INDIANAPOLIS – If it’s early August, you can count on one thing: we’ll be in downtown Indianapolis with 70,000 other board players, with no sleep, food, and public health to play a truly ridiculous amount of new table games at Gen Con, the self-described “Best Four Days in Gaming.” Gen Con is America’s largest and longest running table games convention. 2019 was the 52nd year of the con, with a record 538 exhibiting companies and a truly impressive 19,600 event tickets. (If you want an idea of what that cardboard chaos looks like, our Gen Con 2019 image gallery is a good place to start.)
And then there are the games – more games than you could play in your life, all released at once. We’ve sifted through the chaos to bring you a great list of games that we think you should keep an eye out for going into the last few months of the year. With such a huge amount of games on offer, we couldn’t get everything we wanted – your correspondent is just one man! — but we think our list has something for everyone. Unfortunately, role-playing was beyond the scope of this article, so be sure to check out our coverage of perhaps the most anticipated role-playing title at this year’s Gen Con: Pathfinder. Developer Paizo debuted the second edition of the game at this year’s conference, more than a decade after the beloved RPG debuted.
But back to our list: these games should be largely available soon. If a specific title catches your eye, be sure to check with your favorite local or online game store in the near future for information on when they’ll be getting it. And if you’re really one to plan your game ahead, it’s never too early to think about it: Next year’s Gen Con returns to Indy, running from July 30 to August 2, 2020.
Henry Audubon, Keymaster Games, 1-5 players, 40-60 min, age 9+
if parks were a bad game, I’d still be tempted to recommend it based on the power of its stunning presentation. Fortunately there is no need for such folly; the underlying game play is great too.
parks is a game about American national parks that is a bit like tokaido, in that players all move along a path to pick up different rewards from each spot. But while Tokaido is a collection game, parks focuses on resource management. The resources here are sunlight, water, trees, mountains and wildlife – or, I guess, the memories of those things you collect on your travels. When you reach the end of the trail, you can “visit” a national park by exchanging the appropriate resources and getting your hands on a beautifully illustrated map of the park (the thematic underpinnings get a little shaky here, but just go for it) . You can also take photos, fill your canteen with water for special actions, and pick up equipment cards that give you ongoing bonuses.
The game features beautiful art from the Fifty-Nine Park Print Series and the rest of the components are equally as handsome. An all round fun game that can easily serve as a gateway game for newbies or a chill night ender for seasoned gamers.
Pandemic: rapid response
Kane Klenko, Z-Man Games, 2-4 players, 20 minutes, age 8+
Do you love the panicky feeling you get when you try to save humanity from a global epidemic? Pandemic but wish the game was more hectic? Friend, I have a game for you.
Pandemic: rapid responsea new, exclusive game for Target, puts a “real-time” spin on the co-op classic, trading Pandemicworld traveler collecting cards for frenetic, desperate dice. players in Quick response are an elite team of scientists, doctors and specialists who travel the world in a specialized aircraft while preparing remedies for the diseases that crop up in the world’s major cities. Each turn, players roll six dice—then can reroll them Yahtzee-style—to generate resources that are used in the healings. Resources are then moved into the plane’s cargo hold and are ready to be dropped off in the towns around the breakout map board (assuming you can roll enough plane icons to get you to the location you want). Beware though, resource generation also creates waste – create too much waste and you will lose.
Of course, you do all of this under the watchful eye of an ever-exhausting two-minute hourglass. Each time it runs out, you add a breakout card and lose a time token. Lose all your time tokens, lose the game. Heal a city to get a time token back; heal all affected cities to win. Pandemic is a cooperative game notorious for its “quarterbacking” potential – an alpha gamer telling everyone what to do on their turn – and while that element may still be present here, the fast pace of the game makes it less a problem. If you’re ready for a 20 minute panic attack, this is your game.
Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, & Alain Orban, Pearl Games, 60-120 minutes, 12+
Well, we went and did it. Mankind’s reckless destruction of Earth has reached its inevitable conclusion: a spent planet and the end of human habitability. But before we go, the nations of the world have come together one last time to load our genetic heritage onto an intergalactic frigate and send it off to Spes, the planet likely to sustain life for a new human civilization. . Who is manning the ship on this long voyage? Of course you are, and you are an AI.
black angel is semi-cooperative in the sense that if you and your opponents succumb to the aliens attacking your ship and never reach the new earth, you’ll be in bad shape. But each player competes to prove that he or she is the most worthy AI to run operations on the new planet (the other AIs will be summarily shut down). There’s a lot of interlocking mechanics here; you go on missions, fend off attacking aliens, upgrade your technology and seize opportunities in the endgame.
The game bears some resemblance to a game that two of the designers have worked on before, the beloved medieval France sim Troyes† But man is black angel‘s theme cooler. The game was one of the game’s most hyped, and I’m most looking forward to discovering it in the coming months.
Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Michael Boggs, Nate French and Caleb Grace, Fantasy Flight Games, 1-4 players
When I first heard that Fantasy Flight Games was releasing a new Marvel Living card game (a somewhat wallet-friendly collectible card game), I was immediately bored. But when I heard it was going to be a cooperative game, I knew I had to get a demo. Co-op CCG-style games are very few, and the one that FFG has released in the past (Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Arkham Horror: The Card Game) were excellent overall and a nice change from the myriad of two player card fighters that were suffocating the market.
Marvel champions seems to take inspiration from both previous FFG games, while injecting some Marvel-themed flair into the mix. The base game – which includes a complete set of cards for the first time in an FFG LCG – comes with five heroes (Spider-Man, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Black Panther and Captain Marvel) and three villains (Rhino, Klaw and Ultron) . Scenarios pair a villain with a deck of cards and you and your friends can choose from among the heroes to save the world once again. The villains use their turn to continue their evil plans and attack the players; the players, of course, use their turn to thwart the schemes and fight back through the usual card game combo-rific antics. Once per turn, players can flip their character card between hero and alter-ego to access different skills, a cool little thematic and mechanical bloom.
The game looks like it might be a little lighter than some of the other FFG card games we’re used to (understandable, given the broad appeal of the subject matter), but we hope it’s still fun, continuously updated co-op ( or solo) romp.