I scoured Gen Con to bring you what I’ve found. I leave you to scour this (and sibling posts on this site) to see if anything I scoured is of interest to you. Without further ado, here’s the start of some of my explorations. More to come later as time for writing permits. As always, any errors on dates, publishers, titles, (and spelling) are mine alone. Don’t go blaming the poor publishers or their overworked booth helpers.
Devious Weasel Games
Looking way out ahead, Devious Weasel is planning to bring The Mirroring of Mary King to GenCon 2022. This card game with striking art has players attempting to flip over the central tableau to their preferred side (ghost or Mary.) Players take turns playing cards which can flip specific cards on the tableau. The game plays over the course of a week (five days) and players can only play a few control cards per day, but as many action cards as they wish. In the lore, your deck serves as your “mind” and your discards/played cards are your memory. Thus, if you run out of cards in your personal deck you’ve lost your mind and lose the game. Barring such a loss, players compare majorities for flipped cards to determine the winner.
The cool plastic pieces of Paris landmarks drew me toward the Devir booth. It turns out the pieces are actually a part of Paris: Eiffel, and expansion to the base game, Paris: La Cité de la Lumière. In the base game, two players are striving to build their buildings to benefit from the streetlights being constructed throughout the city. The game has two main phases. In the first phase, players place Tetris-style tiles on the central board, with an eye towards any tiles displaying a streetlight symbol. Alternatively, a player can take a building into their reserve, to be used later. In the second phase of the game, players alternate placing their buildings onto the board in an effort to get their buildings next to as many street lights as possible. (Scoring is based on the size of the building multiplied by the number of adjacent streetlights.) Note, buildings can only be placed on one’s own tiles from phase 1. Note that any unplaced buildings will score negative points at the end of the game. One last complication is a set of 8 postcards (out of 12) placed around the edges of the board. These contain one-use actions that a player can use instead of placing a building that turn. These add various effects and provide yet another bit of strategy as one may choose a postcard just to prevent one’s opponent from taking it. So, that is Paris: La Cité de la Lumière. Paris: Eiffel is an upcoming expansion, due (hopefully) by Valentine’s Day 2022. The expansion adds famous Parisian monuments to the mix (Eiffel Tower, Catacombs, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, etc..) They are placed like standard buildings but also key off 8 new postcards that can be added to the game.
LUNA Capital is a 30-45 minute game where up to 4 players vie to build a colony on the moon and declare it the capital. It plays over 12 rounds where players draft cards and tiles and then place them into their own play area following rather constricting placement rules. Players score based on the arrangement of these cards and tiles. At game end, scoring occurs where clusters of like tiles are typically better than ones spread out. For those still quarantining, there is a solo option included in the rules. Look for it to be released in November 2021.
Some games attempt to wow prospective players by chucking a bunch of plastic (or even wooden) bits and pieces into the box. Wonder Book takes things to another level and upgrades the game board itself. It’s most distinctive schtick is the board which is actually a pop-up book. Wonder Book is a 1-4 player co-op game that is played over six chapters. It is card-driven, in that players work their way through a specific story deck for each chapter. On a turn, a player has three actions which can be used to move, fight, use skills, or collect magic sparks (which power special abilities.) Once all players have moved, a Wyrm card is played which determines how the antagonists move, fight, and or generally create a nuisance. Players make decisions throughout the game which can have long-term effects via collected keywords. Some decision branches are only available if players have received the prerequisite keywords. Meanwhile, players are opposed by a deck of enemy cards that slowly accumulate over the course of the game. The players’ characters are persistent across all six chapters, gaining items and skills as they adventure through the book. It isn’t all moving and fighting as the game includes puzzles, riddles, even the occasional minigame.
My strongest association with Floodgate is Sagrada and its wonderful translucent dice. Floodgate has doubled-down on color in their new games. Vivid Memories has players collecting colorful (memory fragment) pieces of five different colors. Players start with a playmat (their brain) containing a recessed hexagonal grid. The colored pieces are sized so that three of them fit perfectly into one of the hexagons. Players take turns drafting colored pieces to place on their board. One can take three different colors, two of the same color, or take one but also get an action to “rewire” their memories. The hexagonal side just outside of the main area of one’s playmat has room for a single piece. Players are trying to draft memory pieces such that they can connect pieces on opposite sides but of the same color. Making a connection scores points based on the number of connections made (if more than one) and the number of spaces used. Memory fragments are drafted off cards in the central area. When a player takes the last fragment off of a card, they can “slot in” that card into their board for an upgraded ability. When used they are flipped over for a source of victory points. The game ends at the end of three rounds. It plays in about 30-60 minutes for 2 to 4 players. Look for it to be released into the wild in December (unless your memory fails you…) *Note, the photo above is of the deluxe edition which has a playmat, 1st person token, and slightly classier draw bag.
