Gen Con 2019 Recap With Photos, Part 2

Events Gaming Health Places Tabletop Games

Ready for more photos of Gen Con? Here’s Part 2, which covers Thursday, August 1. (In case you missed it, Part 1 is here.)

I started off the morning with a meeting with Ryan Dancey from AEG, who had three upcoming Kickstarter projects for the company.Edge of Darkness: Cliffs of Coldharbor

Edge of Darkness: Cliffs of Coldharbor expansion (prototype). Photo: Jonathan H. LiuThe first up is an expansion to Edge of Darkness, the massive card-crafting game by John D. Clair. Cliffs of Coldharbor will include about a dozen new locations, asymmetric player powers, and new ways to use your agents. Players will also have private location boards (shown above). For those of you who (like me) missed the original Kickstarter, there will be an opportunity to pledge for the base game in the upcoming campaign as well. It’s expected to launch late September, and will be a brief 2-week campaign, so keep your eyes out for that!

Lost Atlantis
Lost Atlantis (prototype), a freeform exploration game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Next up was Lost Atlantis by the Moliis Brothers. It’s a freeform exploration game where you sail your submarine around, looking for the lost pyramids of Atlantis and unlock the secrets of the mysterious portal. Although there’s a board pictured above, Dancey explained that it’s mostly to help you picture the various directions, because the hex tiles are placed onto the table wherever you happen to stop your sub and explore.

Lost Atlantis
As you upgrade your sub, you can sail farther. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

As you place tokens from your sub onto various locations, it upgrades your sub, making it faster or more powerful. Your movement is measured using a small bending ruler. As you uncover hexes, you’ll also find clues that will indicate the direction of the various pyramids—and visiting those pyramids can allow you to collect various tokens. And for those of you who like a lot of player interaction, there will be variant rules that include attacking each other.

It looks pretty fascinating, and I’m curious how it will feel to play! This one is expected to launch this fall, sometime after the Edge of Darkness campaign is concluded.

Dead Reckoning
Dead Reckoning, an upcoming pirate game from John D. Clair. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Finally, we’ve got another title from John D. Clair: this time, a pirate-themed game with more transparent cards and cube-tossing! Dead Reckoning won’t be on Kickstarter until spring 2020, but you’ll want to save up your pennies for this one because it’s likely to be a $100 pledge level, like the full pledge for Edge of Darkness.

Dead Reckoning
Dead Reckoning prototype. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

There’s definitely a lot of stuff included, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to sit down and play it, just get a quick overview. There’s card-crafting involved, as well as exploration and combat.

Dead Reckoning cube combat
Drop cubes into the ship and see where they land to resolve combat. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Combat is handled with a cube tower shaped like a pirate ship: you toss cubes into the top, and they bounce out into a little tray area. Depending on where the cubes end up, you’ll do various types of damage (or miss).

Dead Reckoning
As you get farther from shore, the cards in the decks will get stranger and more dangerous. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another neat aspect of Dead Reckoning is that there are different decks of cards representing how far you are from shore. As you get farther into the ocean, things get weirder.

There’s also a Saga experience planned, where new content is introduced through a narrative, along the lines of the Shy Pluto expansion for Space Base. The first Saga set will be included in the Kickstarter campaign, with 2 more planned for release later, and these will push the story into the supernatural. I’m excited to see where this one goes, too. I’ve enjoyed several of Clair’s game designs, and so I’m excited to see what’s next.

Talisman: Kingdom Hearts
Talisman: Kingdom Hearts from The OP. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

As Rob Huddleston mentioned in our Gen Con Highlights post, The OP is publishing Talisman: Kingdom Hearts, mashing up two favorite properties. I saw a copy on display at the booth, and got a photo of it. I’ll admit that as somebody who hasn’t played Talisman or Kingdom Hearts, I’m not really the target audience for this one, but it sure looks pretty anyway.

Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures
Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures from The OP. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

This one, though, is right up my alley: Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures. It’s another cooperative deck-building game, using the same system as Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, but set in the Toy Story world! Like the Harry Potter game, there are several small boxes inside that you play through one at a time in a campaign, and they represent the four Toy Story films and two short films. The game goes up to 5 players, though you don’t unlock Jessie as the 5th player until game 2 (since that’s when she shows up in the story). Players will face various challenges from the films, like crossing the street or getting out from a crate.

Dungeon Academy
Dungeon Academy is a roll-and-write that uses a Boggle-style dice tray. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The OP also has an entry in the roll-and-write race: Dungeon Academy. In this one, players will make their way through four dungeons, created by rolling dice in a 4×4 grid. I think this is the first roll-and-write I’ve seen (well, besides Boggle, which I suppose is an old-school roll-and-write) that uses a dice grid like this.

