GenCon 2013 Prototype Preview
Post by: The Board Game Design Community
Hello! Welcome to the latest preview post, which combines the efforts of many board game designers to share what to expect and look forward to at this year's GenCon. Many of us will be there to test or even pitch these games in hopes of finding a publisher. If you missed my launch deadline and want to be included, simply EMAIL ME and I'll add you to the post.
See something you like? Tell the designer in the comments or using their contact info.
Chevee Dodd’s Intro
With Origins already behind us, I am a few prototypes lighter for GenCon. I have mixed feelings about the games being reviewed by publication. First, there are publishers reviewing my games, which is AWESOME... BUT... I actually liked playing these games and already miss them. I may make up play sets anyways just to play with friends. So, I'm now dipping back into older designs, looking for something to work on. It's very likely I'll have something brand-new with me, but these two prototypes will also show up:
Chevee Dodd’s Dead End
Quick Details: 2-6 players, 45 minutes, ages 10+
Description: Dead End is a fast-paced card game where the goal of the game is to out-last your neighbors during the zombie apocalypse. The players begin the game shored up in their homes as the zombies enter the neighborhood and spend their turns finding defenses and weapons to help them hold out. As you play out your turn, more and more zombies enter the neighborhood and you get to choose which opponent they attack! I've been working on this game for over a year now and it is just now becoming what I envisioned all along. It's been torture at times and I've had to really work at this one, so I'm happy to be showing it.
Chevee Dodd’s Hexploration
Quick Details: 3-6 players, 1 hour, ages 8+
Description: Hexploration is a not-so-cleverly named game about prospecting and mining gems. As a game, it is a cross between tile-laying and area-control. I love tile laying games, but I'm not a fan of the unapologetic draws, so I added a mechanism that lets you "tune" your tile draws to your advantage. Coupled with an area-control mechanic you need to not only focus on making your areas of the map better, but you need to ensure you can protect your area from your neighboring miners. This is one of the deepest games I've designed and it's been shelved for the past year or so while I let it stew in my mind. I think I'll be forcing it on my playtesters very soon.
Jay Treat’s Intrigue
Quick Details: 3-4 players , 45 minutes, ages 15+
Elevator Pitch: A trick-taking card game of manipulation and deception.
Description: Deploy agents from different factions vying for control of the city. Success requires working with your opponents, because every player shares one faction in common with another. Can you trick enemy agents into advancing your own cause? The plot thickens when you layer in secret schemes.
Jay Treat’s Assault on Khyber Station
Quick Details: 1-4 players, 40-60 minutes, ages 12+
Elevator Pitch: Can you escape from aliens on a crumbling space station in this tense co-op?
Description: Your sleepy outpost among the stars has just been torn apart in a surprise attack. With blast doors slamming shut all around you and ravenous aliens teeming after you, can your team coordinate their unique skills to navigate the wreckage and find the escape teleporter in time to warn Earth?
Jay Treat’s The Last Planet
Quick Details: 2-3 players, 60+ minutes, ages 12+
Elevator Pitch: A tactical tile-laying game inspired by StarCraft.
Description: Three races vie for dominance on the last inhabitable planet in their war-torn galaxy. Establish your presence, claim valuable resources, and build your war machine before the others can wipe you out. The Last Planet features innovative game pieces whose size and shape directly impact how they play.
Email Jay Treat, Find him on Twitter @jtreat3.
Mark Major’s Jupiter Deep
Quick Details: 2-7 Players, roughly 60-90 minute playtime. Recommended ages 12+, though it should be fine for younger kids.
Elevator Pitch: Jupiter Deep is a cooperative game about shepherding hapless colonists to safety from a floating colony that is besieged by aliens and falling apart.
Description: As the elite team of robots who have been sent to rescue them, you must combine your abilities to zoom around the colony, blast through the invaders and guide the panicked colonists to the evacuation pod. Jupiter Deep features a randomized board setup and ability distribution every time you play, making no two games quite the same. Moving and defending colonists, and working together to find the best way of saving what you can and cutting your losses can be challenging, and if you fail, it has a “just one more game” effect.
Jupiter Deep won The Game Crafter’s Co-Op Challenge, and continues to be something cooperative gamers enjoy in our local Meetup board game groups and game nights.
