Now it’s time for Saturday of Gen Con—for some, it’s the busiest day of the convention, because people who aren’t able to get time off work may get a 1-day pass, and a lot of people show up with their kids as well. For the GeekDads, it’s when we run our Gaming with GeekDad event, so I had a couple of hours where I was occupied teaching games and not running around between booths. That means that, although it was a full day, it’s a little bit lighter on photos. Let’s check it out!
I started out Saturday with a visit to North Star Games, where I got to see some new and upcoming titles. The first up is Wits & Wagers: It’s Vegas, Baby!, a new edition of their popular trivia betting game. In case you’re not familiar with the game, it’s a trivia game that’s not just about knowing the answer—it’s about knowing who knows the answer. (We’ve got a review of it here.) All of the questions have numerical answers, and they’re lined up in order after everyone answers. Then you get a chance to bet on which answer you think is the closest without going over the actual answer, which means even if you know nothing about a subject, you can bet on the player who does, and still score some points.
Wits & Wagers has had several editions over the years, but this one takes some of the best features from the classic and the party editions, and goes all in on the Vegas theme with a casino playmat, whiteboards that look like casino cards, and poker chip point tokens. There are a lot of brand-new questions and a few favorites from previous editions. If you already have Wits & Wagers, I don’t know if you really need to get this one (unless you like the bling), but if you’re new to the game, this seems like a great way to dive in.
Speaking of diving, I got to see this prototype of Oceans, the next game in the Evolution series (though, please note, not an expansion to Evolution). I helped edit the game, so it’s exciting to see the progress being made on production! The trays will eventually hold lots of little fish tokens, and those smaller slots in the center are for the scenario cards. I like the little circle and triangle icons on the edges—those are reminders about where you take fish when you forage or gain, and match the icons on the cards.
One of my favorite games this year has been The Quacks of Quedlinburg, and it’s getting an expansion! The Herb Witches adds several new features to the game. First, you get a new set of ingredient books, so there are two more effects for each of the main ingredients. There’s also one new ingredient, the fool’s herb, and there’s also a 6-value pumpkin!
Herb Witches also adds a fifth player (yay!) and there are also small overflow boards (pictured above left) so that if you do manage to fill your pot and keep drawing for some reason, you can see how many additional points you score. And, finally, there are the eponymous herb witches themselves. There are multiple copies of three witches, and you’ll use one of each per game. Each witch grants you a powerful ability, and they will cost you a copper, silver, or gold coin—you start with one of each at the beginning of the game. There aren’t any ways to get more coins, so you can only hire each witch once.
I’m really excited for this expansion—it’s expected to hit stores in September.
The Taverns of Tiefenthal is another game from Wolfgang Warsch, the designer of Quacks, and it’s about running a tavern. When you start off, you have a pretty simple tavern with a few tables and an old dog. You’ll gradually be able to upgrade your tavern, making it more profitable, serving more (and richer) customers, and creating more beer. I like the modular tavern board that lets you flip over pieces to upgrade it, and I like the combination of deck-building and dice drafting. It’s expected sometime Q4 of this year.
Dirty Pig joins games like Happy Salmon and Funky Chicken, though this time it’s not a “do some wacky gestures” sort of game, even though it’s still a deck of cards in a zippered animal pouch. Unfortunately I didn’t get more photos of the cards (I thought I did!), but the idea is that all of your pigs want to be dirty so they can be happy, and you also want to try to keep your opponents’ pigs clean. There are various cards that represent the arms race between the weather-wizard-farmers and the pigs: rain cleans the pigs, so the pigs run into the barn. Farmers can still give them baths in the barn, until they board up the doors. The weather wizards can call down lightning to burn down the barn, but the pigs can install lightning rods. It’s all quite silly, but pretty entertaining.
Finally, I got a peek at an upcoming game called Paint the Roses, inspired by the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. The Queen is very particular about how she wants her garden to look, but you’re not allowed to tell the other gardeners the rule that she’s given you, so you have to place tiles that try to clue in your fellow gardeners about your rule. If the team successfully guesses a rule, you advance on the track; however, the Queen is chasing you down on the track as well, and if she catches you … “Off with their heads!” It’s planned for a Kickstarter in 2020, so keep your eyes out for this cooperative deduction game.
Next up, I visited Deep Water Games, where I got to see a prototype of Floor Plan, a roll-and-write about drawing a house blueprint. Each turn, two dice are rolled, which give the dimensions of the room; the values of the dice also give you the two options for what type of room it is, and then you also get to add various furnishings to the house.
Client cards give you points if you can fulfill them, so you need to use your dice wisely to meet the clients’ needs. It looks like a fun followup to Welcome To… I don’t have an exact release date yet, but it will be going straight to retail instead of Kickstarter. Nolan Nasser of Deep Water Games told me they’ve got some big plans for this one besides what’s in the base game, so I’m curious to see where it goes after that.
