Scout's Gen Con 2014
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I played so many good games at Gen Con this year! Here's the roundup of (mostly new) games demoed and played with pictures and my commentary on them.
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1. Board Game: TAU: A storytelling game where everyone dies happily ever after. [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
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Tau is a storytelling game played with a standard deck of cards with characters, weapons, and basic scenarios printed on them for help with the flow of the game. You could pretty much take the story wherever you wanted without the use of the cards.

It seemed pretty unremarkable to me. They intended to make it encompass any genre, but it was clearly fantasy based, despite their efforts. The cards had some entertaining and fun flavor, but that was about it.

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2. Board Game: Red7 [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:545]
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I think I got a really bad demo person for Red, because I came out completely unimpressed when I heard others that I normally agree with speak highly of it.

I sat down to play with two others. The rules changed with every card played, similar to Fluxx. I said I was uninterested after the third or fourth (very short) round, and asked if this was basically it. The demo-er said yes, so I got up to leave.

Later, from others, I found out that it had two more levels that changed up gameplay to make it better. So, good job, demo-er!

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3. Board Game: Think Again! [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:8338]
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This was a really fun, short, party game. You had to give either correct or incorrect answers to a question based on the card showing at the time. It was a fun little brainteaser. There were also nonsense questions that came up on occasion to which you had to shout "Think again!" to get the point. At a $15 price point, it was surprisingly fun.

 
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4. Board Game: Night of the Grand Octopus [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:12465]
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Adorable! The pieces were cute, and the gameplay was simple, fun, and straightforward. As adorable and fun as it was, it still wasn't worth $40 for that amount of strategy. Great for kids and for beginners, but not a lot of replayability for strategy gamers.


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5. Board Game: Bravest Warriors Co-operative Dice Game [Average Rating:5.42 Overall Rank:13796]
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Cute and fun push your luck dice game. Nothing remarkable except for the theme. The flavor was great, and I love the show, so it would be a good filler. Two different decks for different bad guys to fight with different characters from the show. Also, the picture isn't of the actual gameplay. Catbug plush not included. My friends Tina was demoing the game and let me hold her adorable Catbug.

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6. Board Game: NHL Power Play Team-Building Card Game [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:3755]
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I was actually excited about this game. We have people who come into the store looking for sports themed games, so it's nice to add one to the very short list.

That said, it was DC Deck Building Game with a hockey overlay. Whoever decided to set the goalie card upright was super smart. The gameplay fit well with the theme.

When I asked the designer about other sport themed games, he said he wanted more, but this was the first from this line. If this one does well, there will be others. I honestly hope for others. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but it's nice to have them out there in the world for others.

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7. Board Game: XCOM: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:484]
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I went into this one as a skeptic, but came out of it as a fan. I wasn't sure how the non-optional app was going to go, but I really enjoyed it. You made decisions in real-time, with the app telling you what was coming up. In that way, it was similar to Space Alert, which I dearly love. The app was very detailed and gave specific information about what was happening in the game to the players, who all had different jobs to do. I liked that all the players focused on one thing, while being able to give input to the others about their own missions. After the real-time part, you then evaluated what happened in the round and went on to the next round.

I want to play a full game, as I only got to sit at a demo where we did two rounds, before buying it. I would definitely consider purchasing this one though. The app wasn't at all clunky and the gameplay was frantic and fun, but still full of good strategic decisions.

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8. Board Game: Pagoda [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1643]
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Pagoda is a fun 2-player game. Simple and elegant with easy strategy. Best played with someone you know or someone you are on the same strategy level with.

It's weird to me that it doesn't play more than two people, but I'm not sure how that would affect decision-making throughout the game. It seems it would be easily designed as a 2-4 player. Overall good. Would play again for sure.

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9. Board Game: Spurs: A Tale in the Old West [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:3334]
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Interesting sandbox game. You play a cowboy who tries to achieve fame in the wild west. Within the game there were a couple minigames with cattle-rustling and dice rolling. Lots of randomness. Not my thing, but could be fun if you are really into the theme.

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10. Board Game: Alien Uprising [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:5320]
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I kickstarted this game and got it in right before the con, so didn't get a chance to play it. I demoed to get a better idea of the rules. I love the concept of this game. It's a co-op where your ship has crashed on an alien planet. Your crew are trying to either batten down and defend your wreckage until the rescue ship arrives, or to go out and fix the ship and escape before the aliens take over.

I liked the dice drafting to then spend for actions and movement. There was some great push your luck with the alien attacks. I'm glad we kickstarted it, and am excited to play a full game.

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11. Board Game: Worker Placement [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:11805]
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Hilarious and wrought with awesome tongue in cheek humor about a temp agency. The humor was the only thing that really stuck out about it. It's a worker placement game, plain and simple. Nothing remarkable, but still entertaining.

