GenCon 2017 Mega Rundown – H to Z

winning moves brynk 3Post number 2 of my main 2017 convention coverage. Once again I cover games, in rough alphabetical order by publisher, that inspired me enough to snap a few photos.

*As always standard disclaimers apply. After learning the gist of the rules for over 100 games in two days, I will most likely mess up a small rule here or there, misspell a title, or attribute an incorrect publisher. Please humor me. At least I’m fairly sure I have the right names associated with the right photos… The following are alphabetical by publisher.


HABA – Meduris

HABA medurisHABA dips back into the grown-up category with the 10+ age rating on Meduris. On a turn, a player rolls for resources and then can either spend resources to build a hut or temp, or move one of their workers to a new field (hopefully improving a player’s resource production, where workers stack on top of each other to earn more resources.) Players spend resources to build huts around the circle on the outside edge of the board. Huts cost more for each adjacent one already built. One can build a temple which puts a stop to an ongoing hut chain. At various moments in the game, the Druid token moves around the board, stopping at huts until it gets to an empty space or a temple. Players must give up resources to the druid and gain points or take a point penalty. Points are earned based on how many huts are in the adjacent chain. At the end of the game the Druid goes all the way around the board for a final scoring. The trick is to have enough spare resources on hand to give the Druid, but you also need to be spending them on those huts to get the scoring opportunity in the first place.

HABA – Picassimo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPicassimo is a drawing party game with a small puzzle component. One player draws a picture on a board made up of individual squares. Those squares are then rearranged according to instructions on a drawn card. Players must then guess what the picture represents. Successful guesses give points to the guesser and the drawer.


IELLO – Bunny Kingdom

iello.bunny kingdomI suspect part of Bunny Kingdom’s buzz at the convention were the cute little bunnies hanging out on the fields and forests of the game board. In Bunny Kingdom, player perform a real-time draft, where the fastest player grabs the card he or she wants. After every player has grabbed a card, playing cards is simultaneous. Cards allow players to place bunnies on the map, build buildings (for better bunny scoring), increase their resource gathering, or gain a special mission that can be completed by the end game for extra points (oh, I mean carrots not points.) There are a few cards that give special abilities (such as granting two random cards or being allowed to connect two separate kingdoms into one. Connecting kingdoms is important as scoring is based on kingdom size and the level of any buildings in the kingdom. I like the idea of a fast draft with basically simultaneous resolution, I’m hoping that will keep the game moving at a fast clip even with slower players.

IELLO – Mountains of Madness

iello mountains of madness (1)Mountains of Madness is a tough game for me to place. On the one hand it has a somewhat mature, Chtulhu theme, but it also has overtones of a zany party game. The goal of this cooperative game is to journey through a pyramid layout of cards and get to the top having claimed more pieces of equipment than taken damage. Players flip-up one of the tiles and then have 30 seconds to complete the task shown on the card. The zany part comes in with player’s handicaps. Each player has a limitation, like having to talk with a sock puppet, must give a high 5 to anyone before speaking with them, or only speak to people who are holding their finger like a mustache. People do not immediately know each other’s limitations so the first part of any mission can be quite chaotic. Fail at a mission and people may have to trade off their current madness for a worse one (there are two piles, one worse than the other.) In each mission, one player is the leader. The leader can use a leadership token to grand a special ability such as being able to ignore one player’s madness, adding 30 seconds to the time limit, reroll the penalty die (if failed) or allow players to have an increased hand size in the game. Leader tokens are also used up whenever someone wants to reshuffle the discards back into the deck.. When the leader tokens run out, one is permanently removed from the game and then players gain the rest of them back again. The players hop from tile to tile in order to find the needed equipment (you don’t need to find them all, but do need most of them) and then make their way to the peak of the tile pyramid to escape.
Kosmos – Brutal Kingdom

Kosmos (3) brutal kingdomBrutal Kingdom is a card trading game for 3-4 players. It reminds me a bit of Stratego in that various cards can be played against each other to kill them off. The idea is to try to collect colored tokens from the middle of the game. Players score points for how many tokens they have, but that value is dependant on how many of those tokens are left at the end of the game. (So if they’re gone, all of those tokens are worthless.) The game lasts four rounds and should run about 30 minutes or so.

