The second largest board game convention in the world is soon to be upon us. Unfortunately, our location in the UK means that we won't be attending Gen Con, but it's still an exciting time for new releases.
Each year, Gen Con attracts not only US publishers, but also different publishers from around the world. The board game industry descends upon the Indiana Convention Centre in their masses to take a look at the new and up and coming hotness.
This year, it seems like there is no one huge release that the crowds will run to when the doors open. However, there's still news of some interesting board games and expansions coming out or being previewed at the show. In this blog I want to concentrate on the new games I would actually plan to buy if I was there, even though the idea of a demo of Pandemic Legacy Season 2 or Charterstone would also be immensely exciting (but full of spoilers)!
So, here's my Top five of new releases I am most looking forward to at Gen Con 2017.
My information about GenCon releases has come from a combination of the Tabletop Together Tool and the Dice Tower GenCon preview videos. I have tried to avoid games that I believe have already been released, but I cannot personally vouch for its accuracy.
5- Unearth is a dice game, but it has a cover that makes it look like something much more epic. Maybe this will ultimately disappoint me, but on first impressions, it's something I really want to try. There seems to be some interesting balancing mechanics here for a dice rolling game, with benefits for rolling both low and high and some manipulation. Games that make something interesting out of dice rolling, such as Sagrada and Roll Player are doing well at the moment and perhaps Unearth fits into a similar category. Hopefully the amazing look of this game is in alignment with some solid gameplay and a nice gateway level game.
4- Wasteland Express Delivery Service seems to be getting mixed reviews. For me, on the positive side, it's a pick up and deliver game and you get to upgrade your vehicles. On the negative side, I'm not too engaged by the post apocalyptic theme and I've heard the game has a bad rule book. Nevertheless, if I was at Gen Con, I would check this out because it has interesting box art, and artwork throughout, but mainly because of the insert which is a reminder of how awesome the insert is for Mechs Vs Minions. I'd almost buy the game just so I can store everything in such a satisfying way. I'd definitely rather demo it before buying, but I'm looking forward to trying out Wasteland Express Delivery Service.
3- The Quest for El Dorado was a recent surprise nominee for the Spiel Des Jahres award. At the time, the game was only available in German, but now it's being released in English by Ravensburger. I haven't really found any pure racing games I like, but I do like games that mix racing with another mechanic, such as Lewis and Clark. When that other mechanic is my favourite - deck-building - like in the Quest for El Dorado then I'm very interested. The board also reminds me of Tikal - an older game that we definitely enjoyed, but just not quite enough with two players to keep it in our collection.
2- Whistle Stop has instant appeal because of it's cover art - I just love the style of the map on the cover. Secondly, it's from Bezier Games who make great games when they're not focusing on Werewolf! The description of the game seems very heavy in contrast to the art style though. It's a proper train game with pick-up and deliver and stocks, but with seemingly much lighter mechanics. In this game you're building out the map with tile placement, which is a really nice touch. I'm perhaps more intrigued than excited by trying a game of this nature as I've typically been too intimidated, but Bezier Games makes accessible games, somewhere between the gateway and heavy gamer level and I think Whistle Stop is one we'll really enjoy.
1- Photosynthesis is a new release from Blue Orange Games that looks like another hit in the gateway games category, much like New York 1901 was for us two years ago. The theme here seems pretty unique - your growing a forest and trying to have the most light resource. To do this you'll plant different size trees on the board and as the sun moves around the board it will hit different trees, depending on the rules about overshadowing. There may be a few more complicated nuances to the rules, but overall this game just seems so tactile and unique that it's one I definitely need to add to our collection and try.
It's not usual for me to be very excited for expansions - there are actually not many board games in our collection that we have expansions for. As reviewers, we often don't get to play our favourite games often enough to require the influx of new content that an expansion brings. However, this year there are a few expansions being released at Gen Con that have really caught my interest, probably more than the brand new games mentioned above.
Gen Con Expansions
In particular, I'm excited for the Hellas and Elysium expansion for Terraforming Mars, The Merry Men expansion for Sheriff of Nottingham, Journeyman for Isle of Skye and the Monster Box of Monsters for Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle. The first three expand some of our current favourite games and we're playing Hogwarts Battle with some friends who are loving the theme and we will be sad if we finish the first seven books in the next two play sessions!
It might take a while for some of these titles to hit the UK, but the second half of 2017 still looks like it has some great new games in store and I'm really keen to try some of the Gen Con releases!