Although I didn’t get photos, there were a couple other titles from Deep Water Games as well. Two more imports from EmperorS4 are set in the same world as Mystery of the Temples: Trial of the Temples is actually a prequel, a worker-placement game where you’re sealing away the gods of destruction. (The same gods that, in Mystery, you are unwittingly releasing when you break the curses! At least, that’s what I was told.) It’s expected to release at Essen this year.
The other one is Realm of Sand, a game involving polyomino tiles. It was described to me as a blend of Splendor and Patchwork, so I’m curious to see how that one plays out.
Finally, Deep Water Games had several of their Welcome To… expansion packs available. Each one comes with a new custom scorepad, along with a few additional cards. Outbreak is the zombie version: the zombie horde moves in from the sides of the street, and any houses that don’t have barricades when they arrive are demolished. Doomsday is the post-nuclear neighborhood. Halloween involves collecting candy. If you like Welcome To…, these expansion packs will add some fun tweaks to the base game.
Holy Grail Games had an updated prototype of their massive game Titan. I saw a prototype last year and it was a complex series of cardboard rings, dual-layered to hold various components. This year, it was a molded plastic board that was nearly as wide as the table. The theme is about setting up a mining network on Saturn’s moon Titan, building extraction plants and pipelines to transport the resources to your ship. The surprising thing about this game is that the box will supposedly fit on a Kallax shelf. How will they achieve this sorcery? The back walls of the wedges are removable, so that the wedges will nest inside each other. (No word yet on how much of that Kallax will be taken up by the one box, though.) Expect this one to hit Kickstarter in September.
Also from Holy Grail Games is Roads to Rome, a game that will be coming to retail in February 2020. It’s from the same designer as Titan, but is a much smaller (and simpler!) game. The theme is about the expansion of the Roman Empire through its network of roads.
Players build roads to surrounding cities, earning point tokens and the randomized artifact tokens. The artifacts will earn points if you fill rows and columns, but you also earn points for building the roads. On top of that, if somebody else extends your road to reach a city, you score points based on the segments of road they had to use. For instance, in the photo above, the green player built a segment extending from Athenae, so the red player would also earn points because their roads connect Athenae to Rome.
Jellybean Games had copies of their game Hidden Panda available. It was funded through Kickstarter last summer, and it’s basically a family-friendly Werewolf, without the killing and lynching. Instead, it’s about pandas saving their babies and bandits trying to catch them (along with some other roles).
Jellybean was also showing off their latest game, Village Pillage, which has a turnip-based economy. You grow turnips, steal turnips from your neighbors, protect your turnips, and use turnips to buy the three relics that will finally get your village recognized as a proper kingdom. Players simultaneously choose cards to play against each neighbor, and then the cards interact in various ways when revealed. I’ve gotten a review copy of this one and have played it a few times since getting back home, and it’s been a hit. Watch for an upcoming review!
Then it was time to make the hike to Lucas Oil Stadium, where we would be hosting our Gaming with GeekDad event! Each of us had brought a few of our favorite games to share, plus we had some games donated by generous publishers to demo and give away! The folks over at The OP had let me stash my games backpack in their booth so I wouldn’t have to carry it around all morning (thanks!), and their booth was conveniently located on the side of the exhibit hall near the hallway to the stadium.
Gen Con expanded into Lucas Oil Stadium two years ago, and this year there were a lot of ticketed events running there. It’s a long haul to get there, but it’s also a lot of fun to being playing tabletop games in the middle of a football stadium.
I got over to the stadium a little early partly because there were a few games that I knew weren’t in the exhibit hall but were running demos in the stadium. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at the right time to check out Adventure Tactics from Letiman Games, which is wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign in just a couple of days.
I did get to see the beginning of a demo game of Ignite, which was funded earlier this year on Kickstarter by Ginger Snap Gaming. I’d seen some tweets about it and thought it sounded intriguing: it’s a deck-building game, but it’s also a miniatures war game, with asymmetrical faction powers.
There were some pretty impressive miniatures off to the side (the demo used cardboard tokens), and the board was so large that there were duplicate card markets set up on either side of it, with 16 different types of cards to choose from. I was also surprised to discover that the game goes up to eight players! I listened in to the general overview and watched as the players were choosing their factions and setting up their starting positions on the board, but then I had to get over to our event. Ignite looks intriguing, though I expect it’s a pretty long game to play through with that many players!
Our Gaming with GeekDad event was a blast! We had sold 36 tickets, and I think we had somewhere around 30 people show up. With only four GeekDads attending this year, we were pulling some double duty teaching multiple games at some points, but we had fun. I started off with a game of Dirty Pig when we had one family arrive a little early, because the tables were already free. Rob brought a copy of Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game (which he reviewed today!) and got a game of that going.
