Avast mateys! Walk the Plank be in!
And just barely at that. The now-official prequel to Get Bit! (they’ve rethemed Get Bit from dumb robots to dumb pirates) arrived halfway through Gen Con, and people were able to put their pirates out on the ledge all the more. Much like it’s predecessor, it looks to be have some silly moments in it (in a good way).
We also found out that they are working on a sequel to Get Bit (which I’m hereby now dubbing the trio of games The Dumb Pirate Trilogy), where they will need to dive for things. Except, not all of them are very good at holding their breath…
Mayfair, like Fantasy Flight, had a pretty sizable footprint at Gen Con. But besides their charity game sessions, their Guinness World Record-setting Catan event (922 people!), and their mascots Bob & Angus wandering around, they also had games to show off. On the Catan front, the new game there is the massive Explorers and Pirates edition. A 5-6 player expansion for that is coming out fairly soon as well. Alternatively, they will be releasing in the near future a mini expansion for the base Catan game that contains cards that mimic the behavior of those found in Star Trek Catan.
Also, surprising as it may be to some, Mayfair makes non-Catan games as well! It’s true! And on that front, they were showing off a couple different games.
First was the re-released and updated edition of Pompeii, The Downfall of Pompeii, where players move into the area around Pompeii at the beginning of the game, and then over time, have to get out again before it blows up and they’re stuck there for…ever.
Second is the upcoming Global Mogul game, a worker placement game based around slowly taking over the world’s economies. (When I get to play that, I’m going to demand to be called Luthor.)
Lastly, they had a copy of Asgard’s Chosen being played. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but it’s set in a post Bronze Age era, and you’re looking to curry favor with the gods by doing various tasks. It’s not a deck builder in the normal sense, although using cards to achieve your objectives is in there. Make Baldr proud.
The latest from the makers of the popular Manhattan Project showed off their upcoming release, Hegemonic. It was a successful Kickstarter, and it should be due out in a month or so. We got to try this one out, and for those who are fans of space empire games, you’ll probably like it. It’s billed by some as the “thinking man’s 4X game”, and there may be some merit to that. I personally feel it’s less than a “true” 4X – I’ve been putting it closer to a large-scale area control or area influence game instead – because much of the game is focused on the Expand / Exploit aspects. Unlike Twilight Imperium or Eclipse, there is not a lot of giant space battles in the traditional sense. Still, it fits the technical definition of a 4X mold well, and I may just be parsing words. No matter. Once players get over the learning curve, people should find a lot to like about it. It certainly was one of the heftier new games that showed up at Gen Con.
Passport Game Studios
Passport are the folks who are distributing Tokaido, probably the most enjoyable game about walking ever made, and it was nice to see it getting a decent reception. It’s certainly on our list of games to give a proper review to.
Plaid Hat Games
In addition to giving away actual hats at their booth, Plaid Hat had a regular stream of attendees to their area. The two games that moved like the wind were the new storyline expansion for Mice & Mystics: The Heart of Glorm, and of course, the new release about riding the rails of Columbia, Bioshock Infinite. Really though, all of their game lines did well there, and I wish I could have spent more time playing some of them.
The company known traditionally for its Warmachine and Hordes line of minis has started branching out into other gaming types in the last year or two. Last year they started with the release of Level 7: Escape, a game based around poor schmucks trying to escape a secret base run collaboratively by alien experimenters and the military. It has since been followed up with an expansion (Lockdown), and the just-debuted sequel to the game called Omega Protocol. In this, instead of civilians trying to break out, you are part of an elite team of soldiers sent in to clean up the mess. It also happens to dial it a little closer to a miniatures board game than its predecessor, but hey, they are a minis company after all.
While Level 7 was a new line, they also last year released a tabletop RPG for their Warmachine universe, showing that they could use existing product lines to branch out. To that end, their other non-minis release at Gen Con was Warmachine: High Command. Set in the same world, High Command is essentially a deckbuilder, and the objective is still to conquer the kingdoms. Naturally. Fear not Hordes players: Hordes: High Command is expected to be out sometime in October. All’s fair in war and war.
I knew going in to Gen Con that this European-based company has a tendency to use Kickstarter to pre-order games, and I among many had some consternation as to why they would do that as an established company. It’s true, they are a decent-sized gaming company – in Europe. In the US, they have exactly two employees. Two. Essentially, they don’t have the resources to do any sort of market research here at this point to figure out what may sell well. They are hoping to grow a larger footprint here in the years ahead, but for now Kickstarter is the best way they can do that for the time being. So, fair point to Queen Games on that. For now.
From a gaming perspective, they had several of ones people were supposedly excited to see. No game probably more than the mystery behind the road-building game, Via Appia! Honestly, I’m still cautious about it, but the resource acquisition method is certainly unique (it’s like a sifter). I didn’t get a chance to demo it properly, but I did watch a few people play for a bit. We’ll see if it lives up to the hype it had going in.
Other than that, it had its usual fare of popular games, as well as a few other new releases like the frantic dice-rolling game Escape from the Temple Curse, the city-building Urbanization, and the exciting card-drafting game Lost Legends where you are fighting dangerous monsters.
Rio Grande Games
Oddly, they did not have a booth this year, though they did have a demo room running practically non-stop during the day. The signature game you could check out there was the latest (and supposedly last) Dominion expansion, Guilds.