Dungeon Academy
Make your way through four dungeons without running out of health! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Players get to pick a path they’ll take through the dungeon, marking it on their own notepads. You get points for defeating various monsters in the dungeon, but you’ll also lose health, so you need to pick up health potions as well. Spend too much health in one dungeon, and you may not have enough left to survive the next one. Players also have special powers that can help them, so not everyone will be looking for the same optimal path through the grid.

Court of the Dead
Court of the Dead from The OP. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another title from The OP was Court of the Dead, an area control game about Death’s armies, with some political maneuvering among three factions of the undead. I don’t know a whole lot about this one outside of the theme, but it has some really cool metal skull sliders for the player boards (seen at the bottom of the photo).

Astro Trash
Astro Trash, a silly fun game about getting trash off your planet. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Astro Trash is a dice-rolling, trash-chucking game from The OP, and it’s chaotic and fun. My photo didn’t turn out great, but each player’s planet starts with a bunch of “trash” in the form of weird plastic shapes. You roll dice simultaneously, and the dice tell you what you can get rid of: what color, how many, and in what direction. Trash gets passed to your neighbors, or tossed into the sun. First person to get rid of all their trash wins!

There were a few titles from The OP that I didn’t get photos of (because I already had review copies), but one in particular was Harry Potter: Defence Against the Dark Arts. It’s a 2-player duel game that uses the same system as Hogwarts Battle, and it’s pretty well done. I’ll be working on a review of that one, but if you like Harry Potter and deck-building games, it’s worth a try.

3 Laws of Robotics
3 Laws of Robotics from Floodgate Games. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Over at the Floodgate Games booth, I failed to get photos of Bosk and Sagrada (again, because I’ve got some photos of those from home as I’m working on reviews), but I did get a snapshot of 3 Laws of Robotics, a little social deduction card game. Each player is an android, robot, or A.I., but you don’t know your own identity, so you’re trying to figure it out based on what you see for everyone else and what people are doing. And, for fun, there are additional laws that you’ll be subject to as the game is played.

Namiji from FunForge
Namiji (prototype), a successor to Tokaido. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I had an appointment at the FunForge booth to check out a prototype of Namiji, an upcoming sequel to Tokaido. It’s planned for an October Kickstarter, and although the version I saw didn’t have final artwork, I did get a peek at some of the final artwork and models for the plastic miniatures, and it will look gorgeous.

Like Tokaido, players will be making their way along a path that winds around the board. You may move almost any distance you want (except for certain checkpoints), but if you’re farthest back, you get to keep taking turns until you pass somebody. It results in some great tension between jumping ahead to an important spot and allowing another player to pick up everything in between.

Namiji prototype
Collect special ability cards, fill your nets with fish, and make offerings or you’ll lose points. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

In Namiji, you have a fishing vessel, and you’ll earn points for things like catching shrimp, making offerings to the sea gods, and filling your net with fish—which is a mini puzzle in itself, as each row or column must share a single color or fish shape. Catching shrimp has a press-your-luck element as you can keep going until you get 2 crabs.

Essentially, the game’s core mechanic of moving along the path is shared with Tokaido, and there are still panoramas to collect, but all the other scoring mechanisms are new. I think fans of Tokaido will be very pleased.

Catch the Moon
Catch the Moon: stack precarious ladders. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Also at the FunForge booth, I finally managed to play Catch the Moon, a dexterity game that I’d often seen photos of online. You roll a die that indicates what sorts of restrictions you must follow, and then place a wonky wooden ladder onto the pile. For instance, a “moon” means that your ladder must be the highest point of the stack when you’re done. “2 ladders” means that your ladder must touch exactly 2 other ladders (but doesn’t have to be the highest). Fail, and you take a teardrop; 2 teardrops eliminates you from the game.

It’s a really cute game that may have you crying real tears of frustration when you can’t get your ladders to stay on the structure!

Trismegistus, a game of alchemy from Board & Dice. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Next up: I had an appointment with Board and Dice to check out a few of their upcoming titles. The first was Tristmegistus, from the designer of Teotihuacan. That’s one I haven’t gotten a chance to play, but I’ve heard good things about it. Trismegistus is a heavy Eurogame about alchemy: you’re collecting particles and transmuting them into other elements in order to accomplish specific goals.

I liked the way the board was designed to look like a workbench, with various books (and cards that fit in as “pages”), small dishes for the dice, and various other items.

Trismegistus player board
Your player board lets you transmute particles, and also has a puzzle-like bonus area. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Your player board tracks a lot of different things, including the various elements you have access to that can be transmuted into other elements. As you complete certain cards, you’ll gain bonus tokens—and then the way you arrange those bonus tokens on your player board will unlock additional bonuses. The game definitely feels puzzle-like, and will be one that appeals to those who like thinking out several paths at once.

Draft dice to gain elements or take actions on your existing particles. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The game includes custom dice with elemental symbols on them, adding to the theme. It will premiere at Essen Spiel this fall, and then hit stores after that.

