Throughout the year, this is probably my favorite post to write: what we are looking forward to the most at Gen Con. It’s far and away my favorite convention and the “looking forward to” part is a lot better to me than the “what we liked best” part that we usually talk about after Gen Con.
Why? Well, this post is full of anticipation and promise and, for the new guys, a bit of surprise and the unknown. The post-convention post always feels a bit melancholy to me, mostly because even though I’ve had a lot of fun and seen a lot of games and people, Gen Con is over at that point and it’s a whole year before I get to go again.
Nevertheless, in this post, I get to see what the other GeekDads are looking forward to and that’s pretty fun too. So I’ve asked Jonathan Liu, James Floyd Kelly, John Booth, Gerry Tolbert, and newbies Preston Burt and Rob Huddleston to join me in describing the things they are most looking forward to at Gen Con 2016…
One of our favorite events each year is True Dungeon—a dungeon crawl event that incorporates elaborate sets, actors in costumes, and fiendishly tricky puzzles. This year, Gen Con has grown big enough that True Dungeon will be set up at the Lucas Oil Stadium, so I’m curious to see if the new environment will bring any significant changes. Will we finally all survive the dungeon this year? We’ll see. Our record, for those of you keeping track: Total Party Kill, a win but with several dead characters, and another TPK. (JL)
Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Last fall I reviewed Vast: The Crystal Caverns (at the time known as Trove), and marveled at this totally asymmetric game. I was lucky enough to get one of the advance copies to try out, and I’ve been thrilled with it. Vast will hopefully make its debut at Gen Con this year, and if it does, you’ll want to get in line to try it and pick up a copy, or go ahead and pre-order it here. Take on the roles of a Knight, Goblins, Dragon, Thief, or even the Cave itself, each with its own objective and abilities. Also, Leder Games has mentioned that it will have some prototypes of future expansions: The Mysterious Manor is a stand-alone expansion with new roles that can be interchanged with The Crystal Caverns, and Ghost and Ghoul will add two new characters to the mix. Patrick Leder may be joining our 8pm Game with GeekDad session, too, so you’ll get a chance to play it then! (JL)
I chat with Jonathan Liu quite a bit and, to be perfectly honest, he can’t stop talking about Vast; he keeps bringing it up every time we talk about games. In fact, he has been putting off other stuff he wants to play because Vast is so much fun. All that hype has me really excited about playing and a group of us are going to jump right in Wednesday night and make it our first game of Gen Con. I’m really looking forward to it. (db)
Legendary Encounters: Firefly
While I’m anticipating many of the games already mentioned, I’m most excited for the release of Legendary Encounters: Firefly! Set in the Serenity ‘Verse, this game has been on my radar since last Gen Con and with details currently sparse, I’m looking forward to cracking this one open. Legendary Encounters, for the uninitiated, lets players take on the role of famous movie protagonists and fight against a whole host of iconic villains. Players utilize a deck building mechanic to complete scenarios and defeat the villains before some galactic level cataclysm brings the fun to an end. I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, this game will be mine! (GT)
See All The Things!
I’ve been attending Dragon Con, a sci-fi and pop culture convention in Atlanta for years now. Based on their large attendance numbers and growing footprint, I thought I knew what a big convention was, but then I learned about Gen Con a few years ago. This year will be my first time attending Gen Con, so I don’t know what to expect. Even though I played Magic: The Gathering back in high school, and always knew there were deeper games out there than Monopoly, I only recently learned just how vast the tabletop gaming community is. I’m excited to see the tremendous amounts of game companies and vendors that will be showcasing their wares and exposing me to so much more than just what I can find in the game section at Target. I’m looking forward to meeting so many of my fellow GeekDad writers and participating in the GeekDad gaming session, but I’m also looking forward to meeting tons of new people through pickup games and other events that I would never have a chance to meet otherwise. Lastly, there’s been nothing but positive chatter about True Dungeon, the live-action role playing game now in its fourteenth year, and I’m excited to see just how much my D&D skills will translate in “real” life. Mostly, I’m going to go where the wind takes me. I don’t have many scheduled events planned, but look forward to checking out the art show, and anything else that happens to catch my eye. (PB)
