“The best 4 days in gaming.” a slogan that the popular board game convention Gen Con claims; and in this humble reviewer’s opinion lives up to.
Having just returned from Gen Con I decided I would take some time to fill you guys in on what Sean and I experience over these last 4 days. I will give a general review of the weekend, a highlight from each day, and some company-centric announcements we got while talking to the various publishers.
Like most cons GenCon is a whirlwind of activity; over 50,000 people walking through the exhibit hall, demo rooms, and hallways makes for a sensory overload. Fortunately said senses are being fed with Board, Card, and Roleplaying Game goodness. Our con included (for Brian; each of our numbers vary by person) playing a mere 11 new games, doing 6 interviews, 2 press events, eating way too much amazing food, getting far too little sleep, and taking over 40,000 steps! I would argue Gen Con lived up to it’s claim to be “The Best 4 Days in Gaming!”
Thursday began at 5:00 AM Central and ended at 1:00 AM EST. Upon arrival and receiving our badges and tickets we walked to a local Brazilian Steak house where I dropped 1/2 of my dinning budget on 1 meal; it was worth it. After which we had a press event for Iello Games. Iello revealed a few of their upcoming releases; one of which I am very excited about, Big Book of Madness.
Big Book of Madness is a 2-5 player game that takes roughly 60-90 minutes. The players take on the rolls of students in a school of magic; they are told of a specific book in the library which they are never to touch. Being curious students, however, they are drawn to the book which upon opening is revealed to be a prison for terrible magical beast. Players use their spells to increase their deck which has more spells they will use to return the monsters the book unleashes back to their prison.
Iello released news of other games as well such as Shadows over Normandy (Cthulhu worshiping Nazis), Little Red Riding Hood (an unboxing of which can be seen here), Me Want Cookies, and many many others.
At the Iello party we also had the opportunity to meet Bruno Cathala and Antoine Bauza; two of my favorite designers!
Friday included an early rise and another late end. Once ready and able we departed for the Con where we had a scheduled D&D event; which was Amazing, the folks at Baldman Games do a great job getting great DMs. After which we had interviews with Iello Games’ Keith Meyers, Mayfair’s Robert Carty, and David Whitcher (designer of Star Trek 5 Year Mission). The night was concluded with the Dice Tower live show and AEG Game Night, both fantastic events warranting their own write ups in the future.
Interviewing Keith we learned some of the ins and outs of the Mayfair design and publication process and discussed some of their recent releases as well as what they have coming around Essen and the future. A game he was quite excited about, of course, was the new release Star Trek: 5 Year Mission. Robert then took us to meet the designer of the game, David, whom we got to interview as well.
Star Trek: 5 Year Mission is a 3-7 player cooperative dice rolling game. Each player takes on the role of one of the crew aboard the Enterprise as they seek to discover the worlds beyond our own. David let us know some of his design process, pre-design history with Mayfair, and his joy of getting to publish a game with the company within an IP he enjoys.
We had a more leisurely morning on Saturday. The morning was spent exploring the parts of the exhibit hall our busy days had held us off of before we were able to sit in on a game of Mice and Mystics; a 2012 Plaid Hat hit that has had continued designer support by way of new expansions; the newest of which looks amazing.
Leaving the Plaid Hat Booth Sean and I headed for The Asmodee booth where we met with Adrien Martinot of Days and Wonder. Adrien told us a great deal about the recent and upcoming projects Days of Wonder had in the works. One of the games we were excited to talk about was the expansion to Five Tribes (and yes they can count; they know there are now 6 colors, no they are not changing the name). The new tribe adds a great new mechanic of items which can provide their holder with end game points or special one off abilities; while the tribe themselves adds points at the end of the game in a manner similar to the elders and viziers of the base game. We had a chance to sit down and play the game later; during which Bruno Cathala watched the groups play, making notes on how they responded to the new changes. The expansion also includes mountains and a chasm which meeples can’t pass while mancalaing across the board, 2 new Djinns and erratas to 2 of the old Djinns (so as to make them interact with the new tribe), as well as a total of 6 new tiles bring the play area to a 6×6 grid.
The interview was followed by a Terry Brooks Q&A (Terry has been one of my favorite authors since I was 13; so I was more than a tad excited). After which more time was spent in the vendor hall before we played Mammoth Pompeii at the exhibit hall, during which Sean abandoned his wife and I so he could get Patrick Rothfuss to sign some Draccus promos we bought for Iello’s ‘King of’ series. (note; I won Mammoth Pompeii by 1 survivor)
We took a brief dinner break at the Webber Grill (I highly recommend it) then returned to a hotel to hang out with a few other reviewers and Ignacy Trzewiczek. Leaving that our trio went to an Upper Deck event where it was revealed they will be releasing Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China, and Legendary Encounters: Firefly!
The final day of the con we realised we needed to recover before hitting the floor so took a very leisurely breakfast. We spent some time wandering the convention hall buying the games we had yet to purchase and talking to a few exhibitors before meeting with our Asmodee rep, Sean Jacquemain for an interview.
Sean told us a great deal about the products they and their partners brought to Gen Con as well as what they had in store for the future. A few of the hits of the con, included Mysterium (published by Portal in Poland but was taken to the US by Asmodee), Elysium (2015 Kennerspiel nominee), and their expansions for Five Tribes and Takenoko. It was great seeing the relationship Asmodee has with their partners as it frees the designers up to focus on their amazing strengths of designing great games. Sean also told us of Space Cowboys next game Time Stories which sounds amazing!
Before ending the day Sean and I returned to the Portal booth to say hi again to Ignacy as well as do a fast interview; this also allowed me to buy Tides of Time; which had sold out earlier, but a few reserved copies failed to be picked up and were thus put up for sale; and I couldn’t say no to buying one; Sean then bought the new Atlanteans expansion for Imperial Settlers and Rattle Battle, a fun game that lets the player’s build pirate ships!
We wrapped up the con with a game of Bremerhaven at the Mayfair play area before calling it a day and hoping back in the car for a long journey home and a well deserved rest.
Stay tuned to our Youtube channel and social media for more information about the Con as well as the video from our interviews!