These folks are the ones behind In the City: Origins. It’s a card game around gaining influence by recruiting units from a series of card columns, dubbed “the city square”. There are a number of columns, and the objective is to clear out two of the columns to end the game with the most influence. The demo played decently enough, and while mechanically workable, it probably could use a little polish. Given that the base game was self-financed though, they did a decent job. They are currently Kickstarting an attempt at expansions.
The makers of Red Dragon Inns 1, 2, and 3 wrapped up a Kickstarter in June for, wait for it…Red Dragon Inn 4. However, you could demo RDI4 at their booth. It adds a few different cards, but it has the same irreverent feeling as the rest of the games in the series. They’re aiming to have it out by October.
Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin fans unite! STG will be releasing a Munchkin Pathfinder fairly soon, which I suppose is the closest we’ve seen yet to a Pathfinder / D&D accord. In addition to that, the big thing (literally), was a chance to see massive relaunch project that has been OGRE as a final product. Supposedly due in November, this tank battle game has been beset with a number of delays, so it was nice to see a visual sign that there is light at the end of the barrel.
I take certain umbrage with the idea of the vendor themselves charging people money for promo cards on non trading card games, and it should be no surprise in this case given that several of the creators were high echelon Magic tournament players. Still, as much as I personally try to avoid the booth because of that, Ascension is a good game, and I wanted to take a look at the next expansion, Darkness Unleashed. It’s a continuation of the Ascension: Rise of Vigil line with its signature Energy Shard cards that let you supercharge cards for added effects. Darkness Unleashed seems to take that even further, though it remains to be seen if it adds a bit more min/maxing to a deckbuilder than is necessary.
This Italian company’s showcase game was The Mystery of the Templar, and it was one of the largest board games in terms of size at Gen Con. It explores the 200 year history of the Knights Templar, taking players from its days as a pilgrim escort group, to adventuring for holy relics, to fleeing the persecution from the papal decree in 1307 that they be rounded up. It’s a long game, but it seemingly tries to blend historical representation with a Big Box game. I can appreciate that. They were gracious enough to give me a very rough runthrough, but I did not even go through a full demo on this. I intend to look into it more.
What’s better – apparently – than the real-time action game Space Cadets? Space Cadets the dice game! The transition of the game to dice form appeared to go over pretty well with players.
Tasty Minstrel Games
TMG seemed to really love Dungeon Roll, as that was hands-down the game they were pushing at Gen Con. It was recently just shipped to Kickstarter backers, and aside from a pack of extra heroes you could get, they also attempted a solo-play contest one night. It seemed to go over well, aside from the fact that they did it from midnight to 3 A.M.
Besides Dungeon Roll, they had several of their other sought-after games like Village Inn and Rialto sell out before the end of the convention, and they alluded to several other projects currently in the works to keep an eye out for in the weeks ahead.
For a variety of reasons, I was quite glad to see Redshirts Deluxe finally be delivered at Gen Con. Redshirts, a card-based Star Trek parody game, had an initial printing awhile back that did decently enough. When running their 2nd edition of the game, however, the Kickstarter was beset with delays that the designer could not talk about. (Read: lawsuit from CBS). Once the red tape was cleared away, production resumed, and Redshirts can now be enjoyed by all. Unfortunately, I was told that this ordeal has set their game lineup timetable back by almost a year. I’m choosing to focus on the positive though and go get me some Redshirts killed.
Wizards of the Coast
For a perennial sponsor of Gen Con, and it being the 20th anniversary of Magic: the Gathering, I was surprised that they did not have an expo floor space. Instead, they relegated themselves to one of the play halls. As I’ve stated several times before, I mostly avoid tourney Magic discussion on the site. I have no interest in the competitive tournament side of MtG, and plenty of other sites already talk about it. So, as strange it is, I have little to say about their presence besides that I heard they did a draft where they used a pack from every set since Beta.
Alright, so I admit that would have been a little cool to see beforehand.
By contrast, I did have a short but enjoyable conversation with Jeff Menges, one of the early Magic artists that got me invested in the game all those years ago. He had some of the final pages of his limited edition book of early game art, with contributions from like 85% of the original game artists. We previewed the book awhile back. Jeff did inform me that there are some still left for purchase, but that he would not wait until the book is released to try to claim one. I second that notion.
While inspecting the new Quarriors expansion, Quartifacts, and its quest to find magical items, we couldn’t help but notice the posters everywhere announcing WizKids’s other new game, Star Trek: Attack Wing. Arguably, it was one of the bigger draws. If you prefer Romulan Warbirds over TIE Fighters in your minis movement game, you’re in luck. Many of the same designers of the Star Wars X-Wing game were involved with Attack Wing, and much of the mechanics are very similar as a result. Except, it’s Star Trek instead. The massive DS9 model alone was enough to give people pause. If you were waiting on the right IP to divest yourself of all the moneys, engage.
Z-Man rounds out the board game segment by having us mention that they had several of their new games on full display, including the buzz-worthy co-op Robinson Crusoe, where players have to work together on an unforgiving island, the hard to acquire strategic game Terra Mystica, and Pandemic’s 2nd expansion, In the Lab. In the Lab actually sold out before I got a chance to look at it proper, but the official release is only a few weeks away. As a reminder though, if you have the original printing, you will need a conversion kit to use In the Lab. They were sold out of those as well at the time I inquired.