My GenCon 2015
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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An inauspicious start to this trip:
From gallery of Shijuro

Just as I was about to leave for the airport, I shut down my notebook to pack it up. Windows insisted upon installing 23 critical fixes and warned not to shut it off during the process. As I've lost one computer during a windows critical fix that somehow ruined the hard drive, this time I waited. And waited.

Half an hour later, I jumped in the car and raced to the airport, until I hit bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95 south. When I reached the airport, the clever parking system showed a couple spots available in garage C... but it lied. The closest I could park was in Terminal A, so I had to dash about a quarter of a mile with luggage to get to C, reaching it just after check-in closed for the flight.

They got me onto the next flight 2 hours later, but lost my luggage in the process (it showed up the next morning).

I'm going to have fun now if it kills me (but hoping it won't).
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1. Board Game: Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:736] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Board Game: Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Thursday

I wandered around the dealer room for a few hours. The first game I sat down to play was the latest incarnation of the Legendary deckbuilding system based upon the films Predator and Predator II. This game differs from previous franchise entries in that you may play as humans vs. guerrilla fighters and predators, or predators vs. various humans. The predator camouflage ability is handled well.

Edit: This is basically two games in one box -- playing as humans uses different cards than playing as predators. The human game is very similar to Aliens, but if the players play Predators, it's very different PvP game -- players vie for "honor points" for defeating the cards and attacking each other.

They also sell a small but pricey adaptation pack (edit: it contains 16 revised Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game location and objectives) so that you can play Aliens vs. Predator scenarios.

It's a worthy entry in Game: Legendary (Upper Deck Entertainment) and I expect I'll buy it, but they really could have thrown in the adaptation pack instead of charging another $10 for it and making us hunt it down separately.

The "GenCon" special is a free pack of "Legendary" card protectors, which is useless unless you buy another couple hundred identical protectors from them.
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2. Board Game: Flick 'em Up! [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:700]
Board Game: Flick 'em Up!
Bill H
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Watched a game of this played with giant pieces, and it looks like a lot of fun.

Players have cowboy figures and can either move (by flicking a large disk then setting the cowboy where it stops) or shoot (by flicking a small disk). The game comes with wooden shopfronts, barrels, hay bales and cacti to use for cover. Ten scenarios come with the game with more available online (edit: online "soon" -- I had the impression they were there already but I can't find them; I've written them asking when they'll appear but got no reply).

There are a few miscellaneous items like a "Winchester" (a u-shaped piece of wood that can give you a more accurate distance shot if the character has it equipped), a gallows (for outlaws to rescue a fellow black hat by shooting the barrel out from under him), a stick of dynamite that can be flicked for an area of effect attack, and several other scenario specific items and chits.

An expansion is coming with horses that the cowboys fit atop (and provide bonus movement flicks), and ramps for trying to shoot them off the back of their horses.

The game is in a wooden box with solid wooden figures, and has a number of nice touches. My first purchase of the con!
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3. Board Game: Thunderbirds [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:1000]
Board Game: Thunderbirds
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Sat down to watch then play a full game of this. I backed the Kickstarter so my copy will be arriving in about a month. (Edit: Received, and several more plays confirm the following impression).

This is how licensed games should be made.

The game feels like an entire season of Thunderbirds episodes. The Tracy boys are encouraged to fly their usual craft by special bonuses they get, but are free to hop in the cockpit of other vehicles as the need arises. The Hood is scheming in the background, occasionally pulling off acts of sabotage or wounding one of the Tracys, and trying to pull off bigger schemes.

The game supports 1 to 5 players (yes, fully playable solitaire) and the game difficulty is easily adjusted to play with younger players. If the Hood pulls off any of his schemes, you lose. If any of the disasters you're trying to help with progress far enough, you lose.

Lady Penelope is here, usually riding around in the FAB-1. The only thing missing is Parker, who is coming in an expansion along with a new set of disasters and schemes.

The love of the designer for the material shows, but this is a solid game too that would work for people unacquainted with International Rescue. It's hard not to do full-body turns and bouncy walks while saying "F.A.B.!"

I can't wait to see what license they're doing next (to be announced at Essen this year) (edit- They announced two games: Kung Fu Panda: The Board Game and a revamped reprint of Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel).
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4. Board Game: Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:1903] [Average Rating:6.29 Unranked]
Board Game: Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Played a full game of this (and beat the demo guy, which is always a good sales tactic).

It's a card game where players are Bosses building a dungeon. Each turn some standard fantasy types turn up and try to make their way through to attack the bosses. The artwork is styled after 8-bit side-scrollers and there's good variety to the rooms you're building, spells you can cast and the bosses you can be (each of which has a special "level up" ability when they've killed off sufficient adventurers their dungeon is complete).

It was fun and fast, with plenty of replay-ability. Bought it and the new stand-alone expansion.
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5. RPG Item: Knights of the Dinner Table: Tales from the Vault [Average Rating:9.50 Unranked]
RPG Item: Knights of the Dinner Table: Tales from the Vault
Bill H
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Knights of the Dinner Table live action episodes.

