While at Gen Con, I had the pleasure of meeting the folks over at Playdek & GMT. I met with Gary Weis , the lead developer for Labyrinth: The War on Terror – designed by Volko Ruhnke, the creator of the COIN series of board games and ex-CIA analyst. Many of you may already be familiar with their development of the app for Twilight Struggle. Well, I got to witness a development copy that was near it’s completion with an upcoming release on the PC and iOS/Android later in the year.
Labyrinth plays very similar to Twilight Struggle however is set in the 2000’s at the peek of the terrorist threat. Additionally, Labyrinth supports hand management, crisis mitigation and card effects based on actual events!
“Labyrinth features distinct operational options for each side that capture the asymmetrical nature of the conflict, while the event cards that drive its action pose a maze of political, religious, military, and economic issues. In the parallel wars of bombs and ideas, coordinated international effort is key — but terrorist opportunities to disrupt Western unity are many. The Towers have fallen, but the global struggle has only just begun.”
I was able to head over to the Mondo Games booth (3061) who, along with Restoration Games (booth 355) have published Unmatched (a re-theming of Star Wars: Epic Duels). Unmatched is a streamlined asymmetrical battle game in which you pit two different characters (anyone from Bruce Lee to dinosaurs) against one another.
“Unmatched is a highly asymmetrical miniature fighting game for two or four players. Each hero is represented by a unique deck designed to evoke their style and legend. Tactical movement and no-luck combat resolution create a unique play experience that rewards expertise, but just when you’ve mastered one set, new heroes arrive to provide all new match-ups.”
Available at the con was the base game which comes with King Arthur, Medusa, Alice (in Wonderland), and Sinbad. Additionally there were two expansions – the Bruce Lee and Jurassic Park add-ons. There are additional IP expansions slated, such as a Buffy the Vampire expansion pack. Unmatched is a very simple and fast-playing game that will appeal to a variety of players.
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, 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!
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?
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.
Keep your eyes out for future articles that I’ll try to post over the next couple of days.
After a successful Kickstarter in 2018, Capstone Games and Braincrack Games are set to debut Ragusa at Gen Con 2019. From Fabio Lopiano, designer of Calimala, Ragusa is a game for 1-5 players.
In Ragusa, players build the 15th century city of Ragusa (modern day Dubrovnik, Croatia). The game play is centered around one action each turn, whereby, players place a house onto the board to gain access to resources, create commodities like wine and olive oil, and build walls around the city. The placement of a house actually initiates three adjacent spaces and their respective actions. Placing a house on some locations will also reactivate the action for all houses that share the space. Having multiple houses adjacent to a particular space increases its strength, whether it be access to additional resources of a given type, or the ability to generate more commodities when the action is triggered.
If you are at Gen Con this week Capstone Games will have Ragusa, as well as other games like Pipeline, at booth #457.
Blue Orange Games will be conducting the United States Kingdomino championship at Gen Con 2019. The tournament will take place on Saturday, August 3rd. Participation in the tournament is free; however, it is limited to 144 players that must register ahead of time through the Gen Con event system.
The first place prize for the championship is a round trip flight to Paris, France, to compete in the Kingdomino world championship in August, 2020. The trip also includes two hotels nights and meals.
Click here to read Blue Orange’s full announcement and to get further details on the U.S. championship at this year’s Gen Con.
Eggertspiele has announced Era: Medieval Age, a new game from designer Matt Leacock. Not only is Era being pitched as a spiritual successor to Roll Through the Ages, but also, the first roll-and-build game.
In Era, players will be using three-dimensional pieces (churches, farms, mills, castle walls, etc.) to build up medieval towns on their personal boards. The dice represent different classes of medieval society.
“Era: Medieval Age is made even more challenging as players interact with each other in ways such as extortion, scorched earth, and, of course, disease!”
The other piece of the announcement is that Era: Medieval Age marks the start of a series of roll-and-build games from Matt Leacock and Eggertspiele. No specifics were provided about other games, but Era is planned to debut at Gen Con later this year.
Era: Medieval Age is designed for 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up.
The Dice Tower Live Show (8/3/2018) will be featuring quite a few news releases during the event. Below is a brief summary of what will be announced.