John Booth had picked up a copy of Deadly Doodles from Steve Jackson Games, a game in which players are simultaneously drawing a path through a dungeon based on the cards that are drawn, and hope to score the most loot and fight monsters.
Meanwhile, I had a couple families who had different tastes in games. I led them in a round of Just One but not everyone liked word games, so then we set up two games: Tiny Epic Mechs and Planet.
Over at the other table, Mapmaker had ended, so I taught Walking in Burano, a game from AEG about putting together buildings on your block and attracting visitors who like your particular building setup.
After Deadly Doodles, John taught Super Kitty Bug Slap, a fast-paced slap-at-the-right-time game.
And then we broke out my wallet game The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a little bluffing game about standing around guarding your sheep. It was fun to see this family try to outwit each other.
Planet wrapped up before Tiny Epic Mechs, so Jim Kelly ran a game of Point Salad, another fun title from AEG.
Rob and I tag-teamed on Villainous: we had Hades vs. the Evil Queen vs. Dr. Facilier! We also had two families who were interested in The Quacks of Quedlinburg, so we had that running at the other end of the table.
Jim had brought Fairy Season with him from Good Games, and I saw him teach that to a couple groups.
Finally, I got to break out Shards of Infinity for this couple, who were here without their kids this year. (Last year, they had come and played several games with their kids.)
Thanks to our generous partners, we were able to send everyone home with some fun games as prizes—some including the games that they had played, so they already knew how to play! Our event was about two hours long, but it went by really quickly. We packed up our games and made our way back toward the exhibit hall.
I had an appointment with Thames & Kosmos to check out their new releases, but it happened to coincide with them making the remaining stock of Imhotep: The Duel available for purchase, so there was a huge line of people waiting to buy it. So I apologize for the strange angles on some of these photos—it was pretty swamped and we couldn’t always get around to the right part of the table.
First up was Adventure Games, which is kind of like a sequel to their Exit series. There are two titles in the series so far: Monochrome, Inc. and The Dungeon. Unlike the Exit series, players will have standees and can go in different directions. There are location cards that have lots of different places you can check out—to investigate, you look up the corresponding card number. Adventure Games are a little more story-based with some riddles. Each game has 3 chapters to play through, with about a 2-hour play time for each chapter. Monochrome, Inc. is about breaking into a research facility and is rated for 16+; The Dungeon has the players waking up in a dungeon cell and is rated for 12+.
Tribes: Dawn of Humanity is a civilization-building game, and was compared to Catan in terms of the game’s complexity. Players choose actions from the action row, spending resources if they don’t want to take the first available action—and then the action they used gets bumped to the end of the line, making it more expensive until other actions are taken first. It’s meant to be a fast-paced game, going from early humanity to the Bronze Age in about an hour.
I’ve reviewed Imhotep here; it’s a great game about placing cubes onto various boats, and then sending them to different building sites where the stones are unloaded and placed into various structures. Imhotep: The Duel is a 2-player version of the game, and changes things up a little: there are boats lined up on two edges of a 3×3 grid, and you place your workers in the spaces on the grid so that they’ll collect the tiles when they’re unloaded from the boats. But depending on which boat is unloaded, you may or may not get the tile you want. Each player is constructing their own four monuments.
Finally, Thames & Kosmos have a cooperative dice-rolling game called Roll for Adventure. Players have to commit certain dice in order to battle the various enemies that appear, and you’re hoping to gain enough gems to build the Infinity Gauntlet—I mean, the magical amulet. I particularly like the little tiny skulls used to track the health of the regions.
I kept swinging by the Smirk & Dagger booth to say hello to Curt Covert, but every time I was there he was either in the middle of a game or away from the booth, so that’s why my photos of Smirk & Dagger titles are scattered throughout my recap posts. This time, I caught a photo of Menace Among Us, a social deduction game about trying to survive on a failing spaceship. Players will use cards for above deck actions (done in public) and below deck actions (played face-down), with the Menace trying to sabotage the crew and kill everyone off. Jim Kelly got to play a demo of this earlier in the week, so stay tuned for a review of this one!
When I was in Taiwan this summer, I attended the Moonlight Boardgame Festival, and got to see some publishers from Asia with various games. One that I happened to try with my daughter was the giant convention version of Towers of Am’harb from Moaideas, a Taiwanese publisher, so I was pleased to see the game at Gen Con, too. The game involves area control—players send their units to surround various altars, but it gets more and more expensive to place a pawn as the board gets crowded. The other trick, though, is that there’s a Towers of Hanoi style puzzle for where you can place your pawns: you move your stack of disks along the edge of the board, and that determines which column you can affect for that turn. It has one of the cutest takes on the Elder Gods that I’ve seen: just look at that adorable Cthulhu! (Or should I say, Cute-thulhu?)
