A Married Couple's Journey through GenCon 2013
Alex
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Monroe
New Jersey
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We're Alex and Stephanie, and we attended our 6th Gen Con this year. We look forward to Gen Con every year, and this year did not disappoint! We always meet up with our friends Collin, Jeff and Tony from Chicago, and we brought along our friend Phil with us on our trek from New Jersey to Indianapolis.

We kept a log of everything we played and demoed at Gen Con this year, just so we could take the time to share it with all of you!
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1. Board Game: Eight-Minute Empire [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:961]
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Alex says: Started with this game to get ourselves into gaming mode. You've got to stretch before you work out, right? Eight-Minute Empire served that purpose. Great for a quick gaming fix. Enjoyed the balance of deciding when to spend your money to reach for a placement card, versus playing conservatively. Liked the strategy. Would definitely play again.

Stephanie says: Ahh, the first game we played this year at Gen Con. Means I remember nothing because I’ve played so many games since. I remember liking it. Very Risk-like. But I timed it and we did play it in just over eight minutes.

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2. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:263]
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Alex says: Had heard a lot about this game leading up to the convention, especially with the success of Forbidden Island. This game roundly kicked our collective behinds. Not in an "enjoyable, come-back-for-more" kind of way, but in a "don't want to play this game anymore" kind of way.

Stephanie says: Described to me as Pandemic in the desert. Ok, I’m good with that. However, we played three times and got smashed right at the beginning. Game beat us each time. Seems very unbalanced.


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3. Board Game: Dungeon Roll [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:1991]
Alex
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Alex says: I missed playing this because I volunteered to go back to our hotel (from the Embassy to the JW Marriott) to go get 7 Wonders. However, Stephanie said she liked it and wanted to buy it. Who am I to argue?

Stephanie says: Lots of dice rolling and slaying of monsters? And a dragon? I’m in.
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4. Board Game: Zombicide [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:324] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
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Alex says: I had played this earlier this year at a game night at our FLGS, and was left a little underwhelmed. However, playing it with our friends and having a better grasp of the rules (and no alpha player telling me what to do) made this game a lot more enjoyable. I'm not a zombie fan, I don't watch the Walking Dead, but it was still a good time.

Stephanie says: Zombie themes are hit and miss for me. These types of games seem so unbalanced with zombie swarms exploding all over the place. The components are high quality, but the two time we played, we got slaughtered. Meh.
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5. Board Game: Risk Legacy [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:231]
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Alex says: This is a game we picked up last year and only play at Gen Con with our core group. Writing on the board and destroying components are usually verboten to gamers, so Risk: Legacy is a somewhat guilty pleasure in that regard. I enjoy the game, but my usual play style for Risk (slow, steady & methodical) does not translate well to this version, so I need to adapt and become a little more aggressive next year.

Stephanie says: Very original concept. Tearing up cards, changing rules as the game evolves, marking up the board. . . it breaks all the gaming rules. However, you cannot approach this like regular Risk. The strategy is completely different: you’re not in it for the long haul. Play fast, loose, and take risks And maybe redacted won't redacted from redacted.
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6. Board Game: Viticulture [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:121]
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Alex says: I'd been really looking forward to playing this game based on Tony's recommendation. I dig worker placement games, and the theme is right up my alley. I enjoyed the mechanics of transitioning between summer to winter, as well as the turn order selection. I would have picked this up at Gen Con but I'm wary of it as a two-player game.

Stephanie says: Went to sleep instead of playing this one, so I hope Alex had something nice to say about it.
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7. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:211]
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Alex says: We were lucky enough to try out Takenoko with the deluxe set that Asmodee had for sale, and were tempted to purchase it based on our experience. I thought the theme was clever, the components were quality, and the gameplay was worth a purchase. We played this during one of our hotel gaming sessions and were very pleased. I expect this will be a game I can play with non-gamers, as it is accessible both in theme and in mechanics.

Stephanie says: PANDAS!!!! I wish we could spend the $300 for the giant version. Even to scale, this game is highly enjoyable. Asmodee puts out impeccable gamers and Takenoko doesn’t disappoint. My house rule is that you must say, “Om nom nom” every time you make the panda eat. My game, my rules.
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8. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:41]
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Alex says: This is usually one of our go-to games at Gen Con, as we all know the rules, we have a large group of players, and it's quick and engaging with little downtime. 7 Wonders is a game I love to play, and never win, which was a belief reinforced yet again. We played once with the base game and once with the Cities expansion, which I think adds so much to the game.

Stephanie says: This is a staple game for us. Didn’t get to play with the new wonders, but they definitely seem to present new challenges.
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9. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:483]
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Alex says: I had read a bit about this game leading up to Gen Con, and it was near the top of my list to demo. While I wasn't able to get onto a table to try it out, watching the game being played was enough for me to know that I wanted to purchase it. I like how workers get placed between cards on the game layout, and how their placement adjusts the effects of both cards. I also like games where I have to construct an engine to collect and score resources, so this should be right up my alley.

Stephanie says: Haven’t tried it yet. But scientific research in a Victorian England setting? I’m in.
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10. Board Game: Catan: Seafarers [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Alex
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Alex says: We played in the Catan Big Game, which was a Guinness Record-setting game where 900+ people played in the same game simultaneously. The way they handled resource generation and trading was neat, even though my neighbor to the right flat-out refused to trade with me. The organization of this event left a bit to be desired, as I found a good number of the staff to be rude when they were asked questions. Also, I think a good number of the players there would have benefited from a quick refresher of the Seafarers of Catan rules. Still had fun, though.

Stephanie says: 900+ Catan players at once? Awesome. A countdown clock keeping the turns moving? Stressful. Loved playing massive Catan, but I now twitch every time I hear a bell ding.
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11. Board Game: Time 'n' Space [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3423]
Alex
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Alex says: We ended up demoing this game because the table for Space Cadets: Dice Duels was occupied, and the gentleman running the demo swore to us that it was a 12 minute demo, when in fact it was more like 18. I mention this because with like a minute left in our demo, the SC-DD table opened up and a whole flock of new players sat down. Needless to say, I was not pleased. This game was one of a few that we played that had a real-time timer mechanic as part of its gameplay. In this game, I felt that there was too much downtime, and that the goals of the game weren't quite clear. It could be that I was just anxious checking out the SC-DD table, but this one didn't do much of anything for me.

Stephanie says: Even though I’m predisposed to like this game because the publishers are from my home state, this game was not impressive. Like Damage Report, this game used egg timers to determine player actions. It was not explained well to us and I won the game without understanding the game at all.
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12. Board Game: Damage Report [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:4342]
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Alex says: Another game with a real-time timer-based turn structure. You take the role of a crew on a module-based ship that is facing a crisis which gets worse as time passes. In order to combat the crisis, you have to pick up components from various parts of the ship and deliver them to the areas to complete repair actions. Depending on the state of your ship, the amount of time between each of your actions (measured with a 15 second sand timer) can fluctuate between 15-60 seconds, which has marked effects on your ability to solve the scenario. I found the gameplay to be engaging, straightforward, frenetic and exciting, and am looking forward to this release.

Stephanie says:
One of the new mechanics that we noticed was timed games. Damage Report utilized this mechanic very well. Controlling characters inspired by sci-fi movies/TV shows, players must race against the clock to collect materials and resources to repair their damaged ship. Part of the suspense is the mandatory “wait times,” based on how successful you are (more successful = less wait time). Damage Report was highly cooperative, which always gets high scores from me.
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13. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
Alex
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Alex says: This has been one of the hottest games over the last year, and I was eager to give it a whirl. I didn't enjoy playing this game as much as I probably should have, as I do enjoy this style of Euro. Because it was my first time playing through, I didn't manage both my "energy pool" and my culture track effectively, and that hamstrung me as the game progressed. I liked the mechanic of the selection of powers after passing, and the limit in the number of rounds. I would not buy Terra Mystica, but I could be convinced to play it again.

