Words by David C. Obenour
Gen Con | August 1-4, 2019 | Indiana Convention Center
With over 70,000 attendees this year, Gen Con is the largest gathering of gamers in the Western Hemisphere. Taking over downtown Indianapolis, including the Colt’s Lucas Oil Stadium, there are almost just as many ways to experience this long-running convention as there are people who experience it. From Thursday to Sunday, days are filled with gaming world championships, forums and panels, anime movie screenings, restaurants with special menus inspired by RPG publishers, and much more.
For our part we scoured the massive exhibitor hall. Walking up and down aisle after aisle of publishers large and small to demo and hear about all of their latest games. Here is part one of the games that caught our attention at Gen Con 2019!
The Dead Eye (Pleasant Company Games)
The first game that stood out to us at Gen Con did so in a way no other could. Pleasant Company Games’ new post-apocalyptic western game, The Dead Eye comes with 3D glasses to pop the art and action in your face! In a lesser game it would have felt gimmicky, but The Dead Eye just felt awesome. A solo game, it’s just you and a deck of cards, building your rig and trying to survive for another day out here in the wasteland.
Fuji (Feuerland Spiele)
Originally publishers for Terra Mystica, Feuerland Spiele is looking to break more directly into the North American market and are doing so with the new game, Fuji. A cooperative tile-based games, Fuji uses a unique hidden rolling with clue-giving mechanic that has players working together to escape from an erupting volcano. More the adrenaline of “wait and see” coupled with odds-weighing and vague clues, it’s a fun little game with lots of unique twists.
Casket Land (Marie Enger)
Our second venture into a dusty post-apocolyptic world at Gen Con, Casket Land is a beautifully illustrated RPG setting made by comic artist, Marie Enger. Taking advantage of the zine format and thriving in it with stark black and white illustrations, Casket Land is designed for single session play with quick to explain rules. Seemingly easy to pick up and get lost in, we’re excited to ride off deeper into the dark horizon!
Thrive (Adam’s Apple Games)
A deceptively simple yet elegant way of play, Thrive unfolds like an evolving game of chess. Playing pieces show their available moves with a central orange peg representing the piece’s current location and white pegs showing the moves it can take. Each turn a player moves their piece and then adds white pegs to make his pieces more powerful with additional movements. A “don’t (or do) put your pegs all in one piece” dilemma! It’s also a great match of theme with the sporadic and underwater growth of lotus flowers. An expansion adds some additional layers to the game and both will be hitting stands later this year.
Papillon (Kolossal Games)
In a exhibitor hall filled with eye-catching games, Papillon drew in many with its bright field of flowers. Using a tile-placing mechanic similar to Carcassonne, players work to create the most attractive meadow possible for the many tiny clothespined butterflies. Completing areas, they then can clip these butterflies to 3-D clumps of flowers scored at games end. Inventive and gorgeous components with a fun and familiar gameplay, there’s a lot to like about Papillon.
Mysterium captured modern gamers interest with its beautiful illustrations, conversation driven cooperative game play, and simple to explain rules. Now designer Xavier Collette is back with his follow up game, Obscurio! Offering a number of inventive twists on its predecessor, this new game features a traitor amongst the mediums and obscuring lenses to cloud the Grimoire’s visions. While Mysterium’s expansions have primarily just added more illustrations to the game, Obscurio offers fans old and new a completely different way to play.
Wavelength (Palm Court)
With so many stand out games this year, I can’t stop thinking about how cool Wavelength was. Diving right into it, a team’s clue giver blindly spins the spectrum card to place the wavelength for that round. They then secretly reveal it and pull a card that offers two opposed options, like good tv show or bad tv show. The spectrum card is hidden once more, a clue is given (for example, Curb Your Enthusiasm if you wanted your guessers to choose the “pretty, pretty, pretty good” side), and then the guessers have to decide where on the spectrum the wavelength is found. As a party game that will spark laughter and goodhearted debates about what is or isn’t this or that, Wavelength is a hit.
Hellboy: The Board Game (Mantic Games)
As a pretty big Hellboy nerd (my wife and I each have Mignola illustrated skull tattoos), I’ve been looking forward to Mantic’s board game ever since it was announced. Coming from a solid history of tabletop gaming, the miniatures for this game are beautiful in detail. There are a lot of triple-digit big boxes of plastic nowadays, but this one meets the bar set by its inspiration. The gameplay seems exciting too, taking you through a narrative series of case files that can be mixed and matched to create your own later on. Definitely one to look further into.
GWAR vs Time (Wildfire Games)
As admittedly more of an appreciator than a true Bohab (Juggalos are to ICP as Bohabs are to GWAR), I was still intrigued by the idea of a GWAR game. A deck-builder with a few of its own ideas, it seems like there’s enough game here to satisfy gamers and if they’re patient enough, it’s probably not too complicated for more just fans of the band. There’s also plenty of great art and inside jokes referenced in the flavor text, to keep the theme running strong. *insert highly inappropriate GWAR reference or song title here*
Paris La Cite de la Lumiere (Devir Games)
Paris La Cite de la Lumiere is a great example of these amazing little and modestly priced games that Devir has been consistently churning out of late. A two-player and two part game, players initially take turns laying out a city gridwork of tiles and claiming the buildings that they will later place. After the board is full, players place their buildings on the available grid spaces and claim special abilities from a deck new for each game. Simple but thinking in a small box, this one is perfectly made for tossing into a bag for a day out.
And that’s the first of the games that we played at this year’s Gen Con! Be sure to check back in next week for more coverage and head over to our gaming section to see all of our other interviews and features!