Today is the fourth, and likely final, random preview for this year’s Gen Con. As always, I’m picking games randomly from the BGG Preview list which, at the time of this writing, had 391 items on it. On with the games!
Lovecraft Letter (Seiji Kanai, AEG) is the latest iteration of the Love Letter system. It plays much like previous iterations of the system – draw a card, then play a card with the goal of either being the last one standing or having the highest ranked card left in your hand when the cards run out. This version adds Sanity. Some cards have sane and insane effects. If you ever play a card with an insane effect, you are now insane and on future turns may choose to use either the sane or insane effect of a card. However, at the start of each of your future turns, you must make a Sanity check – draw cards from the deck until you have drawn an Insanity card or you have drawn as many cards as you have Insanity cards in your discard pile. If you get an Insanity card, you are knocked out of the round.
I have not played any version of Love Letter other than the original, and I’ve heard that they typically try to add a few extra mechanisms to differentiate themselves. This one seems appropriately thematic, and I think it certainly wins the prize for best naming of a reskin. Cthulhu is in everything these days, so it makes sense that he found his way into Love Letter. This is not one I think I’d race to try out at Gen Con, but it is one I’d be happy to try out sometime in the future.
Dicey Peaks (Scott Almes, Calliope Games) has players climbing Yeti Mountain. A mountain is randomly generated at the beginning of each game using hexagonal tiles. On your turn, you’ll roll five dice, noting that some are better for climbing and some are better for resting. After rolling, decide if you’re going to climb or rest. If you choose to climb, you’ll save pickaxe and avalanche results. For resting, you’ll save . You can continue to roll three more dice and keep going until you choose to stop or you bust (three avalanches or more pickaxes than oxygen while climbing, three yeti or too much oxygen while resting). Once you stop, you’ll either reduce your oxygen and climb (resolving the action on the tile you land on), or increase your oxygen while resting. If you make it to the summit and find the flag, you win. If you die in the effort, you lose.
This seems like kind of a fun game. I really like mountain climbing as a theme, and this one seems like a pretty good push-your-luck style game. I still think it’s weird that there are at least three games out there, all from different designers and publishers, that use this made up Yeti Mountain setting. Still, this is one I’d probably look to try out.
Fast Food Fear (Dario Dordoni, Devir) is a fast party-style game where players are trying to fulfill monster orders at a fast food restaurant. On your turn, you either discard a card to draw a new one, fulfill an order by discarding the correct cards, or playing a special action card that will allow you to reset the time, trade cards, and other things. If you manage to fulfill all orders within the time limit, you win (it’s cooperative).
This seems like a pretty light, quick and simple game. It probably fits that ever-elusive “we’re waiting on our food to be served, so let’s pull out this game and play it real quick” genre. It’s not one I’d be champing at the bit to see, given my feelings about party games, but doesn’t seem terrible.
The Fox in the Forest (Joshua Buergel, Foxtrot Games/Renegade Game Studios) is a two-player trick-taking game. Standard trick-taking rules apply – one player leads, the other must follow suit if he can, and the high card wins the trick (unless trump was played). Some cards have special powers that come into effect when played. At the end of the hand (13 tricks), players score points based on how many you took – winning 0-3 or 7-9 tricks gets you the most points (6), while taking 10-13 tricks nets you zero points. You keep playing until someone has 21 points.
This looks like a pretty cool trick-taking game. One of the weaknesses of the genre is that most trick-takers need more than two people because two-player versions tend to feel like War. This one has some interesting twists, including scoring and special powers. This looks like a very good game that I’d love to try out sometime.
Bunny Kingdom (Richard Garfield, IELLO) is a game about building a kingdom. With bunnies. Each round, players will draft cards by choosing two and passing the rest. When all cards have been chosen, players will play cards, with the intent of multiplying your bunnies on the board, gaining buildings, collecting resources, and completing secret goals. In the end, the player with the most points wins.
Richard Garfield and IELLO last collaborated on King of Tokyo/King of New York, and that went pretty well. This one has cute bunny minis and looks good, though I don’t know too much about gameplay yet – just some previews from Spielwarenmesse and Origins. I think it would be one to check out, however.
Bohnanza: The Duel (Uwe Rosenberg, Rio Grande Games) is the two-player version of the classic bean-farming game Bohnanza. It plays out a lot like the original – you begin a turn by planting the first bean in your hand, and optionally planting the second (your hand may not be rearranged). Then there’s an offer phase where you draw three cards and either claim them for yourself or try to get your opponent to take them. Then you plant any beans you gained and draw new cards. The two biggest changes to standard gameplay are the offer phase and how you plant. For the offer phase, you can offer a card from the three you turned over or your hand as a gift, which your opponent may accept or decline – if they decline, they must offer you something. You are allowed to bluff, though it will cost you if you get caught. To plant, you can plant a bean that is valued two more than the last one planted if you wish. This game also adds Bohnus cards (ha ha) that give you additional goals to be working for. When the deck is depleted, the person who has earned the most money wins.
I’m a big fan of Bohnanza, so I’m interested to see how this version works out. It takes the trading out of the game in favor of bluffing, which makes sense in a two player game. It also makes decisions a little less agonizing as you can plant a different type of bean in a field, though doing so probably reduces your income potential. The Bohnus cards look like they add some more strategy to what you’re doing, so that’s cool. I think this would be worth checking out, especially if you like the original.
Wild West Shepherds (Martin Kuan, Wild Boys Studio) is a social deduction style game where players are trying to collect sheep. Each round, four locations are set out, and one player looks at two of them. He’ll announce the number of wolves, and then all players may look at one location. Players then place their cowboy on a location. You’ll then reveal locations and see how many sheep people got (wolves will cost you sheep). Players will also have a role that may offset some negative effects. The first person to get to 11 sheep wins.
This game does not look that fun to me. I’m quite skeptical of social deduction games lately, and I think this one just doesn’t offer anything I want to explore. Yes, it has some role selection to it, but it seems more like random guessing than anything. This is going to be at Gen Con in very limited qualities (only 20), so I think I’d be fine not checking it out at all.
That’s it for the random Gen Con previews. I’m more and more disappointed that I won’t be there this year – it looks like a lot of fun games will be available. Thanks for reading!