Stephanie says: I took a nap while they played this one. From what I heard post-game, Alex did too.
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14. Board Game: Jungle Speed [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1049]
Alex
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Alex says: This game is always a must-play at least once while we are at Gen Con, but I've cooled on it since we first started playing. It could just be that I'm lousy at it because of my slow-moving hands. I am proud of the fact that we still play with the old-school wooden totem (as opposed to the foam plastic totem), keeping the danger aspect of the game alive and well.

Stephanie says: There is no mercy in grabbing for the totem. Play with us at your own risk.
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15. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:63]
Alex
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Alex says: Another game we play at Gen Con every year, as it's the game that introduced us to Tony, Jeff, Collin and Tamela. We played just the base game, and poor Collin got thrown in the brig early on, not because he was a Cylon, but because he forgot how to play and added the wrong cards to a skill check. In the end, we lost (per usual) but we still had a great time playing.

Stephanie says: One of my all time favorite. The theme is rich (not tacked on), honors the mood of the TV show, and contains great mechanics. It’s a long game, but time truly flies. So say we all!
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16. Board Game: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:122] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Alex
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Alex says: One of the games I was most looking forward to playing. Props to Upper Deck for allowing me to schedule a demo and leave my cell number for them to send me a text when a table opened up. This game gave me what I was looking for in a superhero deck-building game, with my team of heroes fighting against an ever-changing set of villains, with plot twists and a BBEG mastermind running the show. Thematically, I feel like I'm controlling a squad of heroes, as opposed to a single hero, and the gameplay is very straightforward. After one round, Stephanie and I looked at each other and exchanged that look we get when we know we're making a purchase. Picked up the Dark City expansion as well, and we can't wait for the next releases for this game.

Stephanie says: Even though I’m a DC fan at heart, I cannot say anything negative about this game. The artwork is superb; definitely the best of this year’s con. Those familiar with deck-building games will pick this up easily. Again, a great game demoer ran this for us and I knew after one turn that I wanted to buy it. We’ve played it at least five times since coming home. It’s actually keeping me from playing other games.
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17. Board Game: DC Comics Deck-Building Game [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:699] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
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Alex says: This game was definitely a let-down for me. While I love the DC universe, I found that the game didn't give me the feel of a hero battling against villains that I was looking for. While I love the fact that you take on the role of an individual hero in this game, but it made no sense for me, playing the Green Lantern, to don Batman's cloak and cowl, or to get super-strength (even though I tried my best to explain it as I was playing my cards). I'm glad I got the opportunity to play this game, if only to confirm that it's one I would take a pass on in the future.

Stephanie says: As much as I LOVE the idea of playing as Wonder Woman, it is not enough to save this game. In what alternate reality would Wonder Woman (or any DC hero, for that matter) recruit VILLIANS to their team? It makes no sense at all. There was little cooperation between players and it fell flat. I was very disappointed. Marvel wins this round.
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18. Board Game: The Phantom Society [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:4771]
Alex
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Played x2

Alex says: Tony had picked this up from the Iello booth, and it was on my list of games to try, so we set it up and gave it a whirl. The team aspect was unique, as it's not common to find board games that provide for teams. The components were very high quality, and I liked the logic and reasoning required to be successful to win the game. In our plays, Steph and I won both games, once as the ghosts and once as the hunters. This is still be a game I would rather have a friend own, rather than own myself.

Stephanie says: Ghostbusting? Ghosthunting? Sounded good. Maybe because it was late after a long day of gaming, but I just did not get this game at all.
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19. Board Game: Space Cadets [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1161]
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Alex says: I got this in a trade, and was looking forward to Gen Con to play it with a larger group of players, and I've got to say that I'm really frustrated by it. I love the idea behind this game, with little mini-games all contributing to a larger whole of a game scenario, but I'm finding it so difficult to try and get this game going. Is it because I can teach each player their station, but as a whole we are missing how all the stations interact? Is it because you can't watch a few people take their turn before you, since everyone is acting together? Is it that I don't really know the rules as well as I should before teaching? Whatever the reason, we played 2 rounds of this game before packing it in. Maybe I'll try again in a few weeks with my gaming group at home.

