There’s a famous quote, often attributed to Einstein, that says “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Each year, as the clock ticks down to Gen Con in Indianapolis, we craft lists of games debuting for sale at the convention with complete knowledge that we are encouraging the insanity that follows. Many attendees, including us, walk out the door after the convention having purchased and picked up more games than we’ll likely play in the course of the year. It’s insanity for sure, but that’s okay. I would rather have more games and not enough time to play than have time to play games and not enough to play. With that said, this year’s list will be comprised of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, displaying the BEST new games debuting. We encourage you to read over each of these then make a virtual checklist – insanely or not – of the ones you want to have in your suitcase as you return home after the convention.
Now, just a heads up that this isn’t everything that’s releasing. That list would be incredibly long! Our version is a three-post series of what we think are the best games debuting for sale at Gen Con 2019. So when you’re done with today’s list, make a note to return tomorrow for “Part 2 of Games Debuting at Gen Con” and again when we close it out with “Games Debuting at Gen Con 2019 – Part 3” on Wednesday. If you won’t be able to make it to Gen Con, talk to your local game store for estimated delivery dates and keep an eye for board games on Amazon, too!
Take on the role of an artist managing an atelier, or art studio, during the 19th century. Roll dice, manage your assistants, collect needed paint, and complete famous works of art. Will you be a prolific artist completing many works for your patrons, or will you be known for just a few masterpieces that stand the test of time?
You are a rogue archaeologist, traveling the world for history’s lost artifacts. But the market for artifacts can shift like the rains of Africa: One minute, treasures from a lost pharaoh’s pyramid are all the rage with collectors, and the next minute religious artifacts discovered in a remote temple are what’s in demand.
In Curios, players acquire artifacts from various treasure sites without knowing their worth. Using the cards in your hand and those revealed by others, you can deduce the possible value of your artifacts, allowing you to focus your efforts on the more profitable ventures.
Curios is a game of worker placement, deduction, and bluffing like no other. This simple and intuitive game is quick to learn and even quicker to play!
Point Salad is a fast and fun card drafting game for the whole family. There are over 100 ways to score points. Players may use a variety of strategies and every game of Point Salad is unique!
Cards come in six different types of veggies, and the back of each card has a different scoring method. So for instance, one scoring method may award 2 points for every carrot you have, but deduct a point for every onion. By drafting combinations of veggies and point cards that work for your strategy, you can amass the most points and win.
Carnival of Monsters
The Royal Monstrological Society counts among its members the most renowned and respected experts in monster lore throughout the entire empire. Each year the Society permits only a single new member to join, so applicants compete to prove their worth with the most magnificent menagerie of monstrous beasts they can find… and capture.
To aid in these quests of discovery the Society grants every aspiring monstrologist a small stipend, which they can use to hire additional experts and fund their journeys to the magical lands where the most exotic beasts reside.
After four seasons of hunting, would-be members present their collections at the organization’s annual banquet, an event known as the Carnival of Monsters™.
Carnival of Monsters is a card-drafting game in which players try to collect sets of Land Cards so they can capture and display strange and exotic Monsters, hire talented Staff to help run their enterprise, and pursue their own Secret Goals. Points are awarded for displaying Monsters, completing Goals, and earning Gold Crowns (Crowns) over four “Seasons” of play.
In the end, the player with the most profitable and spectacular carnival is the winner!
The aim of Code Stack! is to build towers with colored blocks, the lowest block representing the first letter of a word, etc. There are blocks of different colours: green means A, B or C; yellow D, E or F, etc. Five different games use this basic system. For example, each player on his turn builds a tower, and the first other player who finds a corresponding word scores 1 point. Another example: The first player chooses a block, and each player on his turn must add a block on the top of the tower, or accuse the former player of bluffing when he cannot name a corresponding word.
In LLAMA, you want to dump cards from your hand as quickly as you can, but you might not be able to play what you want, so do you quit and freeze your hand or draw and hope to keep playing?
Each player starts a round with six cards in hand; the deck consists of llama cards and cards numbered 1-6, with eight copies of each. On a turn, the active player can play a card, draw a card, or quit. To play a card, you must play the same number as the top card of the discard pile or one number higher. If a 6 is on the discard pile, you can play a 6 or a llama, and if a llama is on top, you can play another llama or a 1. If you quit, you place your remaining cards face down and take no further actions in the round.