Mark Major’s Chimera Station
Quick Details: 2-4 Players (with a possible expansion for 5-6), about 2 hours playtime. Recommended ages 12+.
Elevator Pitch: In Chimera Station, players compete for prestige not just through savvy worker placement, but by splicing components onto their workers that convey special effects and abilities.
Description: Welcome to Chimera Station, a busy hub of intergalactic trade, technology, and commerce. Gather food and money to sustain your race, splice weird alien appendages onto your workers to give them unique powers, and build onto the station to open up new actions. When the time is right, take control of the command hub to earn victory points! Chimera Station is a genre we’re calling “worker-builder”, where not only do you have a standard worker placement mechanic, but you can add claws, tentacles, brains, and plant parts to displace other workers, grab extra resources, create a self-sustaining workforce, and grab extra points and turns. As new modules are built, new options open up for gathering resources, using your genetic components, and scoring. Because of this, the game changes quickly based on what your worker’s strengths are.
Email Mark Major
Ed Marriott’s Scoville
Quick Details: Ages: 10+, 2-6 Players, 40-120 Minutes
Elevator Pitch: Scoville is a pepper cross-breeding game where players compete to produce the hottest peppers.
Description: The town of Scoville has hired you to meet their need for heat! Your role as an employee of Scoville is to cross-breed peppers to create the hottest new breeds. You'll have to manage the auctioning, planting, and harvesting of peppers, and then you'll be able to help the town by fulfilling their orders and creating new pepper breeds. Help make the town of Scoville a booming success!
Ed Marriott’s Trading Post
Quick Details: Ages: 10+, 2-6 Players, 40-120 Minutes
Elevator Pitch: A western Trading Post is struggling to grow and they want you to help them meet their needs.
Description: In Trading Post you are working to develop the trading post by building new buildings, exploring the territory, and of course making trades! But you'll have to make the trades that will work out the best for you and the worst for your opponents. Players compete to maximize their value to the trading post. The player who contributes the most will be the winner!
Email Ed Marriott, find him on Twitter @EdPMarriott
Payton Lee’s Escape from Monster Mansion
Quick Details: 3-8 players, ~45 minutes, all ages
Elevator Pitch: Fight all manner of monsters in a survival game of strategy, team-work, and diplomacy.
Description: You're a member of the renowned Monster Movie Film crew. The tables have turned as you find yourself trapped in a Mansion full of REAL Monsters! Explore and fight your way out of the dynamic dungeon that changes with every play. Guard against treachery as each player has a secret agenda that only they know about. Let the games begin...
Email Payton Lee
Eric Leath’s Gyre
Quick Details: 2-3 Players, ~30min playtime, Ages 13+
Elevator pitch: Gyre is Connect-4 all grown up. Twist, Push, Lock, and Blow up your opponent's pieces, and perhaps even your own to achieve victory.
Detailed pitch: Gyre is an abstract strategy game using circular cards and a polarity mechanism to drive game play. Through the use of opposite (+/-) or like (-/-, +/+ poles, players can cause the board state to drastically change in their quest to line up 4 icons before their opponent(s) can do the same. Special power cards like Locks, Nukes and more can make things even more interesting if used cleverly.
Email Eric Leath
Van Ryder Games’ Tessen
Quick Details: 2 players, About 15 minutes
Description: Tessen is a real-time card game designed by Cardboard Edison and soon to be published by Van Ryder Games. The game pits two players against each other in feudal Japan. Tiring of constant warring between the clans, the Shogun has challenged the warriors to put down their swords and take up their Tessen--their iron fans--to gather eight mystical creatures.
Players will attempt to gather sets of animal cards while attacking and defending with warrior cards. To win, players will have to move fast and think even faster! Van Ryder Games will be running tournaments of Tessen every day at Gen Con. No previous experience with Tessen is required to participate.
AJ Porfirio/Van Ryder Games’ Hostage Negotiator
Hostage Negotiator art continues to come in and the game is getting very close to ready. In Hostage Negotiator you will clash minds with some unscrupulous character who has taken hostages to fulfill some want or need. Manage the threat and save the hostages in this exciting solitaire game!
Cardboard Edison's Skewphemisms
Quick Details: 4+ players, 30-45 minutes
Description: Skewphemisms is a word party game based on the wondrous wordplay of alliteration.
