Words by David C. Obenour
Gen Con | September 16-19, 2021 | Indiana Convention Center
“The best four days in gaming” requires more than just one post! Following up on part 1 from last week, head back into the exhibitor hall with us for part 2 of the games of Gen Con 2021.
Legends Royal Rumble Card Game (Ravensburger)
Games based on established intellectual property can be dicey affairs and wrestling games have been botched before, which makes Royal Rumble even more of a standout champion. Dealing from a deck of WWE legends, players trade dropkicks and suplexes as they form temporary alliances for getting opponents over the top rope and eliminated. However, even after your deck of wrestlers is depleted the action continues outside the ring – just as long as the ref doesn’t see it!
Vagrantsong (Wyrd Games)
Creators of the Malifaux miniatures system, Wyrd has put together a fascinating board game with Vagrantsong. Looking to hitch a ride out for new opportunities or just somewhere warmer to sleep out for the night, your band of vagrants encounter more than they bargained for on this train. Storylines play out through actions across multiple cooperative sessions as the mystery of the train’s other passengers deepen. It’s surprising that the “Steamboat Willie” illustration-style hasn’t been explored further by game designers and here, Wyrd puts it to great use.
Chai (Steeped Games)
Complete with smartly crafted teacups and soft-colored illustrations, Chai is a wonderful example of the modern trend in zen gaming. Utilizing set collecting and contract fulfillment, players visit the market and source additives as they work to fulfill the customer’s drink order for a hidden tip. While the play styles for Chai are familiar, their smart pairing and component integration make for a game every bit as enjoyable as the teas it has you preparing.
Fate of Fantos (Mondo Games)
The source of the life force to all existence, the planet of Fantos has been ravaged for eons as battling citadels work to assert their dominance. Unending war and greed now leaves the planet teetering on the brink of destruction as Zodraz, the Cosmic Warden, comes to intervene through a great cull. With vibrant and hyper-detailed illustrations, players use competitive and cooperative styles of play as they beat back cosmic creatures, plagues and more in a contest for supremacy or shared continued existence.
Planetoid (Portal Dragon)
The final frontier has proven to be just as lucrative as the ones that came before it. With a two-sided game board, scattered and random resource tokens, and a light, more advanced, and alien verses solitary style of play, Planetoid offers a galaxy of adventure to scan into and mine. The basic game centers around revealed resource memorization while the more advanced style of play introduces energy as an action-limiting resource and a variety of available system upgrades to improve your mining operation… or get damaged and break.
Grind House (Everything Epic)
Playing into the classic horror movie trope of survive the night, Grind House is your invitation to riches – as long as you can make it out! Leaning into the cinematic theme, players choose from classic archetypes with their own secret motives. Turns advance with murder, mayhem and mutilation as players open doors into the randomized rooms for that game. The storytelling moves along as you choose the (mis)adventures of your character and doesn’t end even in death as you continue on as a ghost.
All Manor of Evil (Kolossal Games)
Delving into the mansion and mind of H.P. Lovecraft, players in All Manor of Evil act as classic Cthulian protagonists exploring the many dimensions of madness awakening. For their entry into the world of unspeakable horrors, Kolossal has crafted a social card game with simultaneous selection, bluffing, set collection and hand management. Be wary though, while ancient horrors are unspeakable your fellow adventurers can often offer you even more trouble – though a short play time keeps the betrayals light.
Sleeping Gods (Red Raven Games)
Adrift on an ocean steamship in the decade following the First World War, charts become less reliable and constellations less familiar. The world has wandered and you have found yourself surrounded by foreign vistas, creatures and ancient gods. Playable as a solitaire or cooperative game, it is up to you to explore and understand as you work toward a way home. Those familiar with Red Raven Games will appreciate the continued narrative style of campaign play with rich storytelling and the “book-as-board” change of settings. Those unfamiliar would do themselves a favor to remedy that.
Shamans (Studio H)
Shadows hidden amongst us have threatened the harmony of things and it is up to the Shamans to root out this evil and restore the balance. Mixing aspects of hidden-traitor and trick-taking mechanics, the theme of Shamans is primarily carried by the art with more of the player’s attention focused on the mechanics. With suited and numbered cards, hands are settled by the highest and lowest card players taking actions and shifting the world balance for better or worse. Actions take place when played cards complete a run and rounds award victory points to the winning Shaman or Shadow players.
Scurvy Dogs (Scallywags International)
Searching for fame and fortune on the Spanish Main, Scurvy Dogs is a game of piracy and all the fun that comes with it. Up to eight players set sail to raid and bury treasure, captain and build a fleet, and win notoriety through slaying the Kraken, raiding La Fortaleza or having pilfered all the gold there is to pilfer. With a horizon of choices as wide as the open waters, your legend is your own to write.
And that concludes the games we played at Gen Con 2021! Be sure to follow along for our regular gaming coverage and subscribe for free to our monthly Digital Zine to never miss an interview or feature!