Like a flock of origami swan flying house to roost, hundreds of players from the world over as soon as once more lately descended on Indianapolis to interact within the large, sprawling board gaming convention that was Gen Con 2019. And then some.
Whereas the convention itself has boasted a number of consecutive years of over 60,000 distinctive attendees, Gen Con 2019 noticed the most important customer totals but, with the convention employees touting that this yr’s numbers have been near 70,000. Not solely is that this a new document and at the least a 10% improve over the previous few years, nevertheless it additionally blows away the early estimations of round 65,000. In what is going to solely continue to develop into a recurring factor, four-day passes bought out previous to the con starting, and the number of events to partake in – each ticketed or not – have by some means climbed even further.
All of which principally signifies that Gen Con was being Gen Con. Undertaking such an enormous expo is not any straightforward process, but one way or the other the conference managed introduce new parts, refine present processes, and entice newcomers to the eerily flat lands of central Indiana all on the similar time. And barring the inevitable handful of points to arise, the conference largely pulled it off with out incident.
The attendee numbers breakdown largely reflects what we saw final yr, in that the increase in one-day passes means Gen Con continues to entice a large regional presence – those that can make a day journey or a quick overnight. This was inadvertently mirrored in one of many handful of small issues that did arise with the convention – albeit one concerning the city of Indianapolis more than the conference itself. Within the leadup to the convention it had been introduced that the freeway between downtown Indy and the airport was going to be closed for restore through the convention, and while that led to some additional journey time getting to and from the airport, the report additionally mentioned that it’s estimated better than 75% of all Gen Con attendees truly drive to the conference moderately than fly. Which suggests as massive as the con is for these on the coasts or outdoors of the nation, its central location very a lot makes it an incredible location for a lot of within the Midwest to simply attain.
This is also undoubtedly one of many reasons Gen Con has no quick want to relocate even as the conference continues to develop.
In many ways, this yr’s Gen Con capitalized on the various refinements of the previous few years. The new lodge lottery system carried out last yr went over even easier this time (the existence of such a system aside), and conference group seemed to take in depth efforts making an attempt to ensure that transportation to the outer ring of lodges was functioning and that the meals truck carousel out front was as efficient because it could possibly be. The strains to those options admittedly felt slightly longer than final yr, however solely moderately so.
All in all, Gen Con itself ran fairly smoothly this yr, with just a few minor issues which are to be expected for a venue of this magnitude. Things can nonetheless be improved in fact, corresponding to the fact that the Lucas Oil play space didn’t really really feel advertised a lot this yr and the relegating of many panels to the stadium again feels like it might be affecting all but probably the most desired panels when it comes to attendance to a point. However for probably the most half, this yr felt established order, despite the uptick in individuals.
When it comes to gaming itself, Gen Con as all the time had you coated. Despite the plethora of opportunities at Gen Con to partake in, when most individuals think of the con itself they inexplicably end up referring to the expo flooring. Per normal, this yr’s choice of video games was one thing to behold. Over 600 new and comparatively new titles have been talked about leading as much as the convention, and greater than half of those have been on sale. The staggering amount of selection, coupled with the fact that like final yr there weren’t any overly labeled marquee video games garnering all the eye, ensured that there have been loads of games for everybody to get excited over. From crunchy Euros, to dexterity video games, to a seemingly countless stream of roll & writes (critically, So. Many. Roll & Writes.), the record of latest games obtainable at Gen Con for attendees ran the spectrum from extremely mild to sufficiently heavy.
This also says nothing of the remaining few hundred titles on display to carry your consideration until once they develop into obtainable within the months ahead.
The subject of shortage virtually all the time rears its head when discussing the expo corridor contents, and that was pretty much unchanged right here as nicely. Nevertheless, usually the shortage of salable copies for sure games was resulting from the price of air freighting sufficient to be able to sell any in any respect, and in a couple others there have been points with supply to the conference, shipments getting misplaced, production setbacks, and even a couple of whose product have been caught in customs. Whereas there are virtually all the time a number of publishers that understocked some titles on function to drive up hype for a recreation, the overwhelming majority of unavailability at Gen Con 2019 was a results of normal logistics than anything. For probably the most half, though, in case you needed one thing inside the first couple days of the convention, you have been capable of safe it. This was especially true for many who took benefit of BoardGameGeek piloting its preorder system as a way of securing a replica forward of time and appeared to help alleviate a few of these FOMO fears. Although I also can admittedly see that turning into a double-edged sword prefer it typically is at Essen, with the only copies obtainable being those that have been preordered, leaving nothing for the overall plenty. Time will inform on that.