The Flying Frog Productions booth was hopping as usual, with lots of demo tables running games of Shadows of Brimstone, Fortune and Glory, and others. I peeked in to see what was new in the world of Shadows of Brimstone, and saw three new surprise sets that they’d brought to the show that hadn’t been announced ahead of time. The first was the Lost Marshals, a metal (!) miniatures set featuring undead marshals with big mustaches.
In plastic, we have the Shikarri Nomad Crusaders: their planet was destroyed by the effects of darkstone, so now they travel the universe, trying to wipe out darkstone wherever they find it. If you’re carrying darkstone or have mutations from it, they’ll attack you; if you’re free of darkstone, then they can be powerful allies. The Void Swarm and Void Hives, meanwhile, are giant wasps—enough said, right?
I stopped by Restoration Games and checked out a couple of their latest offerings. First up is the next expansion for Fireball Island: Spider Springs! Fitting into one side of the large island, there’s an additional island section that has a spider nest with little plastic spiders in it. And above this nest there’s a dock, with a conveniently placed fireball marble. When the marble is pushed, it hits a lever on the spider nest and flings the spiders up into the air—allowing them to knock down the eggs. I’m guessing this is all bad news if you don’t like spiders. Spider Springs is coming in mid-September.
Here’s a little slow-mo video of the spider springs in action:
Another new title (coming in early September) is Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit. I realized after seeing it that I’ve actually played the original Conspiracy that this was based on—a friend of mine introduced it to me. It’s a fun game with spies moving around trying to get a briefcase to a player’s home base, but everyone is allowed to pay off any spy secretly—if you’ve paid them more than another player, then you can prevent them from taking an action. The original game has some cringe-worthy racial stereotypes, but fortunately that’s been scrubbed from the new version.
I failed to get any photos of Unmatched, the other new release from Restoration Games. There’s a 4-character pack coming in mid-September, and a 2-character pack coming in October. Unmatched is a miniature battle game featuring very different characters from different worlds, each with their own play experience. The first set features King Arthur, Alice in Wonderland, Medusa, and Sinbad. The 2-character version is Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot. And, of course, there are other sets planned for the series after that.
At the end of the day, I sat down and played a prototype of Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers with Tim Fowers. It’s a new version of the cooperative heist game, this time taking place in a series of casinos. There are some intriguing tweaks to the original (which you can read about in my review), and the game is on Kickstarter now.
Among the amusing things that can happen to you in Burgle Bros 2 is getting caught by an enthusiastic salesman who just wants to sell you a timeshare. You’re stuck until one of your teammates can get you out. We successfully cracked the casino safe, stole the Juicer’s car back, and crashed through the second story window to make our escape!
After dinner, we returned to the convention center open gaming areas to play some more games. I wanted a rematch against Rob for Nine Tiles Panic … and lost again. But then I did manage to beat him the second time. It’s a lot of fun—I look forward to playing with more players at once, too!
I also broke out ClipCut Parks and we all cut out little pieces from our grids to create our parks. The game only comes with four pairs of scissors, but we played a 5-player game and made do.
My main concern about ClipCut Parks is the amount of scrap that you just have to toss after you’re done. With roll-and-writes, I’ve been able to laminate some of the sheets so I can reuse them, but there’s no getting around it with this game. Plus, you won’t use all of your sheet by the time the game is over—there’s some extra so that you can manage to fill your parks without using everything exactly. So there will always be a bit of carnage.
I broke out Colorful Treasure again (as seen in Part 1).
In Front of the Elevators is another game I picked up in Taiwan, from Japanese publisher Saashi & Saashi. The story is that your family is at the mall, hoping to squeeze onto one of the three elevators before it fills up. But as various people join the lines, they’re allowed to cut in front of certain people. The game involves a lot of jostling around and cutting in line, hoping to be in the right positions by the time the doors finally open.
Finally, Ryan from Cardboard Republic had picked up a copy of Towers of Am’harb, so we decided to give it a try. As mentioned above, you have to move the various large disks around in order to deploy your meeples, with a goal of having the majority around each of the scoring disks. Each character (I was Dagon and Hydra) also has a special power, so figuring out how to use your ability to your advantage is important. It’s a fun game, somewhat puzzle-y.
That was the last game we played before heading to bed, so I’ll leave you with this disclaimer from the back of the Towers of Am’harb box:
Disclaimer: Moaideas Game Design is not liable for the unexpected or premeditated summoning of any Great Old Ones and in no way endorses or condones belief or membership of any doom cult.
All hail, Cthulhu.
Good night for now—see you for Part 4!