Are you ready for Day 2 of Gen Con with me? Friday I had a few more appointments scheduled and didn’t take photos of everything, but I still managed to get quite a few shots of interesting games. (Really I should just strap a camera to my forehead and have it snap photos every minute or so.) Here’s what I saw.
(Click here for the first day’s worth of photos if you missed those.)
I started out Friday morning in the Czech Games Edition room—they had a room in one of the convention center hallways that opened before the exhibit hall did. I wanted to check out Adrenaline, a tabletop game inspired by first-person shooters. I only had time to play a round or two, but it looks like fun and definitely borrows from video games: you spawn, run around, and blast each other with crazy weapons, and then respawn when you die.
Your health bar is tracked with blood drop tokens from the other players—each time somebody does damage, they put their tokens on your track, because there are extra points awarded for first blood, killing blow, and doing the most damage. But the “adrenaline” theme kicks in when you take damage—you gain additional abilities, allowing you to move around more when you’re desperate. It’s also interesting that as you die more and more, you are worth fewer points. This is one I’ll be keeping my eye on. It reminds me a little of Frag from Steve Jackson Games (also inspired by FPS games) but has its own spin on it.
Next up I had an appointment with Keith Meyers of Iello Games, so Dave and Ian Banks came with me and we got a quick look at several new and recent titles. Sea of Clouds is a pirate-themed game where you try to collect the most coins (of course), but the trick is that you have to make decisions based on partial information. There are three stacks, and you get to consider them in order. You may either keep the cards in a stack or else move on—but if you move on, you add a card to it and you don’t get to come back to it. So anything you don’t take could potentially become even more valuable for the next player. There are various set-collection effects, plus pirates who have abilities, and every few rounds there’s a battle. We got to run a short demo of this, and it was a lot of fun. (I totally won.)
Candy Chaser is another one from Iello Games in which you’re all kids smuggling candy, but there’s some hidden identity. You want to score points for your character without letting other players know which one is yours. I like these sort of deduction games, and Iello has been doing some great stuff with their small-box games.
Schotten Totten is a two-player battle card game featuring, I think, Scottish chickens. It’s actually a remake of an older Reiner Knizia game originally called Battle Line, but with updated artwork.
Monster Chase is for younger players, and is about chasing monsters back into their closet—it kind of has a Monsters, Inc. feel to it, and looks pretty cute. (Pictured above it is another game for young kids, Me Want Cookie, which is about figuring out the path from one treat to another across several cards and then grabbing the right item.)
Oceanos is a new release from Antoine Bauza, and we were told that it’s his own favorite of his games, which is saying something. (Dave Banks tweeted this claim and got an immediate affirmation!) Each player has their own upgradable submarine and tries to set up their section of ocean cards so that they’ll be able to collect various fish and treasures. We just got a brief explanation of how the game works, but it looked interesting.
Big Book of Madness was actually released last year, perhaps at Essen, so it’s been around for a while but this was the first I’d seen it in person. You’re all students who—oops—went into the forbidden section of the library and opened the big book and let all the monsters out. So now it’s up to you novices to set things right. This one looked like a lot of fun, too.
I really enjoyed Welcome to the Dungeon (read my review here) and was pleased to hear that the sequel, Welcome Back to the Dungeon, will be coming soon. They didn’t have any demo copies, but I snapped this photo of the banner.
Okay, one last game from Iello: Kenjin is another battle game for up to 4 players—you’ll play cards on the territories between you and the players next to you, and the various cards have different effects to peek at other cards, move cards around, and so on. We got an overview of this one but didn’t actually play it, but I was very intrigued.
Several of the Iello titles go into wider release this fall—they had limited amounts at Gen Con to sell—so we’ll have reviews of some of them a little later on when they hit distribution.
Mirror Box Games, the designers/publishers of Chaosmos, asked me to stop by their booth to see their upcoming game, Guild Masters. We didn’t have time to sit and play, but I got the 5-minute tour, and it looks promising. Expect to hear more about this one when it launches.
Our next appointment was with F2Z Entertainment, which represents Z-Man Games, Pretzel Games, and Plaid Hat Games. While we were waiting for our spot, we watched a few people playing Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, a new twist on the popular cooperative game. The game uses some similar mechanics, but it’s not just a straight re-theme that replaces illness with madness. Each character has an ability that becomes a detriment if the character goes mad: for instance, the Driver may move two spaces for one action, but if he is mad, he must move two spaces whenever he moves. I’m definitely eager to try this one out.
