Gen Con Preview – Top Picks

Gen Con 2017

Gen Con is always full of releases and this year is no different.  The Gen Con preview list at BoardGameGeek (link) has over 500 entries.  A few of the writers here at MeepleGamers wanted to share what is on their short lists to see.  The list is by no means comprehensive, but should give you some ideas of where to start.  The key to seeing what you want at Gen Con is planning.  You might consider downloading or printing a copy of the exhibitor hall map (link) and making a plan for seeing the games on your list.  Now, onto some of our picks for what should be on that list.

 

Josh's Picks

Triplock
Triplock was a Kickstarter game from two brothers that just had a love of an idea.  A game about locksmithing, or at the very least, lock picking.  We backed it, because I could see just how much they loved the ida, and so did a lot of other people.  I am excited to demo it and see how it actually plays.  These brothers will be heard from again and again, and we will review all the games they would like.  We want to see how their design career progresses.  Chip Theory Games are in booth 2931.

Five Tribes: Whims of the Sultan
Having been a late arrival on Five Tribes (got it a week ago), I like it, a lot.  I hope this is an expansion that makes the game, rather than breaks it because, as of now, the game is great.  It plays simply enough that anyone can pick it up, but has enough strategy that even the most seasoned gamer can find something to like.  So I hope the expansion builds on that, and makes the good parts better.  Days of Wonder is in booth 1619.

Custom Heroes
I am generally not a card game person, but I love AEG art, and the staff that works their booth are first caliber.  I am interested to see this game, if for no other reason than that I like the company, AEG, and I love the art.  I hope they prove to me yet again, that card games are worth liking.  AEG is in booth 701.

Whistle Stop
This just strikes me as a mobile game.  The art is unique, and the gameplay seems concise.  I have not done an entire playthrough, but if able, I will, and report back.  Bezier Games is in booth 2627.

UnEarth
Have you played Monument Valley on mobile? Really? No? Living under a rock? One of the best mobile games has a eerily similar artistry as UnEarth, so I am naturally curious.  How does it stack up?  Please be good!  Brotherwise Games is in booth 1949.

Cities of Splendor
If this makes Splendor better, this is likely to be the game of the show.  Splendor already has as many fans as Elvis.  I am not normally a person to back a sure winner, I prefer the longshot.  But, how can a person not like Splendor?  It made a simple mechanic of continuous repetition into a great gameplay mechanic that anyone can play.  Darn you Space Cowboys!!!  TAKE MY MONEY!  Space Cowboys is in 1719.

Immortals
Immortals was recently reviewed on MeepleGamers by Charlie Miller, with an advanced preview copy, which is currently part of a giveaway on MG.  I am curious as to the reception of this game.  It uses the Queen Tower, as does Shogun.  It is a game that focuses on battle churn, and area control.  It reminds me of Bebe’s Kids, “We don’t die, we multiply!”  Queen Games is in booth 2527.

The Climbers
Capstone, a relative newcomer has brought out some fantastic titles.  Climbers is no exception.  It is a reprint from a Euro game, that has just a great mechanic of climbing, with two cheat ladders that you can use once.  This game may fly under the radar, but it shouldn’t, it is fun!  Capstone is in booth 1558.

Vanuatu
Come on, if you can even say the name of this game you should like it.  I have no idea what to expect from gameplay, but it has me intrigued.  Quined Games is in booth 2953.

 

Kevin's Picks

Best Treehouse Ever – Forest Fun
Green Couch Games and Scott Almes are letting us build again with Best Treehouse Ever: Forest Fun, a stand-alone expansion for 2-4 players.  Similar to the first title, players will compete to build the best treehouse, this time focusing on rooms and habitats for furry and feathered friends.  New forest locations offer special abilities to help players in building their treehouses.  The two games can also be combined to allow up to 8 players to play at once.  Green Couch Games is in booth 2108.

Champions of Midgard Expansions – The Dark Mountains and Valhalla
Grey Fox Games is releasing two expansions for their Viking worker placement game Champions of Midgard.  Both expansions feature new side boards for the new locations players can now visit.  The Dark Mountains functions primarily as an extension to the base game, adding to the original formula.  It features a new enemy type, the Bergrisar, a new warrior type in the archer, and also includes components for a 5th player as well as more enemy, rune, and market cards for the base game. 

The Valhalla expansion, rather than extending the current content, adds to the game mechanically in the form of new leader dice with secondary abilities, berzerkers, shieldwarriors, and the ability to earn Valhalla-specific favor with which a player can earn the blessings of the valkyries.  Players eager to expand Champions of Midgard should head to booth 2401.

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare
Modiphius should have prototype/demo materials for their upcoming miniatures game set in the Fallout universe.  The game is a skirmish size, meaning players will build a crew of 3 to 20 miniatures.  There is reportedly a narrative campaign arc, as well as a solo AI deck allowing for solo and cooperative play and perhaps even having a third NPC faction in a 2-player matchup.  There aren’t a lot of details yet on the sales model, but this is one of the best post-apocalyptic franchises in gaming and Modiphius has a strong track record in tabletop gaming.  They are in booth 2461.

