Monday, July 27, 2015

Obligatory 2015 Gen Con Post Part I: Honorable Mentions

Woot!  Gen Con 2015 is upon us!  This Thursday will be the first day of the four day gaming extravaganza that is Gen Con.  Gen Con is the largest North American tabletop gaming convention and is held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Last year over 50,000 people went to the convention and they are expecting even more this year!  

Last year I did a list of my top interests from the convention but I did it slightly differently.  This year all of the games on my list will be things that are available to buy (even if in very limited quantities) whereas last year I just did any game that was listed on Eric Martin’s (of BoardGameGeek) fantastic list of releases.  If you are interested check his list out by clicking here.   

This is the most impressive and comprehensive list of games that will be at the convention in some way, shape, or form.  Many of these games are unfortunately unable to be purchased, but you could at least demo them while you are there.  These next three (maybe four) posts will tackle my biggest interests of the convention and why.   

This post will focus on my honorable mentions while the two after it will focus on my top 10 games of Gen Con 2015.  Lastly, I may do one extra post that will focus on my top 5 interests from the convention that aren’t available for purchase, but only for demo.  Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

The first honorable mention to just barely squeak my Gen Con 2015 honorable mentions list is New York 1901, designed by Chenier La Salle and distributed by Blue Orange Games.  This is a tile placement and city building game and is the first family-weight game put out by Blue Orange Games.  They are well known for party games such as Spot It! and this seems to be their first foray into larger, more interesting games.  This game is really being touted as a game that could join Ticket to Ride and the like as easy-to-learn-and-play gateway games.  This game looks fantastic as there is artwork by the absolutely fantastic Vincent Dutrait who has done incredible work on games such as Lewis & Clark, Elysium, Augustus, and Discoveries just to name a few.  His artwork is awesome and adds to whatever game it may be in.  I am interested in this game but I would definitely want to demo it before I’d buy it as is may be a little lighter fare than I generally prefer.  That being said, I hope it is great and really give Blue Orange Games a push to create games like this one and take a step out of the simpler party game market. 

The next game that I’ll mention is Firefly: Shiny Dice, designed by Scott Morris and distributed by Upper Deck Entertainment.  This is a dice-rolling and press-your-luck game created by Scott Morris, otherwise known as Tox of the Crits Happen YouTube channel.  He has been working on this game for a while and it is finally ready and being released at this year’s Gen Con.  There isn’t a ton of information about this game and that is why it is only in the honorable mentions and didn’t make it higher on the list.  That being said, I am quite interested to see what he has done with this game as Firefly is one of my favorite shows of all time and I love a good dice-chucking game!  This game will have 15 dice that stand for your different crew members, passengers, and bad guys.  You roll these dice and then display the mission and use them to complete said mission.  Afterwards you can use the leftover dice to beat on the bad guys.  This gives you VP which is what you are looking to get for end-of-game scoring.  Again, it looks interesting and with the Firefly IP I have to admit my interest. 

The third game to make my Gen Con 2015 honorable mentions list is The Golden Ages, designed by Luigi Ferrini and distributed in the United States by Stronghold Games.  This is a strong Euro-styled game that was released overseas last year at Essen Spiel and was only available in extremely limited quantities.  Stronghold Games then picked up on American rights for the game and it will be ready to be released at Gen Con.  I saw gameplay of The Golden Ages and it looked incredibly interesting.  It is a civilization building game that uses area control, drafting, tile placement and worker placement as its game mechanics.  I will say that the look of the game could possibly be a little more interesting but the graphic design and modular placements of the board really give it an interesting feel and look.  This is a game that may eventually be a buy for me, but I’d have to research a few more gameplay videos before pulling the trigger on it. 

The fourth game to make the list is Flip City, designed by Chen Zhifan and distributed in the United States by Tasty MinstrelGames and Homosapiens Lab.  This game is a city-building card game that uses deck-building and press-your-luck mechanics in its gameplay.  This game only came on my radar recently as I had never heard of it before.  You take a very small deck and in classic, deck-building style use your cards to buy better cards.  There are a few things that make this game more interesting that your classic deck-builder.  First of all is the press-your-luck element.  In this game you can actually bust before being able to spend your points on other cards.  That is an element that isn’t present in any deck-builder that I’ve ever heard of.  Secondly, this game is a small box game.  Most deck-builders tend to be grand in scope as they have a ton of different decks to add and take out of the gameplay experience to give you the replayability.  Lastly, this game uses an incredibly interesting flip mechanic (thus the name) where you can spend your points to flip the cards over to the other side and get a different  (and usually better) building to use in later turns.  I am massively intrigued by this game and fully expect that I will pick it up very soon as it has a low price point for what appears to be a game with great decisions.

The last game to make my list (and the closest honorable mention game to making the top 10 Gen Con 2015 list) is the Takenoko: Chibis expansion to the 2011 Antoine Bauza game, Takenoko.  Takenoko: Chibis is also designed by Antoine Bauza (with co-design credit going to Corentin Lebrat) and is distributed by Bombyx, Matagot, and Asmodee.  This game adds more to a game that I already love and thus make my honorable mentions list.  The only reason that this didn’t make it higher on my list is simply because it is an expansion.  While I am highly interested I feel that since it isn’t a full game I need to bump it down the list a little.  This may not be a fair point, but, c’est la vie.  The Chibis expansion will add more tiles, cards, tokens, bamboo pieces and another miniature (this one of a female panda) to the game.  I am really looking forward to see what this adds to the base game of Takenoko and if it is an “essential” expansion or not.

I am going to mention one more game before signing off.  This is Viceroy, designed by Yuri Zhuravlev and distributed in the United States by MaydayGames.  This is a fantastic “pyramid-building” game that uses auctioning, set collection, and tableau building as its primary game mechanics.  This game is awesome - my wife and I love it!  The reason that it didn’t make my “official” list (and rest assured it would have been in the top 5 easily) of Gen Con 2015 interests is because we already have it.  We backed it on Kickstarter and just recently got our copy.  We have already played it a bunch of times and love it.  I just wanted to give it some love and let you know that it is debuting at Gen Con and will have a limited run of about 300 copies there.  If you’re going to Gen Con and love tableau building games that this should be an early stop so you can pick it up! 

This concludes my honorable mentions of Gen Con 2015.  Come back here tomorrow for my games 6-10 of the convention and in two days for my games 1-5.  As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.  Also, let me know what your top interests of Gen Con 2015 are!  Until next time, game on!

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