Gen Con 2019, Day 1: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray)

The first day of Gen Con 2019 is a wrap.  This year’s event marks the 52nd anniversary of the convention, and so far, 2019 seems a bit more muted than the news-making conventions of the last two years. There doesn’t seem to be a standout game, although there has been a decent set of games released.

As with my past coverage, I’m posting tonight about what was hot at the event, with some brief notes about what I played.  I’ll be back tomorrow, where hopefully I’ll have the chance to demo a few more games and write about them in detail.

What’s Hot

I always find it fun to follow the Geekbuzz list, which is in operation, but the voting tends to be a small sample size for the first couple of days. 

If you’ve ever been to a convention with me, you know I take notice of what people around me are buying, and I ask just about everybody I meet what games they’re enjoying. This year I also spent time in the BGG hot games room, observing what was popular.

So I always put together my own sort of hotness list.  I am one person, relying entirely on anecdotal evidence and my observations.  I admit that I have a gaming taste that veers towards Eurogames, and I’m better informed about them, so perhaps I notice them more.  I also admit that since I’m studying what people are carrying, small box games are at somewhat of a disadvantage. I’ll add to the list each day.

But here’s what I think are the hottest games, judging from a combination of sales, buzz, and playtime in the BGG hot game room.  I’ve added a few notes on each title:

  • Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein. I know very little about this, but my friends that work in the hot games room said it is hot, it is currently towards the top of the Geekbuzz list, and it is on the BGG hotness list.
  • Black Angel. I’m told this is one of the harder-to-get games due to limited supply, but it is on the Geekbuzz list, had decent interest going into the event, and seems popular in the BGG hot games room. I’d guess this is one of the two or three hottest games of the convention.
  • Cartographers. This is a year in which roll and writes are popular, and Cartographers had decent buzz going into the convention as an outstanding entry in that genre. I’ve played it and would describe it as Kingdom Builder meets a roll and write. It is currently #3 on the Geekbuzz list.
  • Era: Medieval Age. This roll-and-build engine builder by Matt Leacock looks great on a table. In line this morning this appeared to be the most talked-about game. It is also what I saw being carried around the most. Plan B (who owns eggertspiele) seemed to have plenty of copies. I’d guess this is one of the two or three hottest games of the convention.
  • Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon. This currently leads the Geekbuzz list at #1, and I was told it was popular in the BGG hot games room. I haven’t noticed many copies being carried around, but I intend on check this out tomorrow.
  • Kingdomino Duel.  This is the roll ‘n write version of Kingdomino. Several sheets had been used in the hot games room, and I saw a few copies being carried around.
  • Machi Koro Legacy. I saw a lot of copies of this early in the day, and I’ve heard a few people talking about it, with mixed acclaim. But it is Machi Koro, and it is a legacy game, so this was always going to be popular.
  • Pipeline. I don’t know that I’ve actually seen a copy being carried around, but I’ve heard a number of people talk about it as being one of the better anticipated heavy games of the event.
  • Silver. Bezier’s booth was busy, and I saw quite a few people carrying this around. The play mat accessory sold out. I did a review shortly before this post.
  • Watergate. This has also had quite a bit of conversation around the convention, and I heard a fair number of mentions of it today. It is currently #2 on the Geekbuzz list.

If you think I’m missing something, leave a comment!

What I played…

I’m traveling with my family this year, so I haven’t played as much, but here are some snap thoughts…

Kingdomino Duel. This is truly a roll and write version of Kingdomino. Two players draft dice and write on a score pad, forming regions as in Kingdomino, but also trying to beat the other player to the use of special powers. It is cool, but it seems to take longer than Kingdomino, and I don’t know that it is as good as its namesake. Initial OG Rating: I like it.

Medium. This is a very cool party game that feels a little bit like “The Mind” in word game form. Players lay down two words, then need to simultaneously say a word that links them. For example, earlier, the words were “bat” and “Canada.” My friend Chad said “baseball” and I said “Jays.” If you say the same word, you’d get points, but if you’re not, you get another chance, using the different words you just said. Using “baseball” and “Jays,” we both said “Toronto.” Playing it leads to some chuckle-out-loud moments with that oh-so-fun I-can’t-believe-we-just-did-that feelings. Initial OG Rating: I like it.

Silver. I did a full review before this post. OG Rating: I love it.

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6 Responses to Gen Con 2019, Day 1: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray)

  1. Pingback: Gen Con 2019, Day 1: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray) – Herman Watts

  2. Paul Grogan says:

    Would be good to see you Chris if you get chance to stop by the CGE room. I have my own “Gaming Rules” demo table just as you go in :)
    As for what you missed…. Letter Jam? :)

  3. I’ve played a dozen or so games of Silver now. It reminds me of a slightly more complex version of Rat-a-Tat Cat by Gamewright. It sits in that starter/filler game arena for me. Every time I’ve played no one has felt like they outwitted anyone else really, just kind of a “well, that was ok.” feeling all around.

  4. Pingback: Gen Con 2019 Days Three and Four: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray) | The Opinionated Gamers

  5. Chris, always good to see you at the Con, and I always enjoy your post con write ups. (Which I don’t see until we get back, of course!)

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