I saw the first few episodes (two were rough cuts) of the Kickstarted series.

They did an excellent job of bringing the characters alive with real actors, staying true to the strips. The first episode was based on a classic strip, the others (and subsequent planned episodes) are new stories.

I look forward to seeing more of these.

Afterward, there was a question-and-answer session with the director and cast as well as the the comic strip creator.
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6. Family: Traveller
From gallery of Shijuro
Bill H
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Spinward Traveller

I saw a rough cut of the pilot for this series based upon the classic space roleplaying game.

A kick-ass captain and an all female (although not all human) crew take on a broker out of necessity, and this is the start of their adventures together as pirates, no, thieves, no, salvagers. No, they really are pirates.

It was funny without being stupid, captured the feel of the RPG pretty well, and was a good story even if you aren't familiar with the RPG. My only criticism was it was too short and just hinted at a number of interesting backstories.

Here's hoping someone picks it up and brings another intelligent science fiction to TV (edit: or perhaps a major streaming service).

http://d20entertainment.com/spinward-traveller/

From gallery of Shijuro


I hung out afterward and went with the cast and a few others to a local bar for an "after-party".
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7. Board Game: Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale [Average Rating:3.86 Overall Rank:19069]
Board Game: Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Friday

Spent some time in the dealers' room again, watching demos of various games.

One of them was this, and I played briefly as Grendel.

The card-based combat system seems interesting and I was intrigued by the quests, although what I saw were extremely simple "Kill X" quests, so I don't know if any more interesting ones are in the deck. The miniatures look great but are in pricey ($40) packs. As much as I love painting up miniatures for games, the price would likely keep me to using the tokens included in the box.

I certainly want to play this one, and would consider a purchase. Not today, though.
 
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8. Board Game: Flick 'em Up! [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:700]
From gallery of Shijuro
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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I got to play the giant version of this.

It was a simplified scenario with 2 on a team, but I enjoyed it. I have to admit I flicked particularly badly and my partner did the heavy lifting.

The game ended in a shootout duel, with one figure from each side starting a fair distance from each other. The good guys took a shot but it went wide, winging a cactus. The bad guys took their single flick and shot the sheriff (though we did not shoot the deputy, oh, no).

Glad I had bought my copy when I did, they've already sold out.
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9. Board Game: Romance of the Nine Empires [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:9695]
RPG Item: The Shadow's Dungeon
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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After a late lunch of noodles from Noodles, Inc., I attended a live Gamers event - the Curse of the Blind Swordsman.

Several castmembers of the Gamers films did a couple hours of improv in character as their Gamers characters. As an homage to the films (half of which take place within the worlds of the games they play), the action kept toggling between them sitting at the gaming table and leaping up to act out their characters in the fantasy world, aided by a stream of volunteers from the audience.

They're always funny and the story they played was a good one.

http://www.watchthegamers.com/
 
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10. Board Game: Firefly: The Game [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:331]
Board Game: Firefly: The Game
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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I wandered through one of the gaming halls, stopping to watch various games in progress. I came upon a game of Firefly just starting, and they invited me to join as one player decided he had to go.

We played "Patience's War" scenario. I started strong finishing a couple missions and stocking up on crew (including Jayne!) and supplies, then jumping in and achieving the first goal. Unfortunately, we realized that I had missed a requirement (solid status with Mr. Universe) so it wasn't legit until I flew out to Blue Sun, got a job addendum from him, then got another job to add it to, then completed the job. That final step took several tries, and Jayne was killed (!) during the one attempt.

Meanwhile, my opponent had achieved the first two goals (unlike me, she got them legitimately) and as I prepared to go for the second goal she achieved the third and won.

I do love this game.

We were joined by another couple Firefly fans and chatted about science fiction, TV, roleplaying and board games, etc. for several hours.
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11. Board Game: Telestrations After Dark [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2025]
Board Game: Telestrations After Dark
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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We got in a brief game of this, a variation of Eat Poop You Cat with nice dry erase flipbooks. This version has some more mature content (or at least a few bad words) scattered through the clue cards.

It didn't seem all that different from plain vanilla Telestrations, whereas I was expecting a sort of graphic Cards Against Humanity. It's quick and fun, just not as edgy as you might think from the packaging.


Afterward, I headed to Steak'n'Shake for a burger and a malt, but the queue was out onto the sidewalk. I went to Hooters for wings instead.
 
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12. RPG: InSpectres [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:70]
RPG: InSpectres
Bill H
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Saturday


Started the day off with some roleplaying in the world of InSpectres.

We were new-hires at a sort of Ghostbusters franchise. I took the job of Public Relations.

We were dispatched to rescue a woman's husband who was last seen boating on a lake when a ghostly pirate ship sailed through. While getting details from the lady in question I asked a perhaps less-than-tactful question about her availability (what, too soon?) and it took some effort to smooth it all over and keep the job.

After a huge red herring involving the filming of "Pirates of the Caribbean 16: Around Fish Lake" we commandeered the motorized film prop pirate ship to rescue the boaters.

