Well I made it to Indianapolis for my one day tour of Gen Con. I got up insanely early to make the drive into Indianapolis, and managed to find parking only one block away from the convention center. For the first time, I pre-booked parking at a nearby downtown garage, and while the cost was somewhat breathtaking, the proximity to the convention center was highly appreciated as well as the lack of anxiety about trying to find parking as normally happens with my Gencon trips.
After a short line to prove my vaccinated status, I got the yellow wristband that allows me to enter the Con itself (or allows me to buy beer at the bar). Admittedly, it took me a bit of time to find the right room. To GenCon’s credit, all the emails told me where to go, but there was a surprising lack of signage from the doors and other main entry points as to where I would find said line.
I managed to get into the dealer hall a bit early thanks to a 9AM appointment. I always try to set something like this up in order to get a chance to walk around a bit early and see things before the throngs overtake the convention space. It was actually a bit eerie to walk around and not see anyone for long periods of time. I was later struck my the very high proportion of gamers who were walking around with masks that were actually worn correctly (with both the mouth and nose covered!). In fact, the only folks who I saw without masks were the employees of the convention center – housekeeping and maintenance – and security folks.
This year, it felt like the aisles were a bit wider than usual, and the entire hall was packed with booths. There were very few empty booth spaces, and I think there were 31 aisles this year in the dealer hall. Matt Carlson usually does the OG rundown of the convention, and we had a little bit of time to catch up at the show. I’ll leave the bulk of the coverage to Matt, but I’ll briefly talk about a few games that caught my eye during my meetings.
Kites from Floodgate games has been highly recommended to me. Though I wasn’t able to connect with my press contact, I did run into Ben and he offered me a copy of the game. This is supposed to be a fun cooperative game with Kites being represented by sand timers. The group has to work together to play all their cards without letting a kite fall out of the sky. It’s definitely a different vibe than their previous cooperative game (Decorum), and I can’t wait to try it out.
Then an imprompt meeting at Matagot had a few pleasant surprises. First, a number of small format card games, including Photograph, which is a reprint of the hard-to-obtain Wind the Film. These games should be ready for Essen 2022. Level 10 is a reprint of Okey Dokey, a fun game which we had a good time with when it was previously released here.
Perfect Shot is another nice family game where you try to take pictures of animals, using holes cut in the cards which you overlay upon the previously played card. We played a few rounds, and it looks like it’ll be a fun light filler.
Then, while discussing our upcoming fantasy football draft with Hanno from Lookout – I did get a look at the new box for Agricola 15. I can’t wait to get my hands on this new version to be able to carry things around in a single box. They are working on cardboard containers for the wooden animeeples and vegimeeples so that gamers won’t have to provide their own Plano boxes for this.
One of the fun things about GenCon is getting to meet all the famous people in gaming. I saw Tom Vasel and his hat about 100 times in the first hour, and then I got to meet one of my favorite people, Steph H. We took our picture to prove that we were together. It’s not nearly as cool as some of the other recurring pics that Steph takes at cons, but hey, i’m boring!
Asmodee dominated the middle of the convention space as usual. They had areas separated off for each of the publishers in their stable. There were a few games that caught my eye. Twilight Inscription is a new roll and write based on the classic Twilight Imperium. An interesting take on RnW DRM in that the boards are black and you use fluorescent dry erase markers to draw on the boards.
There is a new game called My Shelfie. This is an auto-buy for me given the designers, Phil Walker-Harding and Matthew Dunstan. For now, I could not resist taking a selfie of My Shelfie.
There was a bit of excitement around the upcoming release from Unexpected Games, 3000 Scoundrels. This game has a bit of card-crafting as you will create the varied scoundrels in the game by combining transparent cards in card sleeves. There is also a bit of bluffing with the cardplay, which is a skill I truly have to improve at…
My meeting with CGE was mostly about Starship Captains, a game slated for Essen 22 release. The game will be a combination of action selection and engine buildings where you work to devise the best ship and crew to finish missions.
It’s not all about new games. Here’s an OG classic. Rumor has it that there is a new roll-and-write adaptation of this game in the works. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!
Picked up an expansion for a friend. This is about the highest cost to bit ratio that I’ve ever paid money for! The OINK booth was slammed, and it took a bit of fighting to make it to the stand itself. There were also selling things like water bottles which were very popular (pic courtesy of James Nathan).
After a short break for lunch, and to make a trip back to my car only a block away to empty my bags – time to return to the dealer hall for more meetings. At Board and Dice, I finally got to meet Ola, and her personality in person was so much like what she projects in her awesome monthly newsletters!
The big game they are promoting for Fall 2022 is Tiletum. The designers (Luciani and Tascini) are known for more complex designs, but this one is slated to fit into the under 2 hour range, so I’m definitely looking forward to trying it. The game has a neat action selection mechanism where dice can be used choosing actions as well as resources. I also really liked the planned incorporation of cathedral tiles which use art representing the actual buildings. (No pictures of the bits as it is still a prototype)
Hachette is making a bigger splash, representing many of the French companies. Northgard was in high demand (we had just recently played it and surprisingly enjoyed it…). Two of the new games were Ole Guacamole which is a fun party game where you have to say related words while avoiding any words with letters flipped up on cards. Galileo Project (from Sorry We Are French) is a game about colonizing the Jupiter moons. It is set in the same world as Ganymede, an earlier game from the same company.
As a bonus here is a picture of a Eurogamer playing a 4x game. This is from our recent game of Northgard. I played purple and really tried to play a 1x game in my own corner. I was honestly trying to not attack at all, but I was forced to do so in the final round in order to prevent an opponent from getting one of the instant win positions!
Queen Games has a new label, Chili Island – focusing on lighter family based party games. I got a selection of the three new games, all designed in part by Julien Gupta – and I will be trying them at a family reunion later this weekend…
AEG has a great press event where we got demos of the new games, and I had a blast playing Ready Set Bet with the designer, John D. Clair. The game does require a moderator, but there is an app in the works that will allow an iPad or phone to take on the role of the track announcer. AEG is also working on a great project with us content creators, and I am hoping to have news of some great giveaways in the coming months!
Funko is the king of pop-culture IP games, and the current crop of games continues this trend. They are focusing both on old classics (E.T., Rear Window, and The Goonies) as well as some of the newest hits (Ted Lasso) from the small screen. They also keep pounding their Disney license, and I’m looking forward to trying out the marble game in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
On the way out of the hall, two final games. First is Evergreen from Horrible Games and Hjalmar Hach. In many ways it feels similar to Photosynthesis, a previous Hach release, but there are enough differences. You plant sprouts on your board, which grow into small trees and then large trees. At the end of each round, you will score points for the amount of sun that your trees are able to capture.
And the final game of my convention was Sea Salt and Paper – an upcoming release from Bombyx. The rules are deceivingly simple, and you work to create combinations/melds in your hand and the table with the cards. There is a bit of gambling which can be done to end each round – making the decision to end a round more complex. Finally, the art here is great, as all of the animals in the game are renditions of origami of the same. This will be high on my pick-up list for Essen in a few months.
Well, that’s a quick tour of things I saw at GenCon. In the next few weeks, Matt C will surely give a much more detailed review of the things that he saw as well.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor