Gen Con 2016 Games Played and Acquired
I got a lot of games at Gen Con 2016. No, really a LOT of games. But I also got to play some games, and while talking about purchases is fun, I’d like to discuss the games I got to play and what I thought about them. Some of the games are out now, some won’t be out until later this year, but I had a great time at the convention.
I took my copy of Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft with me to Gen Con and got to play it with a few friends. I love the combination of worker placement with set collection and it’s a great two player game that is quick to learn and fun to play. The way that the characters come up differently each time keeps the game fresh to people who have played the game before, and the potential addition of Moriarty or Moran to the game will set the players back during the game. The additional pieces that are available from MeepleSource make the game stand out just a little more and I love the extra details with the character meeples.
The lovely couple who run Cardboard Edison were kind enough to deliver me to Gen Con, so the first night I hung out with Chris and we played the newest rendition of Curiosities. The game has changed a lot since the first time I played it, but it was interesting. I like the idea of double-suited cards with two different sets of icons. The game went well and I’m curious what else Chris and Suzanne can do with the idea.
I met up with JC from FoxMind games and got to check out Get Rich Quick. The box art screams early nineties and while it looks old, the game play is good and is still fun to people who play lots of complicated games. It is easy enough for anyone to learn to play, but can introduce non-gamers to simultaneous action selection and ability purchasing. The game reminds me of Life or Payday or other games from my childhood, but with a current gamer twist. I really like the design and want to see how it goes over with the non-gamers I know.
Normally social deduction games aren’t my thing, but Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is an interesting take on the genre. The goal of the game is to identify the murderer though the hints given by one player. The murder weapon and evidence card decks are rather large, which leads to a lot of replayability. While one of the main aspects of the game is table talk, there is an element of deduction and puzzle solving with the hints. I would be very willing to play it again, especially with as short as the game was to pick up and play.
The first game of the first “real” day of Gen Con was Arkham Horror: Living Card Game. I’m a big fan of most of the games that Fantasy Flight Games makes, I’ve really enjoyed the Cthulhu Mythos stories I’ve read, and lately solitaire and cooperative games have been more my focus. This combines all of those into a story led and scenario based game that I really enjoyed. Working with the other player was fun, but I can see sitting down and playing this game on my own once it releases in Q4 of 2016. My one complaint is that I couldn’t take a copy home with me.
H.E.A.D. Hunters was something that at first glance seemed really silly, but my friend Brandon from the What Did You Play This Week Podcast Thing had a time set up with the folks at Gut Shot Games, so I crashed the party. The game involves two large-headed characters, but in their heads are movement rulers, hexagon platforms, and cards that make up a clever miniatures tactics game. The gameplay was interesting and the large figures added to the feeling of running around an area and attacking each other. I am curious to play the game again and think while silly, this game is surprisingly fun and interesting.
One of the big releases of Gen Con 2016 was Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. As a kid who was of a certain age when Harry Potter was first released who also didn’t have the best fashion sense with hair and had round glasses, Harry has never really been my thing. But with all the commotion and my wife being a huge fan, I thought trying the game out would be worth my time. I like the way the game has seven stories, so players grow over time and add rules and components, but overall the gameplay was lacking. The deckbuilding aspect wasn’t bad, but with no way to remove cards from your deck or clear the market if there were too many high costing cards, the game can just fall into a boring, repeating cycle. I would like to give the game another shot, maybe with one of the later stories, but it’s not going to end up in my collection anytime soon.
BGG.Con is a favorite convention of mine, mostly because I get to play games I’ve never heard of. Last year I got to try Potion Explosion and it was one of the first games I picked up at this year’s Gen Con. The game feels like a real world version of a match three game that have flooded the app stores on our phones. The gravity fed lanes filled with brightly colored marbles catches the attention of most people, but the best part is that the game is simple to teach and an absolute blast to play. It’s not heavy on player interaction, but the changes to the board between turns keeps the game fresh each time you need to take a marble. I love the game and think it’s a great addition to many collections with the simple fun and puzzle like gameplay.
A friend is very close to getting his game, Mansky Caper, published. In the game, players are various mobsters trying to help each other out, but help themselves out the most. Al Mansky’s out-of-town and his house is begging to be visited. In the game, players draw tokens from the various rooms to see what treasures or traps they find. Being an old school gangster, Al decided to protect his valuables with gunpowder and other explosives, so players may be getting greedy just to find themselves blown up. The game is fun and the interactions of the players with favors and character abilities make the game fun. Favors allow you to use the special abilities of the other players, and you can never use your own ability. Of course, part of the fun of this game is the way the players use terrible accents and pretend to threaten each other.
Saturday was the last day of the convention where I actually played games, and Kung Fu Zoo was the first one I got to enjoy. I got to try the game at Origins 2016 and really enjoyed how simple and fun this dice flicking game is. I introduced it to a friend and after about 30 seconds of explanation, we were up and running. The games are short and while simple, players can really get into their shots and trash talk can start flying. It’s a fun game and is one I really want to own so that I can show it off to others.
Hero Realms is a game I’m very excited for, and Rob Dougherty of White Wizard Games was kind enough to sit down and let me try out the Wizard character. Each character will come with their own specialized cards and a health tracker. The rules were the same, but the starting decks were changed to reflect the character abilities. Each character has special abilities, such as my Wizard’s ability to deal four damage to every Champion my opponent has, as well as four damage to them. This proved very useful in the game, reducing Rob from a small army of three Champions down to no defenses. I ended up winning and really enjoyed the tweaks to the Star Realms formula. I can’t wait to get this game to the table.
The last game I got to play at the convention was Mystic ScROLLs, where players are rolling dice real-time to assign icons to spells to cast them after all the dice rolling has happened. The round ends when there are no more dice to take or a player has cast the new spell, which is then added to their tableau. Each new spell adds more options and more combinations of symbols that are useful for that player for casting. While it was only a prototype, I really thought the game was fun and want to see it in action again soon. It’s very quick to learn, but the frantic nature made it really enjoyable.
Overall, I took home a LOT more games than I was planning on, but I also am pushing to do more demos at my FLGS, Critical Hit Games. We hung out last week and played some new games and I’ll be looking to teach, play, and talk about games there for weeks to come. If you’re in the Cleveland area, join us for an Open Game Day and try out some new games from Gen Con.
I want to thank a number of companies for helping Geek-Craft with copies of games. Please check out the games these companies make and if you want to learn one, let me know and we can play at Critical Hit Games!