It had been two years since my previous Gen Con. The last time I visited was 2016. I’m so happy my friends and I decided to go back this year! However, instead of a verbose write-up about my experience at Gen Con I thought I’d create a pictorial recap. Enjoy!
If you made it to Gen Con 2019 and have some great memories, go ahead and leave a comment! (I’ll approve it when I get a chance).
As a side note, one of the highlights for me was that my buddy and I had a successful game design pitch with the publisher taking home the prototype! Totally awesome!
Update: I forgot to add Dingo’s Dreams to the list of demoed games. Added at 3pm 8/8/2016.
As soon as Gen Con 2015 finished I started looking forward to Gen Con 2016. It’s become an annual tradition to attend and we’ve had at least four of us go every year.This year we were looking to do things a little differently with mostly non-Gen Con activities on Saturday. Let’s get to the recap.
This was the first year that we decided to go Wednesday night rather than Thursday morning. In the past we would leave Wisconsin around 4am on Thursday, which would get us to Indy around 11. Then we would have lunch at Yats. Then we would finally get to the exhibit hall around 1 or 2 and only have a few hours in the hall that first day.
So we decided to go Wednesday night. When we got to the Marriott we learned that for the 5 of us we had a room with one king bed. Uh oh. Thankfully I had brought my airpad and sleeping bag. But they would only allow one roll-away bed so one of us was on the bare floor. It was about 1am when we hit the sack.
Our plan was to rush to the Plaid Hat booth and get SeaFall since we wanted to play it during the convention. We purposefully did not pre-order it since we wouldn’t have it at Gen Con. This completely backfired as Plaid Hat sold ALL their copies to the VIGs who got to enter the hall an hour before the peasants. The worst part was knowing that while waiting to enter the hall the game was sold out.
I waited at a different entrance so I could head to the Tasty Minstrel Games booth and grab a copy of Guilds of London. This game by Tony Boydell looks really good and I was so happy to get a copy. Special thanks to those VIGs for not buying all of them.
So we got one of the games we were hoping to snag right away. We would learn later that other games we were interested in also sold out relatively quickly, like Covert from Renegade Game Studios and Terraforming Mars and The Dragon & Flagon from Stronghold Games. It happens every year. More conversation about game debuts and how they are sold later this week.
After the initial rush we basically spent the day tooling around in the hall. We demoed some games, bought some games, and just enjoyed the fact that traffic in the hall all day Thursday was lighter than we knew it would be on Friday and Saturday.
Throughout the convention it seemed like copies were being sold! Thanks to everyone who has been enjoying Scoville!
Thursday evening we enjoyed some quality beer at The Yard House, a place with 130 beers on draft!
We had planned on Friday being a demo day. We had bought tickets for a bunch of demos and enjoyed the quieter pace of the open gaming hall.
Friday night we continued our tradition of walking to the Rathskellar, enjoying big German lagers, smoking a cigar, listening to live music, and having platters of German sausage, brat balls, jalapeno poppers, hush puppies, chicken cordon bleu rollups, and pretzels!
The Rathskellar is a fantastic escape from the rush of Gen Con.
We had a non-Gen Con schedule set up for Saturday that included Duckpin bowling and a AAA Baseball Game.
But Saturday got started for me by hanging out with the awesome Grant Rodiek of Hyperbole Games and designer of Cry Havoc from Portal Games. He and I hung out, chatted about life, showed each other some prototypes, and had a good time.
After that I went to pitch a game. This was a great experience for me as it was my first real “pitch.” I’ll keep you all posted if anything comes from it.
After the pitch it was time for Duckpin bowling. We drove over to Fountain Square and had a good time despite our terrible scores. In 100 total frames we had 5 spares and 0 strikes. Our scores averaged about 70.
When we got back to our hotel we sat down in the lobby and played Scythe. It was the first play for me and Ben and the second play for the other three guys. Ben and I took 4th and 5th place. It’s a great game that I think I’ll enjoy more on the second play now that I know and sort of understand the system.
After Scythe we went to the Indianapolis Indians game. I had been looking forward to it because they were giving away a Pop Bobbleheads Flash Bobblehead as a promo. I really wanted one to give to my 4yo son. They were giving them to the first 2500 fans. I’m pretty sure we were fans #2501, 2502, 2503, 2504, and 2505 (well maybe not quite that close). We just missed out on getting one and I was pretty bummed. But it was fun to watch the game, especially since the Indians pitcher had 8 strikeouts in the first four innings. Also, it was Superhero night and The Flash was there and the Indians were wearing special Flash uniforms.
