GenCon 2011: What We Played (some of it, anyway)

Here are some of the games that the Strange Assembly guys played at GenCon 2011 – tournaments, fun games, demos, whatever.  Note: Just because your game isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it – we just only have so much time!  Or maybe I just messed up when I was formatting this post.

Card Games:

Illuminati: New World Order: Steve Jackson‘s foray into collectible cards games (later released in a non-CCG form), INWO is a multiplayer game of conspiracy and weirdness.  Players control secret organizations and they try to gain control of the world and/or just have really strange, funny things happen (Ross Perot’s head runs for President after a secret meeting with Elvis!).  I think Kevin went and played this more than he played anything else.

Legend of the Five Rings CCG: Well, duh. Grinders, Second Chance, Main Event, suicide packs – L5R is still our favorite game, and we all played in at least one storyline tournament over the course of the weeked (storyline tournaments are those that can have an effect on the ongoing plot of the L5R universe, or what cards appear in future sets).  Having been around for over 15 years, L5R is the only CCG other than Magic: the Gathering to survive for any length of time without a major media tie-in.  GenCon saw the premiere of new demo decks for all nine clans, featuring new cards and rules from the upcoming Emperor Edition, which will be released near the end of the year.

Rune Age: Fantasy Flight Games ventures into the deckbuilding genre with Rune Age, set in FFG’s proprietary fantasy realm of Terrinoth (joining Descent, DungeonQuest, and any FFG game with “Rune” in the title).  As you may have noticed, we here at Strange Assembly are pretty big deck-building fans (well, except for Trevor, anyway), so Rune Age was high on my list of games to demo in the Exhibit Hall.  Rune Age brings a slew of innovations, plus lessons from prior deckbuilding games, all into one package – decks are primarily factional, there are three different resources to manage (military, influence, and gold), scenarios, and different rules for co-op, solo, and PvP play.  It is now available in stores.

Star Wars: The Card Game: One of the upcoming games under the recently-announced Fantasy Flight Star Wars license, Star Wars: The Card Game will be the most recent addition to the Living Card Game line (card games featuring customizable decks, but bought through small, fixed sets instead of through randomized booster packs).  Like the Lord of the Rings LCG, the Star Wars LCG will be a cooperative game, permitting 1-4 players to lead the Rebel Alliance (characters and starships) to complete missions against the Galactic Empire.  Just watch out for the “Darth Vader and three Imperial-class Star Destroyers kill you all on T2” flop.  The game was only available to demo, and only with pre-production copies, so it’ll be more than a couple months until you can get your hands on this one.

Thunderstone: There wasn’t anything new for Thunderstone at GenCon this year (AEG was focused on that whole Ninja thing), but I finally managed to snag a copy of Dragonspire (off of the winner of the mega-raffle at the Big Game Night), so of course I had to introduce the joy of Thunderstone to some of the other L5R players.  Dragonspire is a stand-alone expansion that includes all the mechanics introduced up that point (such as traps and treasures), plus finally replaces those awful XP cards with XP tokens, and brings a full set of nice card dividers for the prior sets that didn’t have them.  The AEG Big Game Night also featured a “Get Into the Game” tourney, which, alas, I failed to win.  Curses, foiled again!

Tanto Cuore: Probably the most talked-about non-L5R game among the L5R players, Tanto Cuore has seen multiple Japanese releases, but only recently started receiving Enlish translations.  Getting demos at the CardHaus booth in the Exhibit Hall, this deck-building game places the players in the role of “masters of the house,” trying to recruit the best sexy/cute anime maids and keep them well-trained.  Basically, it’s Dominion but you should be ashamed of yourself.  Tanto Cuore’s base game is the only one available in English, but a stand-alone expansion will be releasing later this year, with another hitting in early 2012.

Board Games:

Lego Games: I was going to wait until Benjamin got a little older to start seriously hitting up the Lego booth, but Trevor is apparently still a child at heart, and so he took a crack at Lego’s swathe of games.  Lego’s new Heroica line adds some monster-fighting fun to their existing (and expanding) line-up of family-friendly games.  Ninjas, pirates, Harry Potter, mummies, minotaurs, wizards, frogs (sure to be a hit with Benjamin some day) –  you name it, they make itMinotaurus seemed to be the big feature this year at GenCon.


Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion ClanAlderac Entertainment Group‘s  strategic game of hidden movement made its debut at GenCon, with demos in the Exhibit Hall and the Big Gaming Night, and a limited number of copies available for sale before the street date.  Set in the Legend of the Five Rings universe (but not requiring the slightest familiarity with the setting), Ninja features an eponymous Ninja of the Scorpion Clan, plus a Traitor on the inside, trying to complete a pair of objectives (and escape alive), while the noble samurai of the Lion Clan try to stop them.  The Ninja and Traitor can climb walls, walk in shadows and, when necessary, use sword and shuriken on enemies who get too close – but will that be enough to get past the alert Guards of the Lion?

War of Honor: AEG brought Legend of the Five Rings to the broader gaming community this year with the release of War of Honor.  War of Honor features a stripped-down version of the CCG combined with a customizable board and special multiplayer rules changes.  This year’s L5R slate of events featured purely War of Honor tournaments, as well as a storyline tournament featuring the full L5R CCG card selection.



Legend of the Five Rings RPG (4E): The Fourth Edition of the L5R RPG brings the highest quality layout, design, and editing plus the best-balanced rules the game line has had, while continuing the evocative setting and writing that have always been the game’s hallmark.  As with many major conventions, Heroes of Rokugan offered RPG modules, a LARP, and a battle interactive this year at GenCon, and Chris was able to get two sessions in on Thursday.  Alas, he doesn’t yet have a copy of The Great Clans, the newest supplement, which first went on sale at GenCon this year.

Star Wars RPG: Strange Assembly got a sneak peak of the upcoming Fantasy Flight Star Wars . . . what?  It wasn’t there.  Awwww.  Well, FFG didn’t acquire that Star Wars RPG license for nothing.  Maybe next year!

One thought on “GenCon 2011: What We Played (some of it, anyway)

  1. Star Wars TCG is slated Q1 according to FFG. The Lego games are pretty mindless, but probably great if you’re very young. Much past 6 and you’re going to be bored to tears as there’s really not much to do and it’s extremely random.

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