Gen Con 2023 – Wizkids

Wizkids line of miniatures always sets a great stage for their booth (more on those later with the RPGs) but their minis expertise also means their games like Dungeons & Dragons: Trials of Tempus attract a crowd. Others on display include the classic Princes of Florence, medium-weight Rebuilding Seattle, and co-op Star Trek Discovery – Black Alert., and the party co-op Blob Party.

Trials of Tempus

Trials of Tempus is a 2-8 player game of tactical combat using Wizkids’ Dungeons & Dragons miniatures. Playable in about two hours, at low player counts (like 1v1) it is best if players control two characters at once.

In many ways the game is like playing a 1-shot (1 session) D&D adventure focused on the combat side of things. Players familiar with 5th Edition D&D will feel right at home. A player’s characters roam the board, defeating monster camps and collecting loot to become more powerful and earn victory points. Once 10 points have been gathered the guardian spawns. There are 4 different big, bad, evil guardians in the game. Defeat the guardian and the game ends.

Photo: Two of the guardians

Most monsters have two hit points, while elite monsters might have more. You can see in the photo that the big, bad guys have lots. How can this be accomplished you ask? By powering up your characters through levels of experience and loot.

At the start of the game three (out of 12) Quest Cards are revealed which drive part of the strategy of the game. These can be slaying monsters, going up against the environment in some way, questing for information and items on the board, as well as some that encourage character vs character combat.

During each round, an event card is played. These will spawn monsters (who probably have loot) as expected, but may also fire off an environmental effect. The gameboard is laid out onto a grid. If you look carefully above, you can see numbers 1-20 next to the central squares on each side of the board. These are often used for random effects: things like a wall of fire erupts, a rampaging monster runs across the board damaging those in its way, or possibly even damaging or destroying specific squares.

Photo: Lots of ways of marking “conditions” on creatures – poisoned, prone, stunned, blinded, etc… all from standard D&D gameplay.

Heroes in the game are represented by a deck of cards. At the start a class deck is chosen (from a deck of 8) and a character deck is chosen (again from 8) and the two are shuffled together to make one deck (if you do the math, out of a possible 64.) However, class decks also have two subclass options which means one additional small deck is shuffled in to make 128 possible combinations. While there will obviously be some better and some worse combinations, character decks are fairly balanced in order to “play well” with most of the various classes.

Since the decks are the core of a character, leveling up consists of upgrading the deck. At the start, all level 2 cards are removed from the deck. After the deck is depleted for the first time, two level 2 cards (of the player’s choice) are added and then the deck is reshuffled. Go through the deck a second time and a player may cherry-pick just 8 cards to serve as their deck. This continues for the rest of the game, with the player able to swap out which 8 cards they want to use each time. When a character levels up for the first time, they are also able to flip over their weapon card to use its more powerful side.

After someone offs the guardian the game ends and the team of characters with the most points is declared the winner.

Princes of Florence

A nice, new edition of the classic game of bidding for pentomino-style building tiles and trying to fit them into one’s personal build area.

Blob Party

Blob Party is a quick co-op party game of trying to get everyone to guess the same answer. Players are given a blob of playdough with a googly eye in it. This serves more as a visual reference than a game mechanic. A category card is flipped over and one player is give three word cards and picks one. All players then secretly write down an answer that matches both the chosen word and its category. This could be a single word or several. The goal is for all players to put down the same word. After writing is concluded, the words are revealed. Any players that match (by whatever criteria players wish to use) combine their two blobs into one larger one with multiple eyes. A new round (new subject, new word card chosen from three) begins. This time, players with combined blobs work together as a team to pick a word. This continues round to round, with additional players joining together until everyone chooses the same answer. If players can do this within 7 rounds, it is considered a win.

Rebuilding Seattle

Out for a few months now, Rebuilding Seattle has 1-5 players rebuilding after the great Seattle fire of 1889. It uses card drafting and geometric (*Tetris) tile placement to develop a stronger and stronger economy engine-building mechanism.

Blurry photo above displaying eligible cards at the top and city tiles below.

Players begin with a small card of possible building locations which they fill with geometric tiles. Additional suburb cards can be acquired to open up more placement spots. Cards are drafted from a line of cards at the top of the board. 

In addition to building their suburb, every player has their own, unique player board. This tracks various stats including population, quality of life, etc.. The “three laws” at the top right of the player card are unique abilities for that player during the game. In addition to the development tracks on the left, there is a bit of a strategic gameplay with the cubes on the right, trying to get them to match values in specific ways.

There are three rounds, and each round consists of six events. Of the six, three are focused on scoring specific built districts and also provide money and three cause a different sort of event to occur (getting free stuff, reducing some of your bad categories, etc…) Players choose when to activate an event card, so activating the event when it is optimal for you is great, but why not also the thrill of preemptively activating one when it is bad for your neighbor. Once all six events occur the round ends. The game lasts for 3 rounds and then ends.

One fun bit of the game is the building of Landmark pieces. These represent famous landmarks in the city. Each can only be built once (by a single player) and are represented on the board by nifty little photographic tiles.

Star Trek Discovery – Black Alert

Coming “soon”, Star Trek Discovery – Black Alert is a 2-4 player team game pitting the Discovery ship against the alternate-dimension capital ship Charon. These ships are represented on the central map board by standees, but ship locations are found both on the side of the board as well as special ship cards. The basic goal is for the crew of the Discovery to complete three missions before the crew of the Charon can infiltrate them or track them down and eliminate them. In general, the Discovery is faster moving and and hop through the spore lanes on the board fairly easily while the Charon is more of a plodding danger. Speaking of the spore lanes, some intersections of the routes are represented by dials which can be spun in order to mess up your enemy’s planned route. Every player chooses a character (out of many possible ones) and moves them from place to place (on the ship) to perform actions. Characters also have a unique 1-time special ability to differentiate them from the others.

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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