Still, in case you weren’t after specific titles, Gen Con 2019 also had an exquisite array of video games to take a look at. There was no shortage of gaming choices, that’s for positive. The truth is, one might argue there have been virtually too many being released at a time, particularly within the case of certain publishers churning out two dozen titles (or extra) a yr. Ultimately the business might want to tackle problems with sustainability and the impression of an ever-shortening board recreation release cycle. However for now, this yr’s panoply of cardboard was on full display for everyone to flick through, from the most important names to indie publishers making their first look.
What follows, then, is a complete take a look at many pieces of data we acquired over our 4 days Gen Con. This spans the board gaming sphere in addition to a number of different areas that have been value mentioning.
Thoughts you, it’s unimaginable to catch every little thing on the con, and though I definitely try to collect as a lot intel as I can whereas gabbing along for 4 days, there’s simply too much for anybody individual to process on the expo flooring alone, let alone the conference writ giant. So I apologize if I left anything or anybody out. Making an attempt to report on the whole lot individually is near a statistic impossibility: with over 500 totally different recreation vendors, even in the event you spend everything of the expo hall’s 30 hours on the ground (and I do), it will depart you with lower than 4 minutes to cease at each single booth. That each one being stated, I spent nearly all of my daytime hours operating round gathering info per typical, and over the subsequent week I’m excited to share a lot of the pertinent pieces of that endeavor.
So, let’s get began. Without further ado, I give to you our Gen Con 2019 Recap: Deluxe Version, with Part 1, the Kickstarters.
For the primary a part of the recap, we need to point out the continued Kickstarters that have been occurring through the conference or launched instantly afterwards, and a variety of them don’t have lots of time left. Hence why we’re beginning with those. As well as, there were a handful of Kickstarters that ended just some days prior to Gen Con that could be value a re-assessment should you missed them. These embrace:
As for the lively Kickstarters:
One Small Step by Academy Video games. While the marketing campaign simply ended yesterday (eight/6), One Small Step was fairly lively during its time at Gen Con after a tender unveiling at Origins. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the moon touchdown, this recreation sparked a little bit of interest resulting from it being team-based worker placement recreation.
Taking you back to the peak of the Area Race, one aspect performs because the People and the opposite the Soviets as each side dig in to be the first country on the moon. Although it makes use of a largely typical employee placement model, the fact that all sides will get all of two meeples to make use of every spherical to generate assets, upgrade gear, rent personnel, and advance progress on their missions makes it a tightly contested engine-building sprint to the heavens. We originally had plans to preview it here on the location, however because of some prototype era issues, that didn’t fairly happen. The brief model though: when you take pleasure in employee placement and / or dig the basic area theme, give this one a glance.
Trial by Trolley by Explosm Video games / Skybound Games. I’ll be absolutely trustworthy here: I truly enjoy the Cyanide and Happiness comedian in small doses. It’s equal bits acerbic, subversive, outlandish, and crude. But I’ve by no means discovered these sometimes amusing moments translate into an fascinating board recreation. It definitely didn’t with Joking Hazard and it doesn’t particularly here either. However, this marketing campaign, which ends right now (eight/7) has already generated over $3 million in backers, bolstered partially by its Gen Con presence.
In this, er, “get together recreation”, gamers disperse into two teams that each lay out a row of mostly-innocent bystander playing cards, then muddy the waters by sabotaging each other with a clearly terrible character card. All of that is in an try and get the decide (“conductor”) to determine which row of people to mow down with a runaway trolley. It’s all posited as a recreation of ethical dilemmas, with players making an attempt to finish with the least quantity of dying tokens, and positive, I assume there’s some room for black humor here. But nowadays, I’m simply not into it. In case you are although, the time left on this monitor is nearly out.
Margraves of Valeria by Day by day Magic Video games. I’m regularly impressed that Day by day Magic Games has been capable of make a consistent, cohesive, and evolving collection of video games all based mostly around the similar world IP and nonetheless manage to make each of them distinct (even if I do get them personally confused once in a while).
Margraves is the 5th and newest standalone recreation within the vaunted Valeria collection, which focuses on knight-commanders referred to as Margraves and their attempts to construct defensive towers to defend the cities whilst additionally gaining influence with the cities’ guilds. Using a mixture of employee placement, resource management, card drafting, and a personal favourite – multi-use cards – Margraves is the most important and most concerned in the Valeria line up to now. Time is nearly up on this one though as it ends at the moment (eight/7).
Cube Throne Adventures by Roxley Games. Cube Throne has been lengthy touted as an outstanding dice recreation both when it comes to its high quality and its tactical combat-laden leisure value, reflected in its two massively profitable previous Kickstarter campaigns and subsequent pickup by Roxley Games. In the standard Cube Throne recreation, every participant is a unique playable characters whose job is to be the final one standing. That is completed barely in another way relying on each character, however the primary gist is that you simply use dice to build up factors and then spend those factors to power assaults, talents, upgrades, and different results. DTA takes this primary concept and amplifies it considerably by turning the game from a mere arena-style deathmatch into a cooperative dungeon-crawling fashion adventure. It’s an formidable venture however one that the sport’s followers are already extremely receptive to, mirrored in the truth that regardless that Roxley didn’t have a booth at Gen Con individuals have been still in search of out one of many designers to ask questions about this mighty enlargement. Which is sensible, as a result of this marketing campaign solely runs via Friday (8/9).
Smartphone Inc. by Cosmodrome Games. For those who’re a Euro gamer fan, likelihood is you’ve already heard a bunch of people (together with ourselves) touting this recreation’s attraction. Originally an Essen 2018 release in limited portions, Smartphone turned a slow-rolling hit from most who played it. When information broke earlier this yr that Cosmodrome was going to be Kickstarting a bigger print run with up to date elements and it might make its approach into retail in 2020 because of Arcane Wonders, individuals have been understandably excited.
The fact that Cosmodrome was quietly available at Gen Con to demo the game for many who hadn’t heard about it I’m positive only aided that cause further. On this recreation, players are cellular phone corporations competing with each other for a number of rounds for to get the greatest ROI of their product, which includes manufacturing phones, finding regions to sell them in, upgrading their tech, and pricing them accordingly for max profit. All of which is completed by way of an unconventional however highly pleasant set of motion boards filled with symbols that you simply manipulate and overlap to find out which actions you’re taking each spherical and their relative potency. We figured Smartphone was going to have some sort of presence on the con and it was nice sudden shock to see it in motion from its creators. Its marketing campaign runs by way of 8/12.
Trudvang Legends by CMON Games. Based mostly on the well-received Trudvang Chronicles RPG, CMON has adapted this Nordic tale of fantasy and legend right into a difficult cooperative recreation – one in every of course filled with hefty miniatures this firm is understood for. Steeped in Norse theme and flavor, in Trudvang gamers act as numerous heroes making an attempt to stave off the forces of darkness (such as you do). Beyond the apparent minis promoting point – which I know for some is all you want – Trudvang can also be intriguing because of its evolving world state of the course of the game’s marketing campaign. Although not a legacy recreation in nature, the choices your celebration makes and the ramifications thereof are mirrored in numerous in-game ways, together with modifying the places on the board itself. Billed as a GM-less story-driven marketing campaign recreation, the more you take a look at Trudvang, the less it seems like the usual part and parcel CMON miniatures recreation fare, and that reality undoubtedly caught our attention. Its marketing campaign runs by way of 8/14
Meow: The Cult of Cat by Jellybean Games. There was no scarcity of cat-related video games at this yr’s Gen Con (I do know, as we might have ended up with a couple ourselves), and Meow definitely matches right in alongside them. In what’s successfully a party recreation for teenagers, Meow is a brief experience that’s one part reminiscence, one half deduction, three elements goofiness.
The objective in Meow is straightforward: all it’s a must to do is complete the cat’s initiation ritual without breaking any of the ceremony’s rules. The catch is that you simply don’t truly know a lot of the guidelines to start out. Each player has a card denoting a part of the ritual’s guidelines, which could possibly be things you want to do (or not do) and could also be verbal or physical in nature. In the event you get that a part of the ritual flawed, the cards are revealed and shuffled in for a alternative, starting that course of once more. Which suggests paying attention and remembering when somebody is right is vital. Meow has a simple presence, lovable artwork, and makes for a pleasing addition to the Jellybean line of family-friendly games. Its marketing campaign runs via eight/16.
SHASN. Although Gen Con is primarily referred to as a bastion of latest video games by well-established publishers, the convention can also be residence to a good amount of indie designers making an attempt to point out off their recreation when and where they will. Typically this is by way of organized events and meetings. Different occasions it’s very ad hoc, involving merely establishing at a desk and making an attempt to entice others to hitch in. SHASN, an upcoming political simulation recreation whose creator is predicated out of India, was someplace in between, with a handful of scheduled occasions deep within the bowels of the play corridor (which I regrettably didn’t get to see personally). Nonetheless, it truly sounds fascinating.
