Games, RPGs, Dice, and more! Our intrepid contributor KittySue braved the crowds of GenCon. Over the coming weeks we’ll hear from her about the sights and sounds of one of the most important tabletop conventions in the world. In her first article she’ll give some thoughts on the con as a whole and share some games currently crowdfunding so you don’t miss them!
Good news! Indianapolis, home of Gen Con (AKA The Best Four Days in Gaming, The Biggest Tabletop Gaming Convention in the United States, More Geeks Than You Could Shake a Stick At) has extended their convention agreement through the year 2030. The downtown Indianapolis Convention Center has already begun their expansion project, complete with an even larger ballroom and another 800 room hotel, which will also add more skywalks to help keep us coastal nerds from fainting in the Midwestern Summer humidity.
This year was a huge bounce-back from previous post-COVID numbers, with reports of well over 70,000 unique attendees, with unsubstantiated rumors being closer to 80,000. Given how many times I had to say “Sorry, excuse me”, “Oops, pardon me” and, “ Can I squeeze by you? Thanks”, I can believe it. We clogged the halls, the hotels, the restaurants, the ICC, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the majority of Downtown Indy in general.
Positive changes from last year: My short self was whacked in the head much less, surprisingly. Fewer massive weapons strapped to giant backpacks and fewer massive cube bags on oblivious attendees in general saved me from so many bruises in the dealer hall. The new site of the auction and consignment shop had much bigger aisles and less of a push to find things. Staying in the closest connected hotel yet helped my middle-aged back by allowing me to drop things off in the room more often, keeping me from slathering my upper back in Icy Hot for 3 days straight and making 40,000 eyes water as I walked by them.
Not so positive: Finding out that the food trucks had moved during my half hour break between helping my friend clear out from Trade Day and my 5pm Asmodee event, the lack of electrolyte drinks being sold when it’s 93°F and humid, and the ice machine at our hotel not working for 3/5 of our stay. Hopefully this expansion will allow another drug store or two nearby, or some enterprising locals can start bringing in some ice cold sports drinks in wheeled coolers and selling them on the corner. You could make a TON of money, folks, trust me. Start learning the permit process now!
What stayed the same: hordes of people vying for limited edition everything, everywhere, all at once. Lorcana lines wrapped around the building this year, while the pre-order pickup line for Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition dominated the hallway upstairs. The Vader/Luke duel for Legion at the Atomic Mass Games booth on the dealer floor was a madhouse all morning. They were sold out by Friday afternoon, I heard. I went to say hi to my convention friend over at O Christmas Geek and I had to wait until Saturday to speak without climbing over a dozen people. I’m starting to think I need stilts for this place just so I can see and be seen!
Now what you’re really here for…THE GAMES. I had as much of my schedule clear as I possibly could for finding new games, my friends, and I still missed SO much. I divided and conquered. I interviewed in double-booked appointment times with other writers and reporters, I voice recorded demonstrations so that I couldn’t mix up the games, and I wore the soles clean out of my sneakers in the ICC. Would you believe that we went to Lucas Oil Stadium for shade, peace, and quiet? Spoiler, it’s not THAT quiet. But I had a non-crowded, air conditioned place to sit down at a table, which beats being perched on a curb in the scant shade of Hot Box Pizza’s EZ up tent, which is what I did on Thursday until my foot fell asleep. Fun times!
As I write over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some milestone news, some updates at what is in the pipeline over the next year, and what you should be trying to buy NOW that you may not have heard about otherwise.
For starters, let’s look at Wild Gardens from Rose Gauntlet Games. https://www.backerkit.com/c/rose-gauntlet-entertainment/wild-gardens
In this game, you become a Farm-to-Table chef by foraging for ingredients, making and also serving recipes made from those foraged ingredients. This action-selection game is for 1-4 players. It has decent strategy from turn to turn and a colorful setup. Wild Gardens is currently accepting late pledges on Backer Kit if you want to get a first-run copy.
Then we have Dungeon Kart from Brotherwise Games (of Boss Monster fame) https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brotherwise/dungeon-kart
Kickstarter launches August 22nd
Boss Monster has launched their 10th Anniversary edition (available now), but the Brotherwise Games crew is branching out even more! Take your Boss around the racetrack in the tabletop version of your favorite kart-racing video games. With your favorite Boss Monster villain you will compete for domination while launching fireballs and bombs on your opponents. For those Boss Monster fans who have so far failed to get their hands on a Collector’s box (I missed out at the booth by TWO HOURS! But that’s Gen Con for ya), they are back in stock for a limited time on the Brotherwise Games website.
Ascension is also turning 10 this year and Stoneblade Entertainment is continuing the celebrations with a new expansion called Inferno. which is still taking late pledges at the links below.
For Ascension players who haven’t tried Tactics yet, this game adds miniature battles to the deckbuilder, where you put your champions on the battle map and use your best tactics to claim victory and bragging rights over your foes. The 28 mm minis are ONLY released for the Kickstarter, so jump in now if you want to paint and personalize, before you find yourself looking at a retail copy of cardboard in stands and wishing you’d found this game earlier.
The Inferno expansion also has a minis box which gives you over 50 champion models to gloat over. Again, if you want this upgraded minis pack, you’ve gotta get yourself into that pledge manager, Pronto!
Last, but certainly not least, a game I’ve entirely missed the boat on, Tidal Blades by Druid City Games had just Kickstarted a sequel, Tidal Blades 2: Rise of the Unfolders. This one was brought up during a late night dinner at a hotel bar and just by looking at the art, I have a crush on this one. It’s still accepting late pledges! l! With this same campaign you can get a copy of their brand new RPG using the Cypher System. Take a look here:
I talked to publishing companies of all sizes about all kinds of games, and I will be writing up reviews for the rest of the year based on all the great things coming my way. I also got some fun previews from our favorite game publishers and can’t wait to tell you what is ahead for them! I met even more of the nicest folks in the industry and had some really fun conversations. It is great to be at a large show like this and know that even though we are being run off our feet, we are all having a blast doing it and hoping we still have our voices and our health by the time we get back home.
It was a great show all around in spite of the construction and confusion and the “where am I going now?” conversations because I was lost more often than I normally am in downtown Indy. But I did the usual: I saw my convention friends, visited my favorite vendors, tried a bunch of games, and spent more than I intended but also got some great deals.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a new pair of sneakers.