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Gen Con 2018: My Favorite Things

Gen Con 2018: My Favorite Things

Last year, I attended my first ever Gen Con. It was the 50th year celebration, and what a year to cut my teeth on the original, longest-running gaming convention in the world. This year I decided to do it right. We had a host hotel and attended every day of the con. I was more prepared, and planned my days accordingly. There still wasn’t enough time to pack everything in, but I was able to shop, demo, and play plenty of games.

As a wrap-up, I’d like to tell you about the hot items and my favorite picks of Gen Con for the year. (You can check out My Favorite Things: Gen Con Edition for 2017.)

Here are a few of my favorite scores…

Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1

Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1
Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1

The Upper Deck booth was the first booth I visited on opening day. I heard about the new, limited release of one of my favorite games, Legendary: Marvel. The availability of this new release was announced just days before the convention with the following announcement:

“Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), with the Gen Con release of Upper Deck’s first Legendary MCU deck building game. This exciting new release includes all of your favorite MCU characters and will be available in limited quantities at the Upper Deck Booth, while supplies last.”

I wasn’t sure exactly how many copies would be available, so I made sure to stop by ASAP to grab a copy for myself and my friend. We did unbox it and play it once during a night of gaming at the convention. It is pretty close to the original base game, but with a few changes—most obvious are the screencaps from the movies instead of comic art.

Because the release is for Phase 1 of the MCU, the heroes, villains, bystanders, etc. are only characters from those first six movies. While there are no announcements yet about expansions for Phase 2 and Phase 3, I would be surprised if it didn’t happen. Especially considering there are characters from the later phases all over the game box.

Stay tuned for an in-depth game review here on Word of the Nerd!

Terraforming Mars: Prelude & Upgrades

Terraforming Mars: Prelude was one of the game expansions that I hoped to walk away from Origins Game Fair with. However, the print run was not complete in time, and it was not available at that show. So it was top of my must-have list for Gen Con.

Terraforming Mars Prelude
Terraforming Mars: Prelude and upgraded resource markers

Prelude is a small box expansion to the monster hit base game by Stronghold Games. It contains 35 prelude cards, 5 new corporations, and 7 project cards. The prelude cards jumpstart the terraforming process or boost your corporation engine. The new corporations and projects are tailored more for the early stages of terraforming. It combines with any other Terraforming Mars expansion or variant. Because of this, there is also a new solo variant. The goal is no longer to complete all of the global parameters in 14 generations. Now a victory is when you reach a Terraform Rating of 63 in 14 generations (or 12 generations if playing with the Prelude cards).

I also stopped by to visit my friends at Top Shelf Gamer and pick up the Metal Upgrade Cubes to replace the basic resource cubes that come with the base game. If there is one thing that I hear people complain about the most when it comes to the game, it is the components. I have had the color of the plastic cubes chip off. With as much as I love this game, and how often I play it, these new metal cubes are a worthy investment.

I am looking forward to getting this one to the table soon to see how these new variants boost the introductory generations of the game.

5-Minute Marvel & Hail Hydra

I heard about these two new releases from Spin Master Games before Gen Con. I had both of them on my radar, even though I didn’t know much about them. I’ve seen my friends play 5-Minute Dungeon at my FLGS. Even though I have never played it, it always seemed like they had a lot of fun. Hail Hydra, well, it just looks really really cool.

5-Minute Marvel and Hail Hydra from Spin Master Games

5-Minute Marvel is the Marvel version of the chaotically fast-paced cooperative card game 5-Minute Dungeon. A group of Marvel heroes battle past Marvel bosses, all in less than 5 minutes. Fast and frenetic gameplay gets everyone involved and engaged. Cooperative gameplay encourages communication, interpersonal interaction, and teamwork. There are 10 Marvel heroes to choose from to defeat 6 progressively difficult Marvel bosses for victory.

