Words by David C. Obenour
Gen Con | August 4-7, 2022 | Indiana Convention Center
After a measured return to the in-person conference last year, Gen Con was back to its prepandemic vastness for 2022. The longest-running and best-attended convention for tabletop gaming in North America, over 60,000 vaccinated and masked gamers flooded the Indiana Convention Center and its surrounding hotels, restaurants, and once again at Lucas Oil Stadium. And with all of these attendees, exhibitors returned en masse too – bringing classic favorites, new releases, and games currently on or headed soon to Kickstarter. With so much to do and see, here’s part one of the games we got to play from Gen Con.
Skate Summer (Pandasaurus)
With art every bit as radical as its gameplay, the creators of Dinosaur Island hit our collective “oh hell yeah,” sweetspot once again with this timeless ode to skateboarding. Skate around the park collecting bonuses as you push your luck on combo-ed tricks. Just be sure to mind your balance – don’t want to have to bail, dude! The only way this game gets any better is by throwing on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack.
The Great American Mail Race (Big Potato)
The first officially licensed game from the US Postal Service, I would love to see the initial correspondence with Big Potato games. “You want to what? Really?” Of course, anything can – and should – be a game because life is full of interest and The Great American Mail Race proves mail collection is no different. Race opponents in delivering postcards, parcels, and letters – even “help each other out” by delivering theirs for them… which you’ll get credit for, sure. But whatever it takes! Neither snow nor rain and all that.
Necromolds: Monster Battles (Necromolds)
Gen Con had a number of mind-boggling fun and creative games this year. They always do! But the game I’m telling everyone about? Necromolds! Create the minion horde of your AdultSwim/metal-album-cover-loving dreams from a series of molds and PlayDoh, then literally smash your enemies with your signet ring. With a new edition coming to Kickstarter, how am I just finding out about Necromolds? What other amazing secrets is the universe keeping from me?
Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town (BoardGameTables.com)
Yup. That’s who you are and that’s what you’re doing. And it turns out that despite being psychic, delivering pizzas in Ghost Town is a real hassle (and also a lot of fun). Moving around your player board, you step on cats, bump into ghosts, finally find the pizza, and then race to deliver it. Be careful though – every step you take is being watched by your fellow psychics as you piece together where things are in Ghost Town.
The Cosmic Adventures of Supernova (Hunt A Killer)
While some games feel like an expensive box of components for expensive components’ sake, Hunt A Killer has put together a truly amazing box of fandom for The Cosmic Adventures of Supernova. As dedicated members of Supernova’s fanclub, you’ve been called on by the reclusive series’ creator to help solve the mystery of the disappearance of his twin sister. Dust off your collector’s lunchbox, break the seal on that action figure, and get ready for 4-6 hours of mystery solving fun!
Dive (Sit Down!)
The depths of the ocean contain many wonders. Sea turtles, manta rays, massive whales, and more. Of course, many dangerous creatures also call these waters their home. Peering through the stacked transparent and double-sided ocean cards, players plan their dive as they determine which level the dangers below them lurk. The components wow factor is sure to bring friends to the table, and they’ll stick around for easy to explain rules and quick play with simultaneous action.
Phantom Ink (Resonym)
Restless spirits haunt the waking world but only the most skilled mediums can derive their intent. Gathered together, will your team of mystics be able to ease your spirit or will your adversaries connect the clues first? Given the long-sustained popularity of modern party games, it’s always impressive when a game can manage to be unique and still easily accessible within the confines of short play times and high player counts. Phantom Ink is the partial word-spelling game of shared clues and twenty questions.
Lightyear: Blast-off Blitz (Mattel)
Collect fuel cells, dodge giant bugs, and launch your XL-15 starship before your opponent does, all the excitement of Pixar’s Lightyear is at your fingertips with Blast-off Blitz. Players start the game by flicking pucks to collect fuel and bug tokens. Then each fuel gives players a chance to hit the launchpad and blast-off – but with an announced countdown and through the deflecting shots of your opponent. Only moderate dexterity needed for fun that reaches to infinity and beyond!
Raccoon Robbers (Pegasus Spiele)
It’s an alley war that only the most daring and foolhardy raccoons could ever hope to win. Send your team of lackeys up to dizzying heights before jumping back down into the heep and moving your boss raccoon on down the path to the GOLDEN TRASH. Great lighthearted fun with clever and well-made cardboard components, there’s a lot to enjoy from the trashy and zany world of raccoons.
Hues and Clues (The Op)
How well-defined is your color palette? How clever are you at cryptically conveying that in a word or two? In Hues and Clues, players take turns being given random colors to try and have the others identify the exact shade of with just one word and then again with two. Quite the graphic designer’s game in concept (though certainly a lot of fun no matter your profession), it’s interesting seeing a company as large as The Op exploring such a seemingly defined niche.
The world has been plunged into inky black darkness, washing out most any hint of color. As a dedicated adventurer, you have set off to collect mystic companions and bring back what light you can to the villages. Collect cards, roll dice, journey along your path, and reignite the spark and wonder that once was.
Burgle Bros 2 (Fowers Games)
Just one more heist, bros. I know we said Burgle Bros. would be our last go around – when we’d finally all get to retire – but hear us out for the payoff in Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers. You and your fellow bros are in it for high stakes as you hatch your plan to take down multiple casinos. It won’t be easy, but it will be fun! Luckily this time you’ve got unique player gear as you navigate new room tiles, bouncers and the unwitting crowds.
Watchsmiths (Doghalla Games)
It takes skilled and tiny hands to make the most impressive and precise time pieces, and who’s hands are tinier than those of adorable house mice? Mixing the classic fantasy trope with placed interlocking gears spun round through a spinning playerboard, the prototype for Watchsmiths was the game closest to conception that we played at Gen Con (in fact, Watchsmiths may not even be its final name). Lots of fun ideas in play and gaming though, so it will be fun to watch this one develop!
Yak (Pretzel Games)
Encamped high up in the Himalayas, your village elder has asked that a stone tower be constructed to help guide the merchants through the thick mist and narrow paths. Yak-drawn carts weighted down with stones and supplies circle their way around turn after turn as you collect and build your way to victory. Plus, there are fun carts and yak meeples! Yak meeples, you guys!
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!