Gen Con 50

The Getting Excited for Gen Con 50 Super-MEGA Post

Events Places Tabletop Games Videogames

Gen Con 50

Do you know that feeling when you’ve just punctured the shrink wrap with the nail of your thumb? After you pull the wrap off  and then the box slowly slides out as you hold the box top, just before the surprise of seeing all the wonderful cardboard inside? That’s kind of what this post is. The anticipation and promise of all the fun and excitement that is just around the corner, on August 17–20 in Indianapolis, as we celebrate Gen Con 50.

In this post, we share what all the 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 newb Samantha Fisher to join me in describing the things they are most looking forward to at Gen Con 2017 …

GeekDads at Gen Con
The GeekDads at Gen Con 2016: Preston, Gerry, Rob, Jim, John, Jonathan, and Dave.

Dave Banks

I’m interested in seeing what special things are done to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gen Con. My wallet is a bit afraid, though. Still, above all else, I look forward to seeing my fellow GeekDads, who I mostly only see once a year, in Indianapolis. I also look forward to seeing some old and new GeekDad readers at our Game with GeekDad event. (I have a couple of HUGE surprises planned; it’s going to be so much fun!) I also really can’t wait to chat with the designers and publishers who I’ve become familiar with; they are a big part of the 24/4 boardgame experience. Tabletop games are about the social experience, so it’s no surprise that people rank highest on my list for what I’m looking forward to.

Each year, I make a list and it seems like, after seeing and playing them, I’m not so excited about some, others are still pretty good, and a few are even better than I imagined. Plus, there’s always one that ends up being great that wasn’t on my radar. This year, I used BGG’s new tool to sort the available games. You can check out my list here.

It’s tough to narrow it down to specific games, but I’m especially interested in Spirt Island from Greater Than, a cooperative game about protecting your land from colonizing invaders. Photosynthesis from Blue Orange also looks great. You’re growing trees in a forest with 3D tree standees. Unearth is a unique looking dice placement game I want to check out, but I’m also really eager to play The Climbers, Flamme Rouge, Nmbr9, and Hotshots. I’ll pretty much camp out at the Renegade booth for a bit. I want to check out Flip Ships, Ex Libris, Raiders of the North Sea, and Sentient, all being published by Renegade.

John Booth

Of course I’m looking forward to spending time with fellow GeekDads and GeekMoms, and learning new games, and our Game with GeekDad events. And food trucks. Always food trucks.

Roleplaying Sessions

In terms of specific games, I’ve got four RPG sessions lined up, three of which are games I’ve never played before: Star Wars: Age of Rebellion,Colonial Gothic (supernatural/historical/horror) and Sentinel Comics, a roleplaying game based on Sentinels of the Multiverse. (That last one’s been in development a couple years now, and it’s making its debut at Gen Con.) RPG session number four is a fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons game with fellow GeekDad writers Samantha Fisher & James Floyd Kelly, created and run by Friend of GeekDad Brian Stillman, who’s working on that Eye of the Beholder documentary about D&D artists.

I’m also excited about my first foray into miniatures strategy, Frostgrave, courtesy of James; the Tyrants of the Underdark expansion deck; and the unveiling of MetaArcade’s digital game creation system, discussed at last year’s Gen Con.

Finally, there are two Steve Jackson Games Kickstarter projects I backed – I don’t believe they’re being delivered at Gen Con, but I have scheduled some time to sit down and check out the final products with the SJ team: Dungeon Fantasy, powered by GURPS, and Munchkin Shakespeare.

Jonathan Liu

My favorite part of Gen Con each year is the people. Since the GeekDad/GeekMom staff is spread out all over the place, we don’t often get to see each other IRL. Gen Con is one of those opportunities, where we can sit down and actually play games with each other rather than just telling each other about the ones we like. This year, I’m especially excited that fellow GeekDad Chris Wickersham is attending—I’ve been friends with him since elementary school but we don’t get to see each other often, and it’ll be his first time there. Gen Con is also a chance for me to connect with a lot of the game designers and publishers that I interact with online. I’ve made a lot of friends through gaming over the years, and Gen Con is a chance for me to get a little bit of face-to-face time with people who make this hobby amazing. And I’m looking forward to gaming with you! It’s a chance for me to teach some of my recent favorites, like Magic Maze and Kingdomino.