Players will attempt to guess the everyday expressions that are suggested by a series of alliterative clues. The fewer clues you need, the more points you get. The game requires players to both work independently AND on teams. Teams will score higher if they work together, but they must watch out for the "point pilferer" who can jump in and steal the team's points with a well-timed answer!
Sizzlemoth’s Double Up
Quick Details: - 2 to 6 players. 20-30 minutes, ages 10+
Elevator Pitch: Double Up is a family/party dice and card game where you pick the challenge! Use your action cards to complete that challenge with ease and collect the points when your opponents fail.
Description: The starting player attempts to match a pattern on a card using a specified number of dice and a hand of roll modifying cards. The player has a fixed number of attempts and dice, as indicated on the card, to successfully complete the challenge. If successful, the rest of the players must attempt the same challenge card and beat it in as many or fewer attempts than the original player.
Sizzlemoth’s Robot Builder (working title)
Quick Details: 2 players, 5-10 minutes, Ages 10+
Elevator Pitch: One of the two rival robotic engineers who have been pitted against each other to prove who is the ultimate robot designer. Quickly assemble your robot and pit him in a battle against your rival!
Description: We are currently just coming out of the early concept stage of this game, the mechanics and overall play of the game is sure to change before GenCon. The general idea is to have players build their own robots and then battle them, using action cards and power sources to maximize the effectiveness of their robots.
Sizzlemoth’s Shipwrecked! (Working title)
Quick Details: 2-4 players, 30~ minutes, Ages - ??
Elevator Pitch: After losing a devastating sea battle - the ship, only a few of the crew, and all the rum have washed up on a deserted island. You and your shipmates must work together to find a way off the island or throw one helluva pirate party. Don't waste too much time though, the heat of the island is unrelenting and who knows what lurks in the jungle.
Description: Another project that is just coming out of early concept stages. Shipwrecked has cooperative gameplay where players win together or lose together. You play as unique pirates, each having their own traits that help them on the island. Players will have to explore their options early in the game to try and figure out what the best way of getting off the island will be. Wait for a passing ship? Build your own ship? Or maybe they've given up hope and have just decided to throw one last pirate party! Collecting resources and completing challenges will bring players closer to completing whichever goal they decide to tackle.
Email Sizzle Moth or find him on Twitter @sizzlemoth
Cole Medeiros’ Star Captains (working title)
Quick Details: 2-4 Players, 45 - 60 minutes, ages 12+.
Elevator Pitch: A space adventure board game where players captain a star freighter, modifying its hardware, filling its cargo holds and commanding crew to explore the galaxy seeking adventure, fame and fortune.
Description: Star Captains is a space adventure board game. Players have one ship throughout the game, and seek to modify it and hire a unique crew to best achieve victory. While focused on theme and story, it features stunning artwork, easy to learn mechanics that play quickly, and promotes player interaction and strategy. The game is in prototype phase, and we are working to put a lot of polish into the final version to create a truly cinematic experience alongside some slick mechanics.
Email Cole Medeiros or find him on Twitter @TheGubsGuy
Rob Couch’s Frankenstein’s Legacy
Quick Details: 2-4 players, 45 – 60 minutes, Ages 13+
Elevator Pitch: Frankenstein’s Legacy is a deckbuilding game about assembling your own horrible Monster.
Description: It is the year 1975. You are part of a team of scientists who has just stumbled upon the lost journals of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Now, using modern technology, you have decided to recreate and improve upon the revelatory breakthroughs of the legendary Doctor. But your colleagues have the same goal. You must decide whether to play it clean, or fight dirty to become the first to create your own grotesque monster, and shake the very foundations of the natural world as we know it. Players in Frankenstein’s Legacy are competing to be the first to assemble a complete monster from four body parts, then shock life into the creature. But before you can build that body, you must successfully test each part on your Workbench. Every time you test, you burn a gold fuse. So be careful. If you burn up all your fuses, you won’t be able to pay Igor to go scrounge more body parts.
Rob Couch’s Rocket Wreckers
Quick Details: 2 players, 10 – 20 minutes, Ages 10+
Elevator Pitch: Rocket Wreckers is a fast paced, asymmetrical hand management card game about two fearless heroes having a fistfight while riding a 200 foot tall rocket speeding through the sky.
