That’s right my fellow meeples, it’s one day til GenCon and we’re back with another list of games. This time, it’s the board games that we at the Fandomentals are most excited about for GenCon 2019. Again this is not anywhere close to exhaustive. BoardGame Geek’s comprehensive list features 621 titles total, so we’re but scratching the surface here. But if you make it to GenCon, or want to try a hot new game out, you could do worse than the ones on this list.
Let’s kick things off with something big, beautiful, and German. The central conceit of this game is that each player is a prospective member of the Royal Monstrological Society, charged to capture the most fantastic monster and present it at their own Carnival of Monsters. The most spectacular and profitable carnival will gain its proprietor entry to the prestigious society. A card drafting game, the players must gather sets of land cards to track down the most exotic monsters. They must also use their (limited) funding to pursue their goals and hire staff to handle the monsters and run your carnival. A lighthearted yet grotesque bit of neo-Victorian adventure, Carnival of Monsters is a beautifully illustrated game with a lot of really neat mechanics and strategy at play.
Location: Booth #2004
Publisher: Big Potato
Go back to your childhood with Big Potato’s newest entry to their weird and wonderful line of party games. Just looking at the box takes us back to the sticky floor and popcorn-scented air that was a land of wonder for so many of us. Taking place in two parts, the game is a fast paced movie trivia game aimed at “anyone who has seen a movie.” The first round is the “Movie Buzzer Battle,” where teams get a category and trade off naming off movies in that category as fast as possible. The second round is “Triple Charades Jeopardy,” where teams guess movies based on either an act out, a quote or a single word.
Available at: Booth #2733
Publisher: APE Games
A new take on the dungeon crawling genre, The Stygian Society goes totally diceless as you fight your way to the top of the cube tower. And the cube tower is not just a name: this game features an honest to god tower that sticks up in the center of the game board. The tower serves two purposes. The first is as a method of travel for the characters, who physically move up and around the tower on platforms as they fight new enemies.
The second purpose is in it’s role as the arbiter of the game: player actions and enemies are represented by cubes that are dropped from the top of the tower and fall through it, some getting stuck or even falling into the dungeon to count for double. It’s a really neat take on a very popular genre of game, and you’ll get a chance to demo it at APE Games’s booth this year at GenCon.
Location: Booth #1739
Retail: Demo Only
Publisher: B&B Game Studio
The Refuge: Terror From The Deep is a steampunk masterpiece of underwater adventure. As one of six steampunk divers (with 6 more added in the Kickstarter), you must battle the mighty Kraken together, alone, or in competition with one another. B&B put a lot of work into the production value for this game, with beautifully sculpted minis for the divers and a truly EPIC model for the Kraken. It’s an asymmetric and combo heavy game where you have to reach the escape pod with the cargo leaving your fellow divers to the Kraken’s mercy. If you choose to play the co-operative mode, you’ll be overcoming challenges and solving puzzles while menaced by the red tentacled titan. It’s only for demo at GenCon, but you can still pre-order it on the game’s Kickstarter page.
Location: Booth #275
Retail: Demo Only
Publisher: Evil Hat Games
This one’s a little bit weird. We originally had it on the RPG list (as that’s Evil Hat’s Bread & Butter), but in many ways it’s more of a traditional card game that happens to feature storytelling elements. Each game begins by picking from one of 14 queens, and from there 2-6 players craft ” a story of love, betrayal, doubt, and devotion.” You use prompt cards to develop your character’s and the world around you, as well as your relationship with the queen. With lots of options for storytelling and each queen unique and beautifully rendered, it’s a great way to scratch your storytelling itch without having to whip out the dice.
Location: Booth #1348
Publisher: Hit ‘Em With A Shoe
It’s a game themed around saving bees. We couldn’t just let that slide. The adorable debut of Phillie-based developer Hit Em’ With a Shoe, who work extensively with game history and education, Bee Lives is a medium-weight Euro game for 1-4 players that aims to be a friendly entry to an often intimidating genre. Manage your hive, swarm other bees, and handle wild hives that threaten your turf. You do this with both your own inner hive and with an external board players build up together. Its ultimate hope is that players will learn about our friend the honeybee, as the gameplay is true-to-life and mixes in plenty of information about bees for players to learn. It’s a really neat game with a good heart, and can be picked up at GenCon BEFORE it goes to mass release!
Location: Booth #1941
Publisher: Red Raven Games
Another genre gaining steam recently is the campaign game, where the game is played across multiple sessions like a more traditional tabletop game. Sleeping Gods is no different, allowing you ultimate flexibility as you play the game and explore the world. In this game, 1-4 players become the crew of the steamship Manticore, which allegedly vanished in a storm in 1929. But that is only the story the world knows. The truth is that the ship, captained by Sofi Odessa, to a strange world with wild seas and new stars. That world is itself shaped by the players as well, who discover bits of the atlas as they go, literally traveling by map and moving on with the turn of the page. It’s also a storybook game, where the players track their adventures and treasures and shape the plot and characters as you go. You can check out the beautifully illustrated and carefully crafted game at GenCon, ahead of its Kickstarter launch on the 6th.
Location: Booth #2659
Retail: Demo Only
8. Charmed & Dangerous
Publisher: Th3rd World Studios
Another game that rides the line between RPG and card game, Charmed and Dangerous re-imagines the classic heroines of fairy tale as RPG adventurers like Briar Rosa the Necromancer, Gretel the Candy Barbarian, or Snow White the Ranger. These princesses will square off with a different villainess each time, battling their “Forces of Evil” as they traverse dungeons, bramble forests, and more. Players will fight their way to the Villainess’s secret lair, gathering treasures and upgrading their abilities to become strong enough to save the day. Fun, family friendly, and feminist af, Charmed and Dangerous is a really unique take on a classic theme.
Location: Booth #1459
9. The Isle of Cats
Publisher: The City of Games
Looking at this year’s games, you might think that this was the year of the cat. There are SO MANY cat-themed games this year, and it was honestly hard to choose (we’re working on a list of only cat-themed games so look out). But The Isle of Cats was our favorite thanks to its high production value and fun theme. In this game, players are on a quest to rescue as many cats as possible from the titular island before the Dark Lord Vesh arrives. Players try to gather points by exploring the island and gathering cats and ancient lessons. You’ll have to move around the board while also managing the puzzle on your ship, where you have to maximize your space on the boat AND keep cat families together. It had a wildly successful Kickstarter earlier this year, and you can check the game out before it releases later this year.
Location: Booth #2760
Retail: Demo Only
Publisher: Breaking Games
A game that mixes cooperation with competition, We’re Doomed puts players in the shoes of world leaders working to escape their dying world on a massive rocket. Everyone needs to contribute to the construction effort, but they’ll have to haggle over who sends what and how much. Whoever sends the most gets an influence point. The more influence you get, the higher your chances of getting a seat on the rocket. That’s the fun twist: there’s not room on the rocket for everyone. After this, events happen, actions are taken, lizardfolk appear (it happens), and you haggle over resources again until the 15 minute hourglass runs out. That’s right: this game isn’t messing around with its playtime. When time’s up, everyone has to figure out if they get a seat on the rocket. It’s at this point that the knives (or in this case, nukes) come out, as players have to now steal seats or outright kill the competition as they try to be one of the lucky few survivors. There’s A LOT of cool mechanics in this game, all tied together by a really neat retro aesthetic. If you can’t pick it up at the con, you should definitely demo it.
Location: Booth #2329
And that’s the board games! But our journey at GenCon is far, far, FAR from over! Pay attention to the site as well as our social media for news, interviews, and coverage LIVE from the floor of GenCon
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