It has been a quiet few weeks since my GenCon review post. I did do a review of New Bedford in that time because I love that game so much I wanted everyone, well, everyone that actually reads my blog, to know about it. But I really haven’t had a lot of new and exciting games to blog about. That is all about to change in these next two weeks. I have two games to review that will be hitting KickStarter soon, one game I am helping to fine tune the solo version before it hits KickStarter, and other I am play testing for the next two weeks. Oh, and I also have been working on my own game that I am going to start play testing with my boys the next few weeks. It is inspired by an old XBOX 360 arcade game my boys and I loved or I should say love as we still play it. Exciting!
The two games I will be reviewing for KickStarter are 10 Minute Heist by Daily Magic Games and Battle Road Miniatures by Mike Becnel Games. I am really looking forward to 10 Minute Heist because, as you all know by now, I love games that setup quick and play fast. This game definitely sounds like it could be one of those games. It appears like it has some good art, I like the theme, and the mechanics seem pretty simple while still providing a challenge. I am pretty excited to test this one out. The other game I am reviewing is a Print and Play version of Battle Road Miniatures. This is a table top car battling miniature game with a heavier rule set. It has templates for moving similar to X-Wing with a “Control Panel” to keep track of your car’s stats. My boys and I break out X-Wing occasionally but it usually doesn’t end well and seems to take us forever to play. I am usually not a fan of games with templates but the kid in me is looking forward to battling with matchbox cars. I am curious to see if this provides us a little better experience than X-Wing. The cumbersome amount of templates and some overpowered pilot / card combinations usually mean we don’t completely finish a game.
Up next I will be testing out and helping to tweak a solo version of a game called Incantris by RAINN Studios. It is hitting KickStarter on September 7th and they want to make sure the solo version is ready to go. Again, as you all may know, I love games with great solo versions so I am really looking forward to playing this game and giving the designers my feedback. I will be play testing a Print and Play version and hopefully I will get to do a review of the production version once it is complete.
Last week I received a game called Gyrating Hamsters that my boys and I have been play testing for a few days now. It probably is the first game I have played in awhile that I just didn’t particularly care for. To be fair,” take that” style of games just do not go well at my house. Inevitably one of the boys starts getting a little grumpy when they feel like they are getting “ganged up” on. Usually a little grumpy turns into raised voices, animated hand and arm gestures and snippy arguments. That is why I try to stick to coop style games or games with a little milder take on “take that.” Aside from that the art is kind of bland and none of us cared for the random luck of battle. I do like the hurricane card that really helps someone that is way behind and really sticks it to the person that is way out in the lead. The game plays quick with two people but tends to get stretched out with three and four. I did enjoy play testing it though because I just love to try new games.
Finally, there is my game. A game that I first envisioned remaking as a 3D video game. I, being a programmer, figured it would be no problem to create a video game. I can program no problem. I can’t, however, create 3D assets worthy enough to be in a video game. I also couldn’t find an artist that wanted to create my art. So my dream of remaking this game sort of fizzled out until a week ago. While in the beginning stages of creating my first “easy” civ board game I realized my video game idea could transfer to a board game pretty easy. Within a few days I had all the basic rules and components to start testing it out. Well, actually I am finishing the cards today. Creating a playable version of a board game is a little easier than a video game especially when you have components in other games that fit the bill. Also, card protectors with a black back work well for generic homemade card stock cards with no art and just words. I am really excited to start playing this and tweaking it to evoke the same hectic and chaotic feel I wanted from the video game. Stay tuned on this one. I will reveal more details as the game progresses into something worth presenting.
My first GenCon experience is in the books and I already can’t wait for next year! My boys and I had the time of our lives. I was in total awe the first time I stepped into the exhibitor hall. I have never seen so many awesome board games in one place. It was slightly overwhelming. I got some sweat deals and some really awesome new board games. New Bedford by DiceHateMe and Greater Than Games was my absolute prize of the show. My main focus, really my youngest son’s Aidan main focus, was demoing the Dark Souls board game by Steamforged Games followed by demoing Zephyr: Winds of Change. Besides those two goals it was searching for games we thought we wanted and games we didn’t know we wanted.
We arrived at the exhibit hall about 15 minutes before the doors opened. This was only about 15 minutes later than I wanted to arrive. I didn’t think that was too bad since we had to make about a 2 and half hour trek from Northwest Ohio. Well, it was really a three and a half hour trip when you factor in potty breaks and a good sit down breakfast just outside of Indy. But we made with time to spare. The line to get in wasn’t long at all and that 15 minute wait seemed like an hour. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. So much anticipation and excitement!
I soon realized we were on the opposite end of the Dark Souls demo but I didn’t want to risk getting out of line to venture to a closer exhibit hall door. So the plan was just to make our way across the hall once inside. So the doors and we make our way in like an old west cattle drive. This is where the awe struck me. It was so hard to focus on getting to the SteamForged games booth. So many exhibits. So many games. But we made it and with only two people in front of us waiting to demo Dark Souls. As I watched the people in front of me demo Dark Souls the realization I was at Gen Con hit!
