The best four days in gaming are only sixteen days away. We’ve been scheduling meetings, perusing releases, and just generally getting can’t-sit-still excited about Gen Con. (Who else is already packed and ready to go?) Read on to see what the GeekDads are most Super-MEGA enthusiastic to see in Indianapolis.
I attend a fair number of conventions, but Gen Con is far and away my favorite. It’s my best chance every year to see the people I know in gaming—the designers, artists, publishers, press, and players. Most interactions are brief—a few minutes if I’m lucky—but I consider myself to be fortunate to get caught up with so many people I only see in person once a year. Principally in that group are the other GeekDad writers. Since we are so far flung, this is one of the rare chances we get to hang out with each other and we try to make the most of it. It’s all such a rush!
I am amazed at the depth and breadth of offerings that Gen Con makes available. There’s so much to see and do (and play), I think that if Gen Con was much, much longer you could spend months working your way through the event catalog and still only scratch the surface. This year, I’ve decided to sample some of those seminars, demos, and other oddities that celebrate the diversity of the people involved in our hobby. I’ve signed up for a handful of events, something I’ve never done before since I typically spend almost all of my time speaking to people, publishers, and designers in the Exhibit Hall.
GeekDad, of course, is running an event as part of the epic Gen Con catalog. We have traditionally held our event in the evening, but this year, we’ve moved to Saturday afternoon, to try to attract more families. I’m eager to see how that turns out.
I am also looking forward to seeing and trying out new games. I am most interested in seeing (and picking up my pre-order) Welcome To… from Deep Water Games, and I am scheduled to demo Petrichor—which seems very interesting because we are competing to become the Most Valuable Cloud—and Wendake, from Renegade, which looks great and I’ve heard really good things about the first print. There’s a lot of talk about Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game from Portal, but I feel a little burned by the buzz that surrounded their recent titles, First Martians and Cry Havoc (and the letdown after). Maybe I’ll just wait that one out a bit. Like Jonathan (spoiler: he mentions it, a few paragraphs below here), I really want to see the Clank! In! Space! expansion, since the base game was our game of the year in 2017.
But my most anticipated games aren’t getting much talk yet. Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr is from Rory O’Connor (Rory’s Story Cubes) and Michael Fox and is a cooperative mystery/puzzle game. I’m fascinated by the premise.
Lastly, I am beside myself with anticipation because Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules! has offered to teach me Escape Plan during Gen Con. It’s a post-heist-getaway game from Vital Lacerda that is making its way to Kickstarter this week, so I’m very eager to play it in Indianapolis.
Jonathan H. Liu
I paged through BoardGameGeek’s Gen Con preview list and checked off a few titles, though I tried to keep the list fairly short. One I’m really excited to check out is Nyctophobia from Pandasaurus Games, because most of the players wear blackout glasses and have to move around the dark forest by feeling with their hands—it sounds very intriguing. I’m also looking forward to Clank! In! Space! Apocalypse!, the first expansion to the space-themed deck-building game from Renegade Games.
I’ve already gotten a chance to play a prototype of Welcome To…, and if you like roll-and-write games, it’s one you won’t want to miss. Deep Water Games is also going to try to set a world record at Gen Con this year for the most people playing a roll-and-write game together—and you can even join in if you’re not attending Gen Con, so stay tuned here for more details!
Several publishers I know have new or upcoming titles, so I always like to see what’s in the pipeline so that I can start prepping my Kickstarter review calendar. There are several titles I’ve checked off just to make sure I stop by and visit the publishers’ booths, though let’s be honest: every Gen Con I spend as much time as possible visiting as many booths as possible, so this list is very, very abridged. (You can check out my list here.)
Gen Con is also my annual chance to see some of the other GeekDad writers in one place—though unfortunately we have a smaller group than last year because of some scheduling conflicts. But it’s always good to see my friends in person instead of just as text on a screen, and to stay up too late playing games with them. The same is true for all of the publishers and game designers that I typically see just on Twitter—since Gen Con is typically the one big tabletop convention I attend each year, it’s my only chance to see most of them in person, too. I always wish I had more time to chat with everyone and play board games and sleep. I guess two out of three’s not bad.
I’ll be joining Cardboard Republic again this year for a panel: Cardboard Quills 2018: A Written Reviewer Roundtable. It’s a discussion about tabletop game reviewers who still write reviews for some reason. If you’ve got a question, you can submit it ahead of time here.
At last year’s Gen Con, I sat down with Marissa Kelly and chatted about Epyllion: A Dragon Epic—the 2017 ENnie-nominated RPG she created for Magpie Games. Players take on the roles of a clutch of young drakes coming of age in Dragonia, against the unfolding of darkness across the land. It uses a rules-light system that emphasizes player interaction, improvisation, and contribution to the world-building, which has intrigued me from the start. (It’s built on the Powered by the Apocalypse system, which my daughter has enjoyed with friends playing Magpie’s Masks RPG.) A game where players help create the environment as well as tell their stories? Yes, please! Another neat aspect involves players rewarding one another for roleplay, and using those rewards to tap into appropriate magic.
