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Funkhouser’s Origins Game Fair 2017 Preview

Starting Wednesday, June 14th, Origins Game Fair will be underway in Columbus, Ohio. Origins began in 1975 in Baltimore Maryland, at Johns Hopkins University. Since then it has grown into a destination for gamers, residing in Columbus since 1996. In 2015, 15,480 unique visitors made the trip to Central Ohio to get their game on.

I will be in attendance at Origins 2017 for Funkhouser on Thursday (and possibly Friday night), so if you see me come say hi, or come play a game with me. I’ll be posting some images on our Twitter account: @funkhouserKSRso be on the lookout for those.

As I get prepared for the event, I thought I might showcase some of the games that I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play/get my hands on during the convention this weekend. These are in no particular order:

Codenames: Duet

We’ve always been a big proponent of Codenames here at Funkhouser.  Winner of the 2016 Spiel Des Jahres award, Codenames has become a massive hit over the last year with three different versions (Original, Pictures, Deep Undercover), with three more on the way (Disney, Marvel, and Duet). Codenames has found a prominent spot on the shelves at Target, and is the first game I pull out at a game night with a larger group of friends.

However, Codenames Duet is not for a larger group of friends.  As the name suggests, Codenames Duet is for just two players.  The game works in the similar fashion as its predecessor, in that you lay out a 5×5 grid of words on the table between you.  You are given a single key on a vertical stand that is set between you and your partner, which designates which words you’re trying to get your partner to guess.  Three words on either side of the key match, meaning you and your partner could be giving clues to the exact same word. Each side has an assassin, which if your partner guesses it, you immediately lose the game.  If you can uncover all 15 “agents” (correct words) before time (number of clues) runs out, you win. I’m very interested to see how this version of Codenames works out, as the franchise has been a pretty big success thus far.

Rhino Hero: Super Battle

If you’re looking at this box and thinking, “wow, that sure looks like a kid’s game,” you’d be right.  Rhino Hero: Super Battle has an age range of 5+, but this game is one that has really claimed the hearts of kids and adults alike.  In the original Rhino Hero, each player was given a certain number of floor cards.  On their turn, a player places a floor on the table, then uses bendable cards to make walls on designated spaces on the “floor”.  The next player has to play a floor on top of those walls, and the game continues as this apartment tower gets built higher and higher. The Rhino Hero comes in as some floors had a Rhino logo, meaning you had to place the Rhino Hero figure on that spot when you built that floor.  However, he may have already been on a different floor, so you have to move him from one floor to a higher level without knocking over the tower.  It’s like Jenga, but you built the tower piece by piece too.

In Rhino Hero: Super Battle, there are now four super heroes that will battle, but they will also be battling fearsome spider monkeys. The tower cards have gotten much bigger as well, meaning for taller structures and better collapses.  Really looking forward to getting to try this one out.

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire

If you are a fan of The Godfather movie franchise, then The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire is shaping up to be a game for you. This is designer Eric M. Lang’s love letter to one of his favorite movies, and of all people to take great care of a franchise, he’d be the one to do it. Lang likens this game to a “dude’s on a map game”, as a “thugs on a map” game.

Each player takes the role of a different family who is trying to shake down different businesses, get illegal goods, and trying to get as much money as possible.  The person with the most money at the end of the game wins, but it’s not about how much cash you have in hand, you need to launder money into your suitcase, and all that money counts as your score at the end of the game.  The laundering is important, as at the end of each of the four acts, you have to discard down to a certain hand size, meaning even if you did a bunch of cool stuff, if you didn’t square away money to your suitcase, you could lose it at the end of each round.

There is area-control involved as well, as you gain bonuses at the end of the game if you control certain areas of turf.  If you control certain areas during the game as well, you may get extra items if people take actions on your turf.  Last thing to touch on is that you can kill other people’s “family members” on the board, and when they die, you actually toss their figure into the river on the board.  C’mon, how cool is that.

Flatline: A FUSE Aftershock Game

FUSE is a dice rolling, bomb defusal game that came out in 2015, where you tried to stop bombs from going off.  In Flatline, some of those bombs went off and now you’re tying to save patients, by rolling dice.

You will have a series of patients that you need to save before the end of the game to be able to win. Each round, players will be rolling dice and making decisions within a one-minute timer to try and meet the needs of the patients and also take on other emergencies that might be happening over the course of that round.  Some items on a patient can only be cured by one player, while others will need the assistance of multiple or all players to put their dice on the patient.  Clearing patients will give you certain benefits, but if you clear a patient while the life support dial in the middle is pointed towards a negative result, you will receive a negative effect.  So the game is all about communication and working together in a hectic time span to treat and cure patients.

I purely like the idea of the full minute of shouting back and forth at one another to try and make the right decisions.  Many co-operative games suffer from a “quarterback” problem, in which one player makes all the decisions for everyone. In a game when you only have one minute to decide your actions, the QB effect is somewhat negated as you don’t have time to tell everyone what to do, so all players get to make very crucial decisions, even if they’re the wrong ones.

Again, there are going to be a lot of games to see this year at Origins Game Fair.  Not as many are for sale, as a lot of releases are coming at GenCon or Essen, but it will be very cool to see some of what’s coming down the pike.  If you’re going, be sure to say hi. I’m sure I’ll be wearing some sort of KSR gear.

Article written by Richmond Bramblet