In Hail Hydra, you and your friends team up as Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes to save New York City! But wait—your fellow heroes may be villainous HYDRA operatives in your midst! Use social deduction to determine who is a secret HYDRA agent and who is truly loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. If you succeed, you and your fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes will retrieve the Cosmic Cube from the Red Skull and save the city! If the city is destroyed, HYDRA wins.

I had a chance to play 5-Minute Marvel recently. It was fun and fast-paced. Since several of us have not played it before, we chose the lowest level of difficulty. We did not struggle to defeat all of the villains. So I’ll be interested to see how it plays on a more difficult setting next time. It is also very easy to learn, so it will be good for a wide variety of gamer levels. The Marvel IP is also attractive, and there are several more obscure Marvel heroes to choose to play.

Hail Hydra is a social deduction game, which I am not a huge fan of. But the game itself is incredible looking. So far, the reviews have been stellar. It may be a little while before I get it to the table, since the player count is 5-8 players. But I have a lot of people excited to give it a try.

Clank! Expansions

Clank! In! Space! Apocalypse
Clank! In! Space! Apocalypse!

Clank! Is one of my favorite games. It is an innovative combination of deck building with a physical board game. From the pinnacle release, to the awesome Clank! In! Space! at last year’s Gen Con, I’ve been growing my Clank! collection with every release.

Knowing that Renegade Game Studios’ booth would likely be a hot spot on opening morning, I went ahead and pre-ordered my copy of the Apocalypse! expansion for pick up there. But I couldn’t help myself and made my way over to see what other new releases they had, and to pick up my promo card that always comes with purchase.

As the doors were opening, Renegade announced a new series of expansions for the original Clank! Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk will be the first title in this new line.

Clank! Expeditions - Gold & Silk
Clank! Expeditions: Gold & Silk

This first expedition begins in a mine abandoned by the Ruin Dwarven Mining Company (Ruin DMC) when it became infested with monsters. But it still holds plenty of fold for those daring enough to enter. Still more wealth awaits in the Spider Queen’s Lair. Surely the Spider Queen herself is just a legend meant to scare people away from such a fancy castle…

Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk includes a new 2-sided game board, 50+ tokens, market board, and several adorable meeples.

Continuing coverage of all things Clank! will resume here in Word of the Nerd’s tabletop gaming section.

Meeple Circus Expansion

Meeple Circus expansion
Meeple Circus – The Wild Animal and Aerial Show expansion

One of my absolute favorite games from last year’s Gen Con was Matagot’s Meeple Circus. I was able to demo it, and I had a lot of fun. It was a long wait until November before I could get a copy in hand, but it was worth the wait. Dexterity games aren’t for everyone, but when you find someone who loves them, they go crazy for this game. On a recent trip back home, I played it FOUR times in a row with my niece.

While it wasn’t on my radar, I was delighted to learn that a new expansion exists, and it was going to be for sale at Gen Con! The game was so fresh off the press that they came in a plastic bag with all of the components and a flat box. They didn’t even have time to assemble the packaging. But I didn’t care.

I was not disappointed. New meeples include a bear and wild lion, along with breathtaking aerial acts starring Otto the tumbler and Luna the tightrope walker. It also includes additional red acrobat meeples, as there are new public demand cards and challenge tiles raising the show into the air. The expansion also comes with an option to play with advanced rules for a more challenging game.

Viticulture Expansions & Upgrades

Viticulture is an older game that I recently got into playing this year. I’ve heard good things about it, and finally got a chance to play it at my FLGS. I’m also starting to fancy Stonemaier Games and their growing catalog of quality titles.

Since I learned to play and now love the Viticulture base game, I’ve been itching for the Tuscany expansion. However, it has been out of print for a bit, and the prices on the secondary market are grossly inflated. So while I patiently wait for the reprint (supposedly due sometime this month), I picked up a couple of mini-expansions to get me through the drought.

