Game Buzz: GenCon 2014

With GenCon a mere week away, I thought it was high time I put together a bit of a preview.  These are games I’m interested in knowing more about.  This is far from a comprehensive list – for that, go check out the BGG GenCon guide.  And, since I’ve already talked about them, this list does not include anything about Lords of Xidit, Five Tribes, or Abyss (which happen to be three of my most anticipated for the show).  I’m also not including games that are there just for demo, with Kickstarters or releases scheduled for after the con.  This is a quick rundown, not a lot of detail, and is organized by publisher.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Arcane Wonders, publishers of the Magic-esque dueling game Mage Wars, are coming out with their second title, Sheriff of Nottingham.  It’s a kind of party game where players are merchants trying to sneak goods into the city.  Players will also take turns being the Sheriff, and get to decide what goes into the city, and what stays out.  This game is part of the so-called Dice Tower Essentials line, which means Tom Vasel likes it.  It sounds like it will be fun for people who like deception and negotiation in their games.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Asmadi is a good small publisher that tends to come out with some pretty engaging games – Innovation, for example, one of my favorites.  This year, they have four titles at the show, three of which will be for sale.  This includes Consequential (a Carl Chudyk/Chris Cieslik co-design that will be on Kickstarter at some point in the future), Heat (a small recently Kickstarted game), and the recently released Impulse (another game by Carl Chudyk – this is one I must play at some point).  They also have an abstract game called Equinox, which looks very interesting to me.  Players are drawing pieces from the same pool, but pieces have two sides – one white, the other black.  These pieces have special powers, and the object is to have the most of your color showing at the end.  Sounds pretty interesting to me, I’m looking forward to hearing more.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Bezier Games has been since 2007, but was primarily known for Ultimate Werewolf for a long time.  In 2012, Suburbia came out, and a lot of people (myself included) gained some new respect for them as a force in the industry.  They’ll be demoing owner Ted Alspach’s game Castles of Mad King Ludwig ahead of its release at Spiel this year, but their big GenCon release is a new game in the Suburbia line, Subdivision.  This game, by Lucas Hedgren, is a dice rolling tile placement game that doesn’t play anything like Suburbia.  However, with the respect that Suburbia has garnered over the years, it will be interesting to see how this one does in its wake.

image by BGG user ezeqiel
image by BGG user ezeqiel

Fantasy Flight hasn’t revealed anything it will have at GenCon, though you can assume there will be X-Wing and Netrunner stuff by the score.  It’s also presumed that Ignacy Trzewiczek’s The Witcher Adventure Game will be there.  This one is

based on a popular video game franchise that I know nothing about.  But it’s Ignacy and Fantasy Flight, which means there are a LOT of people interested.

Also, I want to speculate about something that may or may not ever even happen.  It’s not uncommon for FFG to be very secretive, then drop some big announcements of reprints, next editions, and big licenses at GenCon.  I’m going to say that, this year, I think they’re going to announce Android 2.0.  The original Android, which came out in 2008 and was designed by Daniel Clark Kevin Wilson, was not really an overwhelming success for the company.  However, the universe captured people’s imaginations, and with the mind blowing success of Android Netrunner, I think they’re going to want to redo the original.  If we don’t see it this year, I’m going to assume it’s coming sometime in the very near future.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Flying Frog is always popular, and this year’s big release is Shadows of Brimstone, which is described as a fully cooperative dungeon crawl set in the Old West.  There are actually two versions of the game – City of Ancients and Swamps of Death.  The system was Kickstarted last year, and won’t really be available for general purchase yet.  However, it’s a massive game, and they’ll have enough there that I’m sure it will be talked about by a lot of people.

image by BGG user Funforge
image by BGG user Funforge

Funforge is a French company that has a lot of very well made, beautifully crafted games.  This year, they are continuing their relationship with designer Antoine Bauza to bring us Samurai Spirit.  In this cooperative game, players are samurai trying to defend their village from bandits.  It’s basically Seven Samurai: The Board Game, and continues Bauza’s tradition of designing games set in Far Eastern cultures.  Bauza’s a really great designer, and this looks to be a fun one.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

IELLO is another French company, and one that made a big splash in 2011 with Richard Garfield’s King of Tokyo.  This year, we’re getting the sequel – King of New York.  This is a standalone game that uses the basic mechanisms of KoT, but adds some new stuff – specifically Fame, which gains you VPs.  I don’t really know a whole lot about the new game, but it adds more monsters, has a board with more districts (and everyone trying to fight over Manhattan), and power cards that are unique to KoNY.  Definitely one I’m looking forward to trying since I’m a big fan of the original.

