Sunday, July 14, 2024

GenCon Report: AEG Shows Off A Leaner, More Focused Line of Releases

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Meeting with AEG is always a highlight of GenCon, since it tends to align with their Big Game Night and the release or announcement of games that will finish off the current year and start the next one. While they, like the rest of the industry, cut back their output a little due to the pandemic, they’re quite proud of what’s coming down the pipe. They’ve also been able to weather some of the more troublesome delays (benefits to being one of the largest companies in the industry), so their release dates and supplies haven’t shifted too much. As such, they had quite a bit to show off at GenCon, and were nice enough to give me a preview of what they’ve got coming in the next year. These aren’t all of their 2022 releases (though we know those include Dog Lover, a new edition of Dead Reckoning, and a celebration of 10 years of Smash Up!), but they represent the ideas and creativity coming out of Alderac.

Whirling Witchcraft

MSRP: $39.99

Designer: Erik Andersson Sundén

Artist: Luis FranciscoWeberson Santiago

MSRP: 39.99

The newest release shown by AEG and the only one currently on their webstore, Whirling Witchcraft has the makings of an instant Halloween classic. Described as a “Lucy at the chocolate factory” game, players are witches trying to brew up potions by combining different ingredients. However, not all of the ingredients and results will go into your own cauldron, and at the end of the round what’s left goes to the player next to you. It’s a fast-paced game of passing and planning, perfect to pick up at a party and get through several games at once.

Meeples & Monsters

Release: Q1 2022

Designer: Ole Steiness

Artist: Gong Studios

This was a game I’ve been extremely excited about, and I’m not alone as seen by how successful the game’s Kickstarter was. A clever bag builder and engine builder, it’s a very tongue-in-cheek take on standard fantasy tropes, especially those found in D&D (as seen by the various shout outs and visual cues to the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game TM). Each player has a class and has to compete with the other players to defend the all-wooden town from equally wooden invaders. There’s a LOT of wood puns, both linguistic (like the dark lord Saw-Ron) and visual (the cleric has a bottle of wood glue to heal with), and it’s incredibly cute in its overall look and feel.

The Guild of Merchant Explorers

Release: Summer 2022

Designers: Matthew Dunstan & Brett J. Gilberts

AEG anticipates this will be their biggest release of 2022, and it’s certainly got all the pieces needed to succeed. A detailed but pleasant art style underscores a game of strategy and exploration that incorporates a lot of different mechanics (even some that remind me of roll-and-writes) to accomplish its goal. The big thing that’ll make it work, however, is the ease of pickup and speed of play. Most games that look and feel like this take a long time to play, but you can play a few games of Guild in under an hour. Definitely one to watch out for and certainly a game we’ll be sure to keep updates on as it goes.

Rolling Heights

Release: First Half 2022

Designer: John D. Clair

John D Clair has been one of the most successful designers for AEG thanks to his ability to marry unique and interesting strategy with mechanics that don’t make your brain hurt (I’m a big fan of Ecos). Now he’s back with a city-building game that isn’t quite the Sim City clone it looks like. It’s based around meeple rolling, a mechanic that’s always kind of baffling to me but definitely charming in its way. Players “roll” their meeples in their tray to figure out how hard they’re working (standing for working hard, on their side for normal work, laying down for lazy), with each meeple having a different function in the construction and maintenance of your buildings and blocks. It’s a beautiful game on the table (“The most Instagram-able game yet!”) and it’s neat seeing the way new mechanics get used to add to existing concepts.

Be sure to check out my other GenCon Reports checking in with WizKids and Pandasaurus!

Images via Alderac Entertainment Group

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