Gencon 50 Recap

A weekend of tabletop board gaming. Does that sound like fun? It did for thousands and thousands of gamers as they packed the Indianapolis Convention Center to get a taste of the newest games, shop for a food deal, and/or participate in tournaments. And being the 50th anniversary of Gencon, it was guaranteed to be a crowded affair. We Roll Solo had a chance to visit on the Friday of the convention. (Other engagements kept us from staying all four days.)

Playing Visitor

I had set up an interview with Alison Haislip (G4’s Attack of the Show), who was representing Iello and has a special King of Tokyo token in her likeness, but that was at 2:30. Her interview is coming soon. After getting the press pass, there was still 90 minutes before the exhibit floor open, so I strolled through the gaming and tournament hall where most of the events required tickets. Many gamers looked exhausted from hours of gaming, but remained exuberant about whatever game they were playing. That, or they were hopped up on energy drinks or caffeine.

The gaming hall was packed early morning, with players signing up for demos, tournaments and general gameplay. You could play a life-size version of Catan, or take in the multitudes of games and miniatures set up around the room.

As the time got closer to 10 am, I headed back out into the hallway and closer to where the press room was located. That didn't matter: The throng of convention-goers came to a stand-still, like a traffic jam on I-294. I hung out off to the side for a few minutes after the main doors opened and waited until the crowd thinned. Once the exhibit doors opened, board gamers of all types rushed in. As I suspected after viewing pictures from Thursday, the crowd spread out, and moving through the main hall was no problem. There were some bottlenecked places, but if you came to Gencon 50 with expectations of easy and roomy maneuvering, that's on you!

Playing Modern Art
I spent an equal amount of the day shopping the booths and playing impromptu games at the many tables set up by publishers and designers looking to show you their games. First, I walked through the energetic CMON booth and played Modern Art, a fun auction-style game that uses art from real, contemporary artists. I played Visitor, a decent deduction game for 3 or more players where an alien has crash-landed in the woods and a kid discovers him. The alien and kid work together to keep federal agents from arresting them by creating secret patterns with objects on the cards. I also played Pandemic: The Cure, but I already knew the rules since I often play it solo. In fact, the girl running that table was told a few minutes before she’d be hosting that game. She admitted she didn’t know the rules, so I taught her and one other participant to play. Hopefully she managed okay later! One of the more interesting games I learned – one I didn’t think I’d enjoy – was Drawing Dead, a poker variant that includes role cards with special powers to help your hand or hinder an opponent’s hand.

For purchases, I picked up Mint Works, the expansion to Terraforming Mars called Hellas & Elysium, and Shahrazad from Osprey Games. (All three will be reviewed on We Roll Solo.)

Overall, Gencon 50 was a great experience. If you’re into board games and have never gone to a Gencon, you should. Next year may not be as crazy as this year’s 50th anniversary, so the city and convention center will be less crowded for your tabletop enjoyment!

Games Mentioned in the Recap

Gregory Gregory Author

Gen Con Preview: Witches of the Revolution

The colonies of the Americas were a haven for the persecuted. But now there’s a war for independence, and those who would have freedom must fight for it.

Publisher: Atlas Games
Designer: Craig Stockwell
Artist: James Mosingo, Alan Washburn

Why I’m Excited to Check It Out

The theme of Witches of the Revolution is intriguing. You play as a witch coven assisting a nation attain independence from a very oppressive tyranny. To obtain this freedom during the American Revolution, you have four objectives to complete using relics and allies while dealing with special events meant to hinder your progress before the time runs out.

The mechanics have a Legendary Encounters feel them, but mostly when it comes to the Event cards. They shift along a path where you must take care of them or risk losing the game. Witches of the Revolution is a deck-builder at heart, but unlike most others, this game makes decisions cost more as you do them. For example, each time you want to shuffle your deck, it costs more icons to complete an event. As Jeff Tidbal of Atlas Games said in a recent video about Witches of the Revolution, “Shuffling is bad!”  

The game seems to have a powerful solo element, and the game scales in difficulty depending on how many players there are. With a historical element combined with supernatural, Witches of the Revolution is a unique-looking game sure to catch eyes at GenCon.

