Do you remember that feeling when Christmas was just around the corner and you couldn’t wait to see what Santa brought you on Christmas morning? That’s the feeling I get in late July, leading up to Gen Con — I can’t wait to see and play all the new games! It’s an interesting year because there doesn’t seem to be a single big game that everyone is excited about (maybe Mysterium). Still, there are more than a few games I have my eyes on.
Here are some of the things we’re most excited about, from Jim Kelly, Samantha Bryant, Gerry Tolbert, Dave Banks, Jonathan Liu. Gen Con, here we come!
Just About Everything
I’ve been wanting to attend GenCon for over 30 years. The list of what I do NOT want to do is shorter. I want to play some new RPGs. I want to play in a D&D epic (and have a ticket – Woot!). I want to meet some new colleagues at Goodman Games (more on this in an upcoming post, but suffice to say – got my first PAID game-writing gig –
Double Woot!). I want to lose sleep, I want to avoid ConCrud, I want to meet some game legends as well as some up-and-coming developers. I want to see Sword Coast Legends and better understand the built-in DMing tool. I want to try and play a game of Metamorphosis Alpha. I want to attend a few discussion sessions. I want to bid on something that I might never get a chance to own. I want to meet The Forbeck Writing Machine. I want to visit with the dozen or so GeekDad writers attending Gen Con and put some faces to names. I want to have more fun in four days than is humanly possible. And finally, I want to sleep like a baby on my flight home with the biggest grin on my face. (JK)
One thing I look forward to every year is the GenCon Writer’s Symposium. It functions as almost its own separate con within the con, with writers, editors, publishers, and other bigwigs in the speculative book biz offering panels, workshops, and advice for up-and-coming writers, hobbyists, or interested fans. This year the featured speakers are Terry Brooks, Elizabeth Bear, and Chuck Wendig. There’s a new track on comic writing as well as tracks on Writer’s Craft, The Business of Writing, and Author Ed. For a writer or aspiring writer in speculative fiction, it’s a wonderful opportunity to network and learn and just bask in the presence of others in love with books. It’s also a fantastic value. Many of the panels are completely free and even the ones that cost are not nearly as expensive as the prices I’ve seen at other writing conventions. (SB)
Like many GeekDads, I’m a voracious reader. From sci-fi and fantasy to mystery and history, I read as many books as I can shove into my brain. As in years previous, several authors will be on hand for signings and panel discussions, meaning a chance to say thank you to several folks who’ve inspired and entertained me. (GT)
Speaking of authors, I’m excited to finally meet one of my favorite author-illustrators in person. Tony DiTerlizzi is Gen Con’s Artist Guest of Honor, and he’ll be there with his new book Realms (and doing a drawing workshop). I’ve enjoyed having him on my podcast many times in the past, so it’ll be great to see him in person and shake his hand. (JL)
The Sixth Gun RPG
Last month I interviewed Scott Woodard, author of the newly minted role-playing game set in the universe of The Sixth Gun comics from Oni Press. I was super excited about this game and pledged to the Kickstarter campaign at a level that has given me the opportunity to play with the creators of the comic and the RPG, courtesy of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Thursday night, I’ll be donning my duster and dropping the dice, as comic book author Cullen Bunn weaves a tale of the Winding Way. (GT)
As a new attendee, I haven’t had the pleasure of joining the last two years of True Dungeon. This year, I was invited to join the GeekDad team for the Saturday night run of this puzzle gaming extravaganza. I’m warming up my puck sliding skills and memorizing lists of numbers for better spell casting. Mostly, I’m looking forward to hanging out with this group in the flesh for the first time. Still a bit surreal. (GT)
True Dungeon has been a highlight of Gen Con for me the past two years, and I’m excited to be heading back again. This year we’ve got a couple new GeekDads and GeekMoms plus a few new friends on the team. Will we survive? It’s questionable. Will we have fun? Definitely. (JL)
Family Fun Day
My 2.5-year-old mini-person hasn’t quite reached the proficiency with numbers and strategy to play games like Catan, but she loves Uno Moo! and Feed the Woozle. Sunday is Family Fun Day, so we’ll be visiting the family gaming booths to look for as many new gaming opportunities as she can handle. With her eagerness and curiosity, it could get expensive… (GT)
Concert Against Humanity
Whether you love or hate Cards Against Humanity, this concert may still be worth your time. The Doubleclicks, Paul & Storm, and Molly Lewis will be playing. Kumail Nanjani (from HBO’s Silicon Valley) and Cameron Esposito will be doing stand-up. Authors John Scalzi and Pat Rothfuss will be reading. I’m calling it nerdvana. Can’t wait to see them in person. (GT)
Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana
Whether it’s making up for not having a gaming group for most of my life, or just maturation of my storytelling skills, the role-playing games really top my list of must-see attractions. Yet another new RPG from the folks at TableTop on Geek & Sundry, Titansgrave hits all of my major genre fiction buttons, so I’ll likely be picking it up early. (GT)
Valley of the Kings: Afterlife
I really enjoyed AEG’s Valley of the Kings, a small deck-building game that’s as much about taking apart your deck as building it. It looks like the expansion can be played as a standalone game, or combined with the original to play up to six players. I’m curious about what it will add and I’m excited to see the differences. (JL)
Pharaoh’s Gulo Gulo
