Gen Con, one of the largest board gaming conventions in the world, is always a smorgasbord of new games. A mind-boggling number of games have been announced so far and more keep getting added to the list. Here are the seven games I’m the most excited to try this year.
Dreamwell, which was originally Kickstarted and published by Action Phase Games, is all about trying to find your missing friends who have been lost in the Dreamwell. Players attempt to navigate a maze to try to find their friends. You take a total of three actions on your turn. Your action options are: move your pawns, rotate a tile, draw a card, replace the display, or locate a missing friend.
The grid of tiles shows an environment, a creature, and pathways to other cards. So rotating a tile will open up new pathways to other tiles. In order to locate a missing friend, you’ll have to fulfill the objects on your missing friend cards, which usually have two creatures and an environment requirement. The more friends you find, the more points you score and the more special abilities you unlock. The game ends when a player finds seven friends.
What excites me about Dreamwell is that while it seems pretty straightforward, this whimsical game looks like it can make the players really think hard about each and every move. Rotating the board is essential, and I think the crux of the game will be finding the most efficient way to find all of your friends. I also love the theme and the art is pretty spectacular. I cannot wait to get my hands on this demo at Gen Con!
Dreamwell is for 2-4 players and is currently available for pre-order for $30.00. Action Phase Games says the game should ship in September.
Love Battleship but you wish it was for more than just two players? Well then Captain Sonar is right up your alley. There are two submarine teams, and each team has four roles. The Captain sets the sub’s course and makes the decision of when to fire torpedoes, the First Mate charges the ships systems like the stealth drive and the torpedoes, The Engineer works to keep all of the systems functioning at full power, and the Radio Operator is constantly listening to the other team to try to figure out where the enemy sub is.
Nothing in the game is silent, so each time the Captain moves the ship, they have to tell their team directions such as “Heading north,” or “Heading west.” The Captain will keep track of the location of their sub and will have to move around islands in the ocean to get into position to fire on the enemy. The Radio Operator has to listen closely to the enemy Captain’s directions and through process of elimination find them. The game is not turn-based, so everything is happening at once.
Captain Sonar sounds like a crazy fun, fast-paced game. I think it will be perfect for big groups of people, aka a great party game. I have heard some reviewers say that the game is best at 8 players (4 per team), so if you don’t have a ton of board game friends, this game might not be for you. The game will retail for $49.99 and is for 2-8 players.
Arcane Academy is based on the critically-acclaimed comic series Finding Gossamyr, where people use math to do magic. You play young spellcasters who are dueling each other for honor and prestige. Players will need to link tiles together on their map to produce magic items and wield magic.
There isn’t much more information about the game, but regardless I’m pretty excited to start slinging some spells. The tile-linking mechanic intrigues me, and I’ll be very interested to see exactly how it works. Arcane Academy was designed by board game heavy-hitters Eric Lang (A Game of Thrones, Blood Rage, XCOM: The Board Game) and Kevin Wilson (Descent, Arkham Horror), so I’m very curious to see what this game is all about. It supports 2-4 players, lasts around 45 minutes to an hour, and will cost about $39.99.
Beyond Baker Street
Beyond Baker Street is a Sherlock Holmes-themed cooperative game that revolves around the mechanic of not being able to see your own hand of cards (think Hanabi). While you can’t see your own cards, you can see all of your fellow detectives’ cards. Each turn you’ll be able to either help another player, investigate a crime scene, confirm evidence, eliminate dead leads or pursue new leads.
Just like Hanabi, when you give a person a clue about their hand, you have to specify either color or number. If there are two blue cards in the person’s hand, and you want to give them the clue that the cards are blue, you can’t just point to one card, you have to point to both.
The whole idea is try to to solve the crime before Sherlock Holmes beats you to it. The cases vary in difficulty level, and there’s a variety of characters to choose from, which all have their own effects on the game which can make it harder or easier. I personally really like Hanabi, and this game sounds like an expanded Hanabi, so I’m definitely going to check Beyond Baker Street out.
Beyond Baker Street is a cooperative game for 2-4 players. It takes about 30 minutes to play and costs about $34.99.
Star Trek Panic
I already love Castle Panic, which is a cooperative tower defense game, where players are working together to defend a tower from a horde of monsters. Star Trek Panic is a new twist on Castle Panic. What’s different is that obviously instead of a tower, you’re defending the U.S.S. Enterprise. Another difference is that now players will have a specific role, in this case they’ll get to play as one of the original crew members.
In Castle Panic, the whole goal was to just beat all of the monsters. But in Star Trek Panic, you’ll have to complete five mission cards to win, all the while fending off threats like enemy ships and comets.
I enjoy Castle Panic, but it can get repetitive. It seems that Star Trek Panic will have enough new mechanics to really make it its own game. Also the different role cards and missions will add a little more variety to the game. It supports 1-6 players, takes about 90 minutes to play, and retails for $39.95.
SeaFall is designer Rob Daviau’s third “legacy game.” A legacy game means that decisions and actions from previous games carry over into the next game. For instance in Pandemic Legacy, players literally rip up cards and change the map depending on what happens in the game. Also as the campaign goes on, new mechanics and plot twists are introduced via sealed packs.
SeaFall is the first legacy game set in a completely original universe, one where a world is just emerging from a dark age of lost knowledge and technology. Players take on the role of the rulers of a province who are just starting to re-establish seafaring technology. There’s a lot of meat on this game’s bones (if you want an overview of some of the mechanics of the game, check out Plaid Hat’s game page).
The campaign will be about 15 or so games, and there is even a prologue game which will help the players get accustomed to the rules. I’m very happy to see that the teaching scenario is in there. The other legacy games were set in the established realms of Pandemic and Risk, so most players were already familiar with most of the rules. But for a completely unique legacy game, that prologue is going to be super necessary.
The normal games will last anywhere from 90-120 minutes and is for 3-5 players. It is highly recommended that your playgroup stays the same, so it’s important to pick friends who are willing to commit to 15 or so games. Daviau’s previous legacy games have been truly fantastic, so I’m thrilled to check out this newest entry. SeaFall retails for $79.95.
Imhotep was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres award, which is one of the most prestigious board game awards around, so naturally I’m curious about the game. Imhotep was Egypt’s best-known architect, and players are attempting to emulate him to become the best builder around.
The game consists of six rounds, over which players are moving stones by boat to create their monuments. Players can either procure new stones, load stones on boats, bring a boat to a monument or play an action card. Because players can only do one action per turn, there is a lot of tension between the decision of either loading your colored stone onto a boat or delivering a boat. If you load a stone, the next player could deliver the boat to a location that is not helpful to you at all.
The game sounds like it should be simple, but other players are constantly trying to sabotage your plans. There’s a lot to watch, not just what you’re planning, but also what your opponents are doing.
The game is extremely quick, running only about 30-40 minutes, but it has a lot of replayability. The locations are two-sided, so there are tons of combinations game’s board. Imhotep supports 2-4 players and costs about $40.