Wednesday, July 17, 2024

GenCon Report: Breaking Games Brings Out The Best Of Indie Game Design

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Breaking Games is part of a new breed of  game company that’s become very popular as of late. These companies combine the resources of larger and more established game companies with the creative freedom that independent publishing offers. You can just check out Cat’s Kickstarter Corner to see how many innovative and fun board games are being release by designers all over the world, and Breaking Games helps get those games published and in front of as many eyeballs as possible. They also can help designers develop their game, and have credit as “co-creator” on several games they publish. They were a big sponsor of this year’s GenCon, and as such there were ads for their games all over the convention center and GenCon’s social media. I went into our meeting with a good deal of hype for their games, and I was not disappointed.

Note: I’ve left off Dwellings of Eldervale, despite my excitement for the game and its showcase at the convention, as it is still relatively new and there weren’t too many details available.

We’re Doomed!

Retail: $35.00

The big release at this year’s GenCon was We’re Doomed, a timed resource-management game that made our Most Anticipated Board Games list this year. The game is a lot bigger that other resource-heavy games, with up to 10 people able to play (and their table at GenCon was full for pretty much all 4 days). You play as world leaders preparing a rocket ship to escape a doomed planet (not topical at all), gathering resources and vying for a seat on the escape ship. The game takes fifteen minutes to play, and that isn’t an estimate. It comes with a big whopping orange hourglass that keeps time, and when the timer runs out…game over, man. You don’t necessarily have to earn your seat on the rocket, using up to and including nuclear weapons to get seats built by other players. It’s a neat mix of game styles and extremely replayable, while also being very aesthetically pleasing with its retro aesthetic in shades of orange and black.

You can currently pick up We’re Doomed! on the Breaking Games store, or check in with your FLGS to see if they have it in stock.

Can’t Catch Harry

Retail: $25.00

Created from a partnership between Breaking Games and Youtuber Robert Rallison aka TheOdd1sOut, Can’t Catch Harry is a game for any big fan of Rallison’s humorous and personal animated stories. The game is themed around the story of Harry, a moth that Rallison once kept as a pet before losing it in an experience that apparently traumatizes him to this day. The game is, essentially, a very well-themed version of Spoons. There’s a deck of cards that each have a character from the channel on it like “The Furry,” “Mom,” and “Baby James.” Your goal is to get a four-of-a-kind set, and, when you do, you reach for one of the moths at the center of the table (including Harry). There’s also Lamp Cards which (like the lamp figure all the moths are all drawn to), are worth -1 points, and Devil Cards which resets your points.

You can pickup Can’t Catch Harry at the Breaking Games store, as well as at Target and WalMart. They were also nice enough to give me a copy for review, and I’ll have a complete rundown of it up very soon.

Rise of Tribes

Retail: $50.00 (Standard Edition)

$25.00 (Deluxe Upgrade)

The new Rise of Tribes is a fun resource management game, but aims to be both a gateway game (lot of those these days) for new players or as a faster alternative to other games that might take a whole afternoon to play. Each player takes on the role of a prehistoric tribe,  gathering resources, developing tools, and creating new villages as you try to become the first tribe to form a civilization. There’s also events that affect all tribes, as well as everyone’s favorite prehistoric mammal: the woolly mammoth (which you can ride!). A neat mechanic of the game, and one that speeds it along compared to other similar games, is the incorporation of dice drafting when making actions. Players roll a certain amount of dice, and what symbols come up dictates what that tribe can do that turn.

The game already has a very high level of polish, but the truly fancy can pick up the Rise of Tribes: Deluxe Upgrade to take their strategy to the next level. This replaces the 94 game pieces included with the Standard Edition with high quality wooden ones, including some very neat little Mammoth Meeples.

Rise of Tribes is a Wal-Mart exclusive, and will hit the shelves later this fall. The Deluxe Upgrade will be sold through the Breaking Games store, but obviously requires the base game in order to be usable (unless you really) like mammoth meeples.

Sparkle Kitty Nights

Both Sparkle Kitty Nights and its preceding game, Sparkle Kitty, were not games I knew about before GenCon but became one of my favorites afterwards. Both games are party games that trade in wordplay and fun shenanigans to try to beat out other players. You have to rescue your character from the evil Sparkle Kitty’s tower, using word cards to produce magic spells and be the first to climb the tower and empty your hand.  Sparkle Kitty, the first game, is aimed firmly at younger audiences, with its cartoony princesses and clean and often pastry-themed word options. But after the success of that game among both the intended audience and older gamers, creator Manny Vega wanted to make a version that aimed more firmly at the adult market. The new version involves much dirtier options for spells (“Rainbow,” “Infinite,” and “Fudge” have been replaced with “Spread,” “Shaft,” and “Snatch,” for instance), as well as more complicated gameplay that involves teams and elements of deduction. Instead of princesses, players take on the roles of knights trapped in the tower. They are all either on Team Naughty or Team Nice, and players can only win when all of their teammates have escaped the tower as well. You can also use “Mirror, Mirror” cards to peek at other players so long as you say the current spell backwards and forwards.

The new Knights feature original art from six different artists, with original Sparkle Kitty artist Leah Artwick returning to design a few

Another new wrinkle to the game is the Dragon, who comes out when there’s an odd number of players. The Dragon plays alone, and can reveal their identity to the Knights in order to not add to their tower. But to win, they have to do more than just empty their tower. They also have to remove the last card from another Knight’s tower, swallowing that knight whole and taunting the other Knights mercilessly.

They’ve also released an expansion to the game, Safe Words, which adds in new spells, enchantments, and a “Team” wildcard. It also adds two new modes to the game. The first, Werewolf Mode, directly references the deduction game of the same name in that Knights must guess who the werewolf is before they can escape their tower or kill one of their own. The second, Vampire Mode, adds in a spreading darkness as the head Vampire slowly adds to their clan and adds an element of danger to peeking at other players.

Not affiliated with Sarah Logan

You can pick up Sparkle Kitty and Sparkle Kitty Nights, as well as their expansions and accessories, on the Breaking Games website. The core games each will run you $20, with Safe Words going for $8.00.


Stay tuned to The Fandomentals for all the latest from Breaking Games and the wide world of board games!


All images via Breaking Games


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