The colors keep on coming in Holi: Festival of Colors. Here, players are celebrating the festival by tossing colored powders into the air. Players spread their colors out on a three tiered board where the point value is equal to the level on which it rests. Colors are thrown from the perspective of a player’s marker. Cards are played to determine where the colors land. Each card has three areas displayed on it. A player chooses one area to represent their marker and then places powder in the other two locations matching the spots on the card. If a color hits another player, they keep the token (and cannot then also toss it) but will score points at the end of the game. A player’s marker begins on the lowest of the three levels, and can move up a level but never down. Colors thrown on higher levels will “fall” down to the next level unless there is already a color token there. The game ends when a player is out of cards or out of tokens. At the end of the game there is additional scoring based on scoring cards drawn at the start of the game. Points could score bonus points based on patterns formed, collections made, etc.. The game handles 2 to 4 players and should run around 45 minutes. As a 2020 release, it’s been out awhile but was still being highlighted as it would have appeared first at last year’s Gen Con.
More tangentially related to color is the announced Decorum. Here, players must collaborate to decorate a house. Everyone has their own preferences, but everyone is rather passively-aggressively avoiding coming out and stating it. Throughout the game, one player will adjust the decorations in a house (where to put a lamp or other strange curios) and then all the other players will state whether they hate it, love it, or are just “cool” with it. As the process continues, players can start to figure out the wants and needs of each other and hopefully manage to set up the home to everyone’s satisfaction. There is a limit to everyone’s patience, of course, so if the game reaches the final round without everyone being satisfied, the players are “defeated.” (I guess they split up, never to talk to each other again…) Playable by 2 to 4 players in 30 to 45 minutes, plan on doing your own redecorating sometime in January.
Hidden behind the booth’s counter was a copy of Kites – a game where all they players are trying to keep their kites in the air. Kites is a cooperative speed card game based on flipping timers. Players all have a hand of cards and take turns playing any card from their hand (displaying one or two colors) and then drawing a new card. When a card is played, the active player flips all the timers that match colors on the cards. The goal is for the players to keep all the timers running without stopping. To add a bit of chaos to the mix, there is a “wildcard” timer that is also going. It can be flipped by any color, but only by cards displaying a single color. Speed is key to keeping things going, but planning ahead is also necessary to try and stay ahead of the march of (sand)time(rs).
The last tidbit to share from Floodgate was the announcement of Sagrada Legacy, coming to Gen Con 2022. Not much is known although I have in my notes something about it being a “roll & color game?” (The question mark is actually part of my notes…)
I kept running across Forbidden Games as I wandered the show (I swear they had like 3 booths, but I can’t find any corroborating information on that) and they were clearly showing off two main games. Dungeon Party is what one gets by combining a game of quarters with a dungeon crawl. Even the monsters are coasters! Players attempt to bounce a coin to land on a monster coaster in order to do damage to it. Landing on the monster does damage based on one’s strength rating, miss and the monster will damage the unfortunately less-than-dextrous player. Defeating a monster provides items and other power ups, and all players get to heal. The game can be played solo up to 6 players, should run around 30 to 90 minutes (depending on player count and setup), and should show up sometime this fall.
Lizard Wizard takes the successful Raccoon Tycoon market game and adds in a bit more depth. Players use an action selection mechanism to acquire reagents which are then used to cast spells. The six possible actions are to gather reagents (via playing a card,) convert reagents to mana (based on their current price), recruit a wizard (starts an auction for a wizard card), research a spell (obtain a spell card and cast it if able), create a tower (adds to one’s reagent storage), or summon a familiar. Familiars are useful in several ways, often as a sort of bonus action, but they can also “Enter the Dungeon” which is a small push your luck mini-game of drawing monster and treasure cards, hoping to not draw too many monsters. The reagents tend to rise and fall in price in a stock market sort of fashion.The game ends when one of the four decks run out (Familiar, Tower, Wizard, or Spell.) At game end, players score points for each wizard and tower card combination: 10 points if they match schools (there are nine) and 5 points if they do not. Spell cards are worth 3 points if they match a wizard and a tower. Gold from the dungeon is worth 1 point each, and some of the spells provide points as their special ability.
