So, that was Gen Con 2016 – my first! What a whirlwind. Thank you to any of our readers and friends that said hello, and to the rest of you, I’m sorry we missed you! I was definitely treading the newbie waters and came out at the end of Sunday full of both great feelings and memories, and regrets of games missed out on.
Looking back at what I was excited about, I unfortunately got to try very little. I managed to miss the demos of all of the cool digital board game apps coming out, which is shame because I’m hyped for Tokaido! I missed out on grabbing a copy of the Last Friday due to the hype and big lines – couldn’t even get close to demoing it! I didn’t make it to the non-booth space where Asmadi were demoing One Deck Dungeon. I never spotted Gloomhaven, aww. However! While I missed the Cry Havoc boat at the Portal Games booth (hurray to them and Grant Rodiek for their hotness buzz & selling out copies), I did snag myself the gorgeous Tides of Madness, can’t wait to get that one to the table and give you all my thoughts on how that plays out and compares to Tides of Time.
My friends from the Dog & Thimble podcast picked up Bill & Ted’s Excellent Board Game, so I tried that one too – very silly fun, with some quite chaotic and uncontrollable programmed movement. Such cool art, though!
What was fantastic was being among that solid mass of amazing companies and publishers and coming across stuff that I hadn’t had on my radar and got to check out (even in passing). I stopped by the Renegade Games booth and saw Lotus in action, which looks gorgeous and has really pleasing and surprisingly think-y turns to take. I also saw Covert (a new spy game, from the designer of Fuse) and Dicey Goblins (push your luck dice game) in action, which were both awesome in their own ways. I also had a SPEED DEMO of World Championship Russian Roulette from a wonderful volunteer at the Tuesday Knight Games – we played through one round and I discovered what a cut throat and fantastic little bluffing/push your luck game that one is (like a sneakier, kill-ier Cash ‘n’ Guns). Finally I got to try a demo of an updated Adrenaline from Czech Games Edition (thanks, Paul!) – we all tried this at the Gathering of Friends in April and loved it. It’s looking great!
As I wandered the exhibition hall checking out all of the retailers and game companies, I got to see some pretty great stuff being demo’d, and they all looked so cool. Z-Man’s Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu looks quite intriguing, with fun game pieces and a unique map. It was great to see packed demos for Seafall, too – considering it’s a legacy game. But people wanted a piece of it, even if they couldn’t get their hands on a copy to buy (congrats to Plaid Hat Games and Rob Daviau for that massive sell out). One super cool thing I loved seeing was all of the mega-scaled games that publishers had out for demo or full play. Pretzel Games always had a great crowd at their big Junk Art and Flick ‘Em Up tables, with everyone having an amazing time (the scaled up Flick ‘em Up expansion was especially neat!). Iello had their big King of Tokyo, and there was a great presence from Mayfair of games like Catan and the Downfall of Pompeii. I even saw a big Carcassonne being played on the first night of the con.
What did I actually get to play? Well, not too much – but I did try mostly new stuff! As I mentioned above, I tried the Bill & Ted boardgame. I also had a game of Red Raven’s “Dingo’s Dreams” which is a lovely little bingo-esque spatial shuffling game with gorgeous art, so I picked myself up a copy of that. (And, let’s face it, I’m a sucker for anything that involves Australian animals!) Saturday, I got to try two fantastic games courtesy of the Shut up & Sit Down team (merci!). First was Go Cuckoo, an absolutely delightful dexterity game from the masters of fun, HABA. Like a reverse Kerplunk, you’re creating a nest of sticks and trying to get eggs stacked in there and not fall. I couldn’t help but pick up a copy! After that, we played a 6 player game of Captain Sonar (the hype meant it sold out, dang) – which takes the idea of team play a la Space Cadets and gives everyone a role on a submarine – team versus team, you try and hunt each other down and sink the other team’s sub. I’d love to do a review of this one when it comes out – so we’ll see when it gets to retail.
Luckily I got to sit down and get a 5 player game of the gorgeous new Antoine Bauza game in, too – Oceanos. Hmm.. maybe there’s a submarine-y theme going here.. And, hard to believe, but I didn’t play Codenames: Pictures at all, despite grabbing my own copies and almost every friend having copies!
As far as the rest of Gen Con that wasn’t wandering checking things out, trying to play games, and hopefully meeting some lovely people, I got to a few events! The first night of Gen Con was the fantastic charity event held by Nerd Night. They hold a big open gaming session and have an auction, and they raised $2500+! It was lovely seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of all the gamers out for that, as well as meeting a lot of people and getting to try Dread for the first time. Sandwiched in between my time at that event, I popped into the Women in Gaming event run by Greater Than Games. It was fantastic to get the introduction to the wonderful women on that panel and hear about how they got into gaming and what their connection is with it now. Afterward I mingled a wee bit and met some pals from Twitter, which was so fantastic! After that, ticketed events for podcast tapings were my main jam, and I even got up to take part in some fun at the big Shut Up & Sit Down one on the Saturday by playing Billionaire Banshee in a huge group. Speaking of podcasts, I even got to randomly be in a couple! You can listen to my late night chatting over on Dog & Thimble and Board With Life. Thanks for having me, folks.
Next Gen Con? Well, I’m hoping there’ll be a next one because now I know what I can expect, I think it’ll be an even greater time. Try more games, meet more folks, perhaps have a Tweetup for board game Twitter folks and… more sleep! See you there? And keep an eye out for some reviews coming up now we’re all rested and have a chance to play our hauls!