If there are errors in this I apologize but…
I have just returned from my first Gen Con, and my brain hurts from sobering up from the four days of drunkenness, my eyes hurt from getting almost no sleep, and my feet are in agony from standing on concrete for what seems like forever. But I could not be happier after having spent four glorious days among gaming nerds (both my most-liked and least-liked people on earth).
The FFG Booth was definitely the place to be. I scored a copy of BSG on Thursday. They only had 200 copies for sale, and they were all gone by the end of the day. Tomb of Ice was also there, as was the quirky little Red November. I didn’t get a chance to play it, but I heard a lot of raves about it, and was impressed with the contents when I got to fiddle around with a friend’s copy. A preview of the new Talisman re-release was there (and looking good) as was the Conan boardgame. I loved the premise of the Conan game. It’s essentially an empire-building game in which players have to be wary of Conan going on adventures, which have a habit of cutting swaths through even the strongest lands. Near as I can tell (I watched a demo for thirty minutes while waiting for BGG) Conan is an unstoppable force of nature who players can only hope to either avoid or stymie, but never kill. There was a large Mutant Chronicles showing there, and I guess some people gave a crap for it because it seemed to be selling whenever I walked by. Go figure.
I scored a demo/interview of the WoW minis game with Justin Gary (we’ll have it on the podcast over at Heroscapers.com later) and liked what I saw. Upper Deck has simulated the online experience without trying to replicate it exactly which I like. The mechanics were fun and simple enough, and I really like the customizing component to the game, as well as how victory points and timing work. What concerns I had were probably more due to the fact that I was demoing a starter set and nothing else. I look forward to seeing more from this game. Yes, I don’t like the scale of it, but the minis are gorgeous (they had actual production copies there), I like the prospect of the dungeon raid rules, and again the customizing component is great.
AEG had their new dungeon crawler Tomb at the Con. I picked it up immediately. It’s $60 and you get $60 worth of game. This was the most shoulder-straining purchase at the Con. Monsterpacalypse was also the talk of the Con, but in a weird way. There was a mad crush to demo the game and get promos for it, and the resulting back-up of people resulted in some angry nerds. I decided to skip the lines, but I kept hearing similar criticisms from people returning from the demo – beautiful figures, slightly disappointing game. I will still give it a try myself, just ‘cause it looks so darned good, and the long wait may have colored people’s opinions.
The Flying Frog Games booth was hopping with their newly-released A Touch of Evil, as well as copies of a web expansion for it. I picked both up based on my opinion of Last Night on Earth, and seeing a copy of it being demoed.
There was some Heroscape stuff going on as well, but I’ll save that for another article.
So what did I think of the new stuff I played? I don’t feel comfortable enough to give full reviews or ratings, but I can say this:
A Touch of Evil – A well made game. I’m not sure if I like it better than LNoE, but I may in the end. It’s a slightly more mature design than LNoE, and it certainly has more depth. The board is a beautiful line drawing of the Town of Shadowbrook and the surrounding countryside, and is very reminiscent of an old map. Different locations have different decks of cards to explore, and different ways of interacting with the environment and other characters. There is competitive or cooperative play available (co-op feels the best so far). This game is kind of Arkham Horrorish and similar to many adventure games, but offers a very Washington Irving-like feel. There’s a big bad terrorizing the town and the players have to discover what it is and where it is hiding before it’s too late. The bad guy sends minions after them, and the townsfolk, while wanting help, are also none too anxious to have their own shameful secrets come to light. In fact I think the bit where players try to discover the secrets of the town elders is one of the best parts of the game.
Tomb – one of the guys I first played this with compared it to the old TSR Dungeon game, and he was right. Think of this as Dungeon, but with more depth and complexity. Clearly, the best element of this game is the sheer variety you get with it: fifty heroes and hundreds of monsters, traps, and treasures. To the best best of my knowledge each of the hundred-plus monster cards is unique. What’s even more impressive is the game uses a small fraction of the cards in the box, meaning you’ll only see about ten percent of what can be encountered in a single game. Players form competing parties in a tavern then jump into a tomb full of crypts. Each crypt could have traps, monsters and treasures in it, but only players who contributed cards to a crypt can guess what’s in it. When a player enters a crypt, a player to his left or right becomes the cryptmaster and runs all the badness in the room, hoping to maximize his opponent’s misery. Players fight and loot what they can, making occasional trips back to the tavern to replace the dead. So far, I’m enjoying this game, but need a couple more sessions to be sure.
Battlestar Galactica – This game kicks so much ass it’s not funny. It covers the beginning of the show leading up to the discovery of Kobol, and does so in a way that is fun and natural and it doesn’t feel like the game is constrained by the events in the show. This game is a complete and utter mindfuck. When the secret Cylon player(s) begin to mess with the humans, the accusations and finger-pointing begin, and if the players aren’t careful it can get way out of hand. A masterful skin-job can turn the other players on themselves and drain them of their precious resources in no time, whereas a careless Cylon can be revealed too soon and never cause enough Havoc to be worthwhile. The game is all about managing resources during crisis after crisis. There will be Cylon attacks, water shortages, bombings, and everything else you’ve seen on the show. When a crisis pops up, players have to play cards which equal the crisis value to avert disaster. But the Cylon player can play cards that are opposite to what is needed, thus lowering the chance of success. The cards are all played in secret and then shuffled so no one knows who played what. Then the cards are revealed and all hell breaks loose. This is all a simplification of course. The humans need to jump eight times to reach Kobol, but doing that is easier said than done. Plotting jumps takes time, early jumps lead to huge losses, and all the while there is sabotage and attacks to deal with. I’ll try to provide a better review later.
Okay, that’s it for now. More rest is needed.