Stronghold Games New Game Announcement
Not much is known, at this time, about the game other than it will be part of Stronghold’s Designer Series and designed by Alan R Moon and Bobby West.
Indie Boards & Cards and Stronghold Games Merge
New Entity Created: Indie Game Studios – Distinct Company Brands to be Maintained
California, USA and Florida, USA – August 3rd, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Indie Boards & Cards and Stronghold Games are proud to announce the pending merger of these two great publishers, and the formation of a new force in the hobby game industry: Indie Game Studios. Action Phase Games, previously acquired by Indie Boards and Cards in 2016, will also be folded into the new entity and the three distinct brands will be maintained moving forward. Following the merger, the new Indie Game Studios becomes one of the largest hobby board game companies in the world.
Pandasaurus Games New Game Announcement
Pandasaurus Games is announcing Machi Koro Legacy. The game will be designed by Rob Daviau and Suganuma-san with artwork from Nobura Hotta (the original Machi Koro artist). It’s a really fun, 10 mission campaign that leaves you with a fully playable game when finished.
IDW Games New Game Announcements
Batman: Gotham City Under Siege, although not a new announcement for its release is going to be hitting retail very soon.
Designed by Richard Launius and Michael Guigliano, and Batman – The Animated Series: Gotham City Under Siege is a cooperative game for 1-5 players. Each player takes on the role of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon or the Gotham City Police Department, along with the unlikely aid of Catwoman. They must defend the city over the course of four acts, with each act inspired by episodes from the first season of the show. Players will need to work together to find the right balance between completing challenging story cards, or taking down the villains and masterminds running rampant in the streets.
First-time announcing, however, is TMNT Adventures. More info will be coming soon.
First is Blue Lagoon designed by award winning game designer Reiner Knizia. Blue Lagoon is a set collection games with an area control mechanic. Players manage settlers to explore the islands, collect resources, and build villages. Points are awarded collecting resources and colonizing the islands.
Blue Lagoon plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in 30-45 minutes. Contents include game board, 24 wooden resources, 8 wooden statuettes, 20 wooden villages, 120 settler tokens, 1 linen bag, score pad, and rulebook.
Next, Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc have teamed up again to design Scarabya.Scarabya is an area enclosure game with a tile placement mechanic. Players are competing archeologist on their own dig site (player board) attempting to place tiles around the golden scarabs on their player board. Each gold scarab enclosed is worth the size of its enclosure, up to four points. The challenge is that the tiles to create an enclosure come in different shapes, is drawn at random, and is played in order. All the players draw and place their tiles concurrently and the game continues until the last tile is drawn and played or discarded. The player with the most points in golden scarabs at the end of the game is the winner.
Scarabya plays 1-4 players, ages 8+, in 15-20 minutes. Contents include 4 sets of 12 tiles, 4 sets of 4 boards, 4 sets of 8 rocks, 4 frames, 72 scarab tokens, 12 mission cards, and rulebook.
Gen Con LLC has announced that David Hoppe took over management from Adrian Swartout after GenCon50. Swartout served as CEO for GenCon for the past 10 years, and will continue to share responsibilties during the transition. David Hoppe is no stranger to gaming, having spent 5 years as director of business operations for XBox Live, and was a consultant for Upper Deck from 1995-2002.
Gen Con has announced that they have sold out of 4 day badges for Gen Con 50 slated to occur from August 17-20 at the Indiana Convention Center. This is the first time that 4 day badges have sold out for Gen Con. Trade day badges which are a specialty type of badge have routinely sold out the past few years. Along with this sellout Gen Con has forewarned that they will likely sell out of single day badges as well. This year also marks the first time that badges will not be available for purchase at all onsite.
Over the past few years Gen Con has seen immense growth. Though attendance did remain fairly flat last year. With the 50th anniversary celebration, record numbers of exhibitors, and a further increase in space utilization at Lucas Oil Stadium it appears that this will be the largest iteration of the convention yet.
The convention has stated that for those in the Indianapolis community the $45 dollar Family Fun Day wrist bands which will get a family 4 into the show on Sunday August 20 might be their best option at this point.
At the time of printing it appears that single day badges are sold out on Sunday already. This is indicative that they are not joking about single day badges selling out.