Gen Con 2023 – Horrible Guild

I didn’t meet Horrible Guild in the main exhibit hall but I braved the wilds of one of the hotel lobbies and came away with intel on the upcoming redo of Rondo entitled Sunrise Lane by the venerable Knizia and the realtime co-op game Quicksand.

Sunrise Lane

Sunrise Lan is a quick, 30 minute game for 2 to 4 players that was pre launched at Gen Con but will have a general release at Essen. Old, opinionated gamers may recall the game Rondo from a decade ago. Sunrise Lane takes some of the mechanisms and reboots it into a more thematic game. (Oldtimers will note that Rondo didn’t have player colors.)

Gameplay consists of either drawing cards or playing them to claim spaces on the board. As you can see in the photo, the board is made of various city locations displaying one to five colored pips. A player may place a building by playing a card of the matching color. Buildings must be placed adjacent to other buildings. A player can play multiple buildings on a turn (if they have enough cards) but the buildings must all be in a line.

When a building is placed, it scores points equal to the number of pips it covers, so playing a red card to place a building on a red 3-pip space would score 3 points. Players may spend additional cards (2 or 3 total) to multiply the points earned. This is signified by placing taller buildings (two or three pieces high.) Finally, if a player wants to continue building in a line (to get to a high value target) they may play any card face-down as a joker card and place a park tile on that spot. Parks, however, disrupt contiguous lines of buildings which can be important as the player with the largest set of adjacent buildings scores bonus points.

In addition to points scored during the game, the end of the game also awards points based on the various areas on the board. There are points for having the most buildings in an area and for having the highest buildings in the area. I haven’t given it a test drive yet but I do like how there is a pretty good balance of freedom to do what you want while providing just enough guardrails that you can’t always do everything you want.


Quicksand is a 1-7 player cooperative, real-time, card game. It should be launching at Essen this fall. In brief, players are taking turns playing cards to move sand timers along a track, making sure the timers don’t run out as they go.

The game is set up by laying out a path of round tiles displaying a color and a symbol. In our game, three sand timers were placed on the three starting spaces and we were trying to move them along the path to get all of them to the final three spots (indicated by the line in the photo) without them running out of sand. Players are given three cards, the timers are flipped, and the game starts.

A player’s turn consists of playing a card and then drawing one. When a card is played, it will either be a color or a symbol (although there are a few wild cards.) All timers on tiles that match the played card (symbol or color) will be flipped and moved forward one space. However, if they are blocked by another timer, they will simply stay in place (they might flip, but I don’t recall.) It may be that several timers will move at once and the active player can decide on the order to move them (typically the one furthest along.)

If a timer runs out of sand, all is not lost. However, it is then placed adjacent to its tile and flipped. The only way to get it back onto the path is to play a wild card. If the timer runs out before it is placed on the path, the game is lost. (I believe running out of cards also ends in a loss.)

Similar to the very popular The Crew, Quicksand has many different suggested setups that make for a easier or more challenging game. They are listed in order on the rules sheet and players can work their way through them in a sort of campaign. All sorts of adjustments can be made. There are several different timers so you could use more at once, not to mention not all the timers have the same amount of sand. Normally communication is encouraged but you may need to play without talking, play where only the other players can see your cards, or possibly a setup with walls to beat down. A wall will stop a timer from advancing so playing the appropriate card will weaken the wall until it is removed and all the timers can then proceed.

Finally, in the solo mode players are given a hand of cards and they most ALL be played before drawing a new hand.

Look, we won!! All the timers are past the end line.

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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