Kosmos – Word Slam

Word Slam was being shown at the Kosmos booth although it has been around (at least in publicity) for a while now. The idea is to play charades but instead of saying something or moving around, the active player searches through decks of cards containing words in order to try to get their team to guess the clue. An interesting idea, but from the rumblings I’ve heard it seems to work best if players have some knowledge of what hint cards are available or perhaps to play with all the hint cards laid out on a table.

Kosmos – Exit: The Game

Kosmos (4) exitUnsurprisingly, Kosmos’ award winning Exit Game series has three new puzzles. Polar Station has players trying to leave after everyone else has evacuated. In The Forgotten Island. you wash up on an island full of locks. The third one, The Forbidden Castle is supposed to be the most difficult of the three. Kosmos has now added a difficulty ranking on the front of the game boxes so you know roughly what you might be getting into. The difficulty level will also be printed on future versions of the original three games.

Kosmos – Legends of Andor Part III The Last Hope

Not a whole lot of news about the final, stand alone, entry to the Legends of Andor series but it should be out in October.

Kosmos – Pillars of the Earth & Column of Fire

Kosmos is also producing several games based around Ken Follett’s novels set in the middle ages. I believe Pillars of the Earth is a reprinting of the classic, but the newest book, Column of Fire, will have an associated game very soon

Kosmos – Kerala

kosmos keralaA slightly abstract title, players take two little elephant tokens and move them around to build up their own little kingdom, scoring points for the number of elephant symbols they have in one region of each color. Players draw two tiles and then place them adjacent to their elephants, moving the elephants on top of the new tile. Instead of elephant icons, some tiles grant special powers, letting you move your elephants around or move placed tiles around. You are allowed to overwrite previous tiles by stacking new ones on top, but any buried tiles have no use or value.
Le Scorpion Masque – Decrypto

Le Scorpion Masqué (1)Releasing in Q1 2018, Decrypto is a team party game. The active player and their entire team are allowed to look at a set of four secret words, each assigned a number one to four. The active player then draws a card displaying a sequence (such as 3-2-1.) They must now give one word clues (one for each number in the sequence) in such an order that their team can guess the order of numbers on the card. If successful they gain a white token, failure nets a black token. In a second round, a new sequence is drawn and clues are again given. However, first the opposing team gets to try to guess the sequence to earn a white token, if they fail, the active team still gets to guess (and either gain a white or black token.) The game continues until one team earns enough white tokens to win or black tokens to lose.



Lone Shark Games – Apocrypha

lone shark games apocryphaFrom the designers of Pathfinder Adventure Card game comes the kickstarted Apocrypha. It is similar in that players construct a deck and gain powers over time. However, the game can be played cooperatively as a team or one player can take on the role of a game master and change it almost into a full-fledged RPG. Even though characters grow more powerful through game play, they also gain limitations (or disadvantages) such that new players can hop into a more advanced game without being completely left behind. The basic box comes with all the bits and one chapter of game play. A total of eight more chapters will come out later in two expansions.

Lone Shark Games – Thornwatch

lone shark games thornwatchWhile I am intrigued by Apocrypha, what I really wanted to see in the booth was Thornwatch. The brainchild of the artist of Penny Arcade, I consider it an RPG with heavy card game elements. Note the extremely evocative art that captures a unique game setting of a forest full of mysterious and dangerous creatures held in check by the forces of good (many of which are children chosen from the local tribes.) Players take on a role and are taken through story challenges run by a Judge player. Characters each have their own unique set of cards, skills, and abilities. A character will have one standard attack power, an ability that can be used to help others, and some sort of planning ability that can be used if a player really has no good idea of what they want to do on a particular turn – a sort of fallback option if no other action is available. Game play focuses around players moving their character to different areas of the board while also managing a row of cards representing the characters and their opponents. Various effects move characters around on the line. To damage an opponent you need to move them to the end of the line of cards and then pull off an additional attack. The game campaign supports a branching structure such that winning or failing at a scenario will have consequences into the next scenario (or even change the next scenario available.) The game is targeted at the beginning role player, set up so that new players should be able to jump into the action. The Judge can run the game as an almost pure RPG and tell a story or they can take it to the players and try to win the scenario. Between the various helping options of the characters and the options available to the Judge the game tries to make sure everyone has something useful to do. As you may guess, this is one game I have on my list to watch.


