Better Late Than Never? My Gen Con 2015 Photo Recap

Flip City
The gaming began before I even arrived: playing Flip City on the plane. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I did take a few games with me to Gen Con, some favorites that I wanted to play with my fellow GeekDads: King’s Gold, The Worst Game Ever, Flip City, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Evolution, and Village. I also took along a copy of Emperor’s New Clothes, because you never know.

King's Gold
Playing King’s Gold at the hotel. I stand up to take a picture, and John Booth steals my gold. Typical. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
The Worst Game Ever
The Worst Game Ever. Actually, not so bad. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
Evolution: This photo taken shortly before Dave Banks attacks Gerry Tolbert into extinction. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
Evolution: This photo taken shortly before Dave Banks attacks Gerry Tolbert into extinction. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I did manage to play some of the games I brought, but not all of them. I took a reduced set of components for Evolution (minus the food bags, the Watering Hole board, and the game box) to reduce space. I also enjoyed playing several games Dave Banks brought, like Mysterium, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and Camel Up.

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Getting trounced by Dave Banks at The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I did get to try several new and upcoming games, too–some we’ve already mentioned or have reviewed already, like Codenames and Warehouse 51. Some of these we hope to have full reviews later.

Adventure In
Adventure In is a quick-playing adventure game that lets players join in mid-game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Adventure In is an upcoming title from Grey Fox Games, and I got to play a short demo of a prototype. It’s meant to be all the fun parts of a dungeon delve without the slog, and you can play competitively or cooperatively. One of the interesting features is letting players hop in at any time–though it certainly helps if they know how to play already. I’m looking forward to trying this some more later on.

Apocalypse Chaos
Z-Man’s Apocalypse Chaos is a brutal cooperative game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Z-Man had several new titles on display including an expansion for Tragedy Looper and another puzzle-style game from the same designer, Code of Nine. The one we got to try was a sci-fi cooperative game called Apocalypse Chaos, which had a multi-level board and monsters that roamed around the edges and attacked. We gave it a shot and I died on round 1, so we tried again on an easier level and did a little better.

Bloom
Trying out a prototype of Bloom. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

One evening in the gaming halls I played a prototype of a game called Bloom by Jordan and Mandy (website currently under construction), which involves building out flowers and moving your butterflies around. It’s a fun, pretty theme that results in cutthroat competition. It’s not out yet and is still undergoing playtesting, but keep an eye out for this one.

Cash 'n' Guns
I finally got to play Cash ‘n’ Guns–with John Kovalic! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Cash ‘n’ Guns has been on my list to play for a while but I’ve just never managed to try it. One afternoon I had just mentioned this to John Kovalic in the exhibit hall, and he said, well, let’s go play right now! We had twenty minutes before the hall closed, which he said was enough time for the short demo version of the game. The second edition (featuring artwork by Kovalic) has an upcoming expansion but we just played the basic version. It’s a blast, and one I’ve got on my wish list now.

Cthulhu Realms
Tasty Minstrel Games released Cthulhu Realms, a Lovecraft-themed twist on Star Realms. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Tasty Minstrel Games had a new game called Cthulhu Realms that’s a reimplementation of Star Realms, a great two-player deck-building game. It’s not just a simple retheme–there are some subtle changes to the gameplay–but if you’re familiar with the original it’s pretty easy to translate from one to the other. Two players (or four if you combine two copies) play people, locations, and artifacts in an attempt to drive the other players insane. The Lovecraftian theme is done in a humorous, more kid-friendly way, so I’m hoping to try this with my Cthulhu-obsessed middle daughter.

Double Feature
We got to try a prototype of an expansion for Double Feature. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

John Kovalic also showed us a prototype of an upcoming expansion to Double Feature, his movie-based party game. This one adds a “critic” card to the mix. So now, you might need to name a movie that’s set in space and “shouldn’t have gotten a sequel.” Or maybe it’s a movie that had “an awesome soundtrack.” It introduces opinions to the game, and it’s actually pretty fun. You find out a lot about the other players based on their opinions of various movies, and there can be a little more arguing with the judge about whether a movie fits a set of criteria.