Description: A decades long war between the Verum Alliance and the people of the Steel Fist is about to reach its climax. The Verum Alliance has launched their Great Weapon: A massive rocket, speeding toward the capitol city of the Steel Fist, flown by a brave pilot. But a saboteur from the Steel Fist has hitched a ride and will be doing whatever it takes to make that flying bomb fall from the sky. Rocket Wreckers is a game about making difficult choices. Each card has two abilities, one of which must be combined with an ability from another card when played. Every time you play a “linked” pair, another potential combination is lost. In addition, each player has unique and different goals: One is trying to go the distance to reach the target, the other is trying to make the rocket crash.
Email Robert Couch or find him on Twitter @poorly_designed.
Brian Henk and Clayton Skancke’s Body Builders
Quick Details: 3-8 players, 15-25 minutes, Ages 8+
Elevator Pitch: Don't bother looking for your soul mate... build them instead! Lock your dice, roll for your scavengers, and go steal some body parts to build the mate you've always wanted!
Description: Take on the role of a mad scientist who is attempting to build themselves a mate. Unleash your 3 scavengers to invade your opponents trying to steal arms, legs, torsos, and heads from them to help you build your one true love. Players will not be bored in this one as each turn every player gets to lock one die on a value and then roll the other two dice to improve their scavengers in hopes of defending against invasions or maybe invading someone else. Not only will your dice roles improve your scavengers, but you can also roll for goals to try to win some body parts outside of invasions. Drawing from the invasion deck will add a little drama to each invasion so don't get too cocky before the battle. This game plays in 15-25 minutes and requires a fairly equal amount of strategy and luck. Which mate will you build?
Email Brian Henks or find him on Twitter @ForbiddenLimb
Jason Slingerland’s Sandbox Showdown
Quick Details: 2 Players, 12 and up, 30-45 Minutes
Elevator Pitch: It's time for a showdown in the sandbox. Gather your toys and get ready for a battle. In this board game players each control a different faction of toys trying take control of a sandbox. Each toy has access to use a unique power to help the player control the board.
Description: It's time for a showdown in the sandbox. Gather your toys and get ready for a battle. In this board game players each try to take control of the largest area of the board (A giant sandbox) by using a playset of 10 toys (A deck of tiles). Each toy when placed on the board has access to a unique power that allows you to control the sandbox in different ways. Each turn players earn Marbles, which help them pay the cost of placing the toys and using their powers. The gameplay is fun and fast to learn but also allows for a high level of strategy as players progress through the game. The prototype consists of 4 playsets: Space Toys, Farm Toys, Fairy Tale Toys and a Construction playset.
Matt Loomis’ Strength & Honor
Quick Details: 2+ players, 30-60 minutes, ages 12+
Elevator Pitch: Strength and Honor is a deckbuilding game for 2 or more players where players create armies and unlock powerful abilities while battling for glory!
Description: Each player has their own supply of cards to purchase from broken into different sets. With each purchase, a player will unlock another card in the series. By playing combinations of different units into their army, they unlock abilities that are always available. At the end of each round the armies will battle one another with the winner earning glory and the losers mourn their dead. The player with the most glory at the end of the game wins!
Matt Loomis’ Rite of Passage
Quick Details: 3-6 players, plays in about 30-60 minutes, for ages 12+
Elevator Pitch: Rite of Passage is a set collection game of bluffing and deduction for 3 to 6 players where players attempt to develop the best traits which best meet the needs of their tribe.
Description: Each player will begin the game with a piece of knowledge about the type of warrior the tribe needs. Each round, players will select two traits which allows them to perform various actions, then they will secretly choose one to keep while discarding the other. As the game develops the true value of the traits will be revealed, and the player with the highest value of traits at the end of the game is the winner!
Matt Loomis’ Cosmic Kaboom
Quick Details: 2 – 4 players, plays in 15-30 minutes, for ages 8+
Elevator Pitch: Cosmic Kaboom is a dexterity flicking game for 2 to 4 players where players fly around space to collect energy cubes that will power up giant space bombs to eradicate the planets of their enemies.
Description: Each player will flick their spaceship around a modular board that is created by 4 cards and 12 planet tiles. After collecting enough energy cubes, players will toss a space bomb tile onto the board in an attempt to blow up their enemies planets and be the last race left standing!