Looney Labs – Zendo

looney labs.zendoMy favorite game from Looney Labs is Zendo. It runs a bit like the classic Mastermind game in that players build structures and then the moderator tells them if the structure fits a secret rule or not. By building more and more structures, the secret building rule (such as no greens allowed) is deduced. I use it every year in my classroom to demonstrate the scientific method. Zendo has been out of print for some time and it is now coming back sometime around Q4 of this year. The new version is revamped to make it friendlier to new players. Gone is the abundance of Zen-style terms, although the name has been kept. Rather than sets of 3 sizes of colored pyramids, each with a number of pips on the side, the new version contains three colors of pyramids, boxes, and triangular boxes. Rule cards are now included and can be used by themselves or in combination to create secret rules on the fly. There are paperclips included which can be used to mark down which bits on the card serve as the clue such that a moderator could just hand someone the card and they could continue the game from there. While I may be loath to give up my old set, I’ll be glad that I can now recommend a game that is back in print.


Mattel – Bold

mattel boldBold is one of those card games where the cards have several values (color, shape, size, background pattern) and you are trying to match them. You might expect a speed game here but it is actually a memory and push your luck game. The cards are laid out in a grid and you flip two of them up. If they have at least one matching attribute you can pick them up and score (the chosen cards are replaced from the deck.) However, you may choose to flip another card. If all three cards share an ability you can then stop and score or keep pressing your luck. It is tempting because the score is the square of the number of cards you claim. (Thus 4, 9,16 points for getting 2, 3, 4 matching cards.) Of course, if you fail the cards are not removed, they are just flipped back upside down and your opponent (or you if you’re lucky) can use that information to their advantage in future rounds. Play continues until the deck is used up. I like how pattern matching is a part of the game but it isn’t a speed requirement. This bodes well for training up my younger kids without having to worry about time limits.

Mattel – Wizards Wanted

Wizards Wanted had one of the best over-produced game displays at the show, but the actual game looks pretty good as well. Players are travelling wizards trying to become the most famous. Wizards are always trying to get pixie dust, which is needed to move around but also necessary for their magic. Players move about trying to fulfill spell jobs (basically move there and spend dust) for points. However, a big part of the game is interacting with the pixie dust market. Prices in the market rise and fall and planning to swoop in for the cheap dust is always a good move. Players also have the option to do a side quest by going to the palace and earning their wizard license. At the end of the game, licensed players earn points for each license that wasn’t picked up. (So the fewer licenses out there, the more valuable.) The game continues until the Royal Inspector card comes out and ends the game.
Mayday Games – Macroscope

mayday macroscopeMacroscope contains a cool steampunk looking box covered with little dials. A secret card containing a drawing is placed inside the box. Players take turns removing the dials to reveal bits of the picture underneath. Players attempt to guess the image on the card, earning points based on how many dials have not yet been removed.

Mayday Games – Five Seals of Magic

mayday five seals of magicA dice rolling game, Five Seals of Magic has players trying to match the gem symbols displayed on the board in order to break through and gather up scrolls. Scrolls are worth points but also give special abilities to help players go after harder scrolls. There are piles of different scrolls that can be used in the game, they are even separated into sets so that gamers could have more or less antagonistic elements in the game.


Mayfair – Caverna: Cave vs Cave

mayfair cave vs caveAs with Agricola and Le Havre, Caverna now has its two player version. Players start with a cave of filled in tiles and take turns gathering resources or digging out openings in their cave. As with Agricola, more and different actions become available as the game goes on. In a clever effect, when a player digs out a cave tile it is flipped over to reveal new special buildings that can be built within one’s openings. While there isn’t a huge pile of different buildings in the game, the order in which they are “dug out” can greatly affect the game, since any given building may not be seen until the very end of the game (if at all.) In addition to the needed resources, many buildings also have wall requirements such that they will only fit in areas with the correct number and position of walls. Building walls, of course, is one of the various actions available to players. I need to put the game through its paces but it currently looks like it could be my favorite of the 2 player trilogy.