We left about midway through and went to our hotel room to play a few games. We played Order of the Gilded Compass and Paperback. I thought Paperback was a fun version of a deckbuilding game. In it you buy cards that have letters on them and then on your turn you use the cards in your hand to build words. It was fun, but the end of the game meant that our Gen Con 2016 was coming to an end. Sunday morning we packed up early and hit the road.
One of the highlights was in the First Exposure playtest hall where I had a chance to see a new capability of The Game Crafter. They recently announced that you can order custom cut components. Here is an example of what you could possibly do:
Another highlight is seeing the “Big” versions of games. This year they had a big version of King of Tokyo, which I knew my son would like to see.
Seeing the huge Pickachu was cool too…
But one of my favorite highlights is simply reconnecting with people that I only get to see once or twice a year. There are so many awesome people in the board game world and it’s always a pleasure hanging out and seeing what’s new in their lives. My next con is Grand Con in September and I’m looking forward to meeting new people there as well!
The games we demoed during the convention included (I’m positive I missed some):
- Beyond Baker Street – This is a Hanabi-esque clue-giving and deduction game with excellent artwork. The gameplay was a little too similar to Hanabi to make us want to buy it but if you don’t already own Hanabi I recommend checking this out.
- Order of the Gilded Compass – We really enjoyed this remake of Alea Iacta Est enough to buy a copy. There is a lot of replayability in the game. Unfortunately there are a few issues with the production includind copy/paste problems with the rulebook, and color issues with the red and orange dice looking too similar.
- Oceanos – The artwork is awesome and the gameplay familiar. We only demoed the first round but I can imagine that the second and third rounds are just as fun. I would have bought this if they still had copies left.
- The Grizzled – We randomly sat down for a demo of this and almost beat it! But we lost. It’s a tough game.
- World’s Fair 1893 – I really liked this game. The design is elegant and the gameplay is simple. But getting what you want is tough to do. The artwork on this one is really appealing as well.
- Quartz – I was really hoping this would be great because the artwork really drew me in. Unfortunately the thrust of the game is not the collecting of gems but the messing with other people’s gems. My gaming group isn’t much of a “take that” or “screw your neighbor” group so I was a little disappointed with this one.
- Mythe – I hadn’t even heard of this one (which released in 2012?) but Scott Morris in the Passport Booth was happy to demo it for us. In the game you are pressing your luck to move your mouse toward the dragon to defeat him and take back the cheese. You draw cards from other people and decide whether to stop and move or keep going and risk gaining nothing. It had this pretty neat pop-up folding board.
- Covert – Kane Klenko is the designer and a friend of mine. It was awesome to see the final version of the game and I was happy for him that Renegade sold out of all their advanced copies. One of my favorite parts in the game is that you can set up awesome combinations of moves to complete missions. Go check this one out or pre-order it today!
- Stockpile – Despite this being from local designers my group was finally able to demo this stock game. We enjoyed it since you have limited knowledge of what the market is going to do. The game worked well and I’d like to try the advanced version and the expansion.
- Boomtown Bandits – This game was disappointing. One of the players lost almost all the battles and only had one card after four rounds. We didn’t enjoy the gameplay very much.
- Klask – In each of the previous Gen Cons we attended we would do a little Weykick tournament in the exhibit hall. Weykick is no longer available so this year we went in for a Klask demo and used that for our tournament. Klask was fun and had more strategy than Weykick. I was glad I could snag a copy since they only had 50 per day.
- Mystic Vale – I didn’t get to demo this but the other guys did. The consensus was that the mechanic is really neat but the gameplay was too much solitaire. We are looking forward to seeing what AEG does in future games with the mechanic.
- Captain Sonar – This was fun chaos! Players are on a team that is controlling a submarine trying to hunt down the opponents submarine. We had a big crowd around us while demoing and we almost had the opponents. There was a lot of shouting and listening and general craziness. It was pretty fun.
- Dingo’s Dreams – I originally forgot about this demo. It is a Bingo style game where you play your animals onto your 5×5 grid to try and match the reference card that was drawn randomly. First player to match the pattern wins a point. Play to a pre-determined number of points. A friend said it was quite “zen.”