Stephanie says: Huh? We’ve owned this for a month or two, but haven’t taken it out yet. Gen Con seemed to be the perfect opportunity. But even with a table of six seasoned gamers, we could not figure this game out. There was little player interaction and it wasn’t exciting or engaging. Big disappointment.
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20. Board Game: Dark Moon [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:740]
Alex
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Alex says: Played this as a warm-up to playing the full BSG board game. Rolling the dice behind the screen in secret was a neat way of hiding your intentions and whether or not you were a Cylon. For a print-and-play, I thought the components were quality, and the gameplay was quick and easy to understand. I'd be interested in this game if it was published as a full-on production copy.

Stephanie says: Good if you don’t have time for the full BSG board game. Plus, there’s dice rolling, which I love.
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21. Board Game: Terror in Meeple City [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:625]
Alex
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Alex says: Stephanie says it better than I ever could below. This is a definite purchase when it comes out.

Stephanie says: What happens when you knock into a set-up board game and mess up the components? Everyone yells at you. Not when you’re playing Rampage. Hold your wooden dino-monster above the board and drop it over a 3D building to knock meeples out for eating. Toss wooden cars for more destruction. Huff, puff, and blow down anything in your way! Can’t wait to buy this one.
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22. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:285]
 
Alex
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Monroe
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Alex says: This was probably #1 on my list of games to try and buy at Gen Con this year. I am a huge fan of the products Paizo puts out, and an a regular Pathfinder RPG player, so when they announced a RPG-style card game based in Golarion, I knew I had to check it out. We weren't able to get a demo until Friday afternoon, but within a few rounds of playing, I knew we were going to buy it. The mechanics are easy to follow, I love the idea of building a "character deck" that evolves as you gain experience, and the production value is top-notch. Paizo has figured out yet another way of separating me from my money.

Stephanie says: As a weekly Pathfinder RPG player, I was excited to see if the card game would impress. Paizo organized their demos quite well and within only a few rounds, we picked up the mechanics and strategy. Unsurprisingly, the art is wonderful. I really enjoyed the character backstories on each of the cards to boot.
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23. Board Game: Uchronia [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2060]
Alex
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Alex says: The guys we were demoing Impulse with told us that if we liked Carl Chudyk's games, then we should definitely check out Uchronia. Since Tony had picked up a copy the previous day, I figured it was worth taking a look at, and boy was I right. I absolutely love the theme of Romans with dinosaurs ("Time to feed the Christians to the velociraptors!") and the role selection mechanic is a fun one. Definitely a great pick-up on Saturday.

Stephanie says: Dinosaurs in ancient Rome. `Nuff said. Feels like a Doctor Who episode (this is high praise for me).
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24. Board Game: Impulse [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1160]
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Alex says: I’m a fan of Carl Chudyk (Innovation, Glory to Rome, Uchromia) so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this game. Designed as a card-based 4x space conquest game, it is definitely relevant to my interests. Combine that with quick setup, strategy that is subtly deep, and the ability to string together ridiculously long and obnoxious turns (Stephanie's favorite) and this is a release I can’t wait to pick up when it finally hits production.

Stephanie says: Innovation is one of my favorite games and helped me maintain my sanity through a difficult time in my life. This new design from Carl Chudyl seems like it is going to be just as good. I enjoyed the game and its continually changing options.
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25. Board Game: Dwarven Miner [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:4791]
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Alex says: A press-your-luck dice-rolling item-creation game with a fantasy theme was a neat game to try at Rather Dashing. The dice results give you different resources, with which you craft items to equip dwarven characters in your hand (and score points) I love that we got the game explained to us by the designer of the game, and enjoyed making different items like the Everfilling Beer Mug for my dwarven barmaid to use. This was a game that I would love if a friend had it, as I think it's better in a larger group, rather than for two players. That said, still quality.

Stephanie says: ute game, but nothing so special that I felt the need to buy it. The artwork and component quality is definitely a step up from last year’s Four Taverns.
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