My GenCon 2005 - Games I Bought/Looked at/Disappointments and Surprises.
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Another year, another GenCon. I made the trip down with my good friend Anthony and his son Justin, and we hit the exhibition hall for a few hours on Friday and most of the day on Saturday. Here's a lit of games I bought, things I saw and stuff that surprised or disappointed me. Feel free to add your own comments about any of these games.
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1. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:267]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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I went down to the convention with the goal of picking up a copy of Descent, and that goal was made reality on Friday afternoon. We cracked it open, punched out the myriad pieces and played a game later that night. Descent is the evolution of the Doom boardgame design, and it deepens the gameplay significantly, adding many more options for the heroes to outfit their characters, and better interaction for the overlord player. It's better than Doom, and in fact it's hands down the best dungeon crawl game I've played. I'll have a review up soon with all of the details.
 
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2. Board Game: En Garde! [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:6441]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Slugfest Games was a highlight for me at last year's GenCon show. Their Kung Fu Fighting was a complete surprise, and so much fun that both me and the friend I was with bought copies after sitting for a demo. We then brought a couple more friends we ran into back to their booth for a demo and they bought copies. When I returned home, I was disappointed that there wasn't a page on BGG for this outstanding game - so I made one. For the past year I have been a proponent of this game, bringing it to various gaming nights, and earning the game many new fans in the process. This year, before heading down to GenCon I checked Slugfest's website to see if they had anything new, like a Kung Fu expansion perhaps, and I discovered En Garde. One of the first things we did after arriving on Friday was head to their booth and wedge ourselves into a demo. The game is similar to Kung Fu Fighting, but based on sabre dueling, and it focuses more on the back and forth of swordfighting. Rather than the Attack/Block or Hit sequence of Kung Fu, En Garde sees a lot of Attack/Parry/Counterattack/Riposte/Strong Arm/Coupe/Parry etc. until one player or the other, or both, takes some damage (in the game parlance, loses some poise). The other interesting thing about En Garde is that as long as you have at least 1 poise remaining you can't be completely knocked out of the game in a single attack. Your opponents need to first drop you to no poise, then a killing blow can be landed. It's a fun game with a bit more strategic options than Kung Fu Fighting.
 
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3. Board Game: Wooly Bully [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:2587]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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AKA 'Wooly Bully' for the English language edition. I had read about this game some time ago on BGG and it looked very cool to me. I enjoy tile-laying games like Carcassone and thought that Wooly Bully would appeal to me and many of the gamers at my regular weekly game night. The rules are clean and easy, and there's a good deal of fun interaction between players with no scoring to worry about until the end of the game. I'm looking forward to trying this one out.
 
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4. Board Game: ZÈRTZ [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:478] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Last year at GenCon I bought my first GIPF Project game, YINSH. I had played the game quite a lot on the BSW and I enjoyed it tremendously. It's been my constant 2-player option for my boardgame night. This year, I passed a booth that had a pile of games marked 40% off, and ZERTZ was among them. This was the GIPF game that interested me the most after YINSH (with DVONN being a close second) so I grabbed it. Unfortunately the booth was only taking cash and my reserves were starting to bottom out, or I probably would have also bought China Moon and GIPF from that vendor. Anyway, I haven't played ZERTZ yet, but it looks like another nice 2-player abstract. I'll probably make picking up a new GIPF Project game an annual GenCon tradition.
 
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5. Board Game: MidEvil [Average Rating:5.48 Overall Rank:12940]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Zombies!!! is one of my favorite games, and I was sad last year to find Zombies!!! 4: The End, a title that kind of suggested that the series was finished. Not so, as this year, and completely to my great surprise, as I checked out the Twilight Creations booth I spotted MidEvil, a continuation of the Zombies!!! game, which follows the plot of Army of Darkness (you go back in time to find the Necronomicon and deliver it to an altar while fighting legions of skeletons). The game is a bit deeper than Zombies!!! but has many of the same rules. I can't wait to try it out.
 
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6. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:269] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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I've got a love/hate relationship with HeroScape. I like the idea, the components, and playing the game with the right mix of gamers. But if there's a gamer in the mix who is focusing too much on the averages of dice rolls or getting bent out of shape over some of the overpowered figures in the game, it starts to drag. I've come to terms with the fact that HeroScape is at best an extremely light wargame. But even though it rarely hits my gaming tables, I find myself unable to stop purchasing the new sets as they become available, and from what WotC was showing off at the show this year, my wallet it going to take a beating in the near future.

