From August 4-7, the largest convention in the US will be held in Indianapolis. It’s called Gen Con, and last year there were over 61,000 people in attendance. By comparison, the last time I went (in 2012), there were 42,000, so that should tell you how it’s growing. This year, I’ll be in attendance for only the second time in my life, and I’m quite excited.
Last summer, I started a random preview, which I’m going to do again. This is where I scour the BGG Gen Con preview and pick seven random titles to talk about. I’m not going to talk about expansions, and I’m not going to talk about games that I have zero interest in, but my hope is to find some new stuff to look for. I’m going to do a rating of my interest level using the Cody and John scale – BUY, TRY, or DENY (my BUYS will be sparse at this time because of a limited budget). At the time I picked these games (June 29), there were 228 items on the list, and that number will most assuredly get a lot bigger. The randomly selected items for today are 21, 36, 117, 162, 174, 197, and 218.
One Deck Dungeon is a game from designer Chris Cieslik and his publishing company, Asmadi Games. It is what it advertises to be – a dungeon crawl in 56 cards (plus 30 dice). The basic game is for 1-2 players, but you can get two copies to bring that up to four. On your turn, you spend time before deciding to explore or encounter. Exploring involves placing four face down cards, and encountering involves flipping one over. Monsters must be defeated using dice. If you are successful, you collect loot – bonus items, experience, or a special skill. You’ll play through until you reach the boss, and must win to be victorious.
I tend to like Asmadi Games, so this one has that going for it. It looks like a fairly straightforward dungeon crawl, but the most notable thing to me is the choice to make all of the heroes female. And not your stereotypical oversexualized female you see in most fantasy games, but rather practically clothed and clearly empowered females. That in itself is a reason to check out the game. I don’t think it will be available to buy at Gen Con – got to get those Kickstarter backers their copies first – but it will be available to demo. RATING: DEFINITE TRY
Ice Cool is a game designed by Brian Gomez and published by Brain Games. It’s a dexterity game set in a school where penguins are trying to sneak out of class to get lunch early. One player is the Hall Monitor that is trying to catch those truant penguins, but most people are playing the penguins. The penguins are trying to get through doors in order to gain fish, while the Hall Monitor is trying to hit them to get their passes.
This game has a couple of really cool components. First, the penguins and Hall Monitor are weighted pawns that stay upright when you flick them, which makes it possible to do tricks like curving your shots or jumping over walls. But the board is my favorite – it’s actually in five pieces that are all part of the box. It’s a pretty ingenious way to package the game, which overall looks super fun. RATING: DEFINITE TRY, POSSIBLE BUY
Oceanos is a game from designer Antoine Bauza that is being published by IELLO. The game takes place underwater, a setting that seems to be getting increasingly popular as the quality of art in games goes up. As you play the game, you’ll be collecting animals, upgrading your equipment, collecting treasure and trying to avoid the Kraken in an effort to gain the most points.
The rules for this game aren’t up yet, but it’s Antoine Bauza and IELLO, and that’s enough to make me interested. Plus, I’m a sucker for good art. RATING: DEFINITE TRY
Flag Dash is a game by Kirk Dennison that is being published by Piecekeeper Games. As the name suggests, it’s a giant game of Capture The Flag. Each player gets a character and is on one of two teams. In each round, all players program two actions, then resolve them. Actions include moving, grabbing the flag, pushing other characters, or copying a previous action. You also get special powers based on priority tokens used. Your team wins if you successfully capture the opposing team’s flag, or if you collect one flag from each character on the other team.
I like the theme of this one, and I love programmed action games. However, this one isn’t really grabbing me. I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel like there’s a great variety of actions you can do, and you have the same cards every round. I think I’d play it if I get the opportunity, but it’s not one I’ll be seeking out. RATING: MIGHT TRY
Brick Party is a game by Luca Bellini that was originally published last year by Post Scriptum, but is being brought to the US in an English only edition by Renegade Games. This is a party game where players choose partners. One partner will be the architect and will describe a structure that the other player, the builder, must construct using plastic blocks that are similar to (but most definitely aren’t) Lego bricks. There’s a different rule each round that will restrict how the building occurs, and you score points for successfully completing the structure.
I’m not a party gamer to begin with, but I do like Lego products, so this seems like it would be fun. The puzzles are all tangram style, with a silhouette you have to figure out how to fill in. RATING: PROBABLE TRY
The Dragon & Flagon is the latest game from Stronghold Games and the Engelstein design team (father Geoff and children Brian and Sydney). Each player is an archetypal fantasy character in a tavern after a successful adventure, and because you have a lot of drinking going on, there’s bound to be a brawl. The game uses programmed actions and a time track to move the action along, and players are trying to get to the Dragon Flagon in the center of the board to trigger a special ability. In the end, the player with the highest reputation is the winner.
This is not a theme I typically enjoy, but throw programmed actions AND a time track into a game, and you’ve got my attention. The Engelsteins are an interesting bunch – Geoff has been doing some really smart segments on The Dice Tower for years, and the family has, in different combinations, together designed five games. So this is one I should probably check out. RATING: PROBABLE TRY
Salvation Road is a post-apocalyptic game from designers Peter Gousis and Michael D. Kelley, published by Van Ryder Games. It’s a cooperative game where players are working together to protect a group of Survivors from roving bandits, as well as to make a journey to a haven called Salvation. Each player controls one Survivor and one Hero, and must work together to make it safely to journey’s end.
The theme here does nothing for me. Post-apocalyptic is a popular genre these days, but it doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I’d be willing to give this game a try, but I’m not champing at the bit to do so. RATING: MIGHT TRY
There’s my first random preview. More to come in the weeks leading up to Gen Con. Thanks for reading!