We’re traveling to Gen Con 2022 this week, so it’s time for my top 10 most anticipate games of the convention. These include games that should be released at Gen Con, will be available to demo at Gen Con (and are coming out fairly soon), or that released just before Gen Con. I’ll do my best to get the availability right, but sometimes it’s a bit hit or miss with games not always making their ship dates to get to the Con for a slated early release.
10) Dark Archive (Paizo) – Hot off the presses for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Dark Archives delves into the unknown or unexplained – cults, eldritch beings, cryptids, the paranormal, and even temporal anomalies, with eight included adventures exploring the mysteries presented. Mulder and Scully would be proud. Maybe they would even make characters using the two new base classes – the psychic and the thaumaturge! Dark Archive just released and should be for sale at Gen Con.
9) Catherine: The Cities of the Tsarina (Capstone Games) – Capstone has been flying high on the success of Ark Nova, and their next game up – Catherine – should be available at Gen Con. In this card-driven board game, players are attempting to win the favor of the eponymous Catherine. The players do this by playing project cards to an action row, and later activating them with other cards. For every card, the players have to decide whether they want to gain the ability on the card or use it to fuel another card, considering the card colors available to them and what their strategy is – building residences, accumulating canons, or investing in the arts.
8) Twilight Inscription (Fantasy Flight Games) – There’s this great phrase on the back of the Twilight Inscription box – “epic roll & write.” Roll & writes are usually lighter fare (often with lighter themes too), but Twilight Inscription brings the weight of the Twilight Imperium universe. Over a couple of hours the players (each with their own civilization-based player powers) will joust over control of the galaxy – exploring, building, and attacking across a joint set of dry-erase boards. It looks like a pretty cool combination. If nothing else, it’s an iteration of Twilight Imperium that I might actually have time to play. Also, I’m glad to see what’s left of Fantasy Flight Games release something that isn’t a card game expansion pack. Twilight Inscription will be available for demos at Gen Con.
7) Spaceship Unity (Pegasus Spiele) – Spaceship Unity suggests that it will turn your entire home into a spaceship, making uses of blinds, box fans, and bookshelves as starship components. I will admit that this gives me visions of having to replace torn blinds and clean up all of the books on the floor of the library. But it’s a really ambitious concept and sounds cool, so I definitely want to check it out (conveniently, I have a four-person immediate family). There’s an ongoing story played through five episodes, which I like in general but seems like it would really help the imaginative-play-in-the-house concept get going. “Note that this is technically Spaceship Unity – Season 1.1,” and you can look forward to another four boxes this “season.” Spaceship Unity is slated for an Essen release in October, and this seems hard to demo at Gen Con, but it’s supposed to be there in some form so hit up the Pegasus Spiele booth.
6) Hunter: The Reckoning (Renegade Games) – Hunter: The Reckoning expands the “V5” iteration of the World of Darkness beyond the flagship Vampire: The Masquerade. Characters in Hunter are on the other side of the stake and fangs – otherwise ordinary humans who have learned that the supernatural exists, and are trying to eliminate (or otherwise deal with) it. Hunters band together in small cells to investigate vampires, ghosts, werewolves, sorcerers, fair folk, and other supernatural oddities. Hunter uses the same base mechanics as Vampire: The Masquerade, but without that game’s bevy of character powers and labyrinthine social and moral structures, Hunter presents a more stripped-down horror experience. Hunter: The Reckoning released this month, and will be available for purchase at Gen Con. And if you want to know more right now you can check out our video review.
5) Paint the Roses (North Star Games) – Alice in Wonderland is a classic for a reason, and Paint the Roses uses that theme for this cooperative logical deduction game. The players in Paint the Roses are trying to arrange the Queen of Heart’s garden to her liking, lest she remove their heads from their bodies. Each player has one card describing one of the Queen’s whims, and each turn the team is trying to guess one of those whims – except, of course, a player isn’t allowed to talk about what the one whim they have the card for. Instead, the players must take actions on the board to convey and discover information about the various secret whims. Both a standard and deluxe version should be available for purchase at Gen Con.
4) Avatar Legends (Magpie Games) – Avatar Legends is a great roleplaying game company working with a great license, and the results are as great as you might expect. Avatar Legends uses the Powered by the Apocalypse engine, including elements like conditions that Magpie first introduced in Masks: A New Generation, and has their usual focus on helping players tell memorable stories. You can hear me expound on its virtues at length, but it suffice it to say that it does a fantastic job telling emotional stories that feel like Avatar and Korra. The physical books aren’t out yet (Kickstarter backers have PDFs), but Magpie is running a bunch of demos at Gen Con. As I write this they’re all sold out, but maybe a spot will open up for you?
3) Starship Captains (CGE) – As The Orville has shown, you don’t need a Star Trek license to make a good Star Trek product. Each player in Starship Captains is the brand new captain of their very own starship, exploring space, managing and training their crew, upgrading their ship, gaining reputation with galactic factions, and completing missions. Someone at the table will surely make jokes about building engines in an engine-building game. Starship Captains isn’t for sale at Gen Con, but CGE has their own room where you can go looking for a demo.
2) Planet Unknown (Adam’s Apple Games) – I played Planet Unknown way back at Gen Con 2019, which feels like about seven years ago thanks to pandemic time. In Planet Unknown, the players are competing to best terraform and develop their new planets. Planets are developed by the placement of polyominos of various shapes, each including two different types of terrain. Placing appropriate terrain lets the players advance on tracks, letting them look at more end-game scoring cards, place and move rovers on their planets, or unlock new powers. But the real wow factor when you look at Planet Unknown out on the table is that the polyominos are distributed via a rotating lazy Susan in the middle of the play area. Each of the six bays (the game supports up to six players) has two stacks of tiles, so when placing tiles a player has to choose between those two options (instead of an analysis paralysis inducing twelve options). Each player choosing from their own bay helps foster simultaneous decision-making, reducing downtime. With an announced retail date in August, I think that this one will be available to buy at Gen Con.
1) Adventures in Rokugan (Edge Studio) – Strange Assembly started out as a podcast about the Legend of the Five Rings CCG. So the land of Rokugan will forever have a special place in our hearts. That made it very easy to pick Adventures in Rokugan as my most-anticipated game of Gen Con 2022. The Great Clans of the Emerald Empire have served the Emperors for a millennium, but Rokugan now faces peril from darkness within and without. While it’s sad that the freestanding Legend of the Five Rings RPG is no longer with us, I’m still excited to see what Edge does with this Dungeons & Dragons 5E compatible version, which has the possibility to introduce the Emerald Empire to a whole new batch of fans. Interestingly, this is not the first time that there has been a D&D L5R, as Rokugan was used as the official setting for the D&D 3E version of Oriental Adventures, which was a lot better than it was given credit for. The current iteration of D&D, however, tends to allow for more social play, which is even better suited to the traditional Legend of the Five Rings focus on social maneuvering and structures in equal measure with combat. Adventures in Rokugan should be on sale for the first time at Gen Con 2022.
See you at Gen Con!
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