The round ends when one player empties their hand or all players have quit. In either case, players collect tokens based on the cards in front of them, whether in hand or on the table. Each different number card in hand gets you white tokens (each worth 1 point) equal to the value of the card while one or more llamas gets you a black token (worth 10 points). If you played all your cards, you can return one token (white or black) that you previously collected to the supply. You then shuffle all the cards and begin a new round.
The game ends the round that at least one player has forty or more total points. Whoever has the fewest points wins!
What the Heck
Get inside your opponents’ heads and figure out what they’re about to play as you try to take good cards and avoid bad ones.
Talk back and forth with the other players and swap cards as you work together to crack codes and save the world in this game that builds togetherness . . . all in 3 minutes! Includes 10 levels of challenges.
You are a formidable villain; your sinister conquests are innumerable. But there is one foe that even you cannot vanquish alone, Archerex, the lord of Dragons. A hoard of treasure beyond imagining waits to be claimed, and the scales of this dragon are more valuable than any amount of gold or gems! Will your loose alliance be able to take down Archerex, or will this great dragon’s rage consume you all?
Dragonscales is a game of villainy and treasure-grabbing where players are sinister villains, each with their own unique advantages, tactics, and style! Show your strength by slaying the dragon… while grabbing as much treasure as possible! Or maybe you will find an opportune moment and rush for the exit leaving your “allies” to be consumed by the dragon’s rage!
Designed by Richard Launius, Dragonscales, gives players multiple victory conditions to work towards while providing constant player interaction. Devise a devious strategy and set forth into the great dragon’s lair, pushing your luck against that of the other players as you strive to be the most formidable villain!
In Silver, your village is overrun with savage werewolves, represented by the number on each of the cards that make up your village. To get rid of these fanged fiends faster than neighboring villages, utilize your residents’ special abilities and your powerful secret weapon: Silver. Call for a vote when you think you have the fewest werewolves sniffing about, but be careful; everyone else gets one more turn to save their own village first! Silver is the first game in a new series of stand alone games however, cards can be switched with those of future games to create custom decks!
Tattoo Stories is a drawing party game where your art skills don’t matter. In a series of quick-paced tattoo competitions, win the most points by making up tattoos and telling the best stories. Compete to get your tattoo and story selected. It’s easy to learn, and you’ll be having fun in a matter of 3 minutes. You will be surprised by the creative tattoos and stories you and your friends can make up.
Keepin’ it Saxy
Players work together and use the power of jazz to keep Kenny G in the groove.
Help Kenny G stay in the groove with the power of jazz! In this cooperative game, players work together to make sure Kenny stays smooth and saxy through a hectic day. During each round, players will play sound cards to help Kenny overcome uncool events, detangle his luscious locks, and avoid rush hour traffic without missing a brassy beat. No jazz playing in the elevator? Scat with your friends and a “Biddle Scoodily Bop” can get Kenny back in the groove and keeping it smooth and saxy.
In Dragon Market, players attempt to manipulate boats on a river in order to pick up the items they need to complete objective cards.
In more detail, each player starts the game with their figure on a pontoon in the corner of the board, and they take turns placing boats on the board, with each boat taking up three spaces; some boats have a sailor in the center space, while others have a sailor in the end seat. Each of the two empty spaces of each boat are then filled with two identical merchandise tokens, with the game including twenty types of merchandise. Each player starts the game with an objective card showing four different types of merchandise.
Roll the dice, choose the ones you want, and put them together in pairs to create your dominoes. Domino by domino, fill in your map while entrusting the territories of your kingdom to loyal dignitaries. Gather favors from wizards in order to cast powerful spells that will allow you to rule without having to share.
Kingdomino Duel is a standalone game that preserves the essence of the acclaimed original Kingdomino. In this game, instead of adding dominoes to your kingdom, you will choose two dice to combine into a single “domino” that must then be drawn into your kingdom.
