It’s con season! With barely a week to go, it’s time to look forward with barely contained excitement as GenCon 2017 approaches with its slew of new and upcoming releases to buy and try. While I may be trapped on the other side of the Atlantic, I will still share my enthusiasm in the hope that kind souls send me pictures of their time there. You can send me these games too if you’d like!
Let’s get started!
This semi-sequel to the excellent Castles of Mad King Ludwig sees the mad King fall even madder, but at least he’s paying your bills! Players now collaborate on constructing a single, glorious palace, full of rooms and surrounded by a suitably impressive moat. But only one player will come away the winner having made the finest contribution to the masterpiece. Also featuring swans as resources which might be one of the more amusing phrases I’ve come across recently!
Available to demo at the Bezier Games booth 2627.
Trees! Beautiful trees! Doing what trees do best, which is being pulped into cardboard versions of themselves and used to make a board game. There is something seriously ironic about this game! But that’s ok because it is also stunningly pretty! Place out your trees to grow a forest but naturally aim to have the bestest trees by throwing some shade at your opponents trees. It’s a quick, neat sounding game… And I’m a sucker for a beautiful box!
Speaking of beautiful boxes… Mountains of Madness takes us to a towering mountain chain in the depths of Antarctica, a place of wonders and terrors beyond imagining. This is based on the Lovecraft novel of (almost) the same name, which should give you some idea of what to expect, but I just hope this title aims for something a bit cleverer in its approach than the typical Cthulhu silliness. I have my tentacles crossed.
For sale from the Iello booth 249.
Game 3 in the “it’s so beautiful, I must have it” series is Unearth, a card and dice game with lovely isometric graphics reminiscent of Monument Vally. It’s one of those thematically hollow affairs but offers simple, fast gameplay that is interesting enough to offset that shortcoming. Your dice are exploring and claiming ruins, if they are of high enough value, or resources, if they are low enough, which can be invested in constructing valuable wonders. A die need never be wasted!
Available to buy from the Brotherwise Games booth, 1949.
I’m ever more interested in games that have something to say beyond “hey, let’s have fun playing a game.” I’m interested in seeing games that cross the lines into art. Moa, coming from veteran designer Martin Wallace, is one such game. Players take the role of anthropomorphised birds battle for control of a nation, while also attempting to hold off the encroaching mammals from across the ocean. It’s a retelling of the history of New Zealand, seen from the perspectives of the soon to be displaced peoples of that island. Handled well, this could be a fantastic game.
Moa will be available to demo from APE Games Booth 1739.
5) Nemo’s War
As wondrous a production as the Nautilus itself, this grand, primarily solo, adventure is set to become one of the best solo games ever made. You are Nemo, commander of the Nautilus submarine from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a man searching for isolation and freedom but driven by a hatred of the industrialised nations of the world that will inevitably bring him, and his ultimate weapon of war, into conflict. If you get any pleasure from solo games at all, be sure to check this one out!
Nemo’s War will be available from booth 2318.
The sort of sequel to 2012’s exceptional adventure game Robinson Crusoe, First Martians leaves the storm drenched island behind for the cold, lonely surface of Mars. In space, no one can hear you scream in frustration at your poor choices. It’s quite the cooperative challenge, just as you’d expect. But it’s very different in tone. You start with a fully functioning base, after all, but it’s all about to go wrong! Honestly, it might have been higher on this list if I didn’t already have my copy! Be sure to check it out!
First Martians will be available from Portal Games’ booth 1850.
As my passion for New Angeles will attest, I love a good negotiation game, and Sidereal Confluence has the makings of a very good negotiation game. Literally everything is up for trade in this space faring civilisation, resources, colonies, space ships, the whole space euro game gamut! And you’ll always need something as each race behaves differently and has different resource requirements. One I can’t wait to try out!
Available to buy at the WizKids booth, 317.
Oh my! The Expanse. What a show (I know there are books too and I haven’t read them, I’m sorry. Hell, I’ve only been able to watch the first series but man was that good!) Now we have a suitably epic board game coming from Geoff Englestein, and, again, from WizKids! This is quite a turn up for that company! Theme aside, the gameplay sounds pretty amazing too, with phrases like “Twilight Struggle” being bandied about as the various factions and personalities of the solar system vie for overall control!
The Expanse will be for sale at WizKids booth, 317.
Could my top pick be any other!? Either you too are unspeakably excited about seeing the sequel to the number 1 game (on BGG) or you don’t give a damn at all after the last one, this will absolutely be a “marmite” game if ever there was one. Which, funnily enough, is probably all the survivors of the first game have been eating for the past 70 years on their floating cities, safe from infection. Setting that aside, there’s not a lot to go on, but we do know the map is shockingly empty at the start. I know I can’t wait to start exploring… I’m sure nothing bad will come of it.
Available to demo at Z Man games booth 1429.
That’s my top picks from Gen Con! What games are you excited about? Drop me a comment below!