Mayfair – Food Chain

mayfair top dogShown off as a prototype in the Mayfair area, Food Chain (designed by Kevin G Nunn) is a quick card game of simultaneously revealed card play. The idea is a food chain of animals on the cards: dogs beat cats beat birds beat worms and fleas beat dogs. Each card has a point value (worms & dogs = 3, fleas = 0) and players vie to capture the most points. When players reveal their cards, the animals try to “eat” in their order with birds eating worms and then cats eating birds (which includes any worms the birds ate), etc… Note, a cat can’t eat a worm so if there are no birds around all the worms are left in the middle for the next round. (Animals in the middle are no longer allowed to feed, they’re just fodder.) The last bit of strategy comes into play in the limited number of cards. Everyone has the same hand of cards (3 worms, 2 birds, 2 cats, 1 dog, and 1 flea) and so it becomes a game of bluff and one-upmanship. With a lot of players it does seem a bit chaotic but it plays fast so it really isn’t meant to be a deep game.
Modiphius Entertainment – Thunderbirds Expansions

thunderbirds expansionsThunderbirds now has three expansions. Even the newest has been out a little while but this was the first chance I’ve had to take a look at them. Tracy Island adds in new plastic bits including three new characters. Above and Beyond has several named vehicles from the show that can be obtained for a special one time use. The characters can also level up during the game, starting a bit weaker than normal and ending a bit better than the standard game. The Hood introduces a fifth player but eliminates the cooperative nature of the game as the 5th player gets their own base and has minions pestering the heroes. The Hood is trying to capture photos of each of the hero vehicles to win the game. Thankfully, he is not all that good at moving around so the heroes still have a chance.


North Star Games – Evolution Climate
North Star Games were showing off Evolution: Climate, an offshoot of the competitive species game, Evolution. Adding in a climate factor (species have to watch out for changing climate conditions) put the game onto the map, giving it crazy good press in many non-traditional gaming forums. It has been out of print and is now back in stock after a run on the game due to its association with STEM education.

North Star Games – Blurble

north star games blurbleBlurble is a reimplementation of the original. The pictures and topics have both been improved and updated. The active player flips a card over and must then say a word that begins with the same letter as the object on the page (but can’t say the object itself.) Once the Blurbler has challenged each other player, the Blurbler changes hands and the new Blurbler flips cards to challenge each of the other players. The game ends when all players have had a chance to Blurble.

North Star Games – Vegas Wits and Wagers

north star games. vegas wnw

This is the actual mat, not a souped-up one just for GenCon.

The most impressive article in the North Star Game booth was the preview of Vegas Wits and Wagers, an expansion to the Wits and Wagers Party Edition. Now on Kickstarter and running through September 8th, the expansion is primarily a very large neoprene mat with which to play the game. On the standard side, the game is played as normal but there are neoprene overlays in order to eliminate one or two of the guessing lanes to help narrow down the choices in games where people are more likely to get a bit overwhelmed by the options. On the flip side of the mat is the Vegas version. This side has several new ways to bet your money. You can now bet on black or red (high or low sides), or take a long shot and bet on a specific player to have the right answer. The expansion contains materials for an extra player (Elvis), extra (higher value) betting tokens (because of the higher payout opportunities,) and both sides of the board have a tracker to help keep track of the game rounds. If this sounds good to you, you should hop over to the kickstarter as it is doubtful the mat (and extras) will make it onto store shelves.


North Star Games – Happy Salmon

HappySalmon-BTFK_LOGO_1024x1024I had not heard of this silly little party game. Up to six players take their uniquely colored deck and be the first to discard all their cards. The cards come in four versions: happy salmon, switch position, pound, and high 5. Players flip over their top card and In order to discard it, they must find another player with that card, perform the action and then they can both discard it. High 5 and switch position are obvious, pound is a fist bump, and the happy salmon is a silly move where players grasp each other by the forearm and flap their hands around. I am a fan of Pit from long ago and I can see this bringing in much of that fun in a shorter and sillier package. The game is not new at the convention, however what is new is the new version. There is now both a blue version and a green version of the game, each with six unique colors. That means you can play the game with up to twelve now! Whew, put on your earplugs and don’t forget to stretch out first…


