next couple of days.

It’s been 15 years since Days of Wonder released Ticket to Ride by Alan R. Moon, winner of the 2004 Spiel des Jahres, and over the years the game has sold over 8 million copies and become a modern family board game shelf staple. On July 25th, Days of Wonder announced that they will be releasing Ticket to Ride: 15th Anniversary Edition to celebrate the game’s success.

The 15th Anniversary Edition will feature new exclusive sets of clear plastic trains, a 4-page retrospective booklet featuring the history and creation of the game, and a special box sleeve.

“Huge thanks to everyone who has played and enjoyed Ticket to Ride over the last 15 years,” says Alan Moon. “I can’t wait for you to see what’s coming next!”

Days of Wonder expects the game to be available August 9th in the U.S., and you can find their official site here.

Congratulations to Lora L, this week’s winner of a $10.00 gift certificate to Cool Stuff Inc. Just prior to posting this announcement, instructions were emailed on how to claim his certificate.

Thank you to everyone that’s subscribed to our news (each week we’ll award a $10 CSI gift certificate to a random subscriber)! We hope that you’re enjoying the content provided and that it’s been informative.

We’d also like to express our gratitude towards Cool Stuff Inc for providing the gift certificates! We’ve given away hundreds of dollars so far! You can visit Cool Stuff’s web site here.

Last year Van Ryder Games released Season 1 of their Graphic Novel Adventures, a series of graphic novels with a variety of themes and storylines which blend a “choose your own adventure” style reading experience with puzzles, hidden numbers, and challenges. In October 2019, Van Ryder Games will release Season 2 of this series.

Season 2 will include Sherlock Holmes & Moriarty: Associates,
Sherlock Holmes: The Challenge of Irene Adler, Pirates: The Great Chase, Pirates: The City of Skulls, and Mystery.

In Sherlock Holmes & Moriarty: Associates, you will be able to not only play as the classic Holmes & Watson duo, but will also have a chance to play as their arch nemesis Moriarty (under peculiar circumstances) to question suspects and solve cases.

In Sherlock Holmes: The Challenge of Irene Adler, you will have the chance to either play solo or head-to-head against another player to either choose the role of Irene Adler, the new detective in town competing with the Baker Street Boys for business, or Sherlock Holmes. Either way, you will be using your wits and cunning deductive techniques to prove that you are London’s greatest detective of all time.

In Pirates: The Great Chase, you will have a chance to choose one of three different pirates with different stats to try and find the prisoner that has escaped your ship and is swimming toward a nearby island, all while keeping your eyes peeled for hidden objects and treasures along the way. Then, in Pirates: City of Skulls, you’ll continue your adventure by exploring a bustling pirate town and unlock the secrets within.

In Mystery, you will be playing the role of an aspiring super hero trying to prove your worth by undergoing trials in order to join the Legion of Champions, the famous super hero group.

For more information on Season 2 of Graphic Novel Adventures, visit Van Ryder Games’ official page here.

After nearly a decade, Portal games has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring back Prêt-à-Porter by Ignacy Trzewiczek, an economic euro game set in the fashion industry which received the Dice Tower Seal of Excellence. This edition features some rules, design, and component updates, as well as artwork by Kwanchai Moriya (Dinosaur Island, Cryptid, and Kodama: The Tree Spirits).

Prêt-à-Porter is a worker placement game in which players use three player pawns to perform actions, including signing new Contracts, building new Buildings, hiring new Employees, buying fabric and materials, and arranging finances at the bank. Ultimately, however, the game revolves around international fashion shows. During Show rounds, players present their Collections in hopes of gaining awards in four different feature categories.

Some rules changes in this edition include an advanced player order variant, longer-lasting contract cards, a refreshed victory point system, the threat of bankruptcy, and starting design cards for variable setup. Component updates include a larger board, bigger tokens, custom wooden pieces in place of wooden cubes, and wooden rather than cardboard tokens for the round tracker and upkeep costs.

For more information, you can find the official Kickstarter campaign page here.

Congratulations to Frank M, this week’s winner of a $10.00 gift certificate to Cool Stuff Inc. Just prior to posting this announcement, instructions were emailed on how to claim his certificate.

Thank you to everyone that’s subscribed to our news (each week we’ll award a $10 CSI gift certificate to a random subscriber)! We hope that you’re enjoying the content provided and that it’s been informative.

We’d also like to express our gratitude towards Cool Stuff Inc for providing the gift certificates! We’ve given away hundreds of dollars so far! You can visit Cool Stuff’s web site here.

Ultra Pro is releasing a new expansion for the popular deck-building game, Shards of Infinity (awarded the Dice Tower Seal of Excellence), titled Shadow of Salvation. The expansion is set to release in fall of 2019.

Along with adding 118 new cards, a new Hero dial counter, and a new faction with new mechanics, Shadow of Salvation will introduce a cooperative, branching, campaign mode of play in which players will work together to in multiple boss battles.

For more information, visit Ultra Pro’s website here.