Gen Con 50: Board Games

So Gen Con 50 has come and gone and I’ve survived! Mostly…the con-crud is actually hitting me pretty hard at the moment… That said, I played a ton of games – boardgames, RPGs and miniature games and I wanted to take some time breaking them down!
Today, we’ll look at the boardgame side of things. The biggest trend that I noticed was the number of two-player games. There were a ton of them and nearly half the board games I ended up bringing home were 2-player-centric titles. In keeping with long-standing BGG tradition, I’ll break things down into bought, played and saw.
Bought
  • Shadowrun: Zero Day from Catalyst Games – a light two-player set collection game simulating dueling deckers. Its alright, though I’m not sure it’ll stay in the collection for more than a few years.
  • Dragonfire from Catalyst Games – Shadowrun Crossfire in the D&D universe. I’ve pic3534544played this a few times already and am really enjoying it. Given the reactions of people I spoke with, this may have been one of the top games of the con.
  • Codenames: Duet from CGE – A “gamier” version of Codenames designed for two players. Haven’t actually played it yet, but the description is a winner for me.
  • That’s the Question from CGE – This one reads like a modification to Say Anything that prevents some of the gaming of the rules that can happen in that title.
  • Apocrypha from Lone Shark Games – A darker, more modern version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game with many rules fixes/changes that make for a smoother, more cooperative game
  • Photosynthesis from Blue Orange Games – A gorgeous game about the lifecylce of a forest; probably the biggest brain burner I’ve played in a while
  • Kettou from Table Forged – A reflex game with some interesting game mechanics and a rich samurai theme
  • Kingdomino from Blue Orange Games – This year’s Spiel des Jahres winner; it’s not a real deep game, but it’s got enough going on to keep my interest
  • Word Domination from Uproarius – A great take on the word-spelling game genre with special powers and several tactical elements that put it up there with Paperback for me
  • Wartime from Wizkids – Imagine what would happen if Battlelore and Tamsk had a baby….that’s Wartime and I kind of love it
  • Dragon Dice by SFR Games – This is an old game that basically uses dice in place of miniatures; I’d never actually played it and quickly became enamored with it
  • Final War by Games Lab – This was my surprise of the con; I had pretty much written off the entire category of card-driven combat games until I played this one; Lots of depth, great art and several novel mechanics made this one a winner
  • Legend of the Five Rings by Fantasy Flight Games – Wow…this may get me in troublel5c01_main with people, but FFG fixed this game; it was accessible and even though I lost all of my games, it never felt like I couldn’t pull out a win
Played
  • Planetarium by Game Salute – I had high hopes for this game of planetary formation, but it ultimately fell flat for me; the endgame is interesting, but the rest of the game felt pretty simplistic
  • Approaching Dawn: the Witching Hour by Wizkids – This one just didn’t click for me; the theme was fun and the mechanics were OK, but something about it just didn’t grab me
  • Edge of Darkness by AEG – I should love this game based on the mechanics alone, but they just didn’t gel to me; felt long and didn’t really seem to go anywhere
  • Custom Heroes by AEG – I am not the target market for trick-taking games and this didn’t feel like it had a lot going for it beyond being an OK trick-taking game…
  • Hero Realms by White Wizard Games – I’m a big fan of Star Realms and so I was pretty excited to finally try this on; unfortunately, it felt like playing a fantasy-themed Star Realms and the different character decks didn’t add a lot to it
  • Unearth by Brotherwise Games – This one was really interesting; I think I’d like to play it a few more times before having a final opinion on it…
  • Theomachy by Sandy Peterson Games – Texas Hold’em with a deck builder and hero powers…if this sounds awesome to you, this is a winner (it wasn’t for me even though I nearly bought a copy for the art on the god cards….)
  • Lightseekers by Playfusion – Kid-friendly CCG with a completely undeveloped AR app tacked on and toys…did not do it for me
  • Magic Maze by Pegasus Spiele – I liked this one; the idea of having to work together without being able to communicate beyond the movement of a “do something” pawn was surprisingly fun
  • Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks by Gale Force 9 – I can not wait for this to come out next month; super thematic and a great yahtzee-style mechanic in a co-op
  • Sid Meier’s Civlization: A New Dawn by Fantasy Flight Games – This is a must buy for me; the game gave a real sense of a good 4X game with minimal down time and great adherence to the theme
  • Fallout by Fantasy Flight Games – I don’t even play the video game and I thought this one was great; the theme comes through very clearly and it plays like a great adventure game (though the co-op elements seem pretty muted)zx02_preview1
  • 7 Ronin by Grey Fox Games – A really tight one vs one game of a horde of ninjas attacking a village protected by samurai with various powers; I liked it, but not enough to pick it up
  • Werewords by Bezier Games – Werewolf as a word deduction game? This surprisingly worked for me; not a fit for my group, but I’d be happy to play again
  • Lovecraft Letter by AEG – AEG has actually made Loveletter interesting again; the addition of insanity and the dual use of cards makes this a much “meatier” version of Loveletter
  • The Supershow by SRG – A wrestling card game that just fell flat for me (and made me wish for more WWE Smackdown expansions…)
Seen
  • Bunny Kingdom by Iello – The booth was always jam packed for this one; seemed a bit fiddly at first glance, but the reviews I’ve watched lead me to believe I missed out on this one\
  • Mountains of Madness by Iello – I looked into demoing this one, but I never saw anyone playing it who looked like they were having fun…
  • Terrifying Girl Disorder by Japanime – I loved the theme for this one, but the gameplay (trick taking with powers… cx with Custom Heroes) killed it for me
  • Whistle Stop by Bezier Games – I really though this might be the train game that made me like train games more, but after watching several turns, I don’t think that’ll be the case…
I saw a ton of other games, but these stood out as games I wanted to talk about! I also left the host of expansions off of the list as that would take a lot longer to talk about. Next time, we’ll take a look at my thoughts on the miniature games I played!

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