This is far and away my most anticipated game. And while I could wait and line and try to snag a copy from Plaid Hat Games, I’m not. (I pre-ordered one the moment they started taking orders online.) Plus, SeaFall is a game I want to savor at home, over the course of many sessions–not amid the bustle of a convention. SeaFall is set in the age of sail and is from designer Rob Daviau (Pandemic Legacy, Risk Legacy). I’ve been following the designer diaries over at Plaid Hat and when they initially showed a game board of just blue hexes, I could hardly wait to get on the board and explore and apply stickers while discovering islands, colonies, and the world. I’ve already got a game group scheduled to begin play as soon as it arrives. So, while I won’t be playing it at Gen Con, it is a Gen Con launch and my most anticipated game of Gen Con. I’m also interested in checking out Daviau’s Chronicles series from Artana games and its Echo system for maintaining changes across expansions. (db)
Finished Kickstarter Games
As you know, I write about a lot of Kickstarter games, and so I get a very early look at many games—but seeing them in their finished form is always still a real treat, and there are several that are appearing at Gen Con this year besides Vast. Calliope Games will have demos of the first three titles in its Titan Series (though I think these won’t be for sale yet). Grimslingers, which funded last year, was picked up by Greenbrier Games and has been shipping this month—looks like it will be at Gen Con, though perhaps only for people who had preordered it. And Shadows of Brimstone from Flying Frog Productions will have a bunch of new content to show off, too. And although Apocrypha won’t be available for purchase yet, there will be demos running in a more completed stage than what I tried at GameStorm earlier this year. Can’t wait to see what other games make it in time for Gen Con. (JL)
I’m a sucker for dexterity games, and Ice Cool from Brain Games is a really curious-looking one: the penguins don’t roll or slide in a straight line, allowing for some pretty crazy moves. I also love the way the nested game box forms the various rooms and doorways. (Of course, I have no doubts that we’ll just be running into walls for a while rather than zipping through several doorways.) I don’t know much about Brain Games but they’ll be at Gen Con this year so I’m going to go check this one out. (JL)
Expedition to Docking Bay G
Metamorphosis Alpha was the first RPG I ever played, and this year I’m getting to run a custom one-off adventure for Goodman Games using the original MA rules written by James M. Ward. Six players will join me on Thursday and assume the role of humans and mutants who are stranded on the damaged generation ship, Warden. Goodman Games has created a number of resources for MA (and with the help of Ward) that have made my job of creating the adventure so much easier. (JFK)
Year 0 Tak Tournament
I reviewed the James Ernest/Pat Rothfuss abstract strategy game, Tak, during the Kickstarter. It’s a really wonderful game that has an incredible amount of depth, requires intense concentration, and that I’ve enjoyed playing an awful lot. At Gen Con, the newly formed US Tak Association will be holding their first major tournament. I won’t be playing, the tickets for this one went fast (and I’m realistic about my ability at this point), but I plan on attending to watch some matches Saturday night in Hall B. I might just be able to pick up some new strategies! (db)
An Easier Way to Find Drop-In Games
Last year was my first GenCon, and I was completely overwhelmed by just how many games were going on simultaneously. The gaming floors are just HUGE! Finding an event on the official GenCon website isn’t difficult, but at times it’s been slow and often will provide way more results than you expected. This year, I’ll be using a third-party creation that accesses the event database, and I’m quite impressed with how easy it is to use. You can check it out at http://gencon.eventdb.us/–in the image above, I typed in “Alien Frontiers” and it provided me with the day, time, and how many slots were open. You can tap on a date/time and more details (including location) load fast! (JFK)
More GeekDads (and Moms)!
The GeekDad.com writers live all over the world, and most of us have never met in person. Cons are one of the few places we have the opportunity to meet and catch up. Last year at GenCon, I got to hang with Dave Banks, Jonathan Liu, John Booth, and Gerry Tolbert. This year, even more GeekDad writers will be on hand, and we’ve even got a special “Game with Geekdad” event scheduled for Thursday night–8-10pm, and 10pm-midnight. This year, I won’t be the rookie, either! (JFK)
As Jim mentioned, getting to hang out with other GeekDad and GeekMom writers is a rare occasion for most of us, and I always enjoy getting the chance to play games in person (rather than just talking about them online). This year we’ve got a pretty big group in attendance, including a few of the GeekDads I haven’t met in person, so I’m excited to get to know all of them a little better… and then crush them in some games. I’m also excited for our first official GeekDad event at Gen Con, and looking forward to hanging out with some of our readers! (JL)
I also look forward to playing as many games as time will allow with the other GeekDads and many of our fans. We don’t get as much time together as I’d like, so a chance to play games face-to-face with Dave, Jonathan, Jim, John, Preston, and Rob makes me excited. No matter what games we bring to the table, I know we’re going to have a blast. (GT)
Oh Gosh, This is Getting Long, Better Consolidate Some!