The biggest item, and one that came as a complete surprise to me, was a massive castle that fit perfectly onto the terrain tiles and included tall ladders with slots for figure bases so they could move up and down them over the course of several turns. The table on which they were running game demos using the castle was massive - they must have had at least 20 master sets worth of terrain laid out, including the new lava stuff. It all looked really good, and they were letting players try out figures from the next expansion, which included Shaolin Monks, Valkyrie warriors, mecha-apes with big guns, Marro-looking dogs and scottish highlanders. There's also a new pack of unique heroes and from the look of it, there are a few new Valkyries in there. None of these stuff was being sold at the show, however.

WotC was handing out an exclusive convention freebie, though. Nerak the Glacian Swog Rider, a repaint of the standard Swog Rider, was given out if you were in the right place at the right time, which I was lucky enough to be on Saturday. Nerak is a unique orc rider with 8 Move and 3 Attack/Defense. He adds Defense to nearby orcs, and he also has a special rule that boosts his defense if he's on snow terrain, something that doesn't exist in HeroScape yet, but that we now know is in the works. I like the orcs of HeroScape so this was a nice surprise for me.
 
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7. Board Game: Warmachine: Apotheosis [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Warmachine is the only miniatures game I play regularly any more, and Privateer Press didn't disappoint this year. I got the new Apotheosis book, the Harbinger of Menoth and picked up four painted pieced from Bob Ladd, who is always at the show with beatifully painted Warmachine pieces for sale. Gale Force 9, a company that makes high quality support pieces for Warmachine, had token sets for the new Warcasters, so I snagged a Harbinger set as well. It was a good GenCon for Warmachine players.
 
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8. Board Game: Memoir '44: Eastern Front [Average Rating:7.94 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.94 Unranked]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Days of Wonder - a company whose games I really like, but whose booth is never interesting for me at GenCon. They had nothing new to show or announce, instead focusing their efforts on running demos of some of their games, including their incredibly awesome huge 3D Shadows over Camelot board. The quality of their games speaks for itself, as I own almost all of them, but I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed at the absence of some things I had hoped to see, including the upcoming Memoir '44 expansions or the hinted at painted Knights set for Shadows.
 
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9. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:774]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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Ah, WizKids. I was deeply involved with their Mage Knight and MechWarrior lines for a few years, going as far as working the big conventions and running local events on a weekly basis. This year, the once-mighty company seemed to be grasping around for the 'next big thing.' Their big push seemed to be on the Rocketmen game, which uses spaceships punched out of plastic cards. It's collectible so it doesn't interest me in the least. They were also showing a new CCG, High Stakes Drifter, which seemed to combine poker with different card game elements. It's also collectible so I won't touch it. Their most interesting new game shown was Tsuro, which is WizKid's first non-collectible game, as well as their first attempt at a board game. Tsuro had beautiful production and reminded me of Metro, but on a much smaller scale. The problem with Tsuro is that it didn't look particularly fun to me.
 
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10. Board Game: World of Warcraft: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1159]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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I play World of WarCraft on the PC, and I'm a fan of Fantasy Flight's big box games, so this game was a constant draw for me. I wandered back to FF's booth to take a look at it several times throughout the show. It looks really good, with high quality miniatures, a beautiful board and the usual excellent quality components and design. It looked like an Alliance vs. Horde thing was going, with players acting as characters from either side, traveling the land (for WoW players, the map consists of Lordaeron, including Tirisfal Glades, Silverpine, Hillsbrad, Arathi and some other nearby zones). WoW players will be happy to know that many familiar creatures are in place as miniatures, including Murlocs, the Scarlet Crusade, and Naga. My one concern with this game is that it looks similar to FF's own Runebound. Faced with a choice between the two games, I'd probably choose WoW, and if it's as good as it looks I probably won't touch Runebound again. Of course, Descent had this same effect on my for the Doom game. Descent is so much better than Doom that it'll be hard to bring Doom to the table again.
 
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11. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:879]
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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While I was buying my copy of Descent I asked the FF staff if they had anything new for Blue Moon at the show. They told me that they had planned to sell the new Aqua and Blessings decks but that only a handful of each arrived in Indy, and they sold out immediately.
 
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12. Board Game: Axis & Allies Miniatures [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2399]
 
Patrick Reynolds
United States
Vermontville
Michigan
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A&A Miniatures seemed to be the hit of the show, with insane lines each morning for the limited supply of starters and boosters they made available. Personally I'm not intersted in buying any of it, since it's a collectible game, but I stood in line to buy boosters for Anthony, until he came back and pulled me out - they let Justin buy extra boosters so my ninja shopper services weren't needed. Just as well - I was far enough back in the line that they might have run out by the time I got there anyway.

Spotted in line buying loads of WotC stuff including A&A minis was Jordan Weisman, head honcho of WizKids. I thought this was very telling of the direction that collectible miniature games are heading.
 
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