Advertised as an area management and useful resource management recreation based mostly around the typically tumultuous and contentious world of political influence, SHASN has gamers as politicians making an attempt to determine political dominance of their region. Rooted in the want to win at all costs, players should scheme, strategize, and capitalize on a frequently-changing board state and do what it takes to secure the hearts, minds, and votes of its populace by making impactful occasion selections after which coping with the outcomes to their advantage the most effective they will. All of which is completed whereas being utterly divested from the actual world political issues of any specific nation – which is a unusually novel strategy. For those who’re into the thought of a political strategy sim, you could need to give SHASN a glance. Its marketing campaign runs via 8/16.
Chiseled: A Deck-Sculpting Recreation by Copper Frog Games. Simply the smallest and shortest recreation of this listing, Chiseled is a brief and easy recreation that’s easily taught and easily playable. Inverting the usual deckbuilding strategy, Chiseled as an alternative boasts itself as being a deck deconstruction recreation. In Chiseled, players are sculptors making an attempt to good their subsequent masterpiece, they usually should achieve this by discovering it by hewing away elements of the block of stone before them – a pleasant nod to the philosophy many nice sculptors had. On your flip, you choose an obtainable motion from the center row and carry out its impact, including shedding marble cards from your hand that not solely advance your aim in the recreation however are value unfavourable factors on the finish in the event you don’t. It’s a clever mechanical inversion with an identical thematic function, and the whole thing plays underneath a half hour. Its marketing campaign runs by way of 8/17.
On the Rocks by PenTree Games. Whereas PenTree Games themselves didn’t have a sales space for Gen Con, their inaugural recreation On the Rocks was still being proven off all the identical. On this aesthetically interesting marble drafting recreation, players are mixologists making an attempt to good a collection of cocktails for his or her clientele. Each turn, gamers will pull a collection of ingredient marbles out of a bag and add them Mancala fashion to a set of bowls. You then select one and use its contents to aim fulfill your numerous drink orders to attain factors. After three rounds, whoever has probably the most factors wins. It’s an easy but interesting recreation (what recreation with marbles isn’t?) that’s type of like Potion Explosion, except with slightly fewer unwanted effects. Household weight when it comes to play time and complexity, On the Rocks is an affable tackle swanky bartending. Its marketing campaign runs via 8/22.
Sleeping Gods by Purple Raven Games. For fans of Ryan Laukat’s brand, Sleeping Gods could also be as close to an auto-back as you will get. We received a take a look at a much earlier version of the game at Gen Con 2018 and have been bought then, but the one on show this yr appears even higher. In Sleeping Gods, players discover themselves in an otherworldly journey circa 1929 as members of a ship’s crew who have by some means discovered themselves misplaced in a wierd and mystical land.
Comparable in nature to a few of Purple Raven’s earlier storybook video games like Above & Under and Close to & Far, gamers should cooperatively explore these unknown lands, meet new characters, and find a collection of totems so as to find your means again residence. What makes Sleeping Gods so appealing – not to mention formidable – is that you’ve much more company within the course your story takes. Each page in the recreation’s ebook represents but a fraction of the world’s map you’ll be able to probably sail to. If you wish to say, sail south off the web page, then you’ll be able to, and easily turn to the appropriate new page to proceed your nautical journey. The result is a storytelling marketing campaign recreation that may unfold largely based mostly on your group’s selections whereas still having a cohesive general framework. In some methods Sleeping Gods virtually seems like an exploratory video game in e-book type, and it’s captured our interest for nicely over a yr at this point. The marketing campaign launched immediately after Gen Con and runs via 8/29.
Fiasco the Card Recreation by Bully Pulpit Video games. The one-shot tabletop RPG recreation Fiascso was all the fad quite a lot of years back, and rightfully so. Embodying the spirit of a Cohen brothers type film, Fiasco was a low barrier RPG that offered an outlet for players to reside out a procedurally generated story of ambition, poor decision-making, and the results thereof. Its ease of access made it a tabletop recreation that was positively touted from RPG newcomers to ardent geek celebs, and for some time it seemed like everybody needed to provide this narrative-driven story of woe a spin. (Should you missed out and are curious to study extra, you possibly can learn our assessment here.) In fact, Fiasco was still an RPG at the end of the day, and approachable as it is, generating a story to run still took some effort. This is the place the newly tailored Fiasco Card Recreation comes into play. Taking the identical core Fiasco premise, the parents at Bully Pulpit have created a storytelling card recreation model that seeks to make propping up your personal ridiculous tale even easier by choosing a collection of cards to construct your framework. The one actual question is how this one will finish. The marketing campaign runs till 9/four.
That’s all for now! Verify back for the subsequent phase once we speak about a number of the most talked about games to make their Gen Con debut.