Yedo Deluxe
Prototype of Yedo Deluxe; the final will be dual-layered boards. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another title from Board and Dice is Yedo, a deluxe version of a worker placement game. The new version will include updated components and artwork, plus a new board and some new content. For instance, the character boards seen above will be dual-layered to hold the tokens. It is expected to come to Kickstarter in September.

The final title that I saw at Board and Dice was Escape Tales, a series that is a little bit like an escape room game, but with a few notable differences. There is no time pressure for Escape Tales, but instead it’s more of a story-based game that focuses on the narrative. There’s a bit more open exploration, and decisions you make may impact the ending you reach, rather than having a single solution that lets you win. There are puzzles involved, but not every puzzle will be encountered, depending on the path you take. The one I saw was titled Low Memory, and the theme was about the ability to recall memories using a computer—the game is rated for 16+ because it really digs into the theme, and I’m curious to see how it plays out.

Kingdomino Duel
Kingdomino Duel, a 2-player roll-and-write. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I did swing by and snap some photos of the Blue Orange Games booth, though you’ll be seeing more of these titles soon in my upcoming reviews. First up: Kingdomino Duel, a roll-and-write version of their popular tile-laying game. In this one, two players choose from a set of four dice, combining two of them into a “domino” to mark onto their player board. There are also some special abilities that you can gain by using enough of a specific pattern, which can drive players to go after particular dice.

Pappy Winchester
Pappy Winchester—divvy up ol’ Pappy’s lands. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Also from Blue Orange is Pappy Winchester, a game about divvying up an inheritance. Pappy wanted the money to stay within the family, so you bid on the various plots of land in an auction—and the money you bid gets paid out to the other players! Each player also has some specific plots of land that are worth more to them.

Detective Club
Detective Club: Spyfall meets Dixit. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Detective Club reminds me of a mashup between Spyfall and Dixit. You use fantastically illustrated cards to match the active player’s chosen topic. However, one player is a conspirator and doesn’t know the clue—so they have to try to figure out what cards to play without getting caught. In another twist, the active player is on the same team as the conspirator, but they don’t know who it is! I haven’t played this one yet, but I have a copy to try out.

Slide Quest
Slide Quest, a cooperative dexterity game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Finally, one other new one from Blue Orange is Slide Quest, a videogame-inspired cooperative dexterity game. The box holds a tilting platform, and players try to guide a little knight through various paths, around holes and obstacles and enemies, using the four levers. Levels get progressively difficult, and the goal is to get through the whole thing before your lives run out.

Buffalo from Resonym, a party game about coming up with famous names. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Resonym, publishers of Visitor from Blackwood Grove and Mechanica, has a new party game: Buffalo. The game is fairly simple: you flip over two cards, a blue card and a yellow card, which then gives you an adjective and a noun, and you have to come up with a person—real or fictional—who fits the description. Who’s a “mythological commentator”? How about a “chivalrous cowboy”? It’s a simple game, but it can spark some great conversations.

I chatted with Mary Flanagan of Resonym, and she revealed a little of the background behind the game. If you’ve ever taken any of those implicit bias tests, you may see a similarity: for instance, is it easier to come up with famous names that are male instead of female? If we have a bias for certain occupations to be held by men, then we’ll have a harder time coming up with examples of women in those roles. The adjectives include other nationalities, which can also be tougher for American players in particular. But studies have also shown that spending time making these associations can have an affect on our implicit assumptions—we can learn to link terms, and Buffalo helps to do that, while having a laugh.

It's Blunderful
It’s Blunderful—a game about responses to awkward situations. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Bicycle—you know, the company that makes playing cards—made an appearance at Gen Con this year. It’s getting into the hobby games world, starting with three games. Rob Huddleston and I joined up with a couple other media folks and tried them out. First up: It’s Blunderful, a game about responding to awkward situations. Each player gets a scoring/betting track and a set of A-B-C cards.

It's Blunderful
Each card has a situation and three options for responding. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The active player draws a card and reads the situation, along with the three multiple-choice answers. Then, all the other players choose which answer they think the active player would give, placing the card on their own betting track at 5, 10, or 15 points. Once the active player reveals the answer, everyone else gains or loses points based on their guesses and their wagers. I could see the potential for this to be a funny party game, but we realized quickly that it’s very challenging to play with people you’ve just met.

Tattoo Stories
Tattoo Stories: draw a tattoo based on randomly drawn prompt cards. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Tattoo Stories is a little more forgiving if you’re playing with strangers. In this one, one player (the client) sets out a number of prompt cards, which indicate what they want on a tattoo. Everyone else gets 3 minutes to draw a tattoo design on a small whiteboard. (No erasing—it’s a tattoo!) During the 3 minutes, you can also ask the client questions, but you need to finish everything within the time limit.