-Gregory M. Thompson

Gregory Gregory Author

Gen Con Preview: Flip Ships

"It was an ambush. That’s the only way to describe it. The mother ship appeared out of nowhere, creating a massive shadow over the city. Within seconds, wave after wave of fighters poured out of it, filling the sky."

"We're launching the ships we have ready, but they aren't much. Our pilots must fight bravely to defend the planet while we ready the rest of the fleet. Explosions fill the sky, and we've taken some hits, but we won't give up. Will you?"

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Designer: Kane Klenko
Artists: Kwanchai Moriya, Anita Osburn

Why I’m Excited to Check It Out 
Renegade Game Studios has released some of my favorite games, multiplayer and solo. By far, Fuse and Flatline top that list. And now another Kane Klenko game pops into the wild called Flip Ships, a 1-4 cooperative game where you defeat enemies and the mothership before your city is decimated.

What’s fun about the game is you physically flip your ships (see why it’s called what it is?) onto the enemy ships. You flick them like when you play paper football. You can use the edge of the table or included launchpad (red block). When a ship lands on the enemy/enemies, that enemy is defeated. You play in rounds, and after you go, then it’s the enemies turn. You have a long atmosphere card that shows the defense numbers for your city and the mothership and is broken up into levels of the sky, eventually reaching space (where the enemies start).

Flicking ships? Destroying aliens? Multiple goals? I am excited to play a game that combines paper football and Space Invaders. And with Kane Klenko’s ability to create amazing games, don’t forget to check out Flip Ships at GenCon

-Gregory M. Thompson

Gregory Gregory Author

Gen on Preview: Planetarium

Publisher: Game Salute
Designer: Stephane Vachon
Artists: Dann May, Greg May

Matter swirls around a new born star, coalescing on the planetoids that orbit it. Planets evolve, grow and migrate in their orbits, forming a unique solar system by the end of every game. Planetarium is a game of creation, chaos and terraforming on the grandest scale.

Why I Want to Check It Out:

As a big fan of space games, I believe Planetarium offers a unique, literal world-building mechanic that fits great competitive play, but offers a fun game for the solo player. It sounds a blast (pun intended) to crash different space elements into planets or find various methods to evolve a planet. There also appears to be endless replay value as the randomness of the Evolution cards and players’ endgame goals make it that way.

The game theme is built around real science, which is appealing, and was headed by a NASA scientist who works on the search for life on Mars. The cards have all kinds of realistic space events like meteors and geological events, so you might even learn a few things about our universe! The board and cards have gorgeous artwork on them: it’s minimalist with an eye on modernism.

While not much is out there on solo play, Planetarium is a game to look out for at GenCon, especially if you like cerebral space board games.

-Gregory M. Thompson

Gregory Gregory Author

Gen Con Preview: Covil: The Dark Overlords

Publisher:  Arrakis Games
Players: 1-4
Game Type:  Action Point Allowance, Area Control / Area Influence

You are the dark Overlord, and the ritual is complete. At your command, the Covil rises. A living and breathing fortress now profaned by the greed crystals. Inside its dungeons lies the gate to the dark lands where countless hordes of chaotic beings were enslaved for so long. This time you will have your revenge.

Why I want to check it out:
First and foremost I want to check this game out because of the fun artwork. I think it looks fantastic and silly. Second though is the strategy aspect that this game appears to present. I like how it makes you think ahead to future turns, as your horde gets tired when preforming actions. Who should I add to my team? Should I go after open territory or fight over another? How can I use this turn to gain more victory points on the next one? There seems to be a good bit of depth present here, and I think looking at the board, or maybe the artwork, you wouldn't initially expect that. Of course have the solo mode is a big plus. Being able to play against the system, upping the difficulty with their starting placement, or adding in more AI players is a plus. The replay-ability seems to be present, but I wonder how it plays out. Looking forward to seeing a demo of the solo play, and possibly adding this one into my collection.

- Decapitated Dan
DecapDan Royer DecapDan Royer Author

Gen Con Preview: Fantasy Fantasy Baseball

Publisher: CSE Games
Players: 1-5
Game Type: Action / Movement Programming, Card Drafting

In Fantasy Fantasy Baseball, you are the Wizard manager of a baseball team of fantasy creatures going through a season of fantasy baseball. Go head-to-head against other Wizard managers and battle for wins while building up your team’s statistics. But beware, your players may be sent on missions or have spells cast on them.

