My Obligatory Gen Con 2015 Recap - Part 2

This is Part 2 of my Gen Con 2015 recap, click here for Part 1. Part 3 will be up in the next day or two. 

I got another (intentionally) late start on Friday. I casually walked around the dealers room, picking up The Grizzled, Rhino Hero, and Animal Upon Animal: Here We Turn! as well as the indie RPGs Dread, The Quiet Year, and The Big Book of Little Games by John Wick. I love buying small RPGs at Gen Con. They are small enough to transport home easily, and the physical copies of these books are often hard to get ahold of. Since most aren't available through traditional retailers, you wind up having to pay a ton of shipping each time you buy one. 

After my trip through the dealers hall, I met up with Adam McIver (Coin Age) and company. I met Adam back at BGGCon 2013 and he has been a board game friend ever since. We got in a play test of Galapagos Expeditions. Again, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

It is at this point in the day that my memory fails me. I have a big gap in my recollection from about 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. I don't THINK I took part in True Dungeon until Saturday, but maybe I did? In either case, Im gonna talk about it now because I will have way more games to cover in Part 3 than Part 2.

True Dungeon. True Dungeon is fucking amazing. True Dungeon is what my parents envision when I talk about D&D. It is simultaneously absurdly geeky and utterly fantastic. Friend of Board with Life, Zachary Collins, was generous to snag Donald, Niki, and I tickets to this years dungeon. Instead of going in to detail about what True Dungeon is and how it actually works, Ill just link you to Shut Up & Sit Down's Gen Con coverage from last year. About 10 minutes in you can watch those goobers actually go through the dungeon.

After True Dungeon and grabbing a bite for dinner, I headed to the Shut Up & Sit Down Gen Con party. I really enjoy events like these, that are away from the convention center. Its much easier to actually sit and play games without all the distractions. 

The first game I played was The Grizzled. I really think this was the sleeper hit of Gen Con. Not many people had heard of it before the con, but everyone was buzzing about it. The Grizzled is a cooperative game about World War I, but it doesn't focus on warfare, or even combat. The focus is on trying to support your comrades as the war slowly drives you all mad. Its a brutally difficult game, the I think is more about experiencing loss and hardship than trying to win. The mechanics are incredibly simple, and its fairly abstract, but somehow the theme really pulls everything together to present a unique board game experience. One I wish more games would aim to achieve. The art is also fantastic. Sadly, the artist, Tignous, was killed in the Charlie Hebdo shooting, which actually adds an additional level of melancholy to the game.

After experiencing The Grizzled, we moved on to playing several rounds of Vlaada Chvatil's new game, Codenames. Codenames is basically a gamers version of Taboo. You lay out a 5X5 grid of cards, each with 1 word written on them. You split into 2 teams and each team picks a leader. The leaders get to see a card that shows where the agents for the red and blue team are, where innocent bystanders are, and where the 1, game ending, assassin is. The leaders then proceed to give 1 word clues to their team, trying to push them towards guessing where their teams agents are. The leader also says a number after the clue, this is how many cards they think that clue applies to. For example, the blue leader says "roll 3." The team would then look around the board and trying and figure out what 3 words they are supposed to guess. Maybe they deduce they are looking for the words "bed" "dice" and "game" so they guess them in that order, revealing a blue agent with their first two, but the last one reveals a red agent, therefore helping the other team. This sounds incredibly simple, and it is, but tons of game theory comes into play when you are trying to direct players one way, while not allowing for them to interpret your clue another. Oh, and I didn't mention, if you select the assassin, your team immediately loses. Codenames is great. We played it over and over again with everyone enjoying themselves.

After that party wound down, I headed back to the convention center where the rest of the Board with Life gang were already recording the end of the night wrap-up podcast. I joined the discussion a little late, but had a good time unwinding and talking about the day with a bunch of our industry friends. You should listen to that episode here. 

Ok. Thats it for Part 2. Part 3 should be up in the next day or two and contains by far the biggest rundown of games.