Tattoo Stories
Our finished tattoos, based on the prompts: Glasses, Superhero Logo, Music Notes, Poop, and Epic Beard. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Once the time’s up, everyone gets to pitch their tattoo to the client, who can then award the prompt cards to the players who incorporated those elements the best in their designs. Bonus rule: after playing the game, everyone goes out and gets their winning tattoos.

Shuffle Grand Prix
Shuffle Grand Prix, a racing card game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The last game we saw at Bicycle was Shuffle Grand Prix, which was described as Smash Up meets Mille Bornes meets Munchkin. The Smash Up part comes from the fact that you choose two drivers, and shuffle their decks together to form your player deck. Each driver has a special ability, but you have to choose which one is currently driving. Players then take turns drawing distance cards from a deck (that’s where the Mille Bornes comes in), and playing cards from their own deck as well.

Shuffle Grand Prix
Shuffle Grand Prix from Bicycle. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Your cards include equipment that can help you, traps that can interfere with other players, and attacks that can damage players and cause them to spin out. (Aaaand that’s where the Munchkin reference is.) The goal is to get the most distance by the time the deck runs out, but along the way you’ll be messing with other players, stealing their distance cards, and so on.

Funkoverse comes in various flavors, including DC Comics. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

If you love Funko figurines, that sound you just heard was your wallet gasping. Funko recently acquired the game design firm Forrest-Pruzan and has jumped into the board game world with a big splash. Their first title is Funkoverse, which is actually several sets with different IP. The game is a tactical miniatures battle game, created to be a good entry level for people who haven’t played this type of game before, but with some fun possibilities for more experienced gamers, too. There are sets with 4 characters (DC: Batman, Batgirl, Joker, and Harley Quinn; Harry Potter: Harry, Hermione, Voldemort, and Bellatrix) and also sets with 2 characters (DC: Robin and Catwoman, Harry Potter: Ron and Draco, Rick and Morty: Rick and Morty, Golden Girls: Rose and Blanche). Yes, you read that correctly: you can send the Golden Girls into battle! (Well, two of them, at least.)

The figurines themselves are 3″ models, which is in between the regular Funko Pop and the Funko Mini, thus guaranteeing that completionists will have yet another set they need to get their hands on. (They’re new sculpts, too, not just sized down versions of existing models.)

Each character has special abilities; a cooldown track tells you when abilities refresh. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Each set comes with a double-sided board and four scenarios, including a capture-the-flag variant, knock-out-the-leader, and area control. The characters all have different abilities (and interchangeable items also grant additional powers); the game uses a cooldown system to track when you can use any given ability again. I’ve only played once so far, but I found it to be a nice balance of easy to learn but engaging to play.

Of course, you can also team up characters however you like, though the rulebooks are careful to keep the various IP in separate silos. But we know better. If you want Rose to team up with Batman, hey, you can make that happen.

Undo demo version from Pegasus Spiele. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Pegasus Spiele has a series called Undo that reminds me a little of escape room games, but with a few twists. Each one begins with an untimely death—and your goal is to find a way to undo that death, by going back in time and changing key events. As you play, you’ll gain access to clues, and you’ll also get multiple choice questions—choose your answer and flip a card, and it may lead to another event. The photo above is from a demo set, not from one of the actual game sets, to avoid spoilers.

Tricky Druids
Tricky Druids from Pegasus Spiele. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another title from Pegasus Spiele is Tricky Druids, a game of resource collection and bluffing. You have recipe cards that require a certain combination of ingredients—fill the spots, and you complete the recipe for points. However, it’s not quite that simple. On your turn you roll dice to see what ingredients are available, and then you must offer a combination of those to an opponent—they either take it all, or refuse it all, and you only get them if you refuse. Anything you wind up with that doesn’t fit your recipe goes into the bucket—but if that fills up, then you ruin your recipe. Seems like a fun bluffing game that would really have you second-guessing every time somebody offers you something.

Shobu from Smirk & Dagger
Shobu from Smirk & Laughter. Left: starting setup; right: mid-game.Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Shobu is a new abstract strategy game from Smirk & Laughter (the less back-stabby arm of Smirk & Dagger). It’s a gorgeous game with wooden boards, real stone pieces, and a bit of rope, and looks particularly attractive on the Zen garden playmat they were selling at the show. The rules are pretty simple: you move one of your own stones on one of your own two boards in any direction: then you move one of your own stones on the opposite board (the other color board, across the rope) in the same direction. The goal is to shove all of your opponent’s stones off one of the four boards to win. It’s simple to learn, but tricky to play!

Wobble King
Wobble King: pull out wooden cylinders, and place them onto the board without tipping over the king. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Then I had an appointment at HABA to check out some of their new and upcoming titles. While I was waiting for my time slot, I played a round of Wobble King, a dexterity game. There’s a board resting on top of lots of little wooden cylinders, with a wobbly king meeple on top. You use a wooden stick to pull out some cylinders, which you then must place on the spaces around the edge of the board. Tip over the king, and you get a tomato—too many, and you’re out! When I was playing, it got down to only two cylinders supporting the board, which made it really hard to pull any cylinders out.