Gen Con 2017
One of the things I think I’d like to do next Gen Con is to pitch more games. I enjoyed that experience and that there is potential from it. Participating in the Publisher Speed Dating would be a fun option.
Another thing that I didn’t really do this year was stay up late in the open gaming hall with all the game designer folks. I just didn’t feel like it this year but I regret that decision. I’ll definitely do more of that next year.
No matter what, I’m already looking forward to Gen Con 2017!
Wow… Gen Con is almost here! One of my favorite things each year is the anticipation of Gen Con and checking out the new games that will debut at Gen Con. There are two great lists that I used to build this article. They are:
On one hand I really like the preview list because it has a ton of games on it. On the other hand it is a disappointing list because like 150% of the list seems to be games that are only available for demos ahead of later release or a later Kickstarter. That’s why I prefer the second list because it has only the new games that people can actually buy at Gen Con. I can get excited about those games knowing I actually have a chance to take a copy home with me.
Exciting New Games I Could Purchase
These are listed in order of their appearance on the list. The order I am listing them has nothing to do with my interest in the games.
Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails – I love the idea of having both trains and ships on the board. I came up with this idea for the Days of Wonder contest in 2013 and told Alan R. Moon about it at BGG Con 2013. I’m pretty sure that’s where he got the idea 🙂 So of course I’m interested in this one.
Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala – I love Five Tribes and this is a no-brainer for me to purchase despite the lustful appearance of the
prostitute thief on the cover.
Quartz – I love the artwork and the simple gameplay. I think my kids would like this one.
SeaFall – Our group will be purchasing this if we can snag a copy. We’ve loved Pandemic: Legacy and being able to play a storyline game in a sailing setting will be right up our alley.
Cry Havoc – This game is great. Grant Rodiek has worked his tail off on this one from way back in the day when I designed a “Battle for York” logo for him.
Terraforming Mars – This just looks awesome.
Covert – I played the prototype and loved it. I think this game will be a hit!
Order of the Gilded Compass – A rework of Alea Iacta Est with some improvements means I’m definitely interested in this. Plus, the theme is enjoyable for me.
Oceanos – This looks like one my kids and I could enjoy together. The theme and artwork look great. Plus, Bauza!
Vikings on Board – The components look awesome. The gameplay looks enjoyable. And this just seems like it will be fun to play.
Guilds of London – I’m hoping I can snag one of the 200 copies they’ll have at the convention. I’m dying to play this one.
Tides of Madness – This seems a little too similar to Tides of Time to make my “purchase list” but I enjoyed Tides of Time a lot so I’m placing this on the Honorable Mention list.
Scythe – This is only here because someone in our group backed it and received it already. If your group doesn’t own it, go buy it!
Merchants and Marauders: Broadsides – Merchants and Marauders is one of my favorite games in which to immerse myself. The theme is really thick and enjoyable. The components are fantastic. M&M is a truly enjoyable game. If Broadsides has a similar feel then this might be purchased despite the $45 price tag for a 2 player game.
New Bedford – This is on Honorable Mention because I backed it and have already received it. Go demo and buy this one. It’s a very fun game!
Ta-Da! – Frantic Dice Rolling? Wizards creating Spells? Stephen Avery? I’ll definitely check this one out.
What games have piqued your interest? What are you looking forward to the most during Gen Con?
Well I am recovered from Gen Con week. Gen Con is always amazing. It’s huge and full of all sorts of different experiences but I think our group had a great Gen Con. One of our focuses this year was sitting down for more demos in the exhibit hall. The tables always seem to fill up, especially Friday and Saturday, so on Thursday we tried to do a bunch of demos. I think we did pretty well with our goal.
What follows is my day by day recap of Gen Con 2015 with pictures…
We arrived in Indy around noon, grabbed a quick lunch at Yats, and then headed right to the exhibit hall where we hunted down demos. Here are the pictures worth sharing from Thursday.
The next morning we wanted to get to the exhibit hall first thing to try and snag a copy of Mysterium. We failed miserably. They only had 100 per day but we were close enough to the front that we thought we had a chance. Here are Friday’s pictures:
Saturday was our last day so we tried to make the most of it. Here are Saturday’s pictures:
My purchase of the con was Francis Drake. I’ve been wanting it for two years but never pulled the trigger due to the $80 price. But I found it for $45 at a booth and snagged it up! I’ve also looking forward to both the Imperial Settlers expansion and the Five Tribes expansion. Those are two of my recent favorite games. I got Nations, Akrotiri, Tokaido, and Escape in the Math Trade. So I didn’t really buy that much this year. Maybe next year! Thanks for checking out my recap.
