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Mel’s Muses: Gen Con 2014: The Aftermath

All right, here’s my last post on Gen Con 2014. I know there aren’t many analog gamers here but I hope my previous posts would at least push some of you guys in the right direction to try a boardgame or two.

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Now what I have written about Gen Con so far is just a tiny fraction of what was going on. The events catalog is over 350 pages long and well, that ought to give you an idea of how many activities that were going on. It’s gaming round-the-clock for four whole days as there’s even a games library stocked with boardgames that’s open 24 hours a day!

We played so many games that I actually lost count. We stopped at demo tables and tried out games we already bought just so we could get a hang of it without reading the manuals. We took part in on-the-spot challenges and won stuff. We attended auctions where my friend scored a limited edition copy of Evolution, a fantastic yet ruthless game packed with Kickstarter goodies and it’s not even out for sale yet. We were even Mechwarriors blowing each other up in a virtual reality arena.

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On a personal level, I wanted to make my first Gen Con extra special and being a firm believer in the joy of giving, I brought a dozen Marvel and DC Comics Lego figures of Winter Soldier, Red Lantern Atrocitus and others from Singapore, and handed them out to cosplayers, kids and fellow gamers at the convention. It was quite an unforgettable experience seeing their unsuspecting faces light up when I gave them the figures.

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Anyway, together I think we must have spent over two thousand US dollars on boardgames, miniatures and accessories. But folks here will know it’s worth it as most games sold locally are often way too expensive compared to their original US retail prices. So here’s a quick rundown on a mere handful of the Gen Con purchases that we managed to play over the last couple weeks since we got back.

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Golem Arcana. Probably the only game all three of us bought and we weren’t even planning on it. It wasn’t on our radar when we descended on Indianapolis but a night of playing it convinced me of getting it the next morning. And we were damn glad too as it was sold out the next day. It’s an excellent fantasy game using hi-tech accessories and it also had some of best pre-painted miniatures we have seen so far. Definitely worth getting if it ever hits our shores here.

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Five Tribes. One of the most highly anticipated boardgames at this year’s Gen Con, my friend risked life and limb to make a mad dash when the doors opened to purchase one of the 50 sets that were on sale daily. Like all other Days of Wonder’s games (Ticket to Ride, Small World), you can expect lots of high quality, attractive game pieces as well as an innovative and enjoyable gameplay. The rules are pretty simple as you maneuver (five tribes of) assassins, elders, builders, merchants and viziers through the city, and score victory points. Great game, that’s really easy to learn.

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Sheriff of Nottingham. I didn’t thought much of this game when I first saw a video review of it but my friend bought it, and it also seemed to be on almost everyone’s must-buy list. After playing it last weekend, I can understand why cos this game is crazy fun! It’s basically a bluffing, bribing game and I guess who you are playing with makes a lot of difference. With a loud and boisterous group like mine, it was a total riot!

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Evolution. One of the many successful Kickstarter games we saw at Gen Con. In this game, we are all herbivore dinosaurs trying to survive and not starve to death in a prehistoric world, and each turn we develop new traits like learning to climb trees or to hunt in packs. It’s all relatively peaceful until someone decides to become a freakin’ carnivore! Then all hell breaks loose and it’s every dinosaur for himself! Brutal but fun.

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Tragedy Looper. This played more like an RPG (role-playing game) than a typical boardgame. It’s a deduction game as one player is in charge of the scenario and the rest of the players are time travellers out to solve a murder or other similar crime. They have a day to prevent a murder and if they fail, they’ll have another chance again as they’ll loop back in time to prevent the tragedy. Quite an interesting concept as it reminded me two of my favorite time travel movies Source Code and Frequency.

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Pandemic: Contagion. This compact little game takes our prize for best themed. Unlike the other games in the popular Pandemic franchise, this is not a co-operative game. The players are diseases and the winner is the one that wipes out humanity and guess what, there’s no cure! We especially enjoy the components like the Petri dishes that let you store your pieces and the actions of mutating your diseases, infecting cities, etc. all fit the Pandemic theme.

There’s one last thing I want to add about Gen Con. It’s how everyone I met in Indianapolis was just so gracious and helpful, from the gamers to exhibitors to even the mall retail staff. I didn’t have a single negative experience at all and I simply want to say big ‘thank you’ to everyone at Gen Con 2014 and Indianapolis.

Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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