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12. Board Game: Warband: Against the Darkness [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:4040]
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You are building your army to fight The Darkness. Mechanics were simple, but strategy was deep. Very easy to screw over other players. Not my type of game, but a solid one none the less. Comes out first of next year.
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13. Board Game: Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:8575]
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Beautiful art! Deck building with crew building tableau to use crew for other actions. Gameplay was a bit finicky, and the game was somewhat mediocre, but it wasn't terrible. I would not buy it, but it will sell well with the steampunk theme and amazing art.



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14. Board Game: The X-Files [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:5042]
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I'm a huge X-Files fan, and had every intention to buy this game, but after demoing it, I doubt I will. I'll most definitely play it all the way through, but will hold off on buying it myself until I'm sure I'll play it more than once.

It's one against all. The smoking man versus the main X-Files characters. You go around solving cases and getting pieces to the main puzzle. Gameplay was not bad, but the main puzzle you were putting together was the picture of the I Want To Believe poster. Seriously?! Maybe by the time it actually comes out with full production, it will be better, but I don't have high expectations anymore.

Super disappointing. Sad day.

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15. Board Game: Pandemic: Contagion [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1576]
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Fun filler game. Good for beginners, but still fun for seasoned gamers as a filler.

Don't play it with 5 people, and especially not one with AP. I understand that they were trying to get as many people to play as possible, but 5 is just too many with everyone learning. I really wish I had sat to the other side of this one guy who kept setting up the player to his left (unintentionally, but still). The stupid thing was that the other guy wasn't taking the shots he was set up for! It was ridiculous!

Anyway. It would have been a fun and fast game if not for stupid people I didn't know. I'd definitely play it again.

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16. Board Game: Samurai Spirit [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:980]
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Lots of randomness with little strategy. Too finicky for the simpleness of the game. The rules were explained just fine by the demo-er, but when four experienced players couldn't figure something out from the rulebook, you know you have a terrible book. It was fun at first, but got tiresome quickly.

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17. Board Game: Madame Ching [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2156]
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This was my favorite game when I played it at this point in the con. It's in my top 3 of the weekend. Good, deep euro strategy for the short-ish time for gameplay. Set collection and hand management.

I'll pick it up for sure. Probably would have at the con if it wasn't already out for retail and if we didn't have limited space in our luggage for the flight home.

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18. Board Game: The Last Banquet [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:10778]
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I want to try this game again before I give it a final judgment. We played with 24 people, none who knew the rules well. Not that Rochelle did a bad job teaching, it was just a cat herding situation. It took way too long to play with 24 people, even with the basic rules and scenario.

We played with three teams: royalty, red, and blue. Red and blue teams had a hidden assassin player who had to be adjacent to the king at the end of a round to win. Players' roles had different musical chair type movement actions to move people around. It was difficult to strategize with that many players and especially without being too overt to the other teams.

I think the challenge would be fun if we had fewer players and knew the rules well. I really want to play it again.



 
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19. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:57]
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Super cute and fun. I loved the theme (although buttons in a quilt-making don't exactly make sense), and the gameplay was fun and light, but with good decision making. Definitely a game you want to play with someone on your same level or else you'll get trampled. It was fun and competitive playing with Caitlin. We had a good time, and I hope to pick it up when it comes out. We played a prototype. It should be out next year.



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20. Board Game: Chimera [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2307]
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Trick-taking ladder game for 3 players. It was a fine game. Similar to Tichu and Haggis, but for 3 players only. The fun part of it was Caitlin blowing the demo-ers mind. She played a 12 card run! Fun, but since I already own Tichu and Haggis, I won't buy it.
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21. Board Game: The Battle at Kemble's Cascade [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1540]
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I give it a meh. Theme was good, gameplay wasn't bad, just kind of slow going for the theme. I liked the idea, and particularly liked the scrolling mechanic. Building up your ship to fight the big boss at the end while not getting killed by your other players was a challenge, especially when someone attacks you on the first turn (thanks for that, Shawna!). The components weren't great. The cards were really thin and the card holder for the scrolling mechanic was super janky. I never played it as an arcade game, but I imagine it was much better in that format than as a strategy board game.



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22. Board Game: Chickyboom [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:10088]
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Adorable dexterity/balance game for kids. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone with small children.

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23. Board Game: Black Fleet [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:642]
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Simple pick up and deliver game with ability to attack other players and steal treasure for points. Nothing new or remarkable. Meh.

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24. Board Game: Kingsport Festival [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1384]
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This was basically Kingsburg, but a little more simple. If you liked Kingsburg, but thought it was a bit too drawn out, and you like Lovecraft, this game's for you. The rulebook included lots of Lovecraftian lore. It was neato. I dig it.

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25. Board Game: Damage Report [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:4356]
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Fun and frantic real-time space co-op. The demo version wasn't great, as we played a super basic scenario where we could focus on one room and fix what we needed to without much distraction. The full version will be much more fun, I think. The characters had different player abilities and were very thematic. I'd like to play the full version before buying it, but it was super hard to pass up the "Problems with Puffballs" Gen Con only promo.

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