Letter Jam

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!

Here is the second and final part of interviews and sneak peeks of what I was able to see at the GAMA Trade Show. Hopefully I’ve saved the best for last.

Frank West, designer of City of Kings, and one heck of a guy, discussed City of Games’ upcoming title Rising Blades, a competitive worker placement / tile placement game with RPG elements. In Rising Blades, players add tiles to a growing map each round, in which they can move, fight monsters and develop their unique asymmetric characters. Expect Rising Blades to hit Kickstarter at the end of the year.

Czech Games Edition (CGE) showed the unique cooperative deduction word game Letter Jam from designer Ondra Skoupý. In Letter Jam, players receive a set of facedown letters delivered from an app, and the goal is to deduce these letters. Each player places one of these cards facing the other players in a style akin to Hanabi, so that you can see everyone’s secret letter except your own. Players then make words with the letters, giving clues as to what other players’ hidden letters may be.

Forbidden Games confirmed an expansion for the popular auction stock market game Raccoon Tycoon by designer Glenn Drover is in the works. The expansion should include a 6th player, more buildings and a new railroad type.

Stephen Buonocore, the evil genius behind Stronghold Games was kind enough to reveal some further details about the 5th and final big expansion to their evergreen hit Terraforming Mars, Terraforming Mars; Turmoil. Turmoil, the only expansion to be released in 2019, will be labeled as an “expert” expansion, meant for more experienced players. In short, this expansion involves politics. Mars has established a Martian Senate, composed of several parties, each with its own agenda. The Red party is interested in keeping Mars pristine and untouched, the Green party wants full terraforming, the Kelvinists want more heat, etc. Players can place delegates, trying to gain control of parties, or even the entire senate. A face-up line of Event Cards show what influences each party will have over the next several turns. Expect Terraforming Mars:Turmoil to hit Kickstarter in April/May.