Starting on Thursday, August 4, “The Best Four Days In Gaming” returns as Gen Con 2016 descends on Indianapolis. Gen Con is the “original, longest running, and best attended gaming convention” in the world. There are exhibits, special events and more than 15,000 events taking place over the four day convention. Last year Gen Con set an attendance record of over 61,000 unique attendees.
I will be in attendance at Gen Con 2016 for Thursday only, so there will be plenty of coverage on Twitter and Facebook of all the new games hitting the scene this year. Leading up to the convention, I wanted to list some of the games that I’m looking forward to getting my hands on, demoing, or simply playing on Thursday. These are in no particular order:
The Last Friday
The Last Friday is an asymmetrical, one-versus-all game that simulates the 1970s-1980s slasher movies like Friday the 13th. One player plays as the psychopath terrorizing a summer camp, while the other players are the campers first arriving at the camp. The slasher keeps his moves hidden using a pad of paper, marking which numbered spaces he is moving around the board on, while the campers take their turns moving around the board trying to complete their objectives. In the first scenario, the campers are trying to get the keys to their bunks and safely get locked away in them, but the psychopath is lurking around the camp, willing to take them out at any corner.
I literally knew nothing about this game until yesterday afternoon, and now it is at the top of my list of games I’d like to play. There are little nods all over the game towards old slasher films, and I’m a big fan of the hidden-movement and one versus all type games. This for sure will be a top pick for me.
Most times, I’m looking for games that I can play with a big group of friends or to take with my family on vacation, and I think this is one that scratches that itch (other than another one below). America is a game that brands itself as “A Party Game Where Close Counts”. The active player will choose between two topics on either side of the card box. When that decision is made, they will read the three questions that could be answered, each either involving a year something happened, what state it happened in or the number of something. For example, if the category was Amusement Parks the three questions to try and guess the answer to would be “Year of the first amusement park?”, “Top Ranked Amusement Park is in What State”, or “Annual attendance of Disneyland”. Players will use cubes to place their answer on the appropriate spaces on the board. You get 7 points if you guess the correct answer, but you also could get 3 points if you guess the adjacent state, year or number range. Play six cards and whoever has the most points, wins. With 320 different categories, you’ll get over 50 different plays of this game, before you ever hit a repeat category, which is huge. Looks like a good one for families, especially mine.
Straight-up, this is not normally a game that I would get excited about. I’m terrible at area control war games, but there is something about Cry Havoc that seems accessible for someone like myself. In Cry Havoc, there are four different factions (Humans, Pilgrims, Machines and Grogs) to choose from, all with different strengths and weaknesses, meaning based on which side you pick, you’ll have to play completely differently to be successful. The goal of the game is to have the most victory points by controlling regions with crystals during scoring rounds, while also picking up VPs for controlling territories, capturing prisoners and killing enemy units.
The game has an interesting battle mechanic, where you will take every miniature involved in the battle and place it on a side board that has three spaces on it. If you have the majority in the Area Control space, you will win control of the area. If you have the majority in the capture prisoners objective, you’ll capture one enemy unit form any of the battle objectives. For every unit you have int he Attrition objective, you will kill one of your opponents units.
The game comes with over 50 incredible miniatures, a huge board and a bunch of bits and cards to make this a great war game. Will I like it? Only time will tell I guess.
City of Spies: Estoril 1942
In City of Spies, players compete against your opponents to gain control of six different areas in order to recruit and put together the most powerful group of spies. At the beginning of the game, six different locations are put out on the board, each with their own unique circumstances. Working from the outside in, players will place their spies on the board, trying to take control of each location, in doing so, they will win a spy from each area they control to bolster their hand of six spies.
Based on where you put your spy (face down) at each location, you can either look at your opponents spies in adjacent spaces or anywhere on the board. When you reveal your spies, some have special powers that may kill off a spy for that round, move spies into different areas, or garner more influence in that area.
The end game sees players total up the total points of their agents, plus any bonus objectives they may have matched, whether it be type of spy, nationality, etc. Whoever has the most points wins. The theme seems pretty fun to me and I think this will be a pretty accessible game for most people.
Last year I had Codenames on my Gen Con 2015 preview as one of the top games I was excited about. Codenames went on to win countless awards for how good it was for such a simple, yet complex game, including the Spiel Des Jahres, one of the top gaming awards in the world. Codenames works on a simple premise that you have a grid of 25 words, two teams with one clue giver for each team, and a map those clue givers use to determine which cards belong to their team. The clue givers may only use one word clues, followed by a number, which denotes how many cards on the board refer to that one word clue. Be the first team to get your words guessed, and you win, but watch out for the assassin word, which if guessed by any team, instantly loses the game for your side.
So, Codenames: Pictures has entered the fray, and uses the same concept as Codenames, but now with pictures:
But, as you can see the pictures aren’t completely straight forward. You still have to give one word clues, but now you have to be even more creative than before, because each picture seems to have multiple parts to it. I would even like to mix this game with the word version, because that could have some interesting outcomes as well. Either way, I know for sure I will be picking this one up. It has been a hit at all of our game nights, so no reason this one shouldn’t be either.
There are plenty of other games being sold at Gen Con, as well as those being demoed for later release dates. Some others I am excited for include: Ta-Da!, Stockpile: Continuing Corruption, 3 Wishes, SeaFall, Junk Art, Ca$h-n-Guns: Team Spirit, and a few more as well.
As always, I’ll be wearing my KSR gear at Gen Con 2016, so come find me and say hello. Or, follow us on twitter: @funkhouserKSR. Hope to see you there!