Letters of Mass Construction

Gen Con 2018 Days 3 and 4

My second Gen Con and Sheri’s first is officially in the books. I had a great time overall but the whole experience was dampened a little because my wife was beat about the head with migraines for the whole Gen Con. She hung in there and says she had a good time but I know she didn’t have as good of a time as she could have. The good news is that she wants to come back (hopefully minus the migraines).

The the last two days were spent mostly trying out games and walking around and listening to rules. We spent a lot of money the first day but only added three games the last two (four counting a pre-order I placed today). All of them were unplanned purchases where the demo wowed us in some way or another. There were also quite a few that I will order later when they become available at my game store.

I’ll start with the purchases. We bought Carthago after watching several rounds and asking a whole lot of questions. My wife and I play most of our board games two players and this game seemed to scale for two players nicely. I loved the game mechanics of trying to build the biggest navy. There were a lot of juicy choices to make every turn and a lot of long term planning. The game felt deep but the rules were easy to understand. I knew we were probably going to buy it when Sheri started correcting one of the players on how to play a rule. Sometimes games with a lot of choices and planning are not Sheri’s go to choice (except for engine building games which she loves). One of the cool things about this game was how you manage your actions. If you play it wrong you can end up in a spot where you have a great move but no action points to play it. The art was great and the price was phenomenal. A lot of game in a little box.

We were completely won over by BarBearian Battlegrounds. It is a direct conflict game with just a few simple rules to learn. Plus, lots of dice rolling which is always a win for me. It is a small portable game that you could easily pack into a smaller box and take on the road with you. Another bonus is that it is fast. I am always looking for quick games that I can add to my after school board game club. My students are always looking for quick games to fill the extra time.

With ten minutes left in the con, I finally made it over to look at Horizons. I was very interested in this game. I have been looking for a 4X game to play with Sheri. I wanted a shorter game before we dove into some of the longer beasts out there and I hoped this one would work. I was sold pretty much immediately. It was beautiful and had a nice set of rules. It also had the added bonus that you can play it without using warfare (something Sheri doesn’t always like). There is an expansion that adds the warfare in but the base game is built around not kicking the crap out of each other. We didn’t think we were going to get to buy this one though because they had sold out. However, while we were talking to the designer they found two copies (one with the extra Kickstarter expansion) so we snapped it up.

The last game I bought was a pre-order called The Hands of Fate Ordeals. This was one of the prettiest games we saw while we were at Gen Con. It also was built to be played solo. I knew I was done though as I watch the deck building mechanic in play. I absolutely love deck builders and one I can play solo, the hook was sunk in before I knew what happened.

There were a couple of games we demoed that are not out yet but we absolutely loved and will certainly buy. The top of that list is easily the third edition of Arkham Horror. This is a game I have always wanted to play but was daunted by what I heard about it. The third edition has integrated the mechanics of the 2nd edition with some of the best parts of Arkham Horror the Card Game and Eldritch Horror (to be fair I have never played the 2nd edition so maybe those other two games stole the best parts of Arkham Horror). The game played smooth, the map was cool, and there was very little for me to learn to dive right in. We also really liked Comanauts, which takes the mechanics of Stuffed Fables and puts them into a horror world. I played Coimbra and loved it but be warned it is a little crunchy. There is a boat load of things going on in this game. I will probably have to watch a refresher video on it once I purchase it. The last game I loved was Tidal Blades which will be Kickstarted in September. A beautiful and fun twist on worker placement (probably Sheri’s favorite game mechanic). We would have bought this game if it had been on sale and will definitely back it.

In the end we walked away with 10 games and two pre-orders. Some of these games will be played a few times and then be put into my after school club and the rest will hopefully enjoy repeated game plays for years to come. Our board gaming has picked up a lot this last year and I actually don’t see this reversing. My interests in playing video games has been dying a slow death the last few years and I think this Gen Con will knock it to the mat and stick a fork in it. I also have bought my games for the year with a couple of exceptions noted above. Now, I just have to learn all the rules.

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