Magpie provided me with a core rulebook and the Dragon Deck supplement, and I’ve spent plenty of time with the text and Jason Poole‘s wonderful art (which reflects his work as a paleontology artist)—but unfortunately, I never had a chance to play—but that changes at Gen Con, because I landed a spot at one of the Epyllion gaming tables, and I’m psyched to give it a go and write about the experience afterward. I’m also hoping to pick up a copy of the accompanying Encyclopedia Draconica, Volume 1.
Also on the RPG slate is a session of Eclipse Phase, set in a future where Earth is a “toxic and strange hellhole,” and transhumanity—people’s minds and memories are digitized and transferred, allowing for radical genetic modification or even living in a synthetic robotic shell—fights for survival across space. This is another one that’s new to me.
As a fan of the world of Numenera, I jumped at the chance to learn Lone Shark Games’ The Ninth World, even though it’s a skillbuilding card game of the type that’s not necessarily in my wheelhouse. That said, Tyrants of the Underdark proved that I can really get into a well-themed game that involves deck-building, and I love Numenera‘s environs too much to pass this one up.
Finally, GeekDad friend and filmmaker Brian Stillman will be premiering Cavegirl Productions / X-Ray Films’ Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been fun following the production of this documentary over the past few years, and I can imagine no more appropriate setting for its first public showings.
James Floyd Kelly
I am looking forward to:
1. Seeing all the GeekDads once again. As much as I enjoy playing games, it’s always great to greet my fellow GeekDads and play some private games with them. Jonathan and David and Gerry always manage to surprise me with new titles, and I know this year will bring some new favorites to my house.
2. Playing Frostgrave with the game’s creator, Joe McCullough. Last year, I got to play a game of Frostgrave with Joe, the game’s designer. Frostgrave is one of my absolutely MOST favorite skirmish fantasy wargames, and getting to play with its creator was a real joy. I also got to play with fellow GeekDad, John Booth, and honorary GeekDad, Brian Stillman. They’re all in again this year—WOOT!
3. Gaming with GeekDad. GeekDad has a scheduled event where we get to sit down with friends and strangers and play some great games. By game’s end, the strangers are friends, and the friends have become regulars. I cannot wait to see what craziness Dave Banks and Gerry Tolbert bring to to the event this year.
4. Running the Gaslands tournament for Osprey Games. Gaslands is a car combat game that uses Matchbox/Hot Wheel cars and weapons. Lots of weapons. This year, Osprey asked me to run its official Gen Con Gaslands Tournament, and I cannot wait. It’ll be 18 players (6 per table) with the 1st and 2nd place winners from each table moving forward to the Championship. Expect a full write-up soon.
5. Playing the newest Arkham Horror: The Card Game special episode. GeekDad Michael Harrison introduced me to this game a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I typically play solo (playing two investigators) but at Gen Con this year, I’ll get to play Fantasy Flight’s annual new release, an expansion for the game that is released early at Gen Con. I’ll get to play with 4-5 fellow fans, and I am so ready for this one!
6. Waiting to see if Fantasy Flight Games make any special announcements about Star Wars Legion. I’ve been painting my minis (I play Rebels) and have a couple games under my belt. I’m hooked on this new miniatures wargame, and I have a strong suspicion that FFG will be making some Legion announcements at Gen Con. We know about Han and the Rebel Commandos expansions, but I’m hoping (HOPING) to hear maybe about a Chewbacca figure and MAYBE a Lando? I’ll let you know!
7. Finding that ONE game that know one knew about ahead of time and is being demo’d for the first time. This will be my fourth Gen Con, and every year I’ve managed to bring home that ONE new game that surprised everyone in my house and my friends. No idea what it will be this year, but I know it’s coming.
8. The author signing at Goodman Games booth. I’ve got my Mutant Crawl Classic rulebook that I want Jim Wampler to sign, but I’ve also written a few 5th edition (D&D) adventures that have been published by Goodman Games, and I should be at their booth to sign them. My latest is Mystery Beneath the Monastery (last year’s was The Fallen Temple).
9. The GeekDad Dinner. Just as it sounds… a great evening meal with my fellow GeekDads. It’s become a tradition.
10. Hitting this year’s challenge—play 20 new games (to me) start to a finish, on the Exhibit floor. Last year, I tracked my games that I played from start to finish… I hit 15. I played a LOT more games, but many were demos (shortened games or just a few rounds) and not full games. For example, I played The Thing (which I LOVE) and only got to play a few investigations. They wanted everyone to have a chance… and I get it. This year, I want to try to increase the number of new games I get to play, and 20 means about 5 per day. That’s hard with so many scheduled events, but I’m going to try!