We waited about a half hour then it was our turn to play Dark Souls. The main reason we wanted to come to GenCon was about to happen. Aidan and I demoed the game together. He was the Herald and I was the Warrior. My demo didn’t last long. As with the Video Game, I am not a great Dark Souls player. OK, I am not even a decent Dark Souls gamer but I love to play and the demo did not disappoint. I managed about 10 minutes of play time and did about 4 damage on the Dancer. Aidan lasted another 20 minutes and came within 2 damage of beating the boss himself. Needless to say, we both can’t wait for this game! After the demo was over a SteamForged Game member talked to us about Dark Souls, both the video and board game, as well as other board games for about 30 minutes. It was so cool talking to somebody that loved the game with as much passion as we do. He was so nice. We were complete strangers to him yet we talked like best friends. It was an amazing experience and one neither my boy nor I will forget. Thanks SteamForged Games!
After hitting the SteamForged Game booth, and my oldest son Austin falling in love with SteamForged Games’ Guild Ball, Aidan and I went exploring the exhibit hall. Austin stayed back and kept playing Guild Ball. I think he spent most of GenCon playing Guild Ball. I wanted to stop at Gamelyn Games booth and see if I could get a glimpse of their upcoming game Tiny Epic Quests. While I didn’t get to see anything about TEQ, I did snag a deluxe edition of Tiny Epic Galaxies. Now I am ready to back the expansion when it hits KickStarter in October. My first GenCon purchase was made! Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games will always hold a special place in my board gamer heart.
After Gamelyn Games we worked our way to the middle of exhibit hall checking out Portal Games, Red Raven Games, and Stronghold games among others on the way. Unfortunately all those publishers were out of the games I had been eyeing. Although with Red Raven Games I regret not picking up Isle Bound. I was looking for Above and Below but after seeing more about Isle Bound I am bummed I didn’t buy it. Lesson learned. After resisting so many purchases along comes Academy Games. Mare Nostrum Empires was on my list of “must check out games.” They were running a deal to get the base game, the expansion, and bonus content for a great price. I couldn’t pass it up and in fact it is out on my dining room table right now with the Greeks and Romans on the brink of war. Mare Nostrum is one amazing game that will be played by us boys for a long time.
Austin finally hooked up with Aidan and me again at the Academy Games booth. He was pretty stoked about Mare Nostrum. We spent the next few hours looking at more board games as we worked our way through the rest of the exhibitors. Once we got to the end Austin wanted Aidan and I to try Guild Ball so we made our way back to the SteamForged Games booth. On the way back I picked up some Kittens, Puppies, and Adventure Time 2 Dungeon Crawl packs for our Munchkin games, a King of New York and King of Tokyo bundle, and New Bedford. The King of Tokyo I had actually played the night before for the first time ever and liked it. A quick light cut throat game that can be played by anyone. I picked up the Munchkin cards because those can be a pain to find around Northwest Ohio and New Bedford was a complete impulse buy based off of the beautiful cover art and theme. I will be reviewing that game so look for that in the near future.
Back at the SteamForged Game booth to play Guild Ball until it was time to demo Zephyr. Aidan and Austin decided to face each other as I watched. I am not a fan of games that require a tape measure to play but now I wish I would have bought the starter kit deal and made a one inch grid field. I think a grid would speed up the game to my liking while still keeping the feel of the game. Oh well, that is what is so cool about GenCon. You get to see and play games that you would never even consider looking at normally.
After Guild Ball it was a quick stop at the concession stand and off to demo Zephyr: Winds of Change. Zephyr is a game we backed on KickStarter earlier this year and have been so excited about it since. It took us forever to find the table where the game was being demoed at. The game hall was huge and everything looked alike. We finally found Zephyr and met Aaron, one of the creators. He was such a cool guy. While one game of Zephyr was finishing up he stood there and talked to us not only about Zephyr but about other games and GenCon. We compared our GenCon hauls and discussed some games we each backed on KickStarter. It was just an amazing experience. After about 20 minutes Aidan, Austin, and myself finally were able to play Zephyr. It is an amazing game. A cooperative game set in a steampunk world where you are the captain of your own airship. We all loved it and we all talked about it the whole way home, well, when they weren’t sleeping that is.
After playing the Zephyr demo we stopped at a few more booths and we were ready to go. As ready as you can be to leave GenCon that is. Being our first experience I know we missed a lot of stuff. Even in the exhibit hall which we were in all day. I see tweets from vendors and exhibitors and I am like, “well I didn’t see that” or “I didn’t see them.” But even seeing everything I missed it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I can’t wait to go back. I am hoping to spend two days there next year. I would like to play more games and take my time wandering the exhibit hall. One day was amazing but I felt rushed because I wasn’t sure how much of every game the vendors and publishers stock. The answer is plenty unless it is an early release super popular game like SeaFall or Cry Havoc.
