It’s been a while something something who cares GENCON!!!!
We’ve been focused on playing some local content over the last few weeks with reviews coming soon, and for the first time in a while we haven’t been as focused on Gencon as in prior years (mainly thanks to some heavy work schedules), but it hasn’t taken long for that excitement to come bolting out of the gate like a wild stallion.
Let’s dispense with the niceties, shall we?
The biggest announcement thus far is arguably, what many of us have suspected for some time, Twilight Imperium 4th Edition. Yup, the granddaddy of 4X gets a Gencon release in an appropriately epic box that can still barely contain those components. The aim seems to be on presenting fans with a look and feel that is very much TI of the past, but with a style that’s more in line with modern sensibilities. And you’re still going to need to set aside a day to play this behemoth – I think there were concerns that FFG would streamline the game in an attempt to make it playable in in less than 3 hours, but thankfully this is TI as we all know it, hopefully with rules tweaks in all the right places.
Keeping with FFG, we recently had Fallout announced for later this year – think Runebound with a touch of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. It’s beautifully faithful to the art style of the Fallout universe, and with the inclusion of various factions such as the Brotherhood of Steel, it certainly seems as if the design team are genuine in their love for the source material. I love the modular map with hidden locations that are only revealed when explored – the heart of Fallout has always been in the joy of exploration.
And because FFG clearly don’t sleep at night, we have unconfirmed news that their Inflight Report this year will also include the announcement for Star Wars: Legion, a miniatures combat game. I do wonder whether Runewars was FFG dipping a proverbial toe in the tabletop miniatures water – it does seem awful soon to be pushing another miniatures game. FFG are going to have a lot of balls in the air over the next year, and they do have a reputation for shifting focus a little too quickly, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Imperial Assault has an excellent Skirmish mode, and X-Wing has proven that FFG can be extremely competent at mastering the miniatures genre, the pieces are definitely all there.
Oh, and then there’s Civilization: A New Dawn. As if a new Civ game wasn’t enough excitement, it’s being developed by James Kniffen who is also behind Forbidden Stars (RIP) and New Angeles. Yes. Yes please. We know Civ translates well to cardboard, it’s going to come down to how well the factions have been balanced and how well that rulebook has been crafted. Games of this genre have a tendency for clunkiness, which is hard to avoid given the need to convey that epic feel, but Kniffen has proved adroit and sidestepping these issues before.
Not wanting to be left in FFG’s shadow, Renegade Games has also built up quite a nice head of steam over just a few days. Not everyone was blown away by the announcement of Clank! In! Space!, but there’s some very positive buzz around the game already, and we’re big fans of the first iteration of the game, so this is pretty high on our must have list. The cards will undoubtedly prove more endearing than their fantasy equivalent, as Renegade seem to have packed a ton of scifi references into the game. The other big change is in a modular board that allows for greater variation in setup. I do hope Renegade have plans on supporting both versions of the game though.
Mice & Mystics holds a very dear place in my heart and my household, as it’s the very first boardgame ‘proper’ that I played together with my eldest daughter. So I am, you might say, feeling like the mouse’s whiskers at the thought of another Plaid Hat Game helmed by Jerry Hawthorne and focused on childlike wonder. Stuffed Fables, please manifest yourself upon my shelf NOW. You can keep your fancy Dark Souls miniatures thank you very much, I’ll be dreaming of these.
We mentioned Space Cowboys’ next trio of T.I.M.E Stories games a while back, Lumen Fidei is already out and receiving fairly solid reviews and now it’s time for Estrella Drive, taking place in a haunted mansion in 1982’s Hollywood. It’s also one of the series’ more mature installments, aimed specifically at a more adult audience. We’ve missed Bob, it’s good to have him back.
Another Gencon release that’s rapidly becoming the object of our affection, is Ex Libris. A boardgame about collecting rare and valuable books doesn’t initially sound exciting, but between the novel concept (hur hur), excellent theming and clever wordplay, there’s something about the sum of the parts that we find highly appealing. And with book titles such as The Bold Kobold’s Boulder and The Hassles of Famous Castles, what’s not to love? There’s a pretty great Designer Diary with Adam McIver on Boardgamegeek that discusses the road Ex Libris has traveled.
Some smaller tidbits and scraps of news from those on the floor at Gencon: Isaac Vega’s new game for Plaid Hat is called Starship Samurai, there’s a Kick-Ass boardgame from CMON, the much anticipated expansion for Sheriff of Nottingham…honestly, you best just hop onto BoardGameGeek’s twitter feed because there are just far too many titles to ogle over.
Over on Kickstarter, one title in particular tweaked my interest this week. The Shipwreck Arcana is a small package, but I really like the art style and the deductive puzzle aspects of the game seem intriguing. I also really enjoy games that change the way we communicate around the table – forcing the active player into silence adds a genuine sense of cooperation and encourages lateral thinking. And a drop-in/drop-out mechanic? Intrigued indeed!
Stuart and myself have had many discussions around what we’ve seen as the inexorable move of boardgame media toward a similar structure as the one we find in contemporary videogame media. The recent introduction of Tabletop Showcase, the concept of ‘influencers’ – it’s an aspect of the industry we’re keeping a beady eye on, and we’re definitely not alone. Over at Meeple Like Us, there’s an excellent feature on the biases of review copies. It’s so important to remain cognizant of how easily our subjective opinions have the potential to be influenced whether subconscious or not, a health dose of self reflection as reviewers is never a bad thing.
Local is Lekker
Some local events coming up in Cape Town in the next few weeks – the annual Dragonfire convention hits UCT next weekend (Aug 25th to 27th), if you prefer a con with a larger focus on tabletop wargaming and tabletop RPGs, this is the one to attend. And starting on September 2nd, Stelcon takes over the Academia Hall at Stellenbosch University – expect cosplay, CCG tournaments, craft workshops and more!
And we should probably mention the impending Timeless Board Game Party on September 9th, but we really don’t want to because we’re super jealous of how successful Richard’s event always is. Go, don’t go, we don’t care (not really, please go).
Also a shoutout to the recently opened Durbanville GAMES in well, Durbanville. We welcome another space to indulge our hobby with arms wide open!
Don’t drown in all the Gencon deluge, good gaming all!