GenCon was crazy this year. MeepleGamers roamed the hall in neon green shirts, and neon orange hats. We were seen very well! Kevin, Josh and Erin (first GenCon), made the rounds, held meetings and learned a lot about what was going on in the hobby. We saw some ultra-secret projects, that will eventually be coming to light, that are pretty cool. We will be previewing a bunch of titles for kickstarter, pre-release, and self-published titles.
There were, like any good board game convention, hugs, laughter, and good times with old and new friends. Beyond that, MeepleGamers goes to GenCon for the game, for you! And games there were. These are our MeepleGamers Top Ten that we are excited to review.
Rise of Tribes – Breaking Games
I am a sucker for life simulation and civilization building games, so Rise of Tribes drew me in from the get-go. I’m really excited to see how this game compares with others in the genre. I like the hex tiles, I like the dice, I like that I can choose to develop scientifically or become more warlike.
Since there’s a lot of dice-rolling involved, I’m not surprised to see that the expected play time is much shorter than other games like this. It will be really interesting to see how the tribes develop over the expected 30 to 60 minutes of playtime. I have really high hopes for this one, as I don’t always have hours and hours available to play a longer game. – Erin
Yellow & Yangtze – Grail Games –
You are only as strong as your weakest link. This has been said of chains, it is also true in Y&Y. You must build with five governors, but only the weakest governor will score. This game can draw parallels with Ingenious, albeit with much more designed depth.
When we review, we will determine if that is true in practice as well as in theory. The art is just wow. This game sold out at GenCon, as people are excited to see the follow up to Dr. Knizia’s Tigris & Euphrates.
ROOT – Leder Games
ROOT is the next game from Leder Games as they expand and develop their approach to asymmetric gameplay. Like in Vast: The Crystal Caverns before it, 2 – 4 players (6 with the also just released Riverfolk expansion) will use their unique player abilities to work toward different goals.
ROOT is a game of adventure and war as the players determine the fate of the woodland and which faction will ultimately take root and seize power. Vast: The Crystal Caverns was an amazing first step into truly asymmetric game design, and I cannot wait to see how ROOT has both expanded on that foundation, while also improving the accessibility of such a title.
It seems we are not alone in this curiosity as the booth was busy all day, every day, of GenCon. There is a lot of excitement for this title coming from all directions and that is why we at MeepleGamers have selected ROOT as Best of Show for GenCon 2018. – Kevin
Too Many Bones: Undertow – Chip Theory Games
I am sure that everyone here has heard of last year’s breakout dice-builder RPG from the folks at Chip Theory Games for 2 – 4 players. It’s an enormous box of wonderful components for cooperative adventures as players manage the expanding skills of their chosen Gearlock, but all of that quality comes at a hefty price.
Enter Undertow, a standalone expansion for 2 players. A lower price point and a more accessible option for most people to try out this delightful system. The set can also be used either with base Gearlocks or any of the existing expansion Gearlocks. You can also add Undertow into your base set of Too Many Bones. Undertow was a huge hit at GenCon 2018 and I can’t wait to explore it. – Kevin
Revolutionaries: Join or Die – Make Believe Games
I love seeing how different genres of games are approaching accessibility and removing the barriers to entry. As board gamers we see it mostly in that venue, but small RPG publishers have been moving in this direction for the last few years. One such game we discovered at GenCon 2018 was Revolutionaries.
Revolutionaries uses what it calls the AXIOM system, a loose set of connected guidelines for gameplay and world building. Character creation is simple and in Revolutionaries, the players take on the roles of Culpers, members of a secret spy ring working behind the scenes of the British Empire. Facing danger and discovery at every turn, they work to shape the birth of America in war for Indepence. It’s a great theme and I am excited to see how accessible it turns out to be. Down with the British! – Kevin
Istanbul: The Dice Game – AEG Games
Istanbul is a game I very much like. It just plays so well. Now The Dice Game has been brought out, and I am excited to see what it will do, and how it plays. It has combined a game I like with a Dice Game mechanic.
You had me at hello. Can AEG and PegasusSpiele combine Dice City and Istanbul to make a game that you will want to come back to? The bones will tell… – Josh
When in Rome – Sensible Object
Sensible Object has made the first board game to interact with the Amazon Alexa. This is exciting. I have personally no idea if the game is good, I certainly hope it is, but as a proof of concept for an industry that often thinks that all things should be done the way they have always been done, this is a breath of fresh air.
The idea is that you are traveling around the world by answering trivia. I am not overly excited about trivia, but am super stoked to see the game in action, it will hopefully show that working with technology does not have to be unwieldy. – Josh
Before there were Stars – Smirk & Dagger
What really drew me into this game as I was first walking around GenCon was the fox on the box. My nine-year-old is OBSESSED with foxes (which he MAY have inherited from me…) and I knew I had to check this one out more closely.
We are big fans of mythology in this house, and that closed the deal once I discovered that this game is all about storytelling and making your own mythology about creation, heroes, and the end of time. I have a feeling our first hero might be named “Percy Jackson” for some unknown reason. It’s not like my kid’s obsessed with those books or anything. – Erin
Team Up – Helvetiq
Anyone who has ever worked in retail or at a warehouse can tell you, packing a pallet is only enjoyable if you can gamify it. Helvetiq, has become the company that gamified the gamification of pallet packing. Say that three times fast!
We were shown this game by one of the Helvetiq crew, and you could tell she really enjoyed it. This game literally builds on other building games, and also makes me use the word literally, and makes me make a double pun.
Regardless, I love it and am looking forward to actually playing it and reviewing it with my daughter. – Josh
Blue Lagoon – BlueOrange Games
Blue Lagoon caught my attention right away. The vibrant colors and fantastic artwork drew my eyes right to it. Once I learned about it I was even more excited. Blue Lagoon plays over two phases (an exploration phase and a settlement phase). Once the exploration phase is complete the board is cleaned of everything except the villages, which are these awesome little huts, and the settlement phase begins. Exploration games are some of my favorite and I love the reset into a settlement game. Great artwork and theme, check. Great components, check. And most important, great gameplay, check. The trifecta of board game awesome sauce! – Ally