Before I begin this post, I’m just going to apologize up front for all of the many, many board game posts you’re going to see in the next couple of weeks. Aside from my usual pile of games to review (both on and off Kickstarter), I saw a whole lot of things at Gen Con that caught my eye, so you’ll be hearing about a lot of them. (I’m not really sorry.)
I already mentioned several ongoing Kickstarter projects that I checked out during Gen Con, and now I’ve got a slew of games I saw in some form that are coming to Kickstarter later–some are launching any day now, and some may still be six months out, but these are games that you’ll want to watch for.
If you like real-time games (and you know I do), here’s a quick one–each game of Meteor lasts 5 minutes or less. There’s a swarm of meteors headed toward Earth, and you have to cooperate with others to build and launch rockets to shoot them down. One of the trickiest parts of this game is that you can’t talk to each other. Well, there’s a technology card, the communications array, that lets you start talking, but until then everything is done with gestures and raised eyebrows. Even when you can start talking, it can be a pretty tricky game to beat.
Note that the images shown here are all prototypes and still undergoing modifications. This will be launching (get it? launching?) soon from Mayday Games.
Here’s another real-time cooperative game (I promise not all of these will be), but it’s like a mash-up of Hanabi and Robo Rally. In Bomb Squad, You have a limited amount of time to program a robot to defuse bombs, open doors, and rescue hostages. The trick is, you hold your cards facing away from you, and your teammates must give you intel about the situation–the cards are used both to charge up the robot’s batteries and program its movement.
The game will come with several scenarios of increasing difficulty; so far I’ve only played a couple of the training missions, and they’re already pretty tough to beat. But the gameplay is fantastic and I’m looking forward to trying this some more. Coming soon from Tasty Minstrel Games.
Unfortunately the Dragon Tides demo prototype was already packed up by the time I made it to the booth on Sunday, but I did chat with designer Alex Lim from Artistic Justice Games. Two words: Bruce Lee. Yep, this game is an officially licensed game featuring Bruce (and Brandon) Lee, plus a few other characters and cameos from other games. It’s a mashup of martial arts movies and old-school video games like Double Dragon. Learn cool moves, take on the Tiger Syndicate, fight the Bosses. The website shows a launch date of August 28, so stay tuned.
Yashima: Legend of the Kami Masters
I saw a prototype of Yashima during the show and I was impressed with the concept. It’s a tactical game where you’re trying to defeat your opponents, battling it out on a hex-based board. One interesting aspect is that you select a character and a Kami (a mystical beast) and combine those two decks to form your deck–somewhat like SmashUp, although what you do with the deck is quite different. I’m hoping to get a prototype of this one to try out before the Kickstarter launches, probably within a month or two from Greenbrier Games.
World of Yo-Ho
Dave Banks already mentioned this one in our “Best of” post, but I figured I’d plug it again. World of Yo-Ho is about pirate animals (with animal ships) sailing around, pillaging and battling and fulfilling missions. What sets it apart, though, is the technology: your smartphone becomes your playing piece and controller. While the concept isn’t for everyone, we think it could be a gateway for people who love apps and videogames into other tabletop games. From Iello Games and Volumique, launching in October.
From V3G, the company behind Incredibrawl, comes this two-player card game, Strife. It reminds me a little of games like BraveRats: you each have the same set of cards and can play them in any order, but the question is how well you can predict your opponent’s choices. What’s interesting in this one is that each card has two powers: the current champion gets to activate its Battle ability; then the previous champion activates its Legacy ability. So although there are only 10 cards per player, the combinations of abilities makes this a very rich game with lots of possibilities. And it doesn’t hurt that the artwork on the oversized cards is terrific. Launching in October.
Here’s a bluffing/deduction game that’s based on the real-life story of the Monument Men. Operation F.A.U.S.T. (Fine Art Underground: Stolen Treasures), designed by Robert Burke and to be published by Grey Fox Games, has you trying to rescue a million dollars’ worth of stolen art from the Nazis. Various character cards let you peek at the art cache, steal art from other players, or get intel that can be traded for art. But the cool thing is that you get to lie about which character cards you have. I also love that the artwork for the game uses photographs of actual figures from World War II. Launching in October.
Champions of Hara
In the Entrepreneur Alley section of the exhibit hall, I came across a booth with a board game next to what looked like comic book art. Champions of Hara is, in fact, a board game with an accompanying comic book, designed by three friends from Skidmore College. Their goal is to create a world that can keep growing, both through the game and the graphic novel. While I didn’t have time to try the game itself, I was impressed with the artwork for the comic book and I’m very curious to see where this goes. Launching in mid-October.
A friend of mine here in Portland, Jonathan Hager, had been working on the design for Captain’s Wager for some time, and I’ve had the privilege of doing a (very small) part of the playtesting for it, so it’s fun to see that it’s almost ready to launch. The game has gone through several iterations, but it’s a clever trick-taking game that involves some betting and bluffing and (of course) special abilities. When we’d played before it had a fantasy theme, but Grey Fox Games has given it a steampunk pirates theme, and the prototype looked great.
Quintessential: The Fifth Element
Alchemy is a theme that hasn’t been touched on too often in games (despite two games about alchemy last year). Quintessential is about combining the four classical elements to produce the elusive fifth element, aether. It’s a combination of worker placement and resource management, with dice used as elements and cards that represent your labs and various types of procedures you can create. The game had been self-published by designer Shawn Storie, who was hand-making every copy, but now Gamer Nation Studios plans to launch a Kickstarter to fund a production run. (Sadly, the beautiful wooden box will probably not be included in the regular edition.)
Tiny Epic Galaxies
If you can’t get enough of Scott Almes’ and Gamelyn Games’ series of Tiny Epic games, I’ve got good new for you. Their next game is in development: Tiny Epic Galaxies. It’s another game that packs a lot of play into a pocket-sized box. You’ll go out to colonize planets, develop your own culture, and gather resources to upgrade your galaxy, which then gives you more ships. I played a prototype at Gen Con and really enjoyed it. There may be a bit of time before this one launches; I believe Michael Coe of Gamelyn Games said potentially early next year.
Finally, one last one that’s in the works, this time from Greater Than Games. It’s the first game they’re publishing that wasn’t designed by the core team, but Christopher Badell told me about the premise and I was hooked. In Spirit Island, you are all the various spirits of an uninhabited island–and then people show up. The game itself is trying to play a worker-placement game: it’s moving people around, collecting resources, building things … and your goal is to stop them to preserve the island. Obstruct the humans and scare them off, and you win! I didn’t get to try this myself but watched folks playing it during the convention, and I’m hoping to get a chance to try it out before it hits Kickstarter.
Coming soon: a look at Kickstarter-funded games that made their way to Gen Con this year.