Passport Games – Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time

passport game studios citadel of time (1)A fully cooperative game, Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time has players running around the board disarming traps and trying to secure the treasure the professor has stolen from the times past. The board is first primed with a few treasures scattered around. When a treasure appears a token is placed on the time track. As players make moves, the time track advances. If time advances to a treasure token on the path before it is claimed by the players, the treasure is lost. To claim a treasure, players have to get to that specific treasure room and disarm that treasure’s specific traps (which are not just in that room.) While players are racing around the board trying to disarm traps so they can claim items, the professor walks around lock doors (slowing the players) and turning the traps back on. Each of the player characters have a special ability to help out. However, at certain moments in the game the players have to decide only one player to be able to use their power (so only a few throughout the whole game – depending on how long the game lasts.) Special abilities give an ongoing small effect or can be sacrificed completely to gain a one-time large effect.


Spyglass Games – Venom Assault

spyglass games.venom assaultI stopped by the Indie Games Alliance booth to check up on Catacombs, the disc flicking dungeon crawler. The guy wasn’t there but I did chat with someone else about Spyglass Games’ Venom Assault. It reminded me heavily of Legendary in that it was a deckbuilder with a tableau of bad guys to defeat. The theme is somewhat G.I. Joe 80s cartoon feel with VENOM being the bad guys and the Freedom Squad trying to take them out. It is cooperative and supports 1-5 players. The setup varies somewhat with bad guys placed around the board locations, some of whom will have bonuses if they happen to be on compatible areas (the snow guy is more powerful in the snowy area, etc…) A tableau of cards is laid out for purchase by the hero players (I think my notes say cards used for money aren’t consumed and can be used in attack…) Of note, the game allows players to trash one card every turn, in order to keep one’s deck evolving quickly. Obviously, the goal is to defeat the various villains on the board. Player cards have support and leadership stats. When attacking a villain one card is chosen as the leader and that determines how many dice are rolled in the attack. However, the leader card will not be able to use his (or her) special ability. The other supporting cards are able to use theirs. Villains have health (must deal this much damage), Defense (what you must roll to hit), and a support stat of their own. The support value indicates how many henchmen/minions are drawn from a minion deck before combat begins. Defeating a villain grants players reward cards. In addition to regular play, each round an episode (event) card is drawn which could be good, bad, or neutral for the players. Most importantly, many of them simply move the game counter forward towards the end of the game. Six villains start on the board and when one is eliminated they are replaced until 12 are defeated. The whole game sounds a bit involved but it may be such that it moves along at a good clip, I’ll have to give it a few plays to find out.


USAopoly – Super Mario Level Up! Boardgame

usaopoly super mario power upUSAopoly has almost cornered the market for taking boardgames and rebranding them with popular themes. Take Codenames, for example, which has a Marvel and a Disney version coming out later this fall. They also produce their own games for large franchises and the Super Mario Level Up! Boardgame is a good example. The game board consists of a cute little 3D stairstep design capable of holding cardboard stand-ups of the typical crew of Nintendo characters. Players are then given a card listing a lineup of characters that are on their team. The goal is to move up your team as high as possible to score points. When a character moves to the top, a vote is taken. Players have a reusable Yes card and only two No cards. It only takes a single No vote to kick a character entirely off the top. Meanwhile, players are moving characters up and down the stairs. If they land on a powerup spot they gain a special power such as an extra No vote, the ability to swap two characters, the ability to restore a character who was booted off the top, etc… Not a deep game, but it has a good presentation and I think it would keep people interested as long as the voting didn’t end up dragging the game past its welcome.

