Gen Con 2023 – Asmodee

Despite its size, Asmodee had a stealth presence in the dealer hall. There were many games on display under the Asmodee umbrella but they were all presented under the name of the design house. Libellud had the hint-giving party game Dixit: Disney Edition, CMON was showing off the cooperative whack-a-mole Stranger Things: Upside Down, Lookout Games was showing the tree-based combo-tastic card game Forest Shuffle, and Days of Wonder had a tantalizing glimpse of Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West.

Dixit: Disney Edition

We’ll start with the Disney themed version of Dixit from Libellud. Everything one might expect is here. The standard Dixit theme of giving clues about ornately illustrated cards. The active player picks a card in their hand and declares a sentence relating to that card. All other players then add one of their cards to the active player. The active player then shuffles them and puts them out on the table. Players then vote on which card is from the active player. Players that pick the correct card get 3 points as does the active player. However if all or none of the players pick the right card the active player gets 0 and the other players all get 2. A player will also gain 1 point for each opponent that picked their distractor card. The game is played to 30 points.

Dixit is known for its large, colorful, very stylized cards. This Disney edition is no exception. There are 84 cards in the deck and each card represents one of the 84 films from Disney and Pixar.

CMON

Speaking of thematic, Stranger Things: Upside Down from CMON was dripping with something, but you don’t want to know. It’s a 2-4 cooperative game based on the Netflix series. Players take on the role of the kids as they move about the town, trying to stop the Hawkins National Lab (and the Upside Down – a mirror universe of the town) from taking over the world. A typical stress-free day for a 7th grader, just don’t mention the upcoming school dance (not in the game – that I know of.)

The game board is separated into two parts, Hawkins and the Upside Down. The goal of the game is for the kids to manage to rescue their friend, Will, from the Upside Down. A typical turn has a player moving around on the board and then activating a spot on the board (or challenging a stack of monsters or both.) Both moving and challenging stacks use up cards, with some cards providing other special powers. At the end of one’s turn they refill their hand with cards and draw the expected bad-event-card called a scene card here.

Littered around the board are stacks of monsters of varied power. When encountering a stack players must fight by committing some of their cards to the fight. The stack is revealed and values are compared. If the total committed is higher it is a “win”. If the stack is more powerful, a player takes additional “fear” to make up the difference. If it is a loss, remove one token from the stack and reset it on the board. In this way, even a loss will progress the game forward and one might expect to lose once or twice before being able to defeat a particularly strong monster. Stacks can be attacked by more than one character at a time and there is even a walkie-talkie card that allows players to team up even if they’re not at the same location.

The game follows the first two seasons of the Stranger Things series over the course of two games. The board is double-sided with one side for each season. So to “clarify”, each side has a Hawkins and Upside-Down area, but turn the board upside down and you get another Hawkins with another Upside-Down area. No problemo!

Forest Shuffle

Forest Shuffle has the distinction of being the only game at the convention compelling enough to inspire a friend to accost me in the dealer hall to make sure I had seen the title. I immediately put it on my radar, as I know we share some favorite games. I eventually made it over to the Lookout Games booth and asked for a demonstration.

Forest Shuffle is a tableau building game where players start with a tree card and then add to the tree (often animals) to expand the tree’s capabilities by sliding a new card partially underneath previous cards. The base tree card has four sides, so you (usually) have fourth slots to fill. Most cards you add are split down the middle (either left/right or top/bottom) so you always have a decision when you add a card – which side do you want to use? You simply slide the other side underneath the tree.

A turn consists of drawing two cards (either from the deck or from the middle of the table) or playing 1 card. To play a card, one pays the cost by placing the requisite number of cards into the middle of the table. If you purchase a card by discarding cards with matching symbols, you may gain a bonus (like an additional card or card play.) Cards can be trees or animals, with animal cards requiring an open location on a tree. As one would expect for a combo-licious game, cards can provide an ongoing effect, a bonus effect, or provide points in some fashion (acorns = points.)

The game is played until three winter cards (which are shuffled into the bottom third of the deck) are drawn and then points are totaled. The game is listed as 2-5 players, expected to run about an hour, and should be available in Essen in October.

Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West

Like peanut butter and chocolate, take Ticket to Ride and drizzle in Legacy features and you get Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West. Ticket to Ride, meaning the rummy-like set card collecting game using those sets to make connections on a common playing board. Legacy, meaning the game grows and changes from game to game, responding to decisions the players make during each game. There isn’t a lot of information about the game, but the first scenario (of 12) was on display at Gen Con.

A photo of Dale Yu taking a photo of the game. Yes, folks, this is how the sausage gets made….

Without any spoilers, one can see the first game involves the northeast of the USA, up to Chicago or so, with handy “puzzle-like” edges where the south Atlantic and central/western states should be. I’m just spitballing here but I’m gonna expect the game with “Legends of the West” in the name will eventually add more map to the western side. There were boxes on the table labeled with railroads matching the player colors. It seems that players may earn “something” during games which they can add to their box “vault” and presumably earnings will be useful some time in the future (winner of the game? Upgrades? Time will see.)

There’s also wide open spaces in the rulebook, fit for the inclusion of more rules to come. The game handles 2 to 5 players and it is looking like a November 2023 release or so.

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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