2020 Random Gen Con Prev…um…

Regular readers of this blog will know that, for the past several years, I’ve been doing random convention previews for Origins, Gen Con, and Spiel. This is where I go to BGG, randomly pull some titles off the convention preview page, and I talk about them here. It’s fun for me, and good to see what publishers are coming out with this year beyond what would typically catch my eye. It also takes a lot of pressure off me to let fate decide what I need to talk about.

One trouble – most conventions this year are cancelled. The big three I just mentioned all have/had online conventions planned (though Origins cancelled theirs after a number of people bailed on them due to GAMA not making a statement of support for people of color in the industry). However, that won’t be the same.

So, Eric Martin at BGG has started a preview list for games that are coming out over the next few months. And thus, I’ll be following suit and basing my random previews off of that. These titles were randomly selected from the 79 that are currently on the list. On with the show!

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Stygian Society (Kevin Wilson, APE Games) is billed as a diceless dungeon crawl. Players are working their way up a wizard’s tower, which doubles as a cube tower for resolving combat. I often hear about the cube tower and how great it has worked for games like Wallenstein and Shogun, though I’ve never played a game with this particular mechanism. Kevin Wilson, of course, is the original designer of games like Descent, and has also worked on successful adaptations like Cosmic Encounter and Arkham Horror, so he’s a designer I tend to keep my eye on.

image by BGG user Ianotoole

Ride the Rails (John Bohrer, Capstone Games) was originally published as Rail USA by Winsome Games in 2014. It’s a train game (obviously) where you’re delivering passengers all over the United States. There’s an economic aspect (of course), and the cubes of the original have been replaced by a lot of little wooden trains. I’ve never played an actual Winsome Game, though I think I’ve played a title or two that has been reprinted by a larger publisher. Capstone does a great job with their productions, so I’m interested in seeing this one.

image by BGG user KyleNicholson

Fumbling Ferrets (Zachary Connely, Games by Bicycle) is a word game. There are no rules up that I can find, but according to BGG, you play over three rounds, each consisting of four turns. On your turn, you buy a letter, and then at the end of the round, make as high scoring a word as you can. I’m not a big word gamer, and with really nothing to go on other than this basic information, this game doesn’t capture my interest at all.

image by BGG user pakomonk

Scape (Francisco Gallego Arredondo, GDM Games) is a 2015 game that is getting a second edition. It’s a social deduction game where players are trying to escape from a WWII POW camp. You’re playing cards out for actions, or to spell out the word SCAPE. In the end, the team with the most faction symbols showing actually escapes, but one SS symbol foils the attempt. I’m not a huge fan of social deduction games, but this seems like a pretty quick and small game that works for a large number of players (up to 13).

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Quick and the Undead (Adrian Ademescu/Daryl Andrews, Inside Up Games) is a hybrid Old West/zombie game. Players simultaneously choose actions, with duels happening whenever people choose the same action. As you clear the undead from the streets, you can buy buildings. The goal of the game is to collect notoriety. Honestly, this game lost me with the theme – zombies games and western games aren’t my thing, and the combination does nothing for me, despite the clever title. But, as this game was designed by the team that also did Sagrada, I’d be willing to give this one a shot.

image by BGG user fencedingates

Fort (Grant Rodiek, Leder Games) is based on SPQF, designed and published by Rodiek’s Hyperbole Games in 2018. It’s a deck-building game where you are a kid trying to build the coolest fort. Your cards let you take actions and maybe even copy other actions, but not using cards means you might lose them. This game looked interesting as SPQF, but was printed in a very limited run, so I’m glad to see Leder Games (who has had a ton of success with other four-letter games like Vast and Root) bringing it out to a wider audience.

image by BGG user MHaag

Colt Super Express (Cédric Lefebvre/Christophe Raimbault, Ludonaute) is a faster, more portable version of the Spiel des Jahres winning Colt Express. There’s a similar programming element, except you now have four action cards and you order three of them, then reveal what you did. Another difference is, instead of wanting to get the most money, your goal is to be the last one standing. I love Colt Express, and I’d be interested to check this one out, though I’m not sure how well I’d like it. At the very least, it seems short.

image by BGG user plaidhatgames

Forgotten Waters (Mr. Bistro/J. Arthur Ellis/Isaac Vega, Plaid Hat Games) is the latest book game from Plaid Hat. In this one, you’re pirates sailing around, completing scenarios, collecting booty. The game is cooperative, app-supported, and uses the Crossroads system where different events trigger other events. I watched a bit of a playthrough by One Stop Co-Op Shop on this one, and it looked fun. I still haven’t gotten to try any of Plaid Hat’s book games (i.e. Stuffed Fables, Comanauts, etc), but I do want to some day.

image by BGG user forbiddenlimb

The Zorro Dice Game (Brian Henk/Clayton Skancke, Pull the Pin Games) is a dice game based on the legendary character of 18th century Spanish California. In this game, Zorro has gotten too old for the job and is looking for a successor. The game features the triple roll system found in other games like Yahtzee and King of Tokyo, and you’re working on collecting equipment and defeating baddies. My only experience with the character of Zorro comes from watching the Antonio Banderas movie. Don’t know how I feel about this one yet.

image by BGG user Uli Blennemann

The Cost (Armando Canales, Spielworxx) is about the asbestos industry. It focuses on the economic aspects of the industry, but also on the moral implications of what you’re doing. Do you go for as much money as you can as quick as you can, or do you protect your workers so you can last longer in the market? It’s kind of a fascinating topic – I know games are supposed to be “fun”, but they can also be educational, and exploring that side of an issue could be incredibly interesting.

image by BGG user jason2043

Camp Pinetop (Stephen Davies, Talon Strikes Studios) is a game where you’re leading a Scout troop, trying to level them all the way up to the highest rank, which is Badger. You’ll be drafting cards, collecting skill badges, and going on all kinds of adventures. I’m definitely interested in the theme – I was a Boy Scout myself, and I want to see what they did with this.


There you go. There are more of these coming, so stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

(Special Note: The representative image you saw on the front menu came from here)

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