One of the big reveals from F2Z was this one—Flick ‘Em Up: Dead of Winter, a mash-up of the popular flicking shoot-out game with the popular zombie survival game. They had the box mock-up and a lot of people would walk by and ask about it—and it’s for real. We got to see some of the prototype props: crates, streetlights, burned-out buildings, a pickup truck with flat tires. In the original Flick ‘Em Up, the cowboys had little hat brims that sat on the figures. In this one, each character will have a little backpack instead.
The game will, of course, include familiar characters from Dead of Winter (though I don’t know if it will include all of them since there are so many). One of the other fun features is the zombie tower, pictured above. Various things will cause you to add zombies to the lid of the tower, and, at some point, it gets triggered—you pull the pin, the lid falls down, and the zombies literally spill out onto the table. Good luck!
I didn’t get pictures of the rest of the F2Z titles since we were looking through a catalog of upcoming games rather than physical examples of the games, but here’s a quick list of some of what’s coming soon:
- Pandemic: Iberia – a limited edition of Pandemic set in Iberia, where the Pandemic world championships will be this year. Next year will see Pandemic: Amsterdam. These seem to be aimed at the serious fans rather than casual players of Pandemic.
- Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides – a 2-player game set in the Merchants & Marauders world.
- Junk Art – a stacking game about building modern art out of junk; expect a review of this one later.
- Flick ‘Em Up Wider Audience Edition – a version of the flicking game that comes in a smaller box, with plastic instead of wooden bits. Think of it like the paperback version compared to the hardcover original—it’s the same content, but a little more mass-market and affordable.
- Flick ‘Em Up: Red Rock Tomahawk – Native Americans added to the mix, with new weapons like throwing tomahawks and bows and arrows.
- Aquarium – a second edition of a take-that card game about collecting fish for your aquarium and manipulating the market to make things terrible for your competitors.
- Nautillion – the fourth game in the Oniverse, a collection of games that can be played solo or 2-player cooperative, featuring lovely artwork.
I mentioned the PlayTable in my first set of Gen Con photos. I met Jimmy Chen, co-founder and CEO of Prizm Labs, the creator of the PlayTable, and he showed us a little more about its capabilities. He demonstrated how figurines or even cards with RFID chips attached to them could be placed onto the PlayTable to activate various effects, and also how you could link smartphones to the PlayTable to play card games. Below is a very brief demo of using various physical pieces to activate on-screen effects:
Cosplay is still a big part of Gen Con, though I didn’t take nearly as many cosplay photos this year as in previous years—too many booths to focus on! I do like that outside the entrances to the exhibit hall, there’s a designated area for cosplay photography. If you want to show off your handiwork for people to admire, this is a wide space where you (and photographers) won’t get jostled and crowded by all the people around you. And if you’re a photographer who wants to get pictures of cool costumes, you know that all the folks in this area consent to having their picture taken, and there’s room to pose without holding up traffic.
I stopped by the Floodgate Games booth to see the finished copies of Epic Resort: Villain’s Vacation (reviewed when it was on Kickstarter) and was introduced to an upcoming Kickstarter game, Sagrada. I’d describe it as a stained-glass sudoku game (though it’s not exactly like sudoku). Players take turns drafting colored dice to place onto their stained glass window—each window card has some restrictions in either color or shade (number), but you also have to avoid putting duplicate colors or shades next to each other. I got a prototype of this one and will have a review when it launches in September.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I love visiting the Flying Frog booth at conventions because they have such fantastic sets for their games, and it’s always packed whenever I walk by. This time, I went by to say hello to Jason and Scott Hill and got there just in time for a “Big Announcement.” They had a little stage area set up and there were a bunch of people crowded around, but I managed to find a spot where I could still see.
Now, I know this is a bit of a tease, but I took so many photos of this announcement that it’s going to have to go into its own separate post. I’ll at least tell you this much: they’ve been working on a new game using the Shadows of Brimstone game engine, but it’s set in feudal Japan: Forbidden Fortress. It will be fully compatible with Shadows of Brimstone and features heroes and enemies inspired by Japanese culture and mythology—expect a Kickstarter in October.
The one photo I’ll share now is this one: I was standing next to this woman during the Flying Frog announcement. She was wearing an “Old Board Gamers” t-shirt and was making funny comments throughout the announcement, like “Where do they even come up with this stuff?” It turns out she’s Jason and Scott’s mom, and she’s very proud of her sons (and also finds them a bit weird). I had gotten a Sneakycard from Gamewright instructing me to take a selfie with a stranger, so I did that and then passed the card along to Mrs. Hill. But, of course, now she’s no longer a stranger.