First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet
Portal Games is bringing First Martians, a follow-up to Robinson Crusoe, which takes those survival mechanics and changes the setting to Mars.  There is now an app which can help to maintain balance and the appropriate challenge level throughout the game.  Players can play independent games or as linked campaign.  Given the success of Robinson Crusoe, expectations are high for this one and early reports indicate that Portal has met and exceeded them.  Portal Games is at booth 1850.

Flick ‘Em Up: Dead of Winter
Pretzel Games has taken their excellent dexterity game, Flick ‘Em Up, and set it in Plaid Hat’s successful Dead of Winter universe.  The result is a tense, zombie killing, flicking dexterity game.  This game adds a new zombie tower out of which zombies will pour to the tabletop, should players make too much noise.  New weapon types and ten different scenarios give this game a much different experience than the previous title.  Pretzel Games is in booth 2637.

Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave
If you missed Van Ryder Games’ amazing 2015 release of solo game Hostage Negotiator, you can address that with their new stand-alone expansion.  Crime Wave features new conversation cards, terror cards, pivotal events, and abductors.  The game can be played on its own or mixed with the original.  It also comes in a box large enough to not only hold the original contents, but the original box as well if you still want to take that smaller form-factor box should you choose.  Van Ryder Games is in booth 2704.

Last Friday: Return to Camp Apache
Ares Games is expanding on Last Friday, their take on the 1 vs Many hidden movement genre that sees players both running from and searching for the masked killer.  The expansion adds the ability to play with up to 7 players, with two of them controlling the new evil demon character and also the maniac.  It also includes new clue tokens and board overlays for new scenarios and many of the new components can be taken back into the original game to change up those scenario chapters.  Ares Games is in booth 237.

Lovecraft Letter
AEG has yet another take on their popular Love Letter series of games.  Lovecraft Letter, however, is no simple reskin with a Cthulhu theme.  This version of the game includes new insanity powers that can be triggered giving more options to the traditional gameplay.  Players must exercise caution though as players must perform a sanity check that may see them taken out of the round.  This one sounds different enough that I may finally check out a new version of Love Letter.  AEG is in booth 701.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
This game from Passport Games Studios and Funforge is a cooperative game for 2 to 4 players.  Players must work together to infiltrate Professor Evil’s Citadel and secure four of his treasures to interrupt his time machine.  The treasures carry a time value and must be obtained before Professor Evil reaches their location on his time track.  Traps must be disabled and the professor must be avoided in order to grab the treasure.  Look for this one at booth 2549.

Sonar
In Sonar, Matagot have tried to take the gameplay from their successful Captain Sonar, which really functions best with the full complement of 8 players, and streamline it down to two roles, the captain and the radio officer.  The radio officer is essentially the same as in the larger game, while the Captain now has additional options to account for the decreased number of roles in the game.  As someone who had been eager to try Captain Sonar, but never had a large enough group, I am excited to see how the game works in this format and if the essence of the gameplay remains.  Matagot is in booth 1819.

The Palace of Mad King Ludwig
Bezier Games is demoing their follow-up to Castles of Mad King Ludwig.  In Palace, players take turns adding rooms to the ever-growing palace.  There is no longer an auction phase and the game timer is presented as a moat that slowly surrounds the palace.  Multi-colored swans feature as currency, points, and the keys to new abilities players can unlock.  I loved Castles and cannot wait for this one.  Due to release this October, grab a preview at booth 2627.

The Networks: Executives
Gil Hova of Formal Ferret games is demoing his new expansion for last year’s acclaimed The Networks.  This full expansion adds some new mechanics and some options for significant changes to the base game.  Each player now chooses a Network Executive that provides unique advantages and drawbacks.  There is a new deck of Show Cards with an equal distribution of genres and adjusted requirements for certain genres and the genre bonus has been altered so that the 5-genre bonus now offers a strong Power card.  Additionally, the starting public access shows have been removed in favor a “Season 0” draft.  Players eager to see how these new changes should check out Formal Ferret in booth 2665.

Tiny Epic Defenders: The Dark War
Gamelyn Games is expanding Tiny Epic Defenders with their Dark War expansion and should have it available to demo at the convention.  This upcoming release should coincide with a new edition of Tiny Epic Defenders as they upgrade the artwork to better match the other games set in their fantasy universe of Aughmoore.  The biggest addition in The Dark War is a new campaign mode which plays like an evolving gauntlet.  The expansion also adds advanced regions and caravans, which must be protected and escorted back to the capital city before facing the Epic Foe.  Visit Gamelyn Games in booth 3027.

Tiny Park
As a father of young children, I am always eager to see what HABA is bringing to Gen Con.  Among their offerings, Tiny Park caught my eye.  It is a 2 to 4 player game of dice rolling and tile placement.  Players are working to fill their park with attractions, following placement requirements, and be the first to open their park.  HABA is in booth 1907.

Mira's Picks

Photosynthesis

The last few years Blue Orange Games has published some great new and fun games. Last year’s release Kingdomino has won “Spiel des Jahres” and this year they are bringing us a beautiful new game called Photosynthesis. Nature themed and it looks absolutely stunning.

