This was my first time going to Gen Con. It was overwhelming how many booths and games were in the exhibitors hall. I spent all 4 days in the hall and still feel like there were some things I didn’t get to see. I made a list of everything I was interested in, separated by whether I bought the game, demoed it or just heard an overview.
- Everdell Collector’s Edition Worker placement game where you play as woodland creatures trying to build a city. The artwork is beautiful and the board has a giant tree in the center. I was able to get the game signed by the designer and ask him some questions after we played it Friday night. (more on that later)
- Tower of Madness The entire week we joked about this game having a “kerplunk mechanic”. You have to roll dice to get certain numbers and if you fail you have to pull a tentacle out of a tower filled with marbles. If any marbles fall out, some of them are good, some will drive you insane and some of them will get you closer to failing the game. I like games where players can go insane and keep playing with different abilities. This game is super gimmicky but I don’t care I bought it anyway.
- Imhotep I already love this game and I wanted to get it and the expansion but the expansion didn’t arrive in time for them to sell it. I bought the base game and a play mat and then the next day Amazon had this for half price.
- Time’s Up Expansion A set of Time’s Up cards that were made for Dice Tower. Some of the cards have new TV shows and movies (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones) and some of the them have board game titles on them. I can’t wait to see people try to act out Gloomhaven or Terraforming Mars.
- Gizmos This was my favorite game I demoed. It’s an engine building game similar to Splendor or Century Spice Road. You buy components of a machine which give you additional actions if you meet certain criteria. The more of these components you get you can start to string together multiple actions into one long combo, which was the most satisfying part. The game uses marbles for resources which is a fun added bonus.
- Orbis This was a close second for my favorite game. You are buying tiles to build a pyramid and the tiles earn you more resources to buy more tiles. The tiles also have different ways of earning victory points so you are kind of building an engine and planning your end game at the same time.
- Nusfjord This was pitched to me as a shorter version of Agricola. It’s a worker placement game where you have to gather resources to build buildings and ships so that you can get more fish to feed workers that help you build more ships. It wasn’t gimmicky or flashy but we played 3-4 rounds and I liked it a lot.
- Expandcity City building game similar to Suburbia. I liked this game because there was very little player interaction and you got to build cute skyscrapers. I might have bought this but they were sold out on Friday.
- Battle of the Bards A small deck building and dice building game. You play cards and roll dice to earn more cards and more dice, then trade in sets of dice to earn victory points.
- Oliver Twist Set collection game where you play as an orphan moving around a city picking pockets. It didn’t really wow me but I thought it was enjoyable.
- Nevermore A card drafting game that had some cool ideas.
- Disney Villainous This was a very popular game that people wanted to demo. Unfortunately they only allowed 20 min and I didn’t even get to take a second turn. It’s an asymmetrical game where each person plays as a Disney villain with their own win condition. You have to try to complete your objective while making opponents draw cards that slow down their progress. The high amount of player interaction was a turn off for me but I’d like to play it again before I pass judgment.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Gemstone Mining Game This is a press your luck style game where you have to pull gems from a bag but stop before you pull two black ones and lose all your progress. I liked it but there were too many cards that allowed opponents to screw up your turn.
- Marvel Contest of Champions Battlerealm A Marvel version of a King of Tokyo style game sounds like an instant buy for me, but the demo let me down. You play as a superhero fighting other superheroes in various locations. The problem was that each hero had 3 abilities and 5 powers that you had to constantly keep track of, and each location had special conditions as well. I feel like they wanted to make it more complex than King of Tokyo but it just slows everything down too much. For example, I roll the dice and get 2 green icons, but the location ability adds 1 green icon, which should damage me, but I also have an ability that makes me safe unless 4 green icons come out. Now that I’ve figured that out I have to see which of my 5 abilities I want to do with my dice. This was one roll.
- Grackles A quick and simple Othello type game.
- Railroad Ink Roll dice and draw train tracks.
- Master of Wills This is a 2 player tug of war style game. You have to pull high value people to your side of the board and away from your opponents side. I liked it but I don’t really buy 2 player games.
- Shadows Amsterdam This was pitched to me as Codenames meets Mysterium. You play as two teams and the clue givers are using tiles with wacky pictures on them to direct their team in the right direction. I would definitely play this game.
- Brewin USA: Taproom Takeover A small dice rolling game where you make beer and put it on tap. I might kickstart this because it looks like a fun filler game.
- The Artemis Project A dice worker placement game similar to Alien Frontiers but without the area control.
- Bee Lives A worker placement / tile placement game where you control a beehive. It looked complex enough that I definitely want to play it but the art style was a little too generic and kind of a turn off.
- Hail Hydra A Marvel social deduction game similar to Donner Dinner Party. Everyone turns in a card and they get shuffled, then you see how much damage you can do to a villain. The bad guys are trying to fail the mission and good guys are trying to succeed.
- Exodus A new Resistance game where the good guys are trying to play the most point cards in one row and the bad guys are trying to play the most points in another row.
- Speakeasy Blues I liked the setting and artwork but didn’t get a chance to demo this game.
- Stellar Leap You roll dice to go out and discover new planets. What I liked about this game is that you can earn resources on other people’s turns depending on what numbers they roll.
- Dice and Dragons A roll and write game where you play as a group fighting a dragon. I might have bought this if it wasn’t a cooperative game.
- Junk Orbit A space themed delivery game.
- Newsspeak I’m always drawn to pink games. This one seems similar to Spyfall but with teams. The rebels are using codes to try to get their team to pick the right location and the bad guys are trying to figure out what the code is.
- Before There Were Stars You roll dice to get word cards and then use those words to tell a story. People vote on which story they like. Seems too arbitrary compared to what I usually like but the artwork was pretty.
- Harry Potter Codenames I’m kinda over all the picture version of Codenames by now. I don’t know if this changes the gameplay at all.
- Oink Games The makers of Deep Sea Adventure had 4 new small games for sale. Every day I went by the booth and it was so packed I couldn’t get a demo of any of them.
- There was some game where one person wears a sleep mask and the other people yell words at them. It seemed maddening.
- I saw this really pretty game with a map of the USA and then I found out you had to answer trivia questions about states.