Viticulture expansions and upgraded coins
Viticulture expansions and upgraded coins

The Viticulture Moor Visitors Expansion adds 40 new visitors to any version of Viticulture. It also credits famed designer Uwe Rosenberg (Agricola, Caverna, Patchwork). So, yeah, I must have it.

Visit from the Rhine Valley provides a new set of eighty visitor cards, which focus less on victory points and more on the wine business itself. These cards must be played without other visitor cards from the base game or expansions.

Viticulture is one of those games that just screams for upgraded components. I admit, when I play the game, while drinking wine and eating cheese, the cardboard coins just aren’t bougie enough for me. But I knew who I needed to see to remedy this… my friends at Top Shelf Gamer. I picked up a set of the Custom Metal Lira Coins and drink with my pinky up while playing this fantastic game.



A Kickstarter success story that is coming to retail from Leder Games, Root was the breakout hit of Gen Con 2018. Honestly, I didn’t know much about this one. I had heard about it, and mentioned it as one of my Kickstarter Hot Picks in November 2017. Who isn’t into a fantastic forest kingdom in the ultimate asymmetric game of adventure and war?

What I could tell you is that this game was HOT. The lines were long, and everyone was buying a copy for themselves and for a friend. So I decided to hop in line and grab one too!

I guess I need to play this now and tell you about it, right?

Other Cool Things I Can’t Have Yet

The Ultimate Boardgame Packpack
The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack

There were also a handful of cool games and other items that I demoed or otherwise fondled that are not available for purchase just yet. But I can still tell you about them.

The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack

The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack is my Kickstarter Hot Pick for July. You better bet that I backed this bad boy. While the orders will not ship until later in the year (and boy did I want this for Gen Con), GeekOn! was at the convention with samples. I was able to try it on, and check out the really cool features up close. It is a very handsome bag, and those waterproof zippers are incredible! I can’t wait to get mine and put it to good use.

The Mansky Caper

The Mansky Caper
The Mansky Caper

I had a sit down meeting with Calliope Games to review some of their cool upcoming releases. I was most impressed by the fun new heist game, The Mansky Caper:

“In The Mansky Caper, players team up to ransack rooms of Al Mansky’s mansion, opening safes to find the valuables inside. Split loot with others in the room, and watch out for twists of fortune and dangerous traps that can ruin your plans with a bang! The winner is the player who has accumulated the most loot in their private stash at the getaway car by the time Al’s mansion is completely ransacked.”

This game is awesome, predominantly because of the outstanding components. The game comes with shiny plastic gems, drawstring bags, and really cool 3D safes to open – all of which are pre-built when you open the box. I had a taste of the gameplay, and it all comes together in a really fun way. I love it, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy when it releases later this year.

EXIT: The Game

Exit The Game – The Sinister Mansion

I also stopped by the KOSMOS booth to hear about their new releases. I got to check out Mercado, Imhotep: A New Dynasty, and Lost Cities: Rivals.

In Mercado, players assume the roles of wealthy members of upper-class society. To raise their social status, they must buy luxury goods around the market. It is a race to make valuable purchases before the other players, as well as avoiding the counterfeit coins.

Imhotep: A New Dynasty is a brand new expansion for Imhotep: Builder of Egypt. It adds five new places, fourteen market cards, seven god cards, four chariots, and 56 tiles to the Imhotep base game. 

Lost Cities: Rivals features gameplay familiar from other titles in the Lost Cities series. Players will collect colored expedition cards and place them in ascending order in personal expeditions, possibly placing wager cards before beginning an expedition in order to increase its value. The primary difference in this title compared to others is that you must win auctions in order to place cards in your expeditions.

Have you tried any of their Exit: The Game escape room in a box? They have two new ones coming out later this year. Exit: The Sinister Mansion and Exit: The Mysterious Museum will be available around October.

I hear that The Sinister Mansion is one of the hardest Exit games to date. Bring it!

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