USAopoly – Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle: The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion

usaopoly harry potter (2)USAopoly’s big ticket item has been the cooperative deckbuilder, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle. It is a bit of a campaign game as the base box has you open parts in order. These slowly add new rules and roughly correspond to the lore of later and later years at Hogwarts. USAopoly has now released the first expansion: The Monster Box of Monsters, containing four expansions, one for year 1-2, one for year 2-3, one for year 5-7, and one just for the Triwizard Tournament. The expansion has Luna as a playable character as well as new versions of the original characters, more Dark Arts cards (typically creature based), a new proficiency (care of magical creatures,) and a couple new mechanisms. Detention cards can be given to a player. They do nothing but if they are discarded they do two damage to a player. To help with this, the Banish mechanism allows players to get cards permanently out of their deck. Lastly, there are encounter cards added to the table setup. Players need to go through the encounter cards quickly (while they do everything else, of course) or creatures slowly appear and can cause some severe damage. From what I could tell, it delivers enough new stuff to keep fans happy without going Hog-wild about changing the basic idea of the game.
White Wizard Games – Hero Realms

white wizard games. hero realmsIt is almost ironic how White Wizard Games took Star Realms, known for its slim minimalist deckbuilding design and has branched it out into dozens of expansions. Not that I mind, as it has many fine points.  Hero Realms is a newer take on the Star Realms engine. It appeared last year with many similar mechanisms and a few important changes. Mostly it centered around a few more permanents sticking around and the idea of custom starting decks (implemented as different character classes.) The four colors of Hero Realms sort themselves into themes. Red tends towards thinning decks. Yellow gains health and boosts the power of large armies. Green tends to favor deck cycling, forcing discards, and a few really big guys. Blue is great at buying new cards as well as has ways to Stun other champions, forcing them to be discarded. I wasn’t too interested in yet another take on the Star Realms style until I heard about the Hero Realms Campaign decks. These expansions, The Ruin of Thandar being the first, change the game into a fully cooperative campaign adventure. Thandar, for example starts out in a tavern where you fight off controlled mobs. A later game in the series would go after their puppet master. The box contains three unique missions. Defeating a mission earns characters skills and abilities as well as items. Interestingly, the skills and abilities are actually part of a branching decision tree so one player may end up making a Fighter character that plays a good deal differently than another player’s Fighter. The campaign is designed for use with the class decks and is set up so that there are rewards available for each of the classes. Also coming down the pike are a couple of Boss expansions which are powerful monsters with preset actions and abilities that can only be defeated by several class decks working in tandem. All in all, I’m very pleased to see how well the cooperative options for Hero Realms is developing.


Winning Moves – Brynk

winning moves brynk (2)Basically Jenga with notched translucent pieces, players take turns placing new pieces onto the structure in such a way that it stays upright. The structure is set upon rollers in the slightly indented bottom of the storage bucket. This lets it roll side to side so that the structure can reach some impressively precarious forms. When you’re done, dump it all back into the bucket that was forming the base. I admit there isn’t much here from a new gameplay stand point but the pieces stand out so brightly that I feel like I’m playing some sort of futuristic Jenga in space.


Wizkids – Wartime

wizkids wartimeWargames have a nasty habit of lasting a long time. Not so with Wartime. The slimmed down demo at the show was set up to last 10 minutes. That was a hard rule because a 10 minute timer was set at the start of the game and if no one was eliminated the game would go to the player with the most points at the end of 10 minutes. In many ways, Wartime is a standard wargame (if a bit on the simpler side) with units having different movement and combat abilities, terrain, ranged attacks, and such. The central mechanism of the game, though is that combat is fought in real time. Players are given two 60 second timers and one 30 second timer and they are used to activate one’s troops. Want to move a guy? Move them and then set a timer. You can’t move them again until the timer runs out. Thus, you will often have periods where you’re just waiting for any of your three timers to run out. Which of your armies do you give the 30 second timer? A fast moving light infantry or a lumbering beast? Everything is real time. Armies are set up as a stack of discs on a central stand. Armies with more health have more discs in their stack. Damage is only done on attack, so if you attack another player it is your job to remove their disks before you can start your timer again. The game contains many scenarios as well as a full campaign where each new scenario will depend on who won the previous one. A wide variety of units are included in the box such as wizards (which can cast spells, also governed by timers), calvary that can move and attack, castle walls (which are just a stack of defensive chips), and even a dragon (about 12 chips deep and powerful enough that it is played as one creature vs many.) When playing through a campaign, each battle awards points to the players so at the end of the campaign players can determine a set winner even if there wasn’t a definitive win or loss. I’m hoping the fast play will make it great for playing with my sons as more traditional wargames can tempt gamers to tune out if the many detailed rules begin to bog down the game.

