With Early August comes the advent of the biggest gaming convention in the United States, Gen Con. Each year publishers release hundreds of new game at the enormous convention that takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year it has gotten so big that organizers even co-opted some of the space of the neighboring Lucas Oil Stadium. Crowds rush to grab the latest games before they sell out, Cosplay is everywhere, and special events are run throughout the weekend including tournaments, shows and role playing of all kinds.
Gen Con is on my bucket list to attend, but given that I am still recovering from Essen it was not in the cards for me this year. Nonetheless, I do have my eye on a few games, and wanted to share a few previews of what is coming out this weekend.
In terms of bring something new to the table, Mystic Vale is certainly unique. It is described as a “card crafting’ game, and takes this concept very literally as you insert new transparent plastic attributes into your starting cards, which act more like card sleeves. This makes a twist on the now well trodden territory of Dominion and other deck builders in that you are changing the individual cards in a very small deck vs just changing what cards make up that deck.Certainly and interesting concept, but I do worry a bit about taking all the cards apart and putting them away after the game is over!
Mansions of Madness brings Cthulhu goodness to the convention with a new second edition. The original game featured one player setting up and running an adventure for the other players. Setup time was a big complaint as the game features lots of different cards and tiles, and if things weren’t set up correctly the adventure could break ruining the experience. This new edition continues the trend of board games going semi-digital by introducing a tablet or iPad app that handles the game master role from the original game. This means that setup time is drastically reduced, and players can all cooperate together against the “brain” of the game in the app.
After years of having crazy tavern adventures in their RPG campaigns, The Dragon and Flagon looks to bring that chaos to a 3D board game space. The game embraces the environmental hazards of a classic tavern, with “rugs” that are cards you can pull out from under players, cardboard furniture that can be weaponized at a moment’s notice, and barrels that can bowl other players over. While it may not exactly be the most strategic, thinky kind of game it looks like a load of silly fun.
For those that do want something deeper and a bit more crunchy, Scythe is getting a lot of the buzz leading up to this year’s show. The game combines war, economics and resource gathering in an alternate World War I era setting where Mechs roamed the countryside. It is certainly a sight to behold all set up, as a lot of care and thought went into the pieces, which are different for each faction in the game. We have come a long way from the earlier board games with simple pawns, dice and a board, where now board games with board and pieces that are like a work of art are becoming the norm. This game was also a Kickstarter success story, where players invested over 1.8 million dollars in the vision and idea behind the game long before it came out, allowing the company Stonemaier games to put together a great end product.
The best news is that even if you, like myself are missing this great gaming event, all these games will be coming to local stores sooner rather than later. While Gen Con is the big release event for a lot of these games, the true test of time will be which games get into people’s hands after the show, and which ones we will still be talking about a year from now, when all of the glitz and glamour has died down, and the game must stand up on its own merit.