Mayfair made their name on Settlers of Catan, and has been very successful with that and a lot of other games since.  While I’m not terrible interested in their other products, I am interested in this:

Cones of Dunshire is a fictional board game created, with Mayfair’s assistance, for the show Parks and Recreation.  I’m a big fan of the show, was excited to see them branching out into the hobby world (Ben played Settlers of Catan for his bachelor party), and wish I was able to be at GenCon for the live Cones of Dunshire event.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to see some highlights at some point.

image by BGg user Deithos
image by BGg user Deithos

Paizo Publishing started out as a Dungeons & Dragons fan company, then began publishing the Pathfinder RPG in 2008.  In 2013, they made a big splash in the board gaming world with their Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords.  This year, the second base set, Skulls & Shackles, is coming out.  The system is based on bi-monthly adventure packs – you’re playing through a story with your characters, getting new scenarios and cards every time.  It’s more like a Living Card Game than a Collectible.  I’ve played the original Rise of the Runelords, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ll be looking forward to hearing how the next set is going to be received.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Plaid Hat Games has been experiencing some delays with Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, but it should be out soon (if not already).  I wrote about Dead of Winter previously, but to recap: this is a “cooperative game” where players have their own agendas, and are working together to achieve their own objectives.  You only win if you have completed your objective, and there can be one-multiple-no winners.  There are zombies, but it seems that the game is less about them and more about the characters and story.  So I’m interested…I may even get to play BEFORE GenCon.  I’m also hoping that there might be some early looks at the upcoming SeaFall from PHG and Rob Daviau, but I haven’t heard anything about that.  We’ll see.

image by BGG user trzewik
image by BGG user trzewik

Portal is a Polish company owned by Ignacy Trzewiczek, and comes out with some very popular and well respected games every year.  This year, their big release is Imperial Settlers, which is based on a previous game (51st State).  In the game, you’re constructing buildings and sending workers there to collect resources and abilities.  The object is to score points.  It seems odd to me that they’re taking a science fiction game themed game like 51st State (which incidentally was the second game I ever talked about on this blog) and are making it into more of a Eurogame.  That seems opposite of the trend these days.  However, the game is getting a lot of good buzz, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out.

image by BGG user MadMoses
image by BGG user MadMoses

Posthuman Studios is a company I don’t really know much about. But Shinobi Clans catches my eye simply because it’s about ninjas. I don’t know much about the game, but it looks to be all about building a clan by drafting cards, then carrying out secret missions, all the while trying to thwart your enemy’s plans. It seems very ninja-ish in the things it’s trying to accomplish, and has some very interesting art that looks almost water-color. Will this become the ultimate ninja game? Time will tell.

20140804-134657-49617100.jpgRio Grande has long been a force in the game industry, but their influence seems to be waning a bit as more and more domestic companies are springing up to take over foreign licenses. They haven’t really had a massive hit since Dominion came out in 2008. But now, they are teaming up with designer Donald X. Vaccarino again to bring us Temporum. This is a time manipulation game where players are trying to alter the course of history in order to become stronger. The board will show the current path of history, as well as where it could go from here. It seems like a fascinating concept, and Donald X. is always worth checking out, so I’m looking forward to hearing more about it.

image by BGG user Mr Pouple
image by BGG user Mr Pouple

Space Cowboys burst onto the scene earlier this year with Splendor, and promptly got nominated of a Spiel des Jahres. Their next game, coming out at GenCon, is Black Fleet, a nautically themed pick-up-and-deliver game from designer Sebastian Bleasdale. You’re in control of three different ships – a merchant vessel, a pirate ship charged with robbing other players’ merchants, and a Navy ship charged with sinking other players’ pirates. Space Cowboys already has a great reputation, and add a quality designer like Bleasdale, and this becomes a game that is on my watch list.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Z-Man rounds off this preview. One of the things they’re doing this year is expanding their Pandemic line with Pandemic: Contagion, where you are playing the disease. I’m hoping there will be more information about Pandemic: The Cure (which is the Pandemic dice game) and Pandemic: Legacy, but no word yet. The one most people seem to be looking forward to is The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade, a board game that is a major throwback to 80s arcade games. That one should do pretty well.  I haven’t really looked into it much, but it’s got some good buzz so far.

And so ends my look forward to this year’s GenCon.  It’s probably a good thing that I’m not going – I don’t think my wallet could take the strain.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for mentioning Shinobi Clans! I hope you get a chance to check it out at Gen Con. We’ll be doing quick 15 minute demos all the time at Posthuman Studios’ booth #559.

    • If I was going to be at the show, I definitely would. I know I have a couple of friends in my game group that are planning to seek you out, so hopefully they’ll make it. Good luck with the game!

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