Mountains from HABA. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Mountains is another new release in HABA’s “Game Night Approved” line, intended for older players than their familiar yellow box games. Mountains is a game of going on progressively harder hikes, which require more and more equipment, but there are ways to borrow equipment from other players as well. It has a little bit of memory, some press-your-luck, and bluffing. The game comes with little passport folders, and an actual rubber stamp—as you complete some of the harder hikes, you earn stamps in your notebook.

Valley of the Vikings
Valley of the Vikings from HABA. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Valley of the Vikings won the Kinderspiel des Jahres—the children’s game of the year—and it’s a very cute-looking game, with a giant plastic ball and wooden barrels to bowl over. The idea is that you get to set up the barrels however you like on your turn, and then attempt to bowl them over from your dock. The colors you knock down are the Vikings that advance along the dock.

Valley of the Vikings
The dock shows what you earn when you move forward. The board has various spaces so you can set up the barrels in different configurations. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

As players move along the dock. they’ll get different bonuses, like taking gold from the supply or from each other. But be careful—if you fall off the end of the dock into the water, you get nothing. So not only is it a dexterity game, but there’s also a bit of strategy involved in deciding which barrels you actually want to hit each turn.

Miyabi (prototype), a tile-laying game about Japanese gardens. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I also got a peek at a few of HABA’s upcoming Essen releases in prototype form. First up was Miyabi, a polyomino-tile game about creating a Japanese garden. Players draft tiles from an open market and place them onto their garden maps, but the landscape feature on the tile has to be placed in the corresponding row.

In Miyabi, you must place tiles so that the features fall into the corresponding rows. (Prototype) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Not only that, but once you place the tile, you must place a lantern meeple in the column where the landscape feature appears, locking out that row for the rest of the round. Players score for the tiles they place, multiplied by the height of the tile, so building out a platform that you can stack on top of becomes key. There are also majority bonuses for having the most of each feature at the end of the game, so you have to be careful what you cover up. I got to play a full game of this later on in the weekend, so stay tuned and watch for more photos in Part 4!

Dragon's Breath: The Hatching
Dragon’s Breath: The Hatching. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Dragon’s Breath was a cute game for kids that involved plastic rings filled with little gems: players would try to predict which gems would fall out each time one of the plastic rings was removed. Dragon’s Breath: The Hatching is a sequel to the game, involving the mama dragon and her egg. The mama dragon player still lifts a ring and lets gems fall out, but also tries to keep the egg balanced on the remaining gems. Then players take turns drafting from the spilled gems—each player taking one, but the mama dragon player taking two and placing them into the box.

Dragon's Breath: The Hatching
One player lifts rings, trying to keep the egg from falling out; other players draft gems that fall out and fill their objective cards. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

When the egg falls out of the nest, the mama dragon sits on the box, and so she only drafts one gem at a time, which means the other players will get to take more gems for their cards.

I’ve never seen any other games that use this sort of ring-stacking mechanism, so the Dragon’s Breath series is still unique in that respect, and I like the added challenge of keeping the egg balanced (as well as the incentive to do so).

Cloaked Cats
Cloaked Cats (prototype), a deduction game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Cloaked Cats is another Essen release from HABA, and it’s a deduction game about cats at a masquerade. Each player gets a certain number of feature cards, placed into a little card holder so that other players can’t see them. Features may include the cat’s pose, color, spots or stripes, and an accessory (like a top hat or a toy mouse).

Cloaked Cats
Players have to place their markers on cats if any of their features are depicted. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Players take turns playing cat cards to the table—and then every player (including the one who played the card) puts a token on the card if any of the features match their own. The goal is to correctly identify (and unmask) the other cats first!

Ascension: Skulls & Sails
Ascension: Skulls and Sails changes up the center row by making them locations you must sail to. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Way back in 2010, I reviewed a new deck-building game called Ascension, a new entry into the genre that at the time was still just getting started. I was unsure of the single-deck market, since I was used to the way Dominion and Thunderstone had separate stacks for markets that could change each time you set up the game. Well, nearly a decade later, it’s clear that Ascension didn’t have any trouble building up a fan base and continuing to develop, with over a dozen expansions. The rotating single-deck market has also become more common than the static market decks of Dominion, though there are definitely still games that use those. But I’ll admit: I hadn’t been keeping up with the game after the first few expansions and the iOS app, so I’m pretty far behind.

