We’re less than two weeks away, and I’m excited for Gen Con 2018 to get started.
This will be my fourth year at Gen Con, and thanks to Eric Martin’s amazing BGG preview tool, I’m well prepared this year. As I say every year, there are hundreds of games coming out, and finding the games to bring home in the always-too-limited suitcase space can be challenging. It feels like drinking from a fire hose. I’ve been reading the BGG list, looking at rulebooks, and taking a second look at our chats on the OG mailing list.
But here it is: my top 11 most anticipated. Normally I’d do a top 10, but I had two last-minute editions and only one thing I felt I could cut.
I’ve excluded games that are already widely available and that I already own, just limiting the main portion of this article to games I’m looking forward to buying. That said, in addition to the main list, at the bottom of the article, I’ve included an additional list of games getting a release at Gen Con that I recommend but already have bought.
I’ve also excluded games that are just being demoed at Gen Con.
Chris Wray’s 10 Most Anticipated (Alphabetical Order)
Dale published a review of Blue Lagoon on Monday, saying “Blue Orange has a hit on their hands.” When I had emailed the OG email list with my original top 10, he said this needed to be added, and after seeing his review mention the Through the Desert lineage, I agree. Knizia is one of my favorite designers, and Blue Orange is one of my favorite publishers, so Blue Lagoon is now towards the top of my “must have” list.
I love the projects that Restoration Games is undertaking, and I’m a huge fan of deduction games, so Dinosaur Tea Party is another natural choice for me. This is a remake of the Whosit, a game from the 1970s. I’ve never played Whosit, but I’m eager to try out the remake, which comes with a fresh coat of paint — and a whimsical theme — all with the Restoration Games touch.
Forbidden Sky is going to be hot, hot, hot. People loved Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert, so it is no wonder that Matt Leacock’s latest creation will get a lot of love at Gen Con 2018. It is still cooperative, and it seems like it’ll be a good family-weight strategy game. Plus, I think you build an actual electrical circuit?!?
Gizmos was one of the hottest prototypes at the Gathering of Friends, and several people with similar tastes to mine described it as one of their favorite games of the event. I watched it played, but didn’t get to play it myself, so I’m looking forward to buying a copy and giving it a try. It is marble-driven, engine-building goodness from CMON and the always-amazing Phil Walker-Harding.
Gunkimono is a remake of Heartland, which I think is one of Jeff Allers’ best games. I owned Heartland, but knowing this was coming, I (reluctantly) parted with my copy a few months ago. I’ve been missing it, so I’m eagerly awaiting Gunkimono. The new game, released by Renegade, is a remake with a theme that perhaps better captures the games conflict elements. This will probably be one of the first games I play Thursday night!
Lost Cities: Rivals is the latest in the Keltis/Lost Cities family. I love every single game in that family tree, so I’m really excited for this iteration by Reiner Knizia and Kosmos. This looks like a multiplayer version of Lost Cities: To Go with an auction mechanic mixed in. I like Lost Cities, and Knizia has always done a great job with auctions, so this is a must-have for me.
Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is my go-to family-weight cooperative game, which is why I was one of the people that voted to put it on our 50 Modern Classics list. But since last year, I’ve been playing this 2014 Kinderspiel des Jahres winner with a mini expansion, which we love (but haven’t yet beat!). Several parts of that mini expansion have been worked into the “Creepy Cellar Expansion,” which adds new rooms, a new win condition, and some other cool features. Apparently they’ll have an oversized copy at Gen Con to try, with winners getting a special metal golden ghost figure. We rarely win, but I must find a way to make that golden ghost mine.
Shadows: Amsterdam is a deduction game — which is always in my wheelhouse — by Libellud — a publisher who generally makes really good games. Here’s the BGG description: “Shadows – Amsterdam is a fast deduction game for all kind of players. From short rules and simple gameplay, feel the stress of the real-time competition.” Eric Martin did an overview video a few months ago, and it seemed like a beautiful, fast-paced deduction game that I’d really enjoy.
Terraforming Mars is one of the best Gen Con purchases I’ve ever made, and I’d describe it as one of the biggest successes in gaming of recent years. (It is currently #4 on BGG.) The base game was the first game I bought back in 2016, and I’ve loved every expansion for it so far. So Prelude is naturally on my radar, and I’m looking forward to seeing the latest creation from Jacob Fryxelius and Stronghold Games.
Ultimate Werewolf Legacy is my most anticipated game of the year. I’m a big fan of legacy games, a bigger fan of social deduction games, and Ultimate Werewolf is in my personal top 10. I’ve been waiting for this since it was first announced at Gen Con two years ago. I played part of the campaign back at the Gathering, but I’m really looking forward to doing the whole thing.
Yellow & Yangtze is a “sister game” to Tigris & Euphrates, the 1997 Reiner Knizia classic that is considered by many to be his masterpiece. A lot of the core elements of T&E are here — it’s still tile placement, your score is still equal to your weakest category, and there’s still civilization building abstracted — but it has a new coat of paint and some new elements that look intriguing. Plus, Grail Games has done some interesting work on other Knizia titles, so I have confidence they’ve carried through here. (I just realized I have three Reiner Knizia games on here. I’m a big fan of his, but he seems poised to be one of the most noteworthy designers of Gen Con 2018!)
Five other games worth checking out…
As I said above, I excluded games that I’ve already bought/played. I’m blessed to get a to try a lot of games in advance, and I live in the same small town as another guy who gets a lot of review copies.
But the following games would have made the list (or been close) if it weren’t for that criteria. These are worth your time to take a look at during Gen Con!
Illusion and The Mind, both by Wolfgang Warsch, will be getting their U.S. release at Gen Con by Pandasaurus. I reviewed The Mind, which received a Spiel des Jahres nomination, a few months ago, and it is a great cooperative card game. (That said, skip my review and check out Eric Martin’s: it is one of the best board game reviews I’ve read this year.)
I’ll have a review of Illusion in coming days, but it is an easy game that feels like playing Timeline or Card Line with fun optical illusions.
Kingdomino: Age of Giants adds some cool elements to Kingdomino. I was a big fan of Kingdomino, but I was less enthusiastic about Queendomino, which I thought added a bit too much. Age of Giants hits a sweet spot where it freshens up Kingdomino while keeping the streamlined, fast-paced gameplay I love. Specifically, it adds new ways to score, which are its coolest addition. It also gives you a fifth player, some additional tiles, and giants, which add interactivity. The giants block your scoring crowns when you take them, but can also be moved to other players, adding a little bit of a “take that” aspect to the game.
The Rise of Queensdale, a city-building legacy game, is getting its English-language release. I reviewed it a few months ago, saying: “On the whole, I’m impressed. I think many groups are going to love The Rise of Queensdale, and the Brands have designed something that feels innovative and engaging.” This isn’t getting as much Gen Con buzz as I expected, but it should: it’s a solid game.
I did a preview of the Werewords Deluxe Edition, which is my most-played game of 2018, and one of my favorite games of all time. It takes everything I liked about Werewords and improves on it. As I said in the preview, “In short, everything about this new version is fantastic: the new art, the new roles, and the new ways to play.” I backed it on Kickstarter, otherwise I’d be buying it at Gen Con.