The Getting Excited for Gen Con 2014 Super-MEGA Post

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Gen Con is fast approaching, and a few of us (Dave Banks, Matt Forbeck, John Booth, and myself) are making the trip out to Indianapolis again for the “best four days in gaming.” There’s still time to register if you haven’t already, though a lot of the ticketed events are starting to fill up quickly.

One of the best things about going to a big gaming convention is, of course, all the cool new games you get to try out (and buy). And another is fun events that are made possible by large groups of people in one place. Here are some of the things we’re looking forward to at Gen Con this year.

True Dungeon
Dave, John, and Paul get their characters set up for True Dungeon.

True Dungeon

True Dungeon is a role-playing game with elaborate sets, actors, and props. Although you won’t be swinging a foam sword (this isn’t LARPing), you do get to walk through various scenes, figuring out puzzles and resolving combat with a shuffleboard-style game. We got to try it last year, and it was a blast. Many thanks to True Dungeon for inviting us back. This year we’ll be doing the puzzle-based Flight of the Zephyr, the first of the two-part scenario, which is itself part of a 3-year story arc. The adventures are brand-new each year, and it looks like they’ve also added some differences in the way the adventures are run, too. (JL)

pathfinder adventure card game skulls and shackles

More Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

My regular Pathfinder Adventure Card Game group has finished five of the six decks in the Rise of the Runelords set, and we’ve had a blast playing through it in the past year. So I’m really excited that the next base set, Skull & Shackles, is being released by Paizo at Gen Con this year. I’ve gotten to play a demo—this storyline involves pirates, and introduces new types of mechanics like ships and booty. On top of that, the debut of the Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild will be at Gen Con this year. I don’t know if it’s something I’ll be able to keep up with after the convention, but I figure I’ll give it a shot at least while I’m there. (JL)

kk_1024x1024The New Dungeons & Dragons

The fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons (going by the commonly accepted numbering) is due to debut at Gen Con. If you want a preview of it, you can pick up the new Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, which came out last week, but the real thing launches with the new Player’s Handbook, which comes out at the big show. The latest version of the grandaddy of RPGs had a long playtest period to work out all the bugs, and most reviews of it so far have been glowing. (MF)

GCPNumenera

Numenera

Numenera has earned a lot of enthusiastic attention since its debut a year ago, winning the Origins Award for Best Role-Playing Game in June, earning several ENnie nominations, and inspiring a steady stream of new products. (The Technology Compendium is scheduled for an Aug. 13 release.) I got the core rulebook awhile ago, and can’t wait to play for the first time, having landed a seat in one of Monte Cook Games’ Gen Con adventure sessions,The Violet Vale. (JB)

GCPFirefly

Firefly

Margaret Weis Productions is behind the Cortex Plus system driving the Firefly RPG, and the company is running two adventures at Gen Con 2014: Wedding Planners (for beginners) and What’s Yours Is Mine, aimed at experienced players. While I won’t be at the table for either of those, my friend Paul — who crafted a spectacularly meta Gamma World adventure for Gen Con 2013 — will be running a Firefly session this time around, and you bet your plastic dinosaur figures I’ll be aboard. (JB)

KONY

King of New York

When King of Tokyo first hit tables a few years ago, gamers were thrilled with a game where robots and monsters fought each other for supremacy of the Japanese capital. Now those monsters have turned to attack the Big Apple. This stand-alone game adds another way of earning point, “Fame” points can be earned by staying in the spotlight. Hello Broadway! King of New York will have a larger board and monsters can all battle each other (rather than those in or out of the city) and will have to fend off the military, as well. Destruction of buildings is also possible in this September release from IELLO. (DB)