I always try to make my way around and see as many publishers as possible in the exhibit hall, but this year I’m particularly interested in seeing what Renegade Games is bringing to the table. They’re still a relatively new company (though with industry veteran Scott Gaeta at the helm) but last year they had several of my favorite games of the show. I already know that Dave Banks and I are both interested in several of the same titles, so you should all tell him to let me review them. Among the new releases are Flip Ships by Kane Klenko, Sentient by J. Alex Kevern, and Ex Libris by Adam P. McIver. Oh, and Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game, a deck-building game designed by Keith Baker and published with Oni Press.
I’m also excited to see a few of AEG’s new releases, like Custom Heroes (another game that uses their Card Crafting System with transparent cards) and Unicornus Knights, both of which are in their “Big in Japan” line. USAopoly will have the Monster Book of Monsters expansion to the excellent Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, as well as Marvel and Disney versions of Codenames.
(Oh, and for you Golden Girls fans: find out who ate the last piece of cheesecake in this themed edition of Clue.) I even saw that Mattel is finally making its way to Gen Con, bringing an expansion to Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters, a game which won the Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2014 but was unavailable in the US until more recently. Hopefully this signals a shift that Mattel will start publishing more of their European kids’ games here in the US, rather than assuming that American audiences aren’t interested.
There are always a lot of Kickstarter games I’ve reviewed or backed that make their debut at Gen Con, so I love checking them out and seeing them in all their finished glory. One game I’ve been eagerly anticipating is Mike Selinker’s Apocrypha, which has been years in the making. Selinker just announced last week that, in addition to the physical game itself, there’s a companion app called ℵ1 (“Alephone”), which will take over your digital device with its new consciousness and … er, I mean, it will track your party’s stats, as well as present daily mods based on the actual date when you play the game, along with other features yet to be announced.
Really, my list of games to check out is ridiculously long, but those are a few that I’m particularly excited to see.
GeekDads at Gen Con
A few of us managed to get a photo together on the last day of the 2015 Gen Con — tired, but happy.

James Floyd Kelly

Gen Con 50! Woo Hoo! Man, this is one I’ve been waiting on for so long. I’m one of those gamers that was never able to make Gen Con in my younger years, but now I count the days until the next one. This year, I’ve got a LOT more going on than in the previous two years. In no particular order, these are some of the things I’m looking forward to in a few weeks:

  •  A 2v2 Frostgrave game with the game’s creator, Joe McCullough and two fellow geek dads, John Booth And Brian Stillman. Not only will I get to play this great little skirmish wargame with these guys, but Joe will be there with Osprey Publishing to help promote his new game, Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago.
  •  A D&D 5e game as a player! I DM mostly, so Brian Stillman will be the DM and running a level 5 game. I’m bringing a sorcerer to the party.
  • Gaming with GeekDad — last year, I had a blast meeting and making a whole bunch of new friends at the gaming table. I’m still debating which game I want to bring to introduce to others, but I’m sure I’ll pick a good one and will have a great time playing and teaching it to novices.
  • Running an adventure using the new Mutant Crawl Classic rules from Goodman Games. Mutant Crawl Classic tosses nods to Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha, two favorite games from my youth that I just didn’t get to play that often. I’ve got my adventure finalized and six players will get to enjoy a four-hour romp through some strange times and places…
  • Pre- and After-Hours Gaming Sessions — some of the best times I’ve had at Gen Con have been the games that get played before and after the doors close for the day. Last year I got introduced to a number of new games with random folks and fellow GeekDads before Gen Con had even officially started… and even more in the late hours where I was fighting the need for sleep.
  • My fellow GeekDad writers — we are scattered around the globe, and cons and faires are about the only time small groups of us can get together. It’s never gets old greeting Jonathan Liu, Dave Banks, John Booth, Brian Stillman, and others who I only get to see this one time a year. The four days do go by too fast.
  • Tournaments — There are a number of tournaments where I’m hoping to find a seat. Some are sold out while others are just “show up and take an available seat.” Vast, Hero Realms, Star Realms, and one of my newest favorites, Arkham Horror Living Card Game, are all games that are hosting some type of tournament. I know I won’t make them all, but I’m going to try my hardest.