- Junk Art — I really liked Pretzel Games’ debut last year, the western-themed dexterity game, Flick ‘Em Up. This year they’re back with another dexterity game, Junk Art, where you balance different wooden components on each other. Everything falls? No matter, keep building. Looks like fun. (db)
- Captain Sonar — I’m a sucker for nautical-themed games (see above) and Captain Sonar is that and more. In this submarine game, for up to 8 people, teams sit across from one another, divided by a screen. Each has a responsibility on their ship and shout out instructions to one another. Each team is trying to track and locate the other team, with hopes of sinking them before succumbing to the crushing depths themselves. Early buzz on this game is very, very good. (db)
- Cry Havoc — I love asymmetric area control. Scythe was my favorite “big” game last year and, while I’ve only just received my copy of that, there’s another that has caught my attention. Cry Havoc from Portal Games is a stunningly gorgeous war game with a science fiction theme. It has so many minis, cards, and cardboard bits and the early story on Cry Havoc is that it is very good. Blood Rage has been my combat game for the past year and it looks like Cry Havoc might be wanting to replace it. Can’t wait to get a demo. (db)
- Codenames Pictures — The game I was most looking forward to last year was Codenames. It definitely lived up to the hype, as we played it all of Gen Con and then with my game groups back home, and then it won the Spiel des Jahres this week. The follow-up, which replaces words with pictures, is going to be available at Gen Con and I’m pretty excited to give this version of Codenames a try. (db)
RPG! RPG! RPG!
I’ve got four role-playing games scheduled this year, including three new to me:
- Tunnels & Trolls: Flying Buffalo is marking its 40th straight year at Gen Con with a few notable attractions, including a new digital version of the game, an adventure self-publishing platform called MetaArcade, and a new solo adventure, “Grimtina’s Guard.”
- Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System: I’ll be at the table for “Assault on Singularity Base,” a stand-alone science-fiction adventure built using the game mechanics originally developed for Numenera and The Strange. As much as I enjoyed both of those, their settings lend themselves to a very similar feel in play, and I’m excited to play a game that puts the rule structure to use in a completely different environment.
- Colonial Gothic: The Strange Case of the Palmer House. This supernatural/horror game set during the dawn of the American Revolution has been around for a few years, and most recently, Colonial Gothic: Lovecraft has been nominated for a 2016 ENnie in the Best Monster/Adversary category. I’m super-intrigued by the premise and I’ve enjoyed other work by several contributors to the game, including Monica Valentinelli and Jennifer Brozek.
Of course, I always look forward to a Dungeons & Dragons session, even if it means playing just one chapter of a larger adventure because I like to mix things up at Gen Con. My official D&D Adventurers League event this year is “A Scream in the Night,” part one of a trilogy set in Melvaunt, the City of a Thousand Forges. (Which reminds me: Time to roll up a new character!)
In the non-RPG territory, I’m excited to learn Tyrants of the Underdark, a new 2-4 player tabletop game from the design team behind Lords of Waterdeep, which I love. Tyrants is described as a mashup of deck-building mechanics and board control, and the rulebook is available online at the Wizards of the Coast website.
And like everybody else, more than anything, I can’t wait for the sleep deprivation, over-ingestion of caffeine and sugar, and the sheer joy of getting my butt kicked at new games at all hours of the day by friends I love hanging out with. ROLL FOR INITIATIVE! (JB)
My travel companion
I’m a pretty sentimental guy and, games aside, I am beside-myself-happy that I am bringing my son to Gen Con. It’s his first major convention and he is pretty pumped. He earned this trip by finishing his requirements and earning his Eagle Scout earlier this year, which is another thing that fills me with pride. We’ve ramped up our game-playing this summer to get ready, but the thing he is most looking forward to is True Dungeon. As an RPG player, the chance to play out an adventure in 3-D has him grinning ear-to-ear. If you see him walking around with me, be sure to say “Hi”! (db)
Unlike my fellow GeekDads, I’m arriving in Indianapolis a day early to enjoy Trade Day. When I first starting researching this, my first Gen Con, I honestly thought that Wednesday was going to be some massive flea market, a chance to get rid of some games on my shelf that I don’t play enough in exchange for new and exciting titles, but it turns out Trade Day is something even better. As the Gen Con site explains, it’s a day of “providing hands-on training to educators, librarians, and experienced retailers,” and, well, educating is kind of my thing. I already use board games in class to teach group work, logical thinking, and programming concepts, and I’m excited to see what other ideas people have that will allow me to bring this hobby I love into my work. (rh)