Why I want to check it out:
I'm a sports guy, but the Fantasy genre is a tough sell for me. However this game looks really unique. From what I have seen, thanks to a review by Sam Healey at DT, this one could be a good deal of fun. Now that being said, he only showed off how to play it with 2 players, so the solo mode could be different. The basic concept though is to decide what players on your team will play where, and use the same basic crew for all three rounds. I saw same basic crew because there is a waiver wire element to the game where you can add new players and remove ones you don't want. So what you are doing is placing you players where they benefit you the most, but also hopefully their stats will beat out your opponents, for you to take the win. You need to try to memorize what players your opponents have as well, because in later rounds they will show back up, so maybe placing player A in a spot again won't work if you are predicting your opponent will place a character you know could be him. In solo mode you play a robot manager and the deck, with a determined set of rules to be played out. As with the game against humans, your goal is to get the most victory points after 3 rounds of play. I like the sports aspect (I hope they get solo rules in play for their football version), and of course I like them card games. It seems simple enough to pick up and play in about 30 minutes, but does look like it will need some descent table space to play. I'm looking forward to seeing it in person at the show.

- Decapitated Dan
DecapDan Royer DecapDan Royer Author

Review: Deep Space D-6

Designer: Tony Go
Artist: Tony Go, Tim McBurnie
Publisher: Tau Leader Games

You are a Captain of the UEF! Your RPTR class starship was on routine patrol of the Auborne system when a distress call was received. Upon warping in you quickly realized it was a trap! With the help of your crew, you must survive until a rescue fleet appears.

Deep Space D-6 is a dice game for one player only. Your goal is to survive the brutal hazards of space (natural phenomena, other ships, and internal threats) until you get assistance from a rescue fleet. You’ll roll dice (crew members), and assign them based on threats. But don’t get too comfortable, internal and external threats appear often and could quickly wipe out your shields and hull!

Getting the game ready is a snap. After you select the ship you want to use (out of 4 choices) and place the appropriate shield and hull cubes, you shuffle the threat deck and bring out two cards to start the game. What’s nice about Deep Space D-6 is that the game takes up a small amount of table space. The rules provide a recommended compact layout, but if you have the room, use it.

Deep Space D-6 is a combination dice-chucking and strategy game. You’ll roll six worker dice and assign them stations on your ship based on current threats. Depending on your ship, the stations may also have special skills or modifiers to help with defeating threats. So while there’s luck in the dice, there’s strategy in how you proceed to handle enemies and internal threats.

Once assigned, you’ll use the dice in their appropriate manner. For example, the medical dice can remove a dice with a threat icon or return units from the infirmary. Once you progress through all the dice you can utilize, it’s time for the threats’ turn. The black dice is to determine what threats are activated. If the die matches the threat, then you’ll trigger the action on that card. Most threats can be defeated with your weapons, but some – including internal threats – require using one or more of your work dice. Managing your threats – what you can handle on this turn and the next, which threats need to be removed – is important for your survival. Once you defeated the entire threat deck and the boss, you win!

You have difficulty options to make the game hard or easier if you choose. There are “Do Not Panic” cards, which means if drawn, nothing happens.

The mechanics of Deep Space D-6 are easy to pick up and play. Games can last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, which is a nice sweet spot if you’re looking for a game to bust out for a relatively quick game but you also want something with a medium amount of depth. If you can find this game online or at your local game shop, We Roll Solo highly recommends adding it to your collection. Especially if you need a strictly solo game to complement your shelf. Deep Space D-6 may be easier to find now since the creator recently completed a successful Kickstart to re-release the game and an expansion, The Endless Expansion, which introduces a brand-new threat deck. The campaign is over, but you can still pre-order it at the link following the review.

4.5 out of 5 We Roll Solos

  • Fast setup
  • Challenging
  • Good balance of luck and strategy
  • Has difficulty levels

  • Being somewhat luck-based, bad rolls could force a losing game
  • Game may be hard to find

Gregory Gregory Author