Fuse
Fuse is an upcoming title from Renegade Games that’s about real-time bomb defusing. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another prototype we tried at the Renegade Games booth was Fuse. It’s a real-time cooperative game about defusing a bunch of bombs using colored dice. Each player grabs a number of dice from a bag and rolls them, and then each player takes a die and places it on one of their cards. Some cards require particular numbers of any color, or particular colors of any number. Some need to add up to a certain total, and some have to be stacked in a certain order. The trick is, if you have no matches, then everyone will have to remove dice from their cards. Fill in all the cards before the timer goes off, and you win! Very fun and intense–another one I’m looking forward to when it releases.

PACG app
Obsidian’s Pathfinder Adventure Card Game app is still in the works. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I’ve been excited about the app version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game ever since it was announced at Gen Con last year, and Obsidian is still plugging away at it. They had a playable demo at the show and I fiddled around with it a bit–this demo was set up for pass and play, not online multiplayer. As I played, I started understanding the difficulty of translating the game to an app. In the card game, when it’s your turn, you can ask other players to play cards during your turn. But if it’s a pass-and-play game, that means passing the device around while everyone decides what they want to play. And sometimes people can play cards on your turn that don’t directly affect you–they just give some action out of turn. Working out exactly how to allow interrupts and simultaneous actions is tricky, and I’m curious how things will wind up when Obsidian works through it.

One neat feature is that instead of just a ring of location decks, you actually see the locations on a map. The backgrounds of locations have added animation and effects, though your cards and dice will still look like game components. Overall, the app looks pretty sharp so far. I’m really hoping they get their online multiplayer worked out, because I’m eager to start playing against my non-local friends!

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Portal
Cryptozoic’s upcoming Portal Game is all about acquiring cake. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Cryptozoic had a demo version of the upcoming Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game. You all play as test subjects, moving from room to room and acquiring slices of cake (or incinerating other people and cake). The game is not a board game version of Portal, but rather made to be the sort of thing that test subjects at Aperture Labs may have been given to play. The look of the game is spot-on, though the gameplay might not scratch the puzzle-solving itch that Portal fans are hoping for. I’m reserving judgment for now, but I’d definitely try it again.

Riftwalker
Riftwalker is a card game set in the Storm Hollow universe. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I mentioned already getting to see some printed proofs of Storm Hollow at Gen Con, but Angie and Julian also had a prototype of a new card game they’ve been working on, tentatively titled Riftwalker. It’s set in the same universe as Storm Hollow and you manipulate an elements grid to explore and shift “Rifts” cards to score points. It’ll be on Kickstarter in October, so I might be able to get a review of that later.

Smash Up Munchkin
Smash Up: Munchkin does a good job of inserting Munchkin concepts and funny references into Smash Up. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

We got a review copy of Smash Up: Munchkin and gave it a try one evening. Jim Kelly and John Booth are both familiar with Munchkin but had never played Smash Up, so it seemed like a good introduction to the game. It’s slightly more complex than vanilla Smash Up but not terribly so. Each location now has monsters associated with it, who add to the strength of the location but can also be taken over as minions. There are also treasures–whenever a monster is defeated (whether individually or when a location is defeated) it rewards you with treasures, which can be minions or actions that are returned to the treasure discard pile when used. The game is also illustrated by John Kovalic, but tweaked by Gong Studios to match the illustration style of the previous sets–a smash-up, if you will. Watch for a full review of this one later.

Oh, and I didn’t get a good photo, but I did get to play a finished copy of Dead Man’s Draw, which I loved. It’s one that I took with me on my family vacation, too, and we played a bunch of it there, too.

Next up: More upcoming games!

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.