Space Cadets: Dice Duel - Die Fighter

Space Cadets: Dice Duel – Die Fighter

If you’ve got a big gaming group, Space Cadets: Dice Duel is a fantastic game, where two teams are trying to take each other down while frantically rolling dice. It’s best with a large group, though, because otherwise each player has to handle a lot of roles at once. The Die Fighter expansion releasing this year adds some mini fighter ships that can be piloted by a single player—so now you can add these fighters to your big ships and send them out to wreak havoc, or you can play a two-player variant that’s more like a dogfight. It should be at Gen Con to try out and will be hitting stores soon. (JL)

golem_emissarySiteGolem Arcana

Jordan Weisman (and his crew at Harebrained Schemes) looks to have another category-defining hit on his hands with Golem Arcana. This tabletop game works stylus-in-hand with modern tablets and smartphones to take the drudgery out of minis games, leaving you with nothing but the fun. The figures look fantastic, and the world exudes fantastic flavor with every earth-shaking step that’s been revealed. (MF)

5Tribes

Five Tribes

Days of Wonder is one of my favorite game companies, not just because they make a lot of games I enjoy, but also because their components are always incredible high quality. Their new game, from designer Bruno Cathala (Cyclades, Mr. Jack, Shadows Over Camelot) is called Five Tribes. Days of Wonder is calling it a twist on worker placement, where the game begins with meeples already in place. Your job, in the land of 1001 nights, is to gain influence by invoking djinns (Islamic spirits) and maneuvering the local tribes. Victory points are earned in a variety of ways and the player with the most is declared the Great Sultan. There will be limited copies at Gen Con, in stores in September. (DB)

Lost Legacy: The Starship

Lost Legacy

AEG has been publishing more small-box games, including some more by Seiji Kanai, the designer of such microgames like Love Letter and BraveRats (from Blue Orange Games). Lost Legacy is another 16-card game of deduction in which you’re trying to discover the lost starship. It looks like there are three sets of these Lost Legacy games, each of which can be mixed together or played independently. (JL)

photo-mainThe Devil Walks in Salem

Peter Adkison, the founder of Wizards of the Coast and co-owner of Gen Con, found a new love—film—and decided to mix it with his other great passion: gaming. Last year, he ran a Kickstarter to fund a short film based on a session he played of the award-winning Fiasco RPG: The Devil Walks in Salem. Peter’s going to debut the film at Gen Con this year, and I cannot wait to see it. (MF)

SMASHUP

Smash Up: The Big Geeky Box

Smash Up is an incredibly fun card game where you combine factions to do battle against your opponent’s army. The “shufflebuilding” game has seen so much popularity (and expansions), that its publisher, AEG, has decided to release Smash Up: The Big Geeky Box, an oversized collector’s box to hold all of your Smash Up cards. Also included in the box will be a new faction, Geeks, featuring the personalities of Geek & Sundry. There’ll be 20 minion and action cards, 2 new bases, plus 27 dividers and some foam blocks for keeping everything in place. Smash Up: The Big Geeky Box will be available at Gen Con. (DB)

Cones of Dunshire

Cones of Dunshire

Fans of Parks & Recreation may be familiar with Cones of Dunshire, the ridiculously complex game invented by Ben while he was between jobs. Mayfair had a hand in helping to develop the prototype used on the show, and they’re running a charity event at Gen Con for people to play the game. Sadly, the $100 tickets are already sold out, but the opportunity to be the Ledgerman (you get to wear the hat) will be auctioned off. While I won’t get to play the game myself, I’m hoping at least to watch if there’s room for spectators. (JL)

DDTM---Main-Cast-Photo---webDark Dungeons

Back in the dark ages (you know, 1984, before the Internet), a man named Jack Chick used to create comics about the evils of the world, including how Dungeons & Dragons would corrupt our nation’s youth. He called that issue Dark Dungeons, and it was just as laughably bad as you might imagine. But you don’t have to imagine. A group of gamers licensed the comic for a Dark Dungeons film and ran a Kickstarter to fund its production last year. They played it straight and made a faithful adaptation, but that’s what makes it even more hilarious. They’re debuting it at Gen Con, and you should get in line to see if it might corrupt you too. If not for yourself, then do it for the kids. (MF)