Gen Con Crowds

Gerry Tolbert

My wife Sara and I are eagerly awaiting Gen Con 50. This will be our fourth foray into the crazy world of board gaming conventions and our third Gen Con.

There are tons of games coming out – or at least being demoed – but the one we’re most excited for is Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Upper Deck. We’re huge Legendary fans, and after a little disappointment with last year’s Legendary Encounters: Firefly, this new game has a low bar to hit to really meet our expectations. We’ll report back after the con.

While we can’t wait for the new games, I’m far more excited to reconnect with the GeekDad and GeekMom contributors. Our Gaming with GeekDad event is one of the highlights of my Con. With busy schedules, both at home and at Gen Con, it’s a pleasant interlude playing games with my friends and fans of our website.

This year, I’ll also be interviewing several different publishers about upcoming games and releasing the audio in podcast form on the GeekDad podcast feed. Check the feed for those interviews throughout the weekend.

Samantha Fisher

I’m very excited for Gen Con 50 as it will be my first Gen Con experience. I’m also a tad intimidated that it is also the first year it has sold out because I struggle a bit in large crowds. Luckily, I’ll have the GeekDad posse with me and grand times will be had by all. I have attended Origins the past couple years so I think I’ve got a better feel for the con experience now, but the magnitude is a bit intimidating.

Speaking of Origins, I was able to get a few previews of items launching at Gen Con 50 since Origins was just this past June so let me tell you what I’m most looking forward to.

From Smirk & Dagger

Paramedics: CLEAR! components with the companion app
Paramedics: CLEAR! components with the companion app

Paramedics: CLEAR! is a Gen Con 50 release. I was able to get a quick demo of the game from Smirk & Dagger’s own Curt Covert while at Origins. This fun game combines fast-paced decision making versus the other players and against a beeping countdown on the companion app. I can’t wait to see the full game at Gen Con.

Smirk & Dagger's Cutthroat Caverns 5: Death Incarnate with new artwork
Smirk & Dagger’s Cutthroat Caverns 5: Death Incarnate with new artwork

Cutthroat Caverns is not a new release from Smirk & Dagger but I was excited to see that Cutthroat Caverns 5: Death Incarnate will be launching at Gen Con and the game will be sporting newly updated artwork. Check out the cover for Death Incarnate with some of the card art, including a comparison of the old Fear card to the new Fear card.

Northstar Games Evolution video game coming to Kickstarter soon
Northstar Games Evolution video game coming to Kickstarter soon

From Northstar Games

This team has by far the most fun booths I’ve ever experienced at a con. I could easily hang out with this fun crew for an entire day, but they would get sick of me and shoo me off. I can wait to see the latest changes to the demo for the Evolution video game. I got to try it out at Origins but they are still developing it so I want to swing by and see what’s changed since I last saw it. This will be launching on Kickstarter very soon so be on the lookout for my review of that ahead of Gen Con 50.

Game with GeekDad

I’m really excited to help host this event on Thursday evening from 8pm-12am. I’ll be running Splendor, one of my all time favorite games from Asmodee, and Stroop, a fun new game from Grand Gamers Guild. Make sure you grab your event ticket now if you haven’t.

Sam's Current Overwatch Stats. She plays a lot of Mercy and D.Va, clearly.
Sam’s Current Overwatch Stats. She plays a lot of Mercy and D.Va, clearly.

‘Overwatch’ Tournament

I’ll be competing in my first ever videogaming tournament at Gen Con 50. I’m not sure yet if I’m more excited than nervous or the other way around, but both emotions are there. I’m not a bad player but not sure I’m on par to win a competition but we’ll all find out later this month, I suppose. My tournament round is Thursday from 3–5pm.

How About You?

If you’re attending Gen Con this year, what’s got you excited? What are some things that you think we shouldn’t miss?

And if you’re not attending Gen Con, all is not lost! Gen Can’t, the “unconvention” for those who can’t attend Gen Con, continues to grow: you’ll get tied into a great community of gamers, find (or host!) local gaming events, and win some cool prizes.

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!