Wizkids – Dungeon Hustle

wizkids dungeon hustleCalled a cooperative game with scoring (which it isn’t a cooperative game in my book), players in Dungeon Hustle try to walk around a grid of cards, collecting them as they go. However, on any given turn they have to stay on cards of the same color. Once cards are collected they can be spent to purchase items and fight wandering monsters (which get in your way.) Each character has a special ability and players may lend their ability to one another if they wish. If the monster is defeated, the active player earns gold and the helping character gets to flip over their ability card to gain an a small ongoing benefit and a power that can be used later. Of course, this also means they can’t lend their ability again until that power is spent. Players can’t just ignore monsters since they can wander off the board and if five monsters escape the players lose the game.As players collect cards the supply is depleted until the pile is reshuffled. Go through the deck three times and the players win the game (and you can count up your points at that time if you like.)

Wizkids – Approaching Dawn: The Witching Hour

wizkids approaching dawn witching hourIn the cooperative game, Approaching Dawn: The Witching Hour, players are all witches tied together such that one’s actions affects them all.  In a somewhat RPG/boardgame hybrid, players attempt to accomplish missions that form a story arc but could be played in any order.  As play progresses, players gain in power through spells, artifacts, and even familiars.  The most interesting mechanic is the spells. White magic can be used to heal and help each other, but the powerful Black magic causes corruption which hinders players.  Of course, if you are performing the Black magic, the corruption goes to the other players to make their lives worse, not your own.

Wizkids – Tomb of Annihilation Board Game

tombThe newest game in the Adventure System, Tomb of Annihilation has 2-5 players taking on the role of different characters as they cooperate to work through several scenarios linked to the Tomb of Annihilation storyline. As with other games in the series, players flip up new tiles as they explore and reveal new monsters. Monsters act in predetermined ways depending on their type. Players must cooperate and use their abilities wisely to keep ahead of the accumulating monsters and accomplish the scenario’s goals. The press info states that this edition contains new traps, new spells, and the fact that monsters can now gain conditions (conditions are typically bad for the characters, such as stunned or poisoned…) I’ve enjoyed the other games in the series so am interested to see how this one works in the jungle/dinosaur theme of the Tomb of Annihilation storyline.


Z-Man Games – NMBR 9

nmbr 9NMBR 9 has players stacking up blocky numbers in order to score points. Each number is made up of tiles that can be joined together somewhat like Tetris tiles. However, players are trying not only to join them up, but to join them so that they can build additional tiles on top of the lower ones. This is because, at the end of the game, players score points based on the number value times its height. So if you can get a number 7 to stack on top of two other layers you would score 14 points. (The first layer is layer 0.) Similar to FITS in many ways, players play in their own area but all place the same numbers on the board at the same time. Wise players will be able to keep track of which numbers have come up (you go through 0 to 9 two times) and be preparing for the future when a large number will appear. It looks to be a nice mix of simple but interesting and I’m hoping it will have that same level of drop in and out play I can find in FITS.

Z-Man Games – Pandemic Legacy Season 2

z-man pandemic legacyNo groundbreaking news in the Z-Man booth to find out that Pandemic Legacy is having another go-round. Season 2 should appear this fall. I did find out it will come in two different colors again. Cool.


GenCon posts are just about over… just time left for the digital side, and the weird side…

About Matt J Carlson

Dad, Gamer, Science Teacher, Youth Pastor... oh and I have green hair. To see me "in action" check out Dr. Carlson's Science Theater up on Youtube...
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3 Responses to GenCon 2017 Mega Rundown – H to Z

  1. Andy says:

    Thanks for highlighting the Wits & Wagers Vegas Kickstarter! W&W is one of my family’s favorite games, and that extra-big map looks sweet. I would have been bummed if I’d missed out on that.

  2. Boyd says:

    From the description, I thought that Super Mario Level Up! sounded a lot like King Me! So I looked it up and it turns out that is a reimplementation. The power ups are new and sound interesting because in reality King Me! could be a little dull.

    • Matt J Carlson says:

      Ooh, excellent catch! I recalled a similar game, but figured the whole (vote people up and down) was pretty common. Looking at photos, I totally remember playing that version. (I, too, thought it was pretty dull before…)

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