Email Matt Loomis, or find him on Twitter @mrtopdeck
David Chott’s Lagoon
Quick Details: 2-4 players (higher player numbers will soon be tested for viability), plays in about 45-60 minutes
Elevator Pitch: Each player leads an order of druids competing to control potent mystical sites in the world of Lagoon. These enchanted lands each confer a unique power to the druids occupying them, providing players an ever-changing field of abilities that can be combined in surprising ways. Deploy your team of druids across Lagoon in search of the sites that best serve your agenda, harness their power, consecrate them as your own, and carefully make allegiance with immortal forces beyond all of you.
Description: Each player controls up to five druids, using them to explore a hex-based world where each hex site confers a different ability. The game begins with just one site, but quickly expands as players explore new sites from a bag of hex tiles. The color of each site indicates which of three immortal forces that site is tied to, and players must leverage one color to subdue and score sites of another color. Over the course of the game, druids will gain and lose powers, sites may move, sites will be scored and leave play, druids will be exiled and summoned forth again, and so on. Eventually the last site will be explored, and one of the three immortal forces will predominate in the world of Lagoon. The dominant force will then grant favor to the order of druids that subdued the most sites of the other two colors, making the player controlling those druids the winner.
Find David Chott on Twitter @dchott
John du Bois’ Bread and Circuses
Note: John bringing both games to GenCon for testing purposes only.
Quick Details: 4-10 players, 20-30 minutes
Elevator Pitch: Players act as Roman nobles trying to manipulate events and their fellow nobles to achieve their secret objectives and make the greatest profit from a revolting peasant population.
Description: Each round, players discuss among themselves who will provide the peasant population with Bread or Circuses to keep the peasants placated. Affecting each player's decision is the Event card drawn at the start of the round, preventing a peasants' riot, the monetary benefit of playing a scarcer resource, and each player's secret Motivation. After negotiating, each player declares whether they are playing a Bread or Circus, and chooses secretly whether they will provide Bread, provide Circus, or Abstain entirely. Players receive money for honestly declaring what good they will receive and which good they played (or abstained from playing). Players who played Bread get paid per Circus played by the group, players who played Circus get paid per Bread played by the group, and players who played Abstain reap the rewards of both Bread and Circuses - unless the peasants don't get at least one Bread and at least one Circus, in which case the peasants riot and the abstaining nobles are robbed. The player who is able to leverage his allies and resources to reach a certain amount of Gold first wins.
John du Bois’ Civilization Dice
Quick Details: 2-4 players, 20-30 minutes
Elevator Pitch: A dice-building civilization-building game in which players add buildings to a shared civilization hoping to build the most monuments and most diverse set of buildings.
Description: Play starts with three dice, each of which contain an equal number of basic resources (farms, lakes, and forests). Each turn, a player rolls the dice, uses the actions from his or her constructed buildings to improve his or her available resources, and builds one available building from one of six building groups (military, civics, commerce, industry, recreation, monuments), adding that building group to the dice as a shared resource and claiming the building's action for their exclusive use. Players earn Victory Points by building individual Luxury Buildings and Monuments, building sets of Basic and/or Luxury Building groups, and by taking actions from certain buildings. The player with the most Victory Points when resources or building space becomes scarce wins.
Email John du Bois and find him on Twitter @JohnDuBois
Michael Iachini's Alchemy Bazaar
Quick Details: 2-5 players, 90 minutes, ages 13 and up
Elevator pitch: In this "worker movement" game, rival alchemists send their apprentices around an Alchemy Bazaar to gather ingredients and complete formulas in a race to gain the most wisdom.
Description: Each player is an alchemist with one or two apprentices to send around the Bazaar to gather ingredients, formulas and actions, all in an effort to end the game with the most wisdom. The board is made up of tiles, which represent shops in the Bazaar. A few tiles are added each round. The core mechanic of the game is "worker movement." Players can have their apprentices move to various shops in the Bazaar, gathering resources, and may then pay an increasing cost to have the apprentices continue moving to other adjacent shops. Any shop where an apprentice has ended its turn is unavailable for other apprentices to use, but those apprentices may leave that occupied shop for free to move elsewhere.
