Gen Con is almost upon us. So today we are looking at the Top 10 games I’m most excited about that are releasing at the convention. All the games on the list are planned to be for sale at the convention. Quantities may be limited, so if you have interest in some of these games, make sure to get there early. Although you could also wait for larger retail release if you have the patience!
Top 10 Anticipated Games at Gen Con 2018
10. Forbidden Sky
Matt Leacock, best known for Pandemic, is also the designer behind similar cooperative games Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. This year Gamewright is releasing the newest game in the Forbidden trilogy and this time it takes place in the clouds. I’m hoping for a little more depth of gameplay than the earlier games, but this one certainly is worth looking into for no reason other than Leacock’s cooperative design pedigree.
2-5 Players • Ages 10+ • 60 minutes • $40
Coming from all-star publisher Renegade Games, Wendake is a heavy-ish action selection euro game. The game’s theme focuses on the life of Native Americans in the Great Lakes region. Each player will lead a tribe hoping to maximize their economic, military, and ritual standing.
1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-120 minutes • $65
Originally published in 2015 by Z-Man Games, Arboretum has been long out of print and occasionally sold for $100+ on the secondary market, despite being a relatively small card game. Brought back to life by Renegade Games with updated Beth Sobel artwork, Arboretum will be widely available for a comparative steal. Players manage a hand of tree cards, playing them in front of them in a grid pattern to maximize paths that start and end with the same type of tree. But you only score points for a species if you have the highest value of it in your hand at the end of the game.
2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 30 minutes • $20
Coimbra got a very small release at Origins this year and is going to be available in larger numbers in Indianapolis. A dice-drafting game from the designers of Lorenzo il Magnifico, Coimbra has a great art style and engaging gameplay. I got a brief demo at Origins and have been looking forward to getting a more extended play ever since and hopefully that will happen here.
2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-90 minutes • $70
6. Brass: Lancashire
Last year, Roxley Games ran a Kickstarter campaign for an updated deluxe version of Martin Wallace’s Brass. It’s now titled Brass: Lancashire, the new edition has finally arrived and is available, again, in limited quantities. Brass has been in the Top 50 on BGG basically forever and is a well-loved economic euro game and really deserves this upgraded treatment.
2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 120-180 minutes • $60
This year’s big release from Portal Games promises to be a unique treat for board gamers. Detective is basically a modern update to Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. Players will cooperatively be trying to solve crimes, but will be able to use technology to aid them in doing so. There is a custom website for Detective that you use for some of the clue gathering, as well as information out on the Internet. I’m interested to see if this all comes together in a fun narrative experience.
1-5 Players • Ages 16+ • 120-180 minutes • $50
4. Symphony No. 9
This may seem like a bit of a cheat. Here’s everything I know about Symphony No. 9—published by Moaideas and some economic elements where you are donating to be the patron of famous 18th century musicians. The reason this ranks so highly on my list of the pedigree of Moaideas. They have previously published Tulip Bubble, Mini Rails, Joraku, and The Flow of History and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. Economic games are right in my wheelhouse and I love the unique theming of this one.
2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 50-70 minutes • $42
In Newton, players are budding scientists trying to prove themselves during the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Cards are played from hand to take actions and only some of those cards are returned between rounds. I love the theme and setting and one of the designers, Simone Luciani, has credits on other gems including Grand Austia Hotel, Voyages of Marco Polo, and Tzolk’in.
2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60-100 minutes • $60
2. Founders of Gloomhaven
Judging by the comments on our recent Quick Hits review of Gloomhaven, people seem to have very strong feelings about the hit game from Isaac Childres. Founders of Gloomhaven, however, is purported to be a thinky euro game rather than an intense dungeon crawl. I’ve heard comparisons to The Great Zimbabwe and that, along with Isaac’s clear design abilities, shoot this one near the top of the list.
1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 90-120 minutes • $70
Finally we have reached my most anticipated game, Root. Designed by Cole Wehrle and published be Leder Games, Root takes a page from Leder’s other title—Vast—and gives players completely asymmetric abilities and goals. Taking inspiration from COIN series wargames, Root is a deceptively cute game that will have players battling for control of their shared forest. Each player board outlines the steps of your turn and the instructions include a walkthrough of the first few turns to really help ease the learning curve of the game for your first play. I’m excited to take a closer look.