Friday, August 14, 2015

Gen Con 2015 Games I Tried Part I

Attending Gen Con is a wonderful chance to preview various games before buying them. Attendees can both schedule game demos or try games as they walk up to companies' booths. I did a bit of both. Here's a sampling:

Ninja Dice is a quick dice game where one player tries to invade a building without being caught. The main player throws a bunch of dice. The black building dice have various obstacles like locks and guards. The white ninja dice have stealth, weapons, and tools to overcome the obstacles. Other players throw some dice to cause problems. It's a fun filler game with more excitement than it should have.

Ninja Dice!

Summoner Wars Alliances is a card-based two-player battle game where each player control a Summoner and has a deck of faction cards that can be modified according to a particular play style. For the demo, the organizer had pre-made decks and a standard board set up. The "alliance" part of the game involves combining factions from previous versions of the game, so I was the undead elf faction. The game is fun but I find it so stressful. I've played the original game as an app on an iPad and got worked up every time I played it. The same with this version. I like the game but I couldn't play it at night otherwise I'd never get to sleep!

Summoner Wars Alliances in action

Sentinel Tactics is a skirmish game where groups of heroes from the Sentinels line (a game line, not a comic book line, though some of the characters are clearly based on Marvel and DC heroes) fight each other on a volcano. Each hero has a deck of five or six cards that give special abilities. Only two of the cards can be in use at a time, causing players to use the most cunning strategies they can muster. Each team can have one to four heroes. The teams fight until one team gets three knock downs on the other team (none of the characters are killed, they just lose their ability cards for a turn). The game was fun but very fiddly. Figuring out line of sight and elevation penalties was not as obvious as it could have been and the combat system was a little more complicated than I could grasp with a quick demo. The heroes are fun and the game moves better with an experienced person or moderator to keep things going.

Sentinel Tactics in action

My character--The Indestructible Bunker, though here he has only two hit points left!

Zombie Shuffle is a light card game where two or more players try to escape the zombies. Each player has a hand of cards. On each turn, a player draws one card and plays one card. Cards are either steps (usually one, two, or three steps), obstacles for others, or guards to protect against obstacles. The first player to get twenty-five steps down wins. My favorite obstacle card is Zombie Mind Trick which allows a player to exchange hands with another player. The game is fun and the art isn't so gruesome that kids couldn't play. Sadly, I can't find it available on the 'net, so you'll have to go to Gen Con next year and hope to find the booth!

Zombie Shuffle demo

Mmm...Brains! is a dice game by Reiner Knizia played in two rounds. In the first round, players roll dice to collect brains. The game comes with little plastic white and pink brains (each pink is worth five whites). After all the brains are collected, the second round starts. Players then try to force other players to lose their brains (whether they were dropping them or eating them was unclear). The last player with brains wins. The game was a lot more interesting than it sounds and has almost no zombie art other than the box, so it could easily be abstracted into some other theme. It's a fun, light filler game.

No picture of play but here is the box art

Mogul is a fun bidding/stock/train game where players are investors. The rules are fairly straightforward--players bid by putting little chips into a cup. When someone wants to stop bidding, they take the chips in the cup. Bidding continues with the other players until one person is left. That player has the choice of buying the stock on the top of the deck or selling that stock (if they have any in their possession), if not selling, then building a train station. The player who came in second gets the other option. Collecting lots of stocks can pay off big but if the game ends, stocks are not worth much at all (the game ends with the "Market Crash" card). Train stations are worth more depending on how they are arranged, so that can be tricky too. The game is a lot of fun and definitely going on my wish list.

Mogul in action

Arcadia is a card game where each player builds a theme park. In order to make attractions, players choose either two workers or one expert from a tableau. Each person has certain symbols on them (the experts naturally have more symbols). The tableau includes some attractions as well--rides, food stands, midway games, etc. Players race to build the most attractions to make the best theme park. At only $15, it is a fun bargain (though I didn't buy it). It is supposed to be available in late September 2015. I wish I had bought it!

Another game for which I didn't take a picture, but here is promo art from the publisher

Find Arcadia pre-order information here.

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