One of USAopoly’s big titles this year was Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a cooperative deck-building game that has you playing through all seven “years,” corresponding to the seven books in the series. While it’s not exactly a Legacy-style game, each year has its own little box, introducing new components and cards and year-specific rules. Since it plays 4 players, I’m hoping this is one I’ll be able to play with my wife and two older daughters. (The toddler is clearly a Slytherin, so “cooperative” is not really her style.)
On Friday evening, Gen Con helped GeekDad host a mixer event where we got to hang out with a couple of publishers and designers in a little more relaxed environment than the exhibit hall floor. Jordan and Mandy Goddard brought Lotus, a beautiful game about making flowers where the cards themselves form the flower petals. I actually had a photo of an earlier prototype in last year’s Gen Con recap, when it was called Bloom, and I’m excited to see that the game found a home at Renegade Games. I also love that Jordan and Mandy wear these matching name t-shirts throughout the con.
I mentioned in our “favorite things” post that meeting Kane Klenko and playing Covert was one of my highlights. Among the things that makes Covert stand out is the look of it, and it turns out that Klenko does the art direction himself (as well as for some other games), and he’s very particular about how his games look and feel.
Covert has a lot of things going on: there’s a worker-placement aspect but it uses dice, so there are some restrictions on what you can and can’t play. There’s a code-cracking element that works as a way to get extra items, used for fulfilling your missions. The main item cards have multiple uses, which I always like: you can use them for movement, as an item for a mission, or for a special ability. Another neat feature is that as you move around, you leave evidence behind on the map—picking up enough evidence left by other players can also get you more cards. I should be getting a copy of Covert later in September, so watch for a more in-depth review of that then!
Ryan Skinner from Passport Games brought a couple titles to show us: Quartz is a game about grabbing gemstones from a mine, and then using cards to steal from other players or maybe pass them the useless stuff you don’t want. 3 Wishes is a very quick little card game about a genie who will grant one (and only one) player 3 wishes—but you’ve got to have the right combination of wishes to win.
We also got to hang out a little more with some folks from Calliope Games—but more about an upcoming game a little later in this post!
Christopher Badell of Greater Than Games (publisher of the Sentinels of the Multiverse games) brought one of his new favorites, New Bedford, a game based on a Massachusetts town that was built on the whaling industry. It was Kickstarted last year and made its Gen Con debut this year. I didn’t get a chance to play it myself, but several of the GeekDads got a demo and gave it a thumbs-up. One of the GeekDads will have a write-up coming.
After the mixer, we made our way to the Escape Room, a 15-minute locked-room game made as a promotion for the Escape Room boxed game from Spin Master. (Thanks to GeekDad Jim Kelly for getting this set up for us!) We put on the orange jumpsuits, and then had to open a lock to escape into the laundry room, and then from there open another lock to get into … the gift shop. It was a really fun experience, and Jim wrote up a review of the boxed set in case you want to give it a shot yourself. (Note: orange jumpsuits and scary-looking toilet not included.)
I took this selfie with T C Petty III mostly because I was an unwitting pawn in a selfie contest for the State of Games podcasters and T C knew it would annoy co-host Jessica Wade, who was standing right next to us. But they both agreed that they were both going to beat Chris Kirkman and Darrell Louder.
After the Escape Room, we met up back in Hall D for some more gaming: first up was an unreleased prototype from Calliope Games, in which everyone plays mobsters who have decided to break into the home of the big boss to make one big score. The boss is paranoid and has wired the whole place with bombs—so you can dig around and look for loot, but you have to watch out that you don’t blow it all up. It had a really fun press-your-luck element, plus you had to share whatever you pulled out of a safe with any players who were in the same room with you. The maneuvering and negotiating with other players was a really great aspect, too. It’s still in development so I don’t think there’s a solid release date on it yet, but we’ll be sure to tell you all about it when the time comes!
AEG had given me a copy of Eight Epics, the latest game by Seiji Kanai. It’s a cooperative dice game, where you have to get certain combinations of dice to overcome the various Threats that will destroy the world. Each player has an avatar that has a special ability to manipulate the dice, but it costs life points to use your abilities. It’s a little bit like cooperative Yahtzee and is pretty hard. I’ll have a review of this one later on.
And, finally, we had energy for one last game before calling it a night, so we broke out Valeria: Card Kingdoms again. I just really enjoy this one and it’s always fun to share it with people who haven’t played before.
Then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I took all my games back to the hotel room and collapsed in bed so I’d be ready for Day 3 of Gen Con. Click here for Day 3!