Rayguns and Rocketships

Courtesy KublaCon

KublaCon is touted as the largest multi-genre gaming convention west of the Mississippi. My 5 days in San Francisco showed that the power of this gathering lies in its people. Mike Eckert, executive producer of KublaCon, expected his staff of 67 to cater to over 4000 people in this 19th year of the convention. Kubla is spread over 3 hotels south of San Francisco and includes Tournaments, Miniatures Gaming, Role Playing, LARPing, Board Games, Collectible Card Games, Painting and nearly every aspect of our strange little world. Special guests abounded, with the program listing nearly 20 designers, authors (I saw Andy Weir watching a game of Terraforming Mars), YouTubers and industry insiders.

The game development and design scene is very strong at Kubla, prompting Scott Rogers (Pantone, Rayguns and Rocketships), game designer and co-host of Ludology Podcast, to call it “one event in the industry I will never miss.” The Protospiel room, spearheaded by Jeremy Commandeur, housed true greats of the industry, who showed each other extremely early designs in a safe, open environment. I was lucky enough to see Matt Leacock (Pandemic, Forbidden Desert) demonstrating a new dexterity game, as well as Scott Rogers showing off Rayguns and Rocketships the Card Game and Castle Climbers. Early designs available for the public to play also included Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky and Wizardz Bluff, as well as Kickstarter projects Papillon, and Fickle. Open the the public, the KublaCon Game Design Contest has 30-40 entries judged by greats in the industry, with the top 4 games open to play throughout the convention. Past years have all created published games, including critical success March of the Ants in 2014.

One of the most impressive features of KublaCon is the community. More than once I saw people leave their prized games with complete strangers, or even in an empty room, with no fear of anything being stolen. Communities banded together in the long lines, feeding each other and reserving prized places waiting for events. The feeling of community was best seen in a tradition of call and echo, where one person will yell out “Kubla!” and the entire hotel will roar with an echo of “CON!” It just makes one proud to hear a sole 8 year old scream out his war cry and be answered by thousands of supportive gamers. For the very young, KublaCon hosts kids’ gaming and crafting rooms, occasionally dressing them up in armor and weapons and marching the army of gamers-in-training throughout the convention halls, intimidating the masses.

I was able to play great games at KublaCon, both rare and relatively unknown (Smartphone Inc) and popular (you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting Wingspan or Terraforming Mars). Impressive giant scale versions of favorites King of Tokyo, Shadows over Camelot, Azul, Tak, and Captain Sonar adorned the front room. I found fantastic deals in the flea market and dealer hall. But the thing I will remember the most from this convention is that every person I spoke to had the most amazing experiences and stories –  from Disney Imagineers to Google Executives to Game Designers to Cancer Survivors to long distance friends rarely seen, Kubla truly was a convention of the people, and I look forward to next year.

As we make our way into Spring, taxes done, new fiscal year underway – must be time to invest some money! Or, as I like to call it, BUY GAMES!

First up from Overwold Games, we have Barker’s Row.

Following on from their last Kickstarter success ‘Leaders of Euphoria’, Overworld Games takes us into a twisted carnival setting with Barker’s Row. Featuring stunning visuals and 3D components, which lift the game up, you play the part of a carnival barker filling their grandstands, but as you get more successful, each attraction will be more demanding than the last – giving the other barkers a chance to catch up.

Barker’s Row is available now on Kickstarter.

We also have Rayguns and Rocketships from IDW Games. Set during the golden age of science fiction, during inspiration from classics such as Flash Gordon, this beautiful looking game is a miniatures board game for 2-4 players, this is also available now on Kickstarter.

Oh, and did I mention this is design by renowned video game designer and author Scott Rogers (God of War, Pac-Man World, the Maximo series, Drawn to Life, and Darksiders)!


It’s shaping up to be another good year to invest in Games!

Scott Rogers, a regular contributor on the Dice Tower Network podcast, has been working on a retro styled board game for quite some time now, and it’s getting close to release.  This fall you will see his game Rayguns and Rocketships on store shelves, transporting you back to the art and style of the 1930’s Sci-Fi television series.  You will play as one of the four different factions in the game, the action packed Astro-Rangers, the scheming Star Pirates, the villainous Blaarg, or the honorable Zard.  After picking your faction you will then load up to battle across the stars in your rocket ships.  Each round has four phases with the first two being rocket ship movement and battle.  You will play cards to maneuver your ship to be able to blast your opponents with your rayguns.  Next is the crew movement and battle phases where your crew can jump out airlocks and rocket over to fight in space, or board the opposing rockets to do battle there.  As you play cards, fight, and take down each other’s crew you will be earning points, once a player is completely eliminated everyone will total up their points and whoever has the most is the winner!

The game looks like a fun battle royale and sports a spiffy 1930s comic book look to the game.  So look forward to it’s release in the fall of this year.