Monday, July 25, 2016
Obligatory 2016 Gen Con Post Part I: Top 5 Game Expansions
Okay…now for the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year…major boardgaming convention time! I love this time of the year, when the cutting of shrink wrap opens up to the smell of new cardboard and the sounds of chits, dice, wood, metal, and other materials shifting around in a box. When every time you look at BoardGameGeek, a new game has been leaked and/or previewed on either the Gen Con or Essen Spiel preview page. I love reading up on the new hotness just to see what is out there, whether I’ll end up buying it or not. This post will be the first in my Gen Con 2016 series and this particular one will tackle my top 5 game expansions that are debuting at this year’s convention. These are all expansions that are showing up in the United States for the first time and making their “official” debut at Gen Con 2016. There is always a possibility that some of these won’t make the convention for one reason or another but at this point they are all pretty much set. Most of my information was garnered from Eric M. Martin’s fantastic, yearly geeklist at BoardGameGeek which you can find at https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/198728/gen-con-2016-preview. There are fifteen (at the time of this posting) pages of gaming goodness to check out so enjoy! Now that we’ve discussed all of the “housekeeping” items, let’s move on to my list of the top 5 game expansions I’m looking forward to at this year’s Gen Con!
Honorable Mention – Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala (Days of Wonder)
Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala is an expansion to the 2014 Days of Wonder hit, Five Tribes by designer Bruno Cathala. The Thieves of Naqala is designed by Cathala and is slated to release at this year’s Gen Con. Five Tribes is an area control style game with set collection and a heavy Mancala influence where you use your meeples to jump ahead three spaces and then use the actions at the end. It was released in 2014 to great acclaim and was another hit in Days of Wonder’s collection of games. This mini-expansion simply adds six new thief cards and one new djinn card. These thief cards add a new mechanism where one can buy them instead of a djinn card and use them to force the other players to give up something that they control, whether it is a tile, resource, palce, or djinn. This gives the players even more interaction in this already heavily tactical game. I don’t have Five Tribes yet but it is a game that is pretty high on my acquire list and thus this is an honorable mention.
Simurgh: Call of the Dragonlord is an expansion for the 2015 NSKN Games’ release, Simurgh by designer Pierluca Zizzi. Call of the Dragonlord is designed by Zizzi as well as NSKN Games’ regulars, Błażej Kubacki and Andrei Novak. Simurgh is a worker placement game and tile placement game where you take control of soldiers and dragons and place them on tiles that you’ve placed on the board in order to create the most powerful clan of dragon riders in the land. This expansion adds in a new worker (the Wizard) who can be added into the game as well as some other modules including the Forgotten City board. This game has been on my radar since last year’s Essen Spiel and I hope to add it to my collection. If I am able to get this game I’ll definitely get the expansion in order to give even more options to what appears to be a really fun game!
Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up! is an expansion for the 2015 Artana release, Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents by designer Dirk Knemeyer. Powering Up! is also designed by Knemeyer and was Kickstarted earlier this year and is supposed to be coming out at Gen Con. Tesla vs. Edison: War ofCurrents is an economic, stock holding, route building game where you play inventors during the evolution of the electricity era trying to build up their companies and/or stocks. This expansion adds in quite a bit to the mix from what I’ve researched. First of all it adds in a new female inventor into the previously male’s only club. I love Dirk’s decision to add in Madam C.J. Walker in this particular expansion. It does my heart good to see designers and developers add in some gender and/or race equality into their game designs. Bravo Dirk, bravo! This expansion also adds in a cool “bot” mechanism that allows players to add in card controlled characters so they can play with as many characters as they want, even playing solitaire if they want! I don’t have this game, but this is one of those expansions that makes me want to actually go out and buy it simply to play with the expansion! This would probably be the first I’d say is integral to me wanting to play the game.
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot: Angry Ocean is an expansion to 2015 Portal Games release, Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot designed by owner/CEO Ignacy Trzewiczek. Angry Ocean is also designed by Trzewiczek and will be released at Gen Con along with some other Portal Games releases. Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is a dice rolling, pirate game that uses the box as the “battlefield” for the dropped dice. You then use these dice as ships and battle other ships in order to get loot and be the best buccaneer after your adventures. This expansion is a scenario pack that gives you two new dice with character cards. Along with the dice it gives you two new scenarios to play. The first, “Angry Ocean”, pits you against different obstacles like krakens, rocks, whirlpools and shipwrecks. The second one, “Old Dogs”, sets you up as a veteran pirate who is ready to retire. This scenario gives you an already fully equipped ship that can’t be modified during that particular adventure. My wife and I have really enjoyed this game and are looking forward to the new scenarios to add in more replayability!
Mysterium: Hidden Signs is an expansion to the 2015 (original, Polish edition was in 2013 by Portal Games) Libellud/Asmodee hit, Mysterium designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko. Hidden Signs is also designed by the Nevskiy/Sidorenko pair and will debut at Gen Con. Mysterium is a co-operative deduction, murder/mystery where one player plays as the ghost (the clue-giver) and all of the other players are mediums (the clue-guessers) as they are trying to figure out how, where, and who killed the ghost. This expansion just simply adds more cards into the mix which I think is fantastic! This game is already great as is and I didn’t really want any more mechanisms, but the added replayability is always welcome. This adds in more suspects, places, and possible murder weapons to an already fairly large selection. Along with these it adds in more cards for the ghost to use while giving his/her vision. This is a must buy for us!
Ashes: The Duchess of Deception and Ashes: The Roaring Rose are two new expansion decks to the 2015 Plaid Hat Games release, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn by designer Isaac Vega. The Duchess of Deception and The Roaring Rose are both designed by original creator, Isaac Vega and will debut at Gen Con. Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is a (primarily) two-player, dice rolling, battle card game where each player takes control of a Phoenixborn and attempts to defeat the other player with a mixture of card-play and dice rolling for mana. Think Magic: The Gathering with a dice-as-mana mechanism and you are getting close to what Ashes is. This expansion adds to more “mono-decks” into the mix as Victoria Glassfire (The Duchess of Deception) and Leo Sunshadow (The Roaring Rose). Victoria is a mono-illusion deck that focuses on a lot of tricks while Leo is a mono-charm deck that focuses on deck milling. We can’t wait for these decks! This game has become one of mine and Em’s favorite games and I love everything they’ve released for it so far! This is an insta-buy that will probably be in a pre-order cart very soon!
And there it is! I think this is a pretty solid list of five (plus one) expansions that are coming out at Gen Con 2015 and are completely on my radar. Three of them, Angry Ocean, Hidden Signs, and The Duchess of Deception/The Roaring Rose will probably be in my hands at some point soon. The other one really depend on how much the base game is really added to by the expansion. Stay tuned as my next post will focus on reprints/reimplementations that are coming out at Gen Con. Thanks so much for reading and as always, if you have any questions/comments feel free to post below. Until next time, game on!