The latest expansion, Skulls and Sails, is a stand-alone set with a pirate theme that introduces some significant shifts to the game. For one, the “center row” is no longer in the center: instead, the market cards are placed along several locations along the edges of the sea, and players must sail their ships around to different locations in order to acquire or battle cards at those locations. Movement around the sea becomes an important aspect to the game. I’m intrigued, and maybe it’s about time to dive back into the world of Ascension and see what I’ve been missing.

Shards of Infinity: Shadow of Salvation
Shards of Infinity: Shadow of Salvation adds a 5th faction, as well as a campaign mode. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

In the meantime, I’ve really been enjoying the other deck-building game from StoneBlade Entertainment, Shards of Infinity. This one flew under my radar when it was first released, and I discovered it only late last year, when I heard news of the first expansion. Shards of Infinity pits players against each other, a little bit like Star Realms, with various factions that can be stronger if you have multiple cards of the same faction. However, there are some new twists: mastery allows you to make certain cards more powerful as the game progresses, and mercenaries are cards that can be played directly from the market row rather than waiting for them to cycle through your deck. Those two changes may not sound like much, but they really explode the tactical possibilities in the game, and I’ve been enjoying the game both in card and app form.

At Gen Con, StoneBlade introduced Shadow of Salvation, another expansion that sold out quickly. It introduces a fourth faction of time-travelers! One of the effects on the red cards that get shuffled into the deck is the “warp,” which allows you to fast-play cards that aren’t mercenaries. But the bigger change introduced in the expansion is the cooperative campaign, which lets you play through a storyline involving these time-travelers from the future, and you work together to battle against bosses. I’m really excited to try this out once I can get my hands on a copy!

Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top is Justin Gary’s homage to Fluxx. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

And here’s a lighter game from StoneBlade: Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top. Designer Justin Gary described it as his homage to Fluxx (particularly apt when Andrew Looney himself stopped by the booth to say hello!), with a touch of Magic: The Gathering. Like Fluxx, the cards that provide win conditions are shuffled into the deck, and there are cards that you can play that will give you ongoing abilities (like drawing more cards, playing more cards, and so on). However, it’s a little less random than Fluxx, and may provide a little more strategic depth. The goal is to get certain combinations of attractions on the table—but each attraction has its own rules about how to win. Stars are played to the table to give you additional abilities. Sideshows tend to be negative and can be played on other people—but they can also help you in certain circumstances. It’s a clever game: fans of Fluxx might enjoy the challenge, and those who feel Fluxx is a little too random may like the way the cards work together.

Pictionary Air
In Pictionary Air, you draw in the air with a light pen—but you can’t see your own drawing. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

As I was passing by the Mattel booth, I couldn’t help but stop to see what was going on here. Turns out this guy was playing Pictionary Air, a new app-driven version of Pictionary. You run the app on a tablet or phone (they had it cast to the TV for visibility), and the active player gets a small light wand and a clue card. The wand has a red light on the end that glows green when you press the button, and the clue card is just a list of different words to draw.

You stand and face the camera and simply draw in the air, holding the button when you want to make lines and letting go when your line is done. Everyone else gets to watch the screen and guess what you’re drawing, tapping to indicate when a guess is correct, and you try to get through as many words as possible. The trick, of course, is that you can’t see what you’re drawing—only the viewers can. But the drawing in air also allows for some cool interactivity. For instance, you can draw a something in the air and then interact with it, like drawing an astronaut helmet around your own head, or pretending to sweep with a broom. (The drawing doesn’t move, and you can’t see exactly where it is, but this lets you combine drawings with charades.) I got to try it out once, and had a blast—I should have had somebody take some photos of the screen while I was drawing, because I really don’t know how they turned out!

Planet Unknown prototype
Planet Unknown (prototype) from Adam’s Apple Games. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

After the exhibit hall closed for the day, I had an appointment to try out Planet Unknown, a prototype from Adam’s Apple Games that he described as “Patchwork in space.” The game involves placing polyomino tiles onto a planet board, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on, too.

Planet Unknown
Players take tiles from a rotating tray. (Prototype) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

First, the tiles are all stacked on a rotating tray, according to tile type. When you’re the active player, you get to rotate the tray to any orientation. Then, all players take a tile from the bay facing them. So that gives you a little control over the options that are open to other players.

Planet Unknown
As you place tiles, you move up on various tracks, which give you bonuses. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

As you place tiles onto your map, you’ll have to build from one location and spread from there. Each tile you place also allows you to move up on the five different color tracks on your board based on the color of the tile. The various tracks give you certain bonuses: black gives you bonus cards, red builds and moves rovers that you can send to pick up life pods and collect fallen meteors (which can nerf your score), white builds up technology and gives you additional ongoing abilities.

Planet Unknown
My planet at the end of the game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

There are also goal cards that are placed between you and your neighbors on either side—you compete with the neighbor for the corresponding card, which is awarded at the end of the game. You’ll also score points for completing rows and columns of your planet—but meteors keep them from scoring.