Email Michael Iachini
Jeremy Commandeur’s Cold War Agents
Quick Details: 3 to 8 players, 30-60 minutes, ages 12 and up.
Details: A game of mystery and espionage. Set during the 1980s at the technological height of the Cold War. Everyone is not who they appear to be. Who is friend and who is foe? Identify your team and expose your rivals first to win.
Jeremy Commandeur’s Pass the Paint
Quick Details: 1 to 8 players, 20-30 minutes, ages 12 and up.
Details: Draft paint colors and use them to make more valuable colors. Complete paintings for extra points. Collect the most valuable set of paints to win.
Jeremy Commandeur’s Escalation Alpha
Quick Details: 2 to 10 players, 20-30 minutes, 8 and up.
Details: Quickly bid and try to hit the target. If your bid wins, you get a power up. Play smart as the target jumps every round and your resources are rapidly running out.
Jeremy Commandeur’s Pyramid of Pleonexia
Quick Details: 2-6 players, 30-45 minutes, 8 and up.
Details: Treasure hunting, exploring, and a race against the clock. Explore the Pyramid, overcome obstacles, collect as much treasure as you can and then escape before time runs out.
Jeremy Commandeur’s Blockade Runner
Quick Details: 2 to 6 players, 20-30 minutes, ages 8 and up.
Details: Be the first to move your three ships through the asteroid belt to win. Collect power ups and drop traps for your opponents. Clever bluffing and planning ahead will be rewarded.
Find Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyNorCal
Grant Rodiek's Battle for York
Quick Details: 2-4 players, 60 minutes or less, ages 12+
Elevator Pitch: Take control of one of four asymmetric factions in this quick playing, card-driven area control war game that features no dice.
Description: I wanted to create a war game that played quickly, was relatively easy to learn, and featured no dice. The result is York, a game of careful hand management, special abilities, and area control that, without dice, is governed more by player decisions than luck. The game also features 5 unique factions, one for learning the game, then 4 advanced, asymmetrical factions.
Grant Rodiek's Blockade
Quick Details: 2 players (or 2 teams of 4), 45 minutes or less, ages 10+
Elevator Pitch: Arrange your space fleets in the best formations to outlast and batter your opponents in this light, tactical, spatially-driven game.
Description: Blockade's primary components are rectangular wooden blocks. There are 3 blocks to a squadron, each with different weapons and weak spots, which means you need to physically re-arrange the blocks to best defeat your opponent and survive the battle. Games are scenario driven with fast, simultaneous turn planning, a simple dice mechanic to resolve combat, and Action cards to allow for decisive, exciting moments!
Jonathan Wolf's Space Camel '72
Quick Details: 2-5 players, ~30min per player, ages 12+
Elevator Pitch: Build a crew and run exciting and dangerous heists on the moons of Jupiter to build your rep and make it rich!
Description: Players are independent ship captains sailing around the moons of Jupiter in CM-31 "Space Camel" class Transport ships, attempting to make a name for themselves or just get rich. Players recruit a crew, and then buy and sell goods in various markets to make money, or take on dangerous heists to earn reputation or make it rich quick. Players will have to be on their toes, as taking on heists will injure their crew, damage their ship, and get them Flags (essentially how Wanted by the law you are), and Alliance cruisers are patrolling Jovian space looking for criminals to bring to justice. Score points by earning Rep by completing jobs, and Good Days by making moral choices or running heists right under the Alliance's nose. But if you have no Rep and you have no Good Days, you can still win if you make it rich. The board is a hex grid representing the Jovian system, populated with Alliance Cruisers, job Handlers, extra missions, and player ships, while Heists feature a push-your-luck dice rolling mechanism with dynamic obstacles that make each heist a unique set of challenges to overcome.
Epic Slant Press' Havok & Hijinks
Quick Details: 2-4 players, 15-25 minutes, ages 13+
Description: You’re a young, underachieving dragon that never really paid much attention to your parents or the elders. That is unfortunate because you've just found yourself kicked out of the nest! It seems that your folks are tired of you eyeing their hoard and want you to build your own. You’re not alone either: the parents of your friends had the same idea. Now you’re out in the world of Vallhyn and you have to compete with other young dragons to build the first respectable treasure hoard.
What is your favorite game on the list? What are you most excited to play? Share it with us in comments below!