Gen Con is here and tomorrow will be my first time ever attending! The first time I even heard about the “best four days in gaming” was only a few months ago. I had no idea such awesomeness existed let alone existed so close to where I live. In fact, I live about the same distance to Origins as well! Next year is going to be an amazing game convention year for me. Anyways, I digress. So, when I first checked out this “Gen Con” I was hearing all of these gamers speak of, I was in awe to find out it was only two and half hours away. It was a bonus that the early bird rate was still in effect too! I noticed it ran Thursday through Sunday so I decided Saturday would be a good day to go so my family and I could road trip it. Now, I say family and I but I will explain. My youngest and oldest son were excited about such an event but my wife and middle son had no desire to look at, purchase, and play board games for eight hours. So they found outlet malls, shops and some adventurous outings to partake in around Indianapolis while the three of us geek out.
From about May to June I was making plans to meet game designers and demo games I had backed on KickStarter. I was going to get to demo Dark Souls, one my most anticipated KickStarter games ever, and meet the designers of Zephyr: Winds of Change. This was going to be awesome! I had never been so excited to attend a convention in my life. As July rolled around I found out about some additional games I was going to see demoed that weren’t releasing until next year like Tiny Epic Quest by Gamelyn Games. I was so pumped. As soon as this game was announced it became my top must have game for next year. The excitement was building!
My goals were set. Meet designers, demo games, and find awesome games that were not considered mainstream. This was my chance to find games that didn’t get shelf time at my FLGS. But as August neared I found out some pretty cool games were releasing at Gen Con. I was going to be able to get SeaFall and Cry Havoc! Shut up! My goals suddenly shifted. I wanted the new hot games. Now I was really pumped. Then my world came crashing down around me. Only limited supplies were announced. Only people going Thursday would get my new super favorite must have games. I was so upset. Why go?
As I was glued to my Twitter feed yesterday I saw supply of SeaFall and Cry Havoc dwindling down before the gates were even opened. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a VIG. Those turkeys bought all the hot games before Gen Con officially opened! All of a sudden I was happy not to be going on Thursday. I would have been so mad to take a day off work, wait in line, rush to the booths only to find out they were sold out. To top it off SteamForged Games demo of Dark Souls didn’t even arrive until this morning! I would have missed demoing the game I originally was going for!
Now I am excited once again! I am planning on demoing Dark Souls and checking out Tiny Epic Quest before anything else. Portal Games is going to run through Imperial Settlers and 51st State with me. I have been eyeing both for a while. I am going to get to play Zephyr: Winds of Change by Portal Dragons. A game I backed on KickStarter, created some content for, and eagerly awaiting its arrival next year. Then I am going to check out Stronghold Games, Red Raven Games, and Academy Games. After that it will be a quest to find the hidden gems of Gen Con.
Next week I will blog about my adventures or misadventures at Gen Con. If I found that hidden gem or went with an oldie but goody I haven’t played yet. I will also update how the non geeks of the family fared. Tomorrow is my first Gen Con and I can’t wait!
So, last week was one crazy week! Finally recorded my first two video reviews, technically one review and one play through video, and it went nothing liked I had planned. At one point during my play through video the legs on one side of my table gave out creating one big pile of cards. Now well shuffled cards mind you. I laughed. Aidan laughed. My first true recording blooper. It was a pretty funny scene and one you will not see until my first uncut blooper edition hits the internet. I also learned no matter how much you rehearse what you are going to say, the first time you say your own website name it will be a blubbering word jumble. Repurposing a room for a make shift studio is also harder than one might think. Again, no matter how well you think the room is “shoot” ready, a stray pile of legos or a random xbox controller will undoubtedly finds its way into the review. Oh, and lighting. Lighting is something a newbie video reviewer never considers until you see a shadow of a man holding an iphone in every scene. Anything else? Yes! It is nearly impossible to review and play a card game while also holding the video recorder. As I tried to show the viewers all the cards in my hand an explained what each one did in the game, I soon realized the limits of two hands.
Despite all the mishaps, the errors, the newbie traps, and the fact that the videos were not anywhere near the grand vision I had for them in my head, it was a fun and educational experience. I don’t want any of my reviews to be over produced and scripted. I want people to see how I play the game and my true feelings for the game. I would prefer people not see random toys, card tables collapsing mid review or the screen suddenly shifting 90 degrees for no reason but I think that will come with experience. I love board games. I want to help designers get their games noticed, my viewers to see new games I get as well as my favorite games, and I want people to see an honest review.
I will definitely be working on a “review” area in the basement; a big bookshelf full of games behind me, a nice game table, and maybe even some nice lighting fixtures. That is, if I can stop playing games long enough to get something done. I also need to invest in a few other pieces of recording equipment to make games a little easier to review. All of this will come in time. In the meantime, I really appreciate some of the fancier review sites. I also appreciate their budgets!
Come back later this week as I go over my pre GenCon thoughts and plans. Thats right people, I am heading to GenCon on Saturday!
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.