Gen Con 2014 is over and it was awesome! Why? Because I got to hang out with great friends of mine and because I got to hold, unwrap, punch, and play a production copy of Scoville! Special thanks are due to Jeremy, Adam, Ben, Mark and Mike for making Gen Con 2014 a memorable one.
If you are new to this blog, Scoville is my first published game design. It is published by Tasty Minstrel Games and should be available later this year, so put it on your Christmas lists! You can go pre-order it from your favorite local game store or the online game outlets.
So with Gen Con in the books, and with recently quitting on Brooklyn Bridge I feel refreshed and ready to move on to some exciting new designs. I have one that I’m keeping a secret, one that will occasionally mention, and The Grand Illusion, which I am openly designing and blogging about on this site.
But enough about that. Let’s check out the Boards & Barley that I’ve enjoyed over the past two weeks.
BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: Spaten Optimator
Why such a standard brew for the spotlight? Because it was enjoyed at the Rathskellar in Indianapolis with my friends. This has become a tradition for us. On Friday night we went to the Rathskellar and enjoyed beer, cigars, and a fantastic live band. Plus, attending the Rathskellar is a great way to escape the geek world of Gen Con for a few hours. We had a great time and I enjoyed a delicious 32 ounce Optimator! The picture on the right shows the appetizers we ordered (Sausage platter, Brat balls, Jalapeno poppers, and Chicken Cordon Bleu rolls).
- Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
- Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale
- Capital Dark Voyage Black IPA
- Next Door Luminous IPA
- O’so English Mild
- Rock Bottom Honey Ale
- Flat 12 Hinchtown Hammerdown Golden Ale
- Sam Adams Boston Lager
- Thr3e Wisemen Rocky Ripple Pale Ale
BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Scoville
How could it not be Scoville? I love the game even after over 100 plays. I love how a 2p play at Gen Con provided a situation that really tested me. The decisions are so interesting. The play changes from game to game with different players. As the fields grow from round to round there are more and more choices, so the game naturally ramps up. I love this game so much and I was so excited to crack open a new copy and get it to the table. Here are a few pictures to show how it looks. If you like how the peppers look, click on the picture and thumb it up on BoardGameGeek.com.
Here are the games I played prior to Gen Con:
- The Little Prince
- 20th Century
- Unpublished Prototype (It was really intriguing – Currently being evaluated by Moon Yeti Games)
And here are the games I played at or after Gen Con:
- Legends of the American Frontier (Set up and played one round)
- Island Fortress
- Scoville x2
- Camel Up
- Penny Press
- Love Letter
- Fast Track
- Word on the Street
- Neighborhoods (Prototype by Ben Rosset and Matthew O’Malley)
- Samurai Spirit x2
- Lost Legacy (Starship and Flying Garden)
There was nothing on the Gen Con Preview that I felt was a “must-buy” this year but there were a few that I was interested in. The one I was most interested in was Instabul, which I bought.Here is a picture of the modular board:
In Istanbul each player also has a small player board of their own. The goal in the game is collect rubies. To do so you will need to manage your resources and money as well as utilize your location placement of your merchant and their assistants. It was an excellent game and well worthy of the Kennerspiel des Jahres award.
Surprise Hit #1: Camel Up
Camel Up was awesome. We played with 7 players at the Z-Man booth and we loved it. It won the Spiel des Jahres and when you play it you can understand why. I picked up a copy because it was fun, interactive, and plays up to 8 players!
Surprise Hit #2: Samurai Spirit
I am not normally a fan of cooperative games but this one had so much awesomeness that I can’t wait to play it again. It was a struggle. We lost badly. In fact, the first time we attempted the game we died after the first (of 3) rounds. There are some very interesting choices and some really cool combinations that can be done in the game. It was a lot of fun.
And here is a picture of my Gen Con 2014 haul. Several of these games came from the math trade, some were freebies. Missing from the picture are the King of Tokyo promo cards and the Tokaido promo cards and Eriku character promo.
Overall it was a great Gen Con. I’ll be writing another post this week about one specific experience from the convention. It was great to meet so many awesome people, especially those I follow on Twitter that I had never met in real life. I’m already looking ahead to Gen Con 2015 (partially because it is unlikely I’ll attend GrandCon, BGG.con or Origins before then).