In the game it is all about light and the energy it provides for your trees to grow. The sun revolves around the forest and by sowing wisely, catching the rays of light and casting shadows over your opponent’s trees you can cultivate your trees and slow them down. A tree will provide points equal to the quality of soil it grew in at the end of their life cycle. The player with the most points wins the green strategy boardgame!

The beautiful trees and revolving sun is making it a must see for me. You can find Blue Orange games at booth 1811.

The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade

The historic coal trilogy by Thomas Spitzer started with the discovery of coal in Haspelknecht. Now one of my favorite publisher’s is continuing the coal trilogy with an updated edition of Ruhrshifffahrt called The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade.

In the game it is all about the high demand for coal and the transportation of the much needed coal over the Ruhr river. The large dams and obstacles make it difficult to navigate. You start with low level coal and by selling coal to cities and factories you earn upgrades. Slowly you’ll build warehouses and gain access to high level coal. You carefully need to plan your path to victory as the player with the most victory points wins!

The game also includes the standalone Ohio expension. In this game players transport and trade goods along the Ohio River.

Really enjoyed Haspelknecht and I want to take the step up and try The Ruhr. It is a worker placement game with pick up and deliver, count me in! You can find Capstone Games at booth 1558.

Founders of Gloomhaven

Isaac Childres is bringing us a new game in the Gloomhaven setting. It is a standalone game that takes place hundreds of years before Gloomhaven and you will be part of the construction of the city. You will be one of the Founders of Gloomhaven.

In the game it all revolves around resources. You start with basic resources you build/import depending on your race. These resources can be used to build advanced resources. You cannot do it all by yourself and you need to work together with the other races to build the city. However, you want to be the one to build the prestige buildings. That will be the only way to determine where it is built so you can be the first to deliver the resources and gain prestige points. Building the prestige buildings is decided by an auction/vote and using your influence. Once the resources for the prestige buildings have been delivered the game ends and the player with the most prestige points wins!

The game was successfully funded on kickstarter not long ago and it will only be available for demo. You can find Cephalofair Games at booth 2903.

Lisboa

A partnership between Vital Lacerda and Ian O’Toole has proven to be successful with Vinhos Deluxe and The Gallerist. Now they bring us a new game called Lisboa and it is another masterpiece!

In 1755 Lisbon suffered an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and three days of fires. The city was almost totally destroyed and as a player you are part of the nobility using your influence to rebuild Lisboa. You will not do it for greatness, fame or fortune, but for wigs!

In the game you always play a card from your hand and take a card. Sounds simple, but it is not. It takes careful planning and you need to manage influence, construction licences, store permits, church power, workers and money. The game ends after a set number of rounds, but it plays out differently each time as the royal trasure is driven by the player actions. The player with the most wigs wins the game!

A heavy boardgame, but once I learnt the history behind the mechanics it clicked for me. I cannot wait to get it on the table and check out the beautiful artwork by Ian O’Toole as well! You can find Eagle-Gryphon Games at booth 2961.

Seikatsu

Translated from Japanese Seikatsu means life and in IDW’s new game you are bringing life into a shared garden.

In the game you are placing tiles into a shared garden. Each tile has a bird and a flower and they both score differently. Birds score immediately when you place the tile and the flowers score at the end of the game for each row from the player’s perspective. The gardener with the most points wins the game!

The cover and the artwork of the board and chip tiles is beautiful! The fast gameplay of 15-30 minutes make it a great lunchtime game for me and I will definitely check it out. You can find IDW Games at booth 154.

The Climbers

Another game by Capstone Games has made it to my list. They are bringing back The Climbers in their Simply Complex line!

In the game you are one of the climbers and you are trying to get to the highest point. The game starts by assembling all the blocks into a random tower. Then each turn you can pick up a free block – not used by the previous player – and place it to climb up the tower. You can take small steps on your player or the neutral color and move up gradually or use one of your ladders for bigger steps. A blocking stone can be used to prevent your opponents to take the block or step onto it until your next turn. The ladders and blocking stone can only be used once in a game and need to be used wisely. The game will end when none of the players have moved up in a round and whoever has reached the highest point first wins the 3D strategy game!

The game has a great appeal and I think it will look good in any collection. It can be played with all kinds of gamers, young and old, and it looks good on the table too! See for yourself and check it out! You can find Capstone Games at booth 1558.

Flamme Rouge

Stronghold games is bringing Flamme Rouge to North America.

In the game you have a team of two cyclists: a rouleur and a sprinter. In this hand management game you have to position your riders for the win. You do this by playing out your cards at the right time and know that taking the lead quickly is not always an advantage. Riding in the wind will take energy and by acquiring drag you will clog up your deck. Played cards will be discarded and your big move, your final push, needs to be planned carefully. The player who reaches the finish line first or has passed it the furthest with one of their riders will win the game!

The modular board and upcoming expansions make it an enjoyable racing game with lots of replayability! You can find Stronghold Games at booth 2023.

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