In the late 1840s, thousands of pioneers headed out West to seek wealth and opportunity. Many of these brave souls traveled by wagon over the Sierra Nevada mountain range, into what would soon become the Golden State of California. In the game Sierra West, you are an expedition leader who must guide a party of rough-and-ready pioneers—employing a clever mix of strategy and tactics with each step.
Sierra West comes with four sets of special cards and parts, each of which can be combined with the game’s basic components to create a unique mode of play. During setup, the players choose a mode, then build a mountain of overlapping cards with the corresponding deck. Each mode adds new thematic content, alternate paths to victory, and interesting twists on the core mechanics.
The silly wolf is at it again! The farm animals have nothing to fear, because Farm Rescue is here! Farm Rescue is a co-op game for small children, but adults will enjoy it too. In an interesting twist on the classic memory game, the tiles in Farm Rescue are initially face up and are gradually placed face-down. Families will have a great time as they cooperate in remembering the locations of different animals.
Is that a giraffe or is that a gorilla? Maybe it both? In this game of quick reactions players are looking for a pair of two cards with a matching set of mixed up animals on each. Having the quickest eye and collecting the most pairs will win you the game, but good luck trying not to laugh at all of the weird animals while you try!Have the quickest eye and collect the most pairs, all the while trying not to laugh too hard at the weird animals.
Every snowman dreams of getting to the North Pole! In the addictive “Snowman Dice,” players simultaneously build a snowman out of dice in real time! Players must then push their snowman to the middle of the table, all while avoiding the other players flicking snowballs. Travel-friendly packaging fills your vacation down-time with engaging family fun!
TEAM3 is a cooperative game that delights both players and spectators! Players must work together to build a structure using 3D pieces as fast as possible. But there is a catch, TEAM3 is played in teams of three players, with each player taking on one of three special roles: the player who can’t speak, the player who can’t see, or the player in the middle. Each role requires different skills, and this creates a very engaging game full of discoveries and challenges.
In the two-player game Watergate, one player represents the Nixon administration and tries not to resign before the end of the game while the other player represents The Washington Post and tries to show the connections between Nixon and some of his informers.
Cloudspire is 1-4 player strategy game heavily influenced by both tower defense and MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games. Solo and Cooperative play are driven by a scenario book that chronicles the story of the game from the perspective of each individual faction. Players control one of four unique factions in a battle to destroy and steal source energy from their opponents. Send and defend against armies and minions, build towers to protect your base, and explore with your heroes in search of resources and powerful Relics to turn the tide of battle.
Taking place in the floating realm of Ankar, Cloudspire tells the story of a war to acquire a powerful and rare energy known only as “the source.” Every race has their own unique units and heroes as well as the ability to bid and draft mercenaries for hire.
The food court: It’s a haven for hungry and thirsty patrons as they go about their lives, but for some, the food court is life. Every restaurant wants to attract the most customers, tailoring their menu and hiring famous chefs to work in their kitchen. In the end, only one will be the most successful. You wanna grab a bite to eat?
In Foodies, players take on the role of managers in a food court. During the game, they will add new dishes to their menu, connecting the stars between different dishes. These recipes come from all over the world, granting different bonuses when added. What’s more, players can hire chefs to work in their kitchens, including special, prestigious chefs who are the best in the business. In the end, the player who gains the most popularity will be declared the food master and win the game.
Humans set off into the stars in search of high-powered fuel and found it in the remote corner of the universe on the small planet PK-L7. Their discovery of Xenium — a dark, oily compound deep below the planet’s surface — was everything they hoped for. But they found something else, too. The Xenos attack was brutal and unrelenting. While the scientists and soldiers have held them off the best they could, the Xenos are still coming…
Zombicide: Invader is a cooperative game in which 1-6 players face Xenos, an unfathomable swarm of infected Xenos controlled by the game itself. Each player takes on the role of one to six survivors in a sci-fi setting being overwhelmed by these Xenos. The goal is simple: Choose a mission, complete its objectives, kill as many Xenos as possible, and (most importantly) survive!
Okay. Now repeat after me, “Siri, Remind me tomorrow to check out the rest of SahmReviews’ list of games debuting for sale at Gen Con.” See you here again tomorrow! Of course, if you literally SEE us walking around the convention, be sure to say hello!