Free League Publishing
It’s been out awhile, but I don’t think I got to see Crusader Kings at Gen Con 2019 so I was happy to check it over this year over in the Free League Publishing booth. It’s a pretty meaty game, running at around 3 hours for 1 to 4 players (there is an AI option.) The game is inspired by a computer game by Paradox Interactive. The game, like the PC game, is more of an empire-building game than a military strategy game. Each player represents their own dynasty of rulers, not just a single person. Players have a bag of chits that represent their abilities and tendencies. As heads of state marry into other families, players gain additional tokens into their bag, representing traits that have now entered their family tree. This could be good or bad (like the “rowdy” or “drunkard” trait.) Why marry into such a family? Well, by creating blood ties with a neutral territory it is much easier to move it under your control. During the game, players have several actions open to them. They can go to war, build castles (for defence), research technology, pursue intrigue (basically attack the other players), and they MUST send someone off to the crusades. This is dangerous because if there is no one else to send, a player must send their own king with a very real chance that they will die off. There are three eras of play. Neutral territories always have an eligible marriage prospect, but these are replaced at the start of each new era. Players who like tech trees will be glad to see options to pursue inventions and counselors associated with that player’s side. For example the English can get naval power, plate armor, or long bows. Miniatures buffs will appreciate that every country comes with its own distinct miniatures. It seems like an awfully long game, but the story arc of managing a dynasty rather than a set king and court does sound interesting.
I believe it was only two years ago at Gen Con 2019 that I was discussing Funko’s entry into the world of boardgames via the Funkoverse strategy game. At the time, I was told by its designers that it was only the start and they had big plans to roll out even more games in the coming years. Well, it’s 2021 and it took an entire scheduled meeting to go over all the gamer-oriented titles Funko was showing off at Gen Con. As one would expect, they all have strong ties to popular IP.
We led off with The Rocketeer. This is a 2 player game where the good and bad guys fight it out over the rocket jetpack technology. It is a sort of area-control tug of war set in 1939 Los Angeles. Each area controlled provides bonuses. Players alternate taking an action with one of their characters (possibly playing a card to match that character’s symbol.) Cards can move characters around, fight, gain resources or push forward their agenda (raise the Rocket Token or recruit villains.) Once all characters have taken an action (there are 3 on each side) players claim area awards and then start a new round. The sides are slightly asymmetric. The Rocketeer slowly gains more mobility while the bad guys slowly become a swarm of villains. The game runs less than 60 minutes and it should appear (only in local game stores at first) in October.
The Goonies: Never Say Die is a 2-5p game played in a 1 vs many fashion. It has similarities to an RPG in that is is story-based and includes figures, maps, terrain, etc… Played over 9 adventures the first three games follow the plot of the movie but the last six start to stray farther afield. They include an octopus attack (from deleted scenes in the movie.) The Goonies play similarly throughout the game but the powers of the “Goondocks Master” vary from scenario to scenario. While it does have a narrative arc, the individual scenarios can also be replayed. The news at the show was that there will be an expansion “soon.” The Goonies: Under the Goondocks will add three new teenagers (which can also be played in the base game) and three new adventures.
I was not allowed to watch The Warriors when it came to movie screens in 1979. However, there is still a part of my hind-brain that seems to remember its cultural echoes. I suppose I’m old enough for the movie now, but why watch the movie when I can live it (or at least play the game!) The Warriors: Come Out to Play is a cooperative game that mimics the movie. When all the gangs in New York get together, The Warriors are framed for an assasination and must flee the city with all the other gangs in hot pursuit. Most actions performed by gang members are fueled by cards (some unique to each character.) Running out of cards means a reshuffling and each reshuffle removes another card permanently from the game. The game plays up to four players and any unused characters (there are 8) are still part of the game as they are shuffled into the deck to appear later on. The game tries to echo its source material, with art leaning towards a cross of punk and grunge. I’m told it has some “controversial game elements specifically to make the game edgy and fresh.” At least that’s the quote I wrote down on my paper (whether correct or not…) Look for the game to appear in early 2022.
The final entry in my visit to Funko was a mention of Jurassic World Legacy. Launching in summer of 2022, this will be a typical legacy game with an evolving board and bits and pieces and stuff unlocking as the game goes on. It will supposedly have “lots of minis.” The game plays through all the Jurassic Park movies (timeline-wise) and beyond, exploring the greater “Jurassic World” setting.
OK, I lied. The final, final entry was a glimpse of Marvel Battleworld: Treachery at Twilight lying there over in the corner. It is a cooperative game based around collectible little figures that you unbox (out of an egg/ball shaped thing) as you play the game. The game is lightweight, you go to a location, roll a die, and add your stat to resolve things. Every hero has unique abilities. Treachery at Twilight is considered Series 2 and features Loki as the lord of mischief. He uses curse cards on the players as they strive to win the game. You can buy the game as a “megapack” of 6 figures, or a Battleball of two figures (making it playable on its own.) If you need more Battleworld, there’s an animation on Disney Plus for series 1 and series 2 is on Youtube.
My notebook continues to un-fill. We’re not yet done, but can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not exactly close, but it is still there… Stay tuned for the rest of my discoveries coming soon to a blog near you…