They come for the sweet aroma of freshly punched cardboard counters, for the textured heft of rank upon rank of miniature figures, for the piles of weird dice slimed with the cast-off condiments of terrible convention center food, and for the sight of dozens on dozens of costumed geeks, scantily clad and otherwise, who’ve traveled from all over the nation and beyond for an event that’s billed as “The Best Four Days in Gaming,” and which does in fact give tabletop gamers and steampunk airship captains alike a formidably long weekend on which to celebrate their passion and ours: tabletop games.
This is Gen Con. Its origins lost to the mists of time, the nearly half-century-old gaming party -- for that’s what it is -- is probably the largest annual gathering of tabletop gamers outside Germany’s Spiel. I arrived midday on Thursday, just as Day One was getting into full swing. The Indiana Convention Center is a massive place, and, as is the habit among Actual Journalists, I wandered into it unaided by map or signpost, following the flow of musky t-shirts into the first exhibit hall I could find. The simple elegance of what greeted me there felt both surprising and inevitable at once. Because what’s special about Gen Con is that it’s about the one thing most important to the cardboard arts: playing games.
So, yeah, he might be dead, but on the bright side gloss-house Fantasy Flight had a ton of stuff to announce, causing the biggest stir with BattleLore 2nd edition, seen above. If you're a regular reader you'll probably have seen us review or play Memoir '44, a phenomenal, approachable World War 2 strategy game. BattleLore is based on the same systems, but takes place in a colourful fantasy world. So, less horrors of war, more bipedal horrors who want to eat your face.
This month he's encouraging us to don the masks of the fabulous Mascarade by Bruno Faidutti, one of our favourite designers. This game is pretty. It's funny. It's simple. Most of it even occurs underneath the table. But most excitingly of all, Matt's baking again! Today is a good day.
These are two lovely individuals. So lovely. If you'd like to meet exactly ⅓ of Team SU&SD, they'll be around at 8pm on Friday in the Hyatt Regency's bar/lounge area.
Also, if you're an exhibitor and would like to demo your game to Mike so he can tell the UK team about it, drop an email to [email protected] He says his best times are "Thursday after 3:00pm or Friday after 11:00am, booth numbers help."
Quinns: My flat has an Abundance of Rare Meats, but a Scarcity of Hygiene.
Leigh: A reference to the game mechanics, how clever!
So, The Quiet Year. I’m accustomed to roleplaying games that give me the chance to tell a story about a character, through interaction with other characters, but this game is different: Two to four players collaborate over a map to tell the story of a place, and the narrative that unspools itself is about the challenges a community faces following a long war, given one year to prepare for the advent of the mysterious Frost Shepherds.
What are the Frost Shepherds? Who knows! What is this place? Well, that’s what you play to discover. The designer, Avery Mcdaldno, calls it the world’s first cartography RPG.
Quinns: Can you explain how the New York University Game Centre came to commission Guts of Glory?
Zach Gage: Sure thing!
Actually I think they wanted me to make a weird artsy game. They commission a few people each year, and typically, one of those people is the type of person who sometimes makes really odd games. Robin Arnott and Terry Cavanagh filled this roll in years past. I think Charles was expecting something closer to Lose/Lose or Killing Spree from me, the card game came a bit out of left field.
The big news this week is that comedy board gaming series Board With Life released their first episode! We feel a profound kinship with these guys. Like us, they're working with no money, an awful lot of heart and they're all startlingly handsome. In fact, I like it so much I've embedded it after the jump.
But there's a problem! This game is the spiritual sequel to Cyclades, yet another svelete, gorgeous game of warring gods from the same publisher. Who will come out on top, in this divine duel? Should you buy this is you already have the other? And why is the SU&SD supercomputer so rubbish?
In our eighth instalment Paul and Quinns are joined by Matt Lees as they thoroughly deconstruct Egypt simulator Kemet, senile dementia simulator Mascarade, and Police Precinct! Which simulates literally no policemen or women who have ever existed.
*Rejected adjectives for this analogy: Lukewarm, creamy, gassy.
Thrower: Ow. Ouch! Unhand me, you oaf! That’s my authentic American Civil War facial hair.
Brendan: Sorry, I thought it was a badger.
Thrower: This month sees the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, often cited as the turning point of the civil war. To celebrate, I’m participating in an ultrarealistic re-enactment, playing the part of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. You missed the first two days. I’m whiling away this third morning while my troops assemble playing this new wargame on the battle, The Guns of Gettysburg.
Brendan: That’s pretty.
Thrower: It’s more than pretty. It’s absolutely beautiful.