I had a lot of fun playing it—there’s a lot to keep track of, with the goal cards, the various tracks to advance, and which tile to draft when it’s your turn to rotate the tray. It’ll be coming to Kickstarter near the beginning of the year, and I’ll definitely be watching for it!

Renegade Rally
Scott Gaeta introduces Renegade Rally. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

On Friday evening, I attended Renegade Rally, where Scott Gaeta gave a quick rundown of many of the new and upcoming titles that Renegade Games has in the pipeline. I didn’t take photos of all of the slides shown (plus photos of slides are kind of difficult to share) but here’s a look at what I captured.

Fox in the Forest Duet
The Fox in the Forest Duet: a 2-player cooperative trick-taking game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Fox in the Forest is a 2-player trick-taking game. Coming early next year is The Fox in the Forest Duet, a cooperative 2-player trick-taking game. How will that work? It has something to do with trying to win a certain number of tricks but not too many, but we’ll find out more later.

Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne
Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne II. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Renegade partnered with Dire Wolf Studios for Clank!, and in about a month they’re releasing Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne, which is a deck-building battle game that has seen some comparisons to Star Realms but with a combat system akin to Magic: The Gathering. Well, they already announced the second set for Q1 2020 as well.

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated
Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I’ve mentioned this one already, but the Clank! series has a legacy-style version coming soon, with the Acquisitions Incorporated theme. I’ll have more photos of the actual game below. It should be available for preorder soon as well. There’s also the Clank! Acquisitions Inc. Upper Management Pack (out already), which puts the main characters from Acquisitions Inc. into Clank! and incorporates asymmetric starting decks. And this winter, there will also be a C Team pack.

A couple titles that I didn’t manage to get photos of: the Solo Hero series was launched with Proving Grounds, a solo game by Kane Klenko that uses real-time dice-rolling. The Solo Hero series was designed to really focus on single-player games, because there has been a growing audience that wants solo modes included in games. Often, the solo modes are developed later, or are variant rules to a game. Here, they’re the focus. They’re more narrative-focused, with a novella that you can read to immerse yourself in the story, and then you play the game. Early next year, expect Warp’s Edge by Scott Almes, which was described as “Groundhog Day in space.”

Clank! In! Space! expansion
Clank! In! Space! Cyber Station 11. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

And, for the sci-fi fans, Clank! In! Space! is getting an expansion as well, Cyber Station 11, expected sometime Q4 of this year.

Overlight: Feather and Leaf
Overlight: Feather and Leaf. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

In Renegade’s RPG line, Overlight is getting an expansion called Feather and Leaf in 2020.

Wardlings. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another upcoming kids’ RPG with Wizkids (early 2020) is Wardlings, by Elisa Teague. I was intrigued by the description. In this world, the children are adventurers, and they have animal familiars. Instead of dying, if your character is knocked out, you’re whisked away by your familiar, and you wake up … one year later. The trick, though, is that eventually you age out of the Wardlings, so aging up brings you closer to the end of your adventure. Scott Gaeta mentioned that there may also be some rules that will let you take your aged-up character from Wardlings and put them into a D&D campaign, so that seems pretty cool, too.

Free Content Friday
Free Content Friday. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Free Content Friday, available on, will be expanding to include three of Renegade’s titles: Outbreak: UndeadKids on Bikes, and Icarus.

Outbreak: Undead will also be getting some expansions, Deep Space and Danse Macabre.

Kids on Bikes
Kids on Bikes: Strange Adventures! Volume 2. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Kids on Bikes is also getting a second volume of the Strange Adventures! hooks and story guidelines.

Gods of Metal: Ragnarock
Gods of Metal: Ragnarock. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

We were treated to a blasting video trailer for Gods of Metal: Ragnarock. Twice! It’s a heavy metal fantasy game, coming to Kickstarter in early 2020.

Power Rangers
Power Rangers Phase 2. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Renegade’s Power Rangers series is entering Phase 2, which will start with the Zeo Ranger team and the Zeo Gold Ranger. Watch for a Kickstarter campaign in September for these, which will also include an opportunity to get in on Phase 1 if you missed that the first time around.

Scott Pilgrim Miniatures the World
Scott Pilgrim Miniatures the World. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another upcoming Kickstarter is Scott Pilgrim Miniatures the World, a miniatures battle game designed by Erica Bouyouris. We got to see a video trailer for this one, which will include full-color miniatures of Scott and friends, as well as (of course) the evil exes.

Scott Pilgrim miniatures
Scott Pilgrim miniatures. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
Vampire: The Masquerade Expandable Card Game
Vampire: The Masquerade Expandable Card Game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

And, looking further into the future, we got a very brief tease of Vampire: The Masquerade Expandable Card Game. It’s not expected until Gen Con 2020, so you’ve got a long wait ahead of you, but you can read a little more about that in this announcement.

