Well, if you’ve listened to Episode 100, you know that while Strange Assembly will be represented at GenCon 2013, I (Chris), will not be able to attend due to family matters. But, many of you are still going, so I’ve got a few things to point out.
First, I hate you for being able to go when I cannot. Do not expect forgiveness; scores will be settled later.
Second, there are a few new games that you might want to take a peek at while you’re at GenCon.
Freedom: The Underground Railroad – This is a fully cooperative game in which the players take on the role of abolitionists, attempting to rally enough support for the cause and guide enough slaves to Canada and freedom. Each player is assigned a role card and through token and action selection, must balance fundraising to support the abolitionist movement, work moving escaped slaves north, and growing long-term support for abolition. It’s sometimes said that board games just recycle the same themes (or lack them), but this one is definitely distinctive, and tackles an important bit of history (one of the mission statements of its publisher, Academy Games). Freedom: The Underground Railroad also avoid anyone having to actually play as a slave owner or slave catcher by having all the players work together for the good guys. Freedom will be available for demo and purchase at GenCon, although if you’re willing to buy before you try, you can also pick it up at a somewhat reduced price on Kickstarter.
Romance of the Nine Empires – Last year before GenCon we highlighted the Gamers: Hands of Fate, which was on Kickstarter at the time. Hands of Fate features a fictional collectible card game (Romance of the Nine Empires) that is thematically based on Legend of the Five Rings gone wild – a factional card game where, over 15 years of gameplay, the storyline of the setting has gone haywire as the Story Team implemented pretty much everything the players wanted. As a result of one of the stretch goals from the Hands of Fate Kickstarter, AEG is releasing an actual “R9E” product – the “15th Anniversary World Championship Edition.” Something to note, since this seems to cause some confusion, is that the real-life Romance of the Nine Empires is not a collectible game – you buy the box, and you’ve got the game. It comes with several “world championship” decks, and additional cards that permit customization. As far as gameplay goes, R9E is something of a simplification of the Legend of the Burning Sands CCG. I think that AEG is aiming to have it on sale at GenCon 2013 to coincide with the world premiere of The Gamers: Hands of Fate.
Numenera and Thunderstone: Numenera – Another AEG/Kickstarter crossover, Numenera is the brand-new RPG from Monte Cook (Kickstarter backers, like me, got their digital copies of the core book a few days ago; the physical game release is on August 14, 2013). Numenera is a fantasy RPG loosely based on the notion that technology, if sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. Numenera is set in the Ninth World, and the present civilization was built atop the detritus of eight prior ultratech civilizations. “Magic” and “magic items” are then essentially bits of leftover technology that your character is adept at using. Much like the Hands of Fate Kickstarter, the Numenera Kickstarter had an AEG-related stretch goal – this time, to make Thunderstone Advance: Numenera. The announcement doesn’t seem to say one way or the other, but since TA: Numenera includes a new board and XP tokens, and given the nature of the product, it seems likely to be a standalone release, rather than simply a Thunderstone expansion. Thunderstone: Numenera should be available for purchase at GenCon.
Suburbia, Inc. – One of the members of a very good crop of eurogames released in 2012 was Suburbia, which you can hear more about by popping back to Episode 089. In short, each player takes turns buying city buildings from a central rolling track and then placing them in his or her own sprawling city, where the location and combination of the buildings will generate income and increase population. Winner is the player who has the most people + bonus points from meeting goals. Suburbia, Inc. will be available for demo games at GenCon 2013, but will not be available for normal purchase until Spiel 2013 in October.
Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle – You may have heard that there’s this teeny-tiny roleplaying game called Dungeons & Dragons. You may also have heard that the current iteration of D&D, 4th Edition, has basically ceased to exist while Wizards of the Coast feverishly works to prepare D&D Next for launch in hopes of reclaiming its title as the premier fantasy tabletop RPG from Pathfinder (because, let’s face it, getting taken out by what’s effectively a refinement of a fantastic prior version of your own game just hurts). As part of that process, Wizards is rolling out Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, a D&D Next preview rules/mini-campaign (reminiscent of the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta that Fantasy Flight showed off last year, Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle is a 200-page softcover). But … Wizards does not have a booth in the GenCon main hall this year. So if you want to pick up the D&D Next preview, you’ll have to do so at the Gale Force Nine booth (sorry, pre-orders have closed, so you’ll have to pay an extra $10 for that exclusive miniature).
Firefly: The Game – Another reason to visit the Gale Force Nine booth is a game of their own making – Firefly: The Game. GF9 has picked up the license for Firefly board and miniatures games (but, not, it would seem, card games), and this is the first one out of the gates. Firefly seems to put each player in control of their own Firefly-class transport vessel trying to make their way in the ‘Verse. The game will be available for demo, but not purchase, at GenCon.
BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia – OK, OK, I have to admit that, what with my available time for games being taken up almost entirely by tabletop games, I haven’t actually gotten around to playing the series’ latest iteration. But check out how cool this one looks! A strategy/war game, The Siege of Columbia has the players using influence, resources, and sheer combat ability to contest control of the cities districts. Features include getting to use the risky Sky-line for movement, and neutral NPCs Booker and Elizabeth traipsing around Columbia and interfering in everyone’s plans. BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia should be available for sale at GenCon (if it isn’t in stores already).