In a little less than a month, more than 60,000 gamers from around the world will gather for Gen Con 2016, billed as “The best 4 Days in Gaming”. Held in Indianapolis, Gen Con is the largest gaming convention in North America, and is celebrating its 49th year. Attendees will be treated to new releases, hosted tabletop and role-playing games and a huge exhibitor floor.
I’m lucky enough to be attending Gen Con for the second time. Gen Con is something that I think every tabletop gamer should experience. To be surrounded by that many fellow gamers, cosplayers, game company representatives and industry professionals is simply awesome. It’s a great opportunity to meet friends, new and old. Game companies use Gen Con as an opportunity to roll out new games, so here are some of the new releases that I’m excited to check out.
1. Codenames: Pictures
If you haven’t played last year’s release of Codenames, you’re missing out. Codenames, by designer Vlaada Chvatil and released by Czech Games Edition, is a team-based game that is really easy to teach to gamers and non-gamers alike. Each team has a spymaster that is trying to contact their spies by getting the other members of their team to guess specific words based on single word clues. Guessing incorrectly could accidentally contact one of the other team’s spies, or end the game if your team guesses the bomb word! It is definitely a game of trying to get into your teammate’s head and trying to figure out how they think. This year’s release of Codenames: Pictures will introduce a whole new depth to this amazingly fun game, as pictures have multiple elements.This is guaranteed to be a hot seller, as it appeals to the widest audience possible.
SeaFall, by designer Rob Daviau and released by IronWall Games and Plaid Hat Games, is definitely going to be a hot release at Gen Con. This 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) is set in the “age of sail” in a fictional world similar to our own. Each player will be controlling one of the major empires, sending out exploration parties, developing trade routes, and raiding other player’s goods. Daviau has a number of excellent games under his belt, including Pandemic: Legacy (season 1) and Betrayal at House on the Hill. The buzz is strong on this one, and I’m a big fan of the age of sail, so this is definitely on the must have list.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Beginner Game
The latest release in Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars role-playing game line sees the light of day at Gen Con. Joining the ranks of The Edge of the Empire, The Age of Rebellion and Force & Destiny, The Force Awakens lets GM’s and players live the adventure in the time after the fall of the Empire and the rise of The Order. I’ve had the pleasure of playing and running all three of the previous iterations of the line, and I’m looking forward to this one joining the lineup. The Star Wars RPG is a story-telling game, where setting the scene and making the action interesting is the primary goal. Dice rolls guide the story, rather than dictating absolute success and failure. If you love the Star Wars universe and have always dreamed of playing a Jedi or Smuggler, the Beginner Game is a great way to get started. The Beginner Game teaches you the rules with an exciting adventure, using pre-generated characters and custom dice, all included in the box.
I missed the Kickstarter on this one, and I can’t wait to see this one in person. Scythe, by designer Jamey Stegmaier and released by Stonemaier Games, features some impressive art and really nice components. Like SeaFall, it is a 4X game, set in an alternate history 1920’s, with each player fighting for their section of Eastern Europa. Streamlined gameplay, hidden objectives and a minimal amount of randomness gives each player nearly complete control over how they play the game. Jamey Stegmaier is one of my favorite designers, and I only hope I can get the chance to pick up a copy of this before they sell out completely.
5. Tesla Vs. Edison: Powering Up
Tesla Vs. Edison:Powering Up is an expansion to last year’s hit from publisher Artana and designer Dirk Knemeyer. In Tesla Vs. Edison, each player controls one of the major powers in the War of Currents, like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, or Charles Brush. They battle to push Alternating Current (A.C.) or Direct Current (D.C.) as the prevalent technology by trading stock, opening new power plants and developing new technology. I love this game, and I’m looking forward to seeing the expansion, which adds new visionaries (including seven historical women), the ability to build a headquarters, and 21 new real life events that affect gameplay. I got in on the Kickstarter for this one, and I’m hoping it’s available for pickup there.
These are just a sampling of the exciting games being released at this year’s Gen Con. I’ll be doing more articles covering Gen Con as news comes out, so stay tuned!