Pandemics

Pandemic: The Cure / Pandemic: Contagion

Pandemic is in regular rotation at my house, despite how frustrating it can be, mostly because it’s a great cooperative game. In Indianapolis in August there will be not one, but two new Pandemic-related games. The first is Pandemic: The Cure, a dice-based version of the game that is supposed to play in 30 minutes. It’s designed by Matt Leacock, who designed the original Pandemic game. I love Pandemic and I love dice, so this is a no-brainer. Gameplay seems to follow the original game very closely with a few minor twists, but a version of Pandemic that lasts just 30 minutes? Think of how many more times you can lose! Available this fall.

There’s another Pandemic game on the way from Z-Man and this one is called Pandemic: Contagion. Designed by Cary Grayson, who worked on Railways Express and Tumblin-Dice, Contagion allows you to play as the disease. You’re competing against other diseases (the other players) to see who can eradicate human life. There are no cures, so highest kill total wins! Contagion is a quick-playing card game and humankind should be gone in 30 minutes or less, for 2-5 diseases. Available in September. (DB)

Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter

I know, another zombie game, right? But Dead of Winter from Plaid Hat Games sounds like a really fascinating mash-up; there are hordes of undead, sure, but there are also specific missions to accomplish, plus secret objectives that might involve betraying the whole team. You’ll have to keep up morale at the camp, and make foraging trips to other locations. Plaid Hat Games is also the company behind Mice & Mystics, which my kids and I have been enjoying lately, and I think they’ve done an excellent job merging storytelling and gameplay. I’m curious to see how they tackle a more mature theme that isn’t purely cooperative. (JL)

Ludwig

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

In this tile-laying game, players compete to build extravagant castles for King Ludwig — the bigger, the better. There is an auction component to which tiles can be laid and bonus points given for size, type, and location. Players take turns setting auction prices and each game involves a number of bonus goals to award points, as well. From Bezier Games, Castles of Mad King Ludwig will hit stores in October. (DB)

Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers

After reading Ignacy Trzewiczek’s book Board Games That Tell Stories, I’m curious to try some of his other games besides Robinson Crusoe (which has been a blast). I’d tried 51st State a while back, and was intrigued to see that he’s created a game that uses some similar mechanics that’s more kid-friendly and may play more quickly. So I’m hoping to give Imperial Settlers a try this year, plus maybe try to meet Trzewiczek in person again. (JL)

consequential

Consequential

This game, from Carl Chudyk (designer of the really fun FlowerFall) and Chris Cieslik of Asmadi Games, is a cooperative story-driven game with a narrative that includes four acts worth of content. What’s really interesting is an iOS/Android device or a laptop is required to play this game. A free app displays voice-acted events and is triggered by actions in the physical game. Cieslik showed me a very early version of Consequential at PAX a couple of year ago and it has seemingly changed dramatically since then. I’m not sure what the game is going to be like, but I am really interested in seeing how app integration works with a physical board game. (DB)

Trains

Trains: Rising Sun

One of my favorite games last year was Trains, a combination of the deck-building fun of Dominion and the route-building of Ticket to Ride, two classics. The stand-alone Trains: Rising Sun will include all new cards, three new boards, route bonus cards, and can be integrated with the previous Trains game. Consider me all aboard! (DB)

And then …

Finally, at Gen Con there are a slew of games we’ve reviewed before that will either be debuting or available in demo form. A lot of these are ones that I’ve played in prototype form, so it’ll be fun to see them in finished form. Here’s a list of the games I’ve heard will be at Gen Con, with links to the review. (JL)

And, of course, that’s just a small portion of what’s happening at Gen Con this year. Besides the games and events, I love connecting with gamers and publishers that I don’t see in person very often, and meeting new people, too. How about you: what’s on your must-play list for Gen Con?

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