Games at Gen Con

Gen Con: Thursday through Sunday

I started off my first day of Gen Con with two non-gaming mini workshops on the art and method of zentangle; everyone else stormed the exhibit hall when it opened. I had a great time doodling with a purpose! The rest of the day, I strolled through the exhibit hall collecting freebies, browsing the booths, and demoing a couple of short games.

Other than me joining the audience to watch an interview with the puppeteer and voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (who knew that they were played by the same person!) and his wife [1]– there was an entire puppet stream / track at this convention, and the puppeteer and voice … Continue reading, for the next couple of days, j.w and I spent most of our time together to look around the hall and demo games (at the hall and CGE/Rio Grande rooms); I found myself playing more games when with another person around than on my own.

We stopped for a bit to see the cosplay contest for the first time as we missed out on the parade as our True Dungeon game took longer than expected – wow, some people are truly dedicated at hand making their costume!


Notes for next time

  • the C n C booth resells Rio Grande games; you can bargain with them.
  • Cool stuff inc has a dings and dents (or last stock) shelf that they restock throughout the convention. You can also use the $2 off coupon in the coupon book with these games.

I would consider buying or playing again

People built things from cards and on the last night, people could donate to charity in exchange for a throw to destroy them
  • Trapwords (coming out in the Fall sometime) – advanced taboo, best played with people you know
  • Ticket to Ride: France: the tracks aren’t colored ahead of time, so you use one action to assign a color but your opponents could claim it before you do!
  • Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition: extra cards and goals to complete. I regret not picking this one up at $23 – $2 at the dents and dings shelf at Cool Stuff Inc. because I wasn’t sure how it would play and didn’t know its retail price (later found out it sold elsewhere at the convention for $40). If they reminded me of the $2 off coupon, I would’ve picked it up. Though, pro-tip, don’t do as I did: don’t play and drink for you might roll your drink cup (filled with coffee in my case) instead of your dice cup. Though now that I know has it for $24, thanks to someone telling me about at the consignment store, I don’t feel as regretful.
  • King Domino: Age of Giants (expansion)
  • drop it: quick game to play, can play with kids, but hard to master, but would only get it if it was on sale, as the sticker price was $30 USD
  • Cities of Splendor: adds a bunch of expansion games to Splendor, but would only buy this if we get a copy of Splendor. We’ve been playing Splendor on our phones / tablet after a friend taught us how to play, but the feel of the game is nice
  • Word slam: A team vs. team game where you use existing word cards to try to and get your teammates to guess the correct word without using any gestures or your voice. It seemed to get a bit repetitive after a few rounds, but I like word games, so I’d be willing to give this one another try.

Did not get a chance to try

  • Queen Domino
  • King Domino: Age of Giants (expansion)
  • Terraforming Mars: I heard it has a Race for the Galaxy feel to it!
  • Scarabya – by Blue Orange, the same publisher and designer of King Domino. I did meet the game designer in person, and it was sort of interesting to see that everyone at the booth was from France except for one American, even though they have an office in Silicon Valley.
  • trash pandas: I only found this intriguing because I like the art of Sushi Go and the others at the Gamewright booth like this one looked cute, and was sold out on the first day.

Games I tried that I probably wouldn’t pay money for

  • Catan VR (needs an Oculus set first)
  • Small World: Sky Island (too many pieces! would be more fun to play on a tablet or smartphone)
  • Other expansions of Dominion (too many cards! but fun to play anyway)
  • Escape-room type card games. I feel like these are one-time plays and thus a waste of resources
  • Pinata: a two-player game that seems kid-friendly but gets really repetitive quickly (maybe that’s why it’s perfect for a mother-daughter game); the consignment store had it for $12
  • Chicken Cha Cha Cha: relies on a lot of memory – great for a younger audience
  • Codenames: Duet – is a fun game but the group game seems more fun
  • True Dungeon (TD): when j.w played it the first time, he came home raving about it. I think with the rise of escape rooms, I’d rather spend my money there (works out to be around the same price per hour). TD was a RPG/D&D+Escape room hybrid: you’re in the dark going from space to space with divider walls draped with fabric to match the theme to separate the rooms; there’s a dungeon/game master in each room that yells out scenarios and penalties and then some random actors dressed up in themed costumes. I randomly died in the middle of the game (turned into stone after a low die roll), which mean I couldn’t participate in 3 out of 6 or 7 rooms, so I feel like I got ripped off somewhat.I felt like there was little to no onboarding for new players (had no idea what happened, and when to dock myself life). At the beginning, we spent a considerable time trying to figure out what our given random tokens meant and how to suit up our character by trading our tokens with others as each one had a special ability or armour/weapon. I wish they explained it better that certain tokens are more valuable than others, such as the purple ones, which are ultra rare (1 in every 100 packs), so you don’t trade them away. Thankfully, j.w had played before so he pocketed the purple one that I had opened (instead of giving or trading it away) and later found out that it sold for $75, but the buy price was $35, so I guess we got back most of my game. At least I contributed to solving a puzzle fairly quickly before our time was up.

Games we bought

  1. Pictomania, newest edition (surprised that it was j.w who wanted a copy because it’s a group game and you have to draw!) – a hybrid of pictionary and speed where everyone in the game participates at the same time.
  2. Phoenicia – by the same designer as Race for the Galaxy. Hadn’t heard of it – only picked up because it was $10 at the consignment store [2] future note to self: every day a board game stays at the consignment store, it drops in price
  3. Pressure Cooker – from Rio Grande, looks like Overcooked and for $10, it’s worth the try

    Image from
  4. Everdell – definitely my favourite game from our purchases. I hadn’t heard of this kickstarter game until we passed by the booth on the last day. The artwork was what drew me in first as it reminded me of why I read some graphic novels, then phrases like tableau building, worker resource placement, Race for the Galaxy meets 7 Wonders / Agricola were the right words to hear. This was a game I was willing to pay a lot of money for! The designer, James Wilson, and his wife was there explaining the game and signing the collector’s edition. I learned that they’re from Idaho and Gen Con was their first big-city experience. He does embroidery printing as his day job, and that he’s worked on this game for over 5 years now. They had hoped to sell 100 copies at this convention, but they had sold over 1000 copies by Sunday morning! (so far, I have yet to win a game though :( )
    Update: if you ever wondered about the backstory of how a game is created and published, read how they got here in Part 1 and Part 2. I’m glad that the publisher and hired this artist and they decided on this theme because it was two of the three influencing factors on this impulse buy.
  5. Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Wars – turns out we already have this expansion, but we hadn’t gotten around to playing with the extra pieces yet, so I didn’t recognize the cards (but found the box to be very familiar – and that was why)
  6. Robits – a kid-friendly $3 game for $1 because we had a $2 off coupon

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