ClipCut Parks
ClipCut Parks, a new spin on roll-and-write games. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Okay, and now on to some photos of actual games at Renegade Rally. (I skipped the slides for these.) First up is ClipCut Parks, which will be out pretty soon. It’s a new twist on roll-and-write games: you actually cut out shapes from a little grid of paper and use them to fill in your parks.

ClipCut Parks
Clip out shapes and match them to your park cards. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Each turn, the die is rolled, which will determine the number and length of the cuts you get to make. As you cut, anything that falls off the sheet must be used immediately or crumpled up. You place the pieces onto your objective cards, which may have restrictions about color, icon, or where pieces must be connected. Complete a card, and you get to reveal another one and get a bonus.

ClipCut Parks
I completed all of my parks! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

You’ll have 2 cards to work on at any given time, and the goal is to be the first to finish five parks. It’s a clever take on this genre, though I’m already worried about the amount of scrap paper I’ll be generating while playing it.

Aquicorn Cove
The Aquicorn Cove. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Aquicorn Cove is a followup to The Tea Dragon Society, both of which were based on the comic books by Katie O’Neill. This one is a step up in complexity from the previous game, and has environmental themes: you’re building an underwater city, but you also have to manage pollution and overfishing.

Paladins of the West Kingdom
Paladins of the West Kingdom. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

From Garphill Games comes Paladins of the West Kingdom, the second title in the “West Kingdom” trilogy after Architects of the West Kingdom. It’s an engine-building game, and Scott Gaeta described it as the heaviest game from designer Shem Phillips so far. These will be shipping to Kickstarter backers soon, and then will be available in wider release.

The Search for Planet X
The Search for Planet X (prototype). Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Search for Planet X is an upcoming title from Foxtrot Games (which works with Renegade for Kickstarter fulfillment and distribution), designed by Matthew O’Malley and Ben Rosset. It uses a companion app, which creates a solar system that you and your rivals will attempt to uncover. You search regions of the sky, publish theories (and see how they stand up to public scrutiny), and use deduction to locate Planet X. Watch for this one on Kickstarter in October.

Gates of Delirium
Gates of Delirium. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Another game coming in October is Gates of Delirium, designed by Jordan and Mandy Goddard. Scott Gaeta commented that they entered the board game scene with Lotus, a game about putting together flowers … and now they’ve got a game about building Gates to other dimensions where monstrous beings await. Parenthood can really change you.

The game includes some dual-purpose cards that have a sane ability and an insane ability, and each round a player will decide which side will be used. When you’re sane, you’re researching a lost tome and looking for secrets; when you’re insane, you’re building the Gates.

Gates of Delirium
You can see hints of Lotus in the way the gates are assembled. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

You can see echoes of Lotus in the Gate cards: they’re placed in an overlapping flower pattern, which then forms the illustration of the circular gate.

Scott Pilgrim Miniatures
Scott Pilgrim miniatures and set pieces. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Here’s a look at the Scott Pilgrim miniatures (prototype), which also includes little props that can be used during the fights.

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated
An unboxing of Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Finally, there was an unboxing of the Clank! Legacy box so that people could see all the stuff that’s included. As you can see, there are the expected things like the deck of cards, the board, the dragon bag, and various tokens. But there are also sealed envelopes, a Book of Secrets, and more.

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated
Character miniatures and the dragon; each player has a box to store their deck; additional file cabinet and card boxes. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The characters and the dragon are plastic miniatures rather than wooden meeples. Each player will also have a box for storing their deck (and maybe other things?) in between games, and there are some other curious boxes and a file cabinet envelope that I suppose we’ll find out more about soon.

I lost count of how many titles Renegade Games announced, but it was a lot. And this list here doesn’t even include some of the titles that were released at Gen Con this year, like Terror BelowClank! Expeditions: Temple of the Ape Lords, and Time Chase. We’ll be covering those here as soon as we can get to them!

Nine Tiles Panic
Nine Tiles Panic from Oink Games. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Finally, I met back up with GeekDad Rob Huddleston in the open gaming halls, and we played a couple of games. First up was Nine Tiles Panic, one of my new purchases from Oink Games. Each player gets a set of nine double-sided tiles; the sets are identical to each other except for the player color. Then, you randomly deal out three objective cards: they might include “longest road” or ” most citizens.” Everyone shuffles their tiles, and then simultaneously assembles their tiles into a 3×3 grid that hits as many of the objectives as possible. The tiles include funny features like hamburger-loving aliens, secret agents, and dogs. Rob defeated me soundly, so I vowed to have a rematch later.

We also played a round of My Story, a game that I picked up in Taiwan and brought with me. I’d describe it as The Game of Life, except that it’s a deck-building game, and also fun. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to trying it again.

With that, I stayed up way too late chatting with people after we finished playing and said it was time to go to bed, but then Friday was over and so is this post!

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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