For years I recommended Gulo Gulo as a great alternative to Candyland: it’s still about recognizing colors, but your kids actually get some choice and they’ll probably beat you because it’s a dexterity game. You pull tiny wooden eggs out of a bowl without knocking over the stick propped up in the middle–little sticky fingers are particularly good at this. But Gulo Gulo went out of print and became impossible to find. This year Haba is bringing the game back, though in a slightly different form. If you’re tired of the Candy Cane Forest, you may want to pay a visit to this pyramid instead. (JL)
Code of Nine
Last year I was fascinated by Z-Man’s Tragedy Looper, a puzzle-like game by Japanese designer BakaFire. This year Z-Man has another game from BakaFire (set in the same world but otherwise separate) called Code of Nine. It’s a worker-placement game where players are androids trying to recover lost memories, and there’s bluffing and deduction involved. I don’t know much more yet, but I’m definitely intrigued. (JL)
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game App
Obsidian’s website still just says it’s “coming soon,” but I’m looking forward to meeting with some folks there to talk about the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game app that’s been in development. It had just been announced last year at Gen Con, and some of our writers got another peek at PaizoCon earlier this year. I’m not expecting it to be released, but I’m hoping to get some more info and maybe see more of a demo than was ready last year. (JL)
I write about and back so many Kickstarter board games that it’s hard to keep track of the status of all of them until they actually show up on my doorstep, but Gen Con is a chance to meet a lot of the game publishers and designers in person. I get to find out about games that will be on Kickstarter soon, and see some crowdfunded games that have finally made it through production. The list is long this year, but I’ll be making the rounds of the exhibit hall to see how many I can spot. And I’m hoping this year I’ll make it to the First Exposure Playtest Hall to try some upcoming games … though last year I never managed to. There’s just so much to see! (JL)
The game that has most of my attention is Dice City from AEG. In this “dice-crafting” game, players compete to establish their cities as the new capital of Rolldovia by managing their resources, building infrastructure, and by creating armies. It’s got fantastic art and you get to roll a lot of dice, sounds perfect to me! Dice City will be available in October. Read more and check out the rules here. (DB)
I already have an import copy of this game and just love it. However, there will be a limited number of copies on sale at Gen Con, which is sure to fuel the hype. Plus, Mysterium doesn’t hit stores until October, maybe that makes it the hit game of the show. That and the fact that it’s really good. This game, which is sort of a mash-up of Dixit and Clue, asks one player to play as a spirit who can’t speak. The spirit provides clues, in the form of image cards, to players to identify who, where, and how the spirit was murdered. It is pretty difficult, but tons of fun and one to definitely have on your radar. (DB)
From Vlaada Chvátil, Codenames is a party card game pitting two spymasters against each other. Twenty-five cards are laid out with single word clues on their backs. Hidden behind them are agents for both teams and a single assassin. Spymasters can see (via a hidden picture) which cards belong to their team and which card is the assassin. Other players take clues from their spymasters and try to uncover their agents, while avoiding the other team’s agents. Everyone wants to avoid the assassin. (DB)
Some Quick Hits from Dave Banks
- Ever since GeekDad John Booth told me about mashing up Telestrations and Cards Against Humanity, my fragile, little mind has been warped beyond belief. I thought I had mature, intelligent friends too! Anyway, Telestrations is getting on board with Telestrations After Dark, which seems to be a more palatable version of the mashup, less CAH‘s racist and sexist cards. I’ll have a look.
- I generally like Funforge games, so I’m optimistic about Warehouse 51. Not so far in the future, the USA has finally gone bankrupt (or admitted it at least). To pay some debts, the federal government has decided to auction its most precious assets: Aladdin’s Lamp, Mjölinir, the Holy Grail, and the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s an auction game where not everything is as it seems. Some items are fake and others are cursed.
- Castles of Mad King Ludwig made it to my table more than just about any other game this year. So I’m looking forward to the Secrets expansion to this game, which introduces swans, more ways to make money, moats, and more.
- I’m also looking forward to Bottom of the 9th, the recently re-Kickstarted New Bedford and anything else Dice Hate Me has to show off. I am a huge fan of everything they do and a new game from them is an instant buy for me.
- Though I haven’t read a lot about it yet, I am also a big supporter of Fireside Games and am really interested to see The Village Crone, a worker placement game about witchcraft from Anne-Marie De Witt. Looking over the rules, it looks to be a lot more complex than the previous games and, given their track record, it’s sure to be a winner!
- Medieval Academy is a family game from Iello and tells the story of squires who are looking to acquire enough chivalry points to be knighted by King Arthur. It’s card drafting and the game also includes a number of tougher and backstabbier rules for evolution of the game. I really like games that will grow with a family.
- As a last minute mention, Final Fantasy just announced they would be reprinting Fury of Dracula, with demos at their booth in Indianapolis. This is great news, I like deduction games like Scotland Yard and Letters from Whitechapel and I’ve had this on my wish list for a long time, so I’ll finally be able to pick up a copy.
- Finally, there’s Tail Feathers. It’s mice battling rats. On birds. With minis. Set in the Mice & Mystics universe. I don’t know much more than that, but I am completely sold.