Last weekend, I attended my very first Gen Con. Considering this was the 50th anniversary of the show, and their first sold out event, it was quite the year to cut my teeth on the gaming convention scene.
The excitement of standing in line waiting to hit the exhibitor’s hall to get some of the latest and greatest releases was reminiscent of Black Friday sales at Wal-Mart. I was fortunate to get my hands on a few cool new games that I’ve had my eye on since the news started to break about these releases in the weeks before the convention.
Here are a few of my favorite scores…
Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Upper Deck announced the Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer edition to their popular Legendary series of games at Gen Con in 2016. They hype was building throughout the past year, and this was a big push at Gen Con 50. Even the lanyards handed out with every badge were branded with Legendary: BTVS. As a huge fan of Legendary (I play the Marvel version often and have every expansion available), and a longtime fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, this purchase was a no-brainer. Upper Deck held several win-a-box tournaments over the weekend, and I participated in one (and lost terribly, so it was time to buy-a-box). It is a fun addition to the Legendary series of games. A lot of the mechanics are the same, so I could pick it up and play immediately. There are a few new components, such as the light and dark tracker, courage tokens, and light and dark abilities that trigger on certain cards. But these are easy to pick up by a seasoned Legendary player. The card art consists of stills from the TV series, so it was fun to relive specific storylines.
Rick and Morty: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game
When I heard that Cryptozoic was releasing a Rick and Morty branded deck-building game, I was very excited. I am a huge fan of the DC deck-building games, and since it was the first deck-building game that I learned and fell in love with, I will always be a fan. I’m also a huge Rick and Morty fan, so I wanted to see what sort of spin Cryptozoic would put on the game. It’s pretty fun, but nothing new. If you are familiar with the Cryptozoic deck-building games, such as the DC deck-building games or Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis, the Cerberis Engine (catch-all name for Cryptozoic Entertainment’s series of deck-building games and expansions) is the same. I also felt that the box seemed sparse. It is based on the Season 1 episode of Rick and Morty that features a multitude of Ricks from different realities. I hope that there are future expansions planned, or else the game will have little replay value. So unless you are a huge Rick and Morty fan, this one is a take it or leave it.
Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle: Monster Box of Monsters expansion
Last year, USAopoly released Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, where yet another deck-building game was branded with the popular wizarding world. They did a good job making it a challenging and immersive game play experience. I was most impressed with the gradual increase in difficulty in levels, taking players through through years 1-7 and teaching them the mechanics of deck-building along the way. It is my favorite way to introduce a newbie to deck-building, and I can also lure Harry Potter fans to game night with this game. But, again, I saw a lot of room for expansions. In the original Hogwarts Battle game, there are only 4 playable characters: Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Neville. The Monster Box of Monsters expansions brings us our newest hero, Luna Lovegood, and four all new adventures, including venturing into the Forbidden Forest. I have not had a chance to crack this one open yet and play it, but I’m confident that it will be a great addition to an already fun game. An added bonus was the 3 new promo cards that USAopoly was giving out with every purchase.
DC Deck Building Game
The Cryptozoic booth was my first stop when I hit the exhibitor’s hall. I knew that they would be demoing and selling several upcoming games for the first time anywhere in limited, pre-release quantities. But I didn’t know exactly which ones. As I previously mentioned, the DC deck-building games are some of my favorites, and they have some new and exciting items releasing before the end of the year.
The first item I was interested in was the Multiverse Box. A big complaint that many deck-building fans have is regarding storage solutions. Cryptozoic finally decided to address this issue by releasing a storage box which holds all the different sets that have been released for the popular DC Deck-Building Game, utilizing set dividers and foam inserts to keep all the cards organized, and has extra room for expansions to come. It also comes exclusively with the Multiverse Crossover Pack of cards, which draws from the “Convergence” comic book storyline and offers an experience that takes advantage of a DC Deck-Building Game fan’s entire set of cards.
Next, I was pleasantly surprised to find two other products that are scheduled for release in Q4 2017: the Crossover Pack 6: Birds of Prey and Confrontations. The Birds of Prey expansion allows players to play as the popular all-female Super Hero team the Birds of Prey, including Oracle, Black Canary, and Catwoman. The team utilizes a brand-new “Rotated Cards” mechanic that gives players bonuses for rotating their cards by various means. Confrontations is a standalone game, it can also be combined with any previous DC Deck-Building Game boxes and expansions. It introduces Team vs. Team (2v2) play where you join another player on your side for an epic clash against your two opponents. There are also 2-player and 3-player variants included.
Clank! In! Space!
It wasn’t until the day before Gen Con 50 that Renegade Game Studios and Dire Wolf Digital announced a whole new stand-alone Clank! adventure to explore, Clank! In! Space! The new big box game challenges players to escape an alien starship using the same exciting system developed in the original Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure, which I absolutely love. By now, you probably figured out that I’m a huge fan of deck-building games. Where Clank! is different is that it adds the element of a game board that you must move around to complete your adventure. At first I was hesitant about clunking down $60 on a brand new stand-alone, as opposed to an expansion. But, it’s Clank! So I gave it a try. And I’m glad that I did! It’s everything that I loved about the original game, but with a space twist. My favorite element of this version is the card art. Designer Paul Dennen took the time to incorporate tributes to sci-fi favorites on each of the character cards. It was a fun addition to figure out when playing the game. I can’t recommend this game enough.
Clank! In! Space! will be available this fall at game stores everywhere.
Upcoming Releases I’m Excited About
Gen Con also gave me an opportunity to learn about, and in some cases demo, upcoming releases. A couple I knew about ahead of time, but there were a few that caught my eye just by walking by them in the exhibitor hall.
Meeple Circus is an upcoming game by Matagot Games. In short, it is a dexterity game in which you do what all gamers do when setting up a game: Pile up your meeples! The circus theme is what drew me in. You have meeples in various shapes that represent circus performers. There are goals in varying difficulty where you stack the meeples in configurations for points. A fun touch is the minute timer, which is a downloadable soundtrack of 2-minute long circus songs. Overall, it is a cute and fun family game (with the potential to be a cut-throat drinking game as well). Available in game stores this November.
Another surprise that I stumbled across when walking the aisles was A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch. Let’s face it, Settlers of Catan is the ultimate classic board game. It’s not something I play often, but it is a staple amongst gamers worldwide. So when I saw that a new variant was coming that is branded with A Game of Thrones, I was intrigued. I did not get a chance to demo it, but from what I did see, it is still a game of resource gathering and trading based on the classic Settlers of Catan, using these resources to improve the infrastructure of the Gift, the bountiful and undeveloped area south of the Wall bestowed to the Watch by the Starks thousands of years ago. But players must also man and defend the Wall against the onslaught of Wildlings fighting their way into Westeros.
A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch will be available in game stores in Q4 2017.