As soon as we rescued the drunken boaters, we were boarded by the ghost of "One-Fingered Willie", the dread pirate who lost all but his middle finger in a fight. While we were trying to decide how we could fight incorporeal pirates, we tried "Parley!", and negotiated a settlement.

One-Fingered Willie left Fish Lake for good, the film crew used some footage of our encounter in "PotC 16" and we got paid.

A good day.
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13. RPG: Firefly Role-Playing Game [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:114]
RPG: Firefly Role-Playing Game
Bill H
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Kicked around the dealer's room for a while, and picked up two new(ish) books for the Firefly RPG: Echoes of War: Thrillin' Heroics and Ghosts in the Black. I got Margaret Weis to sign them and then noticed that Ghosts in the Black was written by Robin D. Laws.

I tracked him down at the Pelgrane Press booth and got him to sign these and some 13th Age books he'd written.
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14. Board Game: Ghostbusters: The Board Game [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:3440] [Average Rating:6.46 Unranked]
Board Game: Ghostbusters: The Board Game
Bill H
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I watched a game and then played a short demo of this with Mataio Wilson, the designer.

I had been a little worried that the game might be too simplistic out of the box, but discussing the aspects that change with each scenario I'm convinced there's a fair bit of replay-ability just with what comes in the retail box (let alone what we're getting from the Kickstarter).

The game materials look great, I like the figures (Slimer is an ugly little spud) and there are some excellent "Easter Egg" details hidden on the game tiles: examples of symmetrical book stacking in the Library, a pile of coats in Louis Tully's bedroom, etc., paying homage to the movies and the cartoons.

They're looking to release this around Halloween this year, with Kickstarter backers getting theirs a couple weeks earlier. (Edit: Or maybe early November; in any case, they're swearing we'll get ours before it hits retail).
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15. Board Game: Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:3513]
Board Game: Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game
Bill H
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I watched people playing a game of this.

It's not a board game version of the video game, but has a lot of the flavor of the game. It comes with a companion cube and a turret, and the players have several avatars that they position to collect things like slices of cake as the rooms move toward an incinerator.

I can't decide about this one. I'll try to play a demo myself tomorrow.
 
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16. Board Game: Velociraptor! Cannibalism! [Average Rating:5.19 Overall Rank:18780]
Board Game: Velociraptor! Cannibalism!
Bill H
United States
Absecon
New Jersey
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"Shijuro" in Awatum (Serpent's Tongue)
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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I saw a friend giving a demo of this game, and when I stopped by to say "Hi" got drawn into playing a game.

Players are Velociraptors and hunt for food, fight various predators (including each other), lay eggs and... mutate bizarre body parts (like wings, scorpion tail, etc.). This aspect felt reminiscent of Cartoona but the constant search for calories and viewing each thing (including your neighbor's, and even your own, eggs) as possible food source gave it a more frantic, aggressive feel. Each round there are environmental issues to deal with that make food more scarce, hamper certain types of creatures, etc.

The aggressive nature of taking your opponents' eggs (or biting off a mutated limb) may put some people off but you pretty much have to do it to survive, everyone ends up doing it and you often don't have much choice about who to attack -- you go for who you can (until they can mutate some better defense).

The illustrations and game text (and biographies of each of the playable Velociraptor characters) are witty and fun.

An expansion is coming out that adds more of each type of card and some more playable characters to the mix.

I think I'll pick up the base game at least and see if my family enjoys it as much as I do.
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17. RPG Designer: Peter Adkison
From gallery of Shijuro
Bill H
United States
Absecon
New Jersey
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"Shijuro" in Awatum (Serpent's Tongue)
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Microbadge: City of Heroes fanMicrobadge: KeyForge fanMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: Star Trek Online playerMicrobadge: Star Wars: Outer Rim fan
I went to the premier of Chaldea: War Room, the introductory episode of a new web series based upon Peter Adkison's Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.

It was an artistic mix of graphic novel panels animated with sound, and live action. This episode just sets up the situation that will be played out over 5? seasons.

http://worldofchaldea.com/

Afterward, I got to meet the director, Peter Adkison, who throws a splendid party each year for 56,000 61,000 of his friends.
 
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18. Board Game: Steam Torpedo: First Contact [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:5786]
Board Game: Steam Torpedo: First Contact
Bill H
United States
Absecon
New Jersey
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Microbadge: City of Heroes fanMicrobadge: KeyForge fanMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: Star Trek Online playerMicrobadge: Star Wars: Outer Rim fan
Sunday

I grabbed breakfast and checked out of my room, then returned to the dealers' hall.

I began playing a game of this with the demo guy, but he wasn't used to playing this one and it seemed that we may have had a rule wrong. Turn after turn passed without attacking each other because we saw the weapons wouldn't get through the opponent's armor.

I think there could be a fair game under that, but I was disappointed to learn that the game came with exactly enough tiles to build two submarines, and if you wanted more variety than simply deciding who got which tile THIS game, you had to buy an expansion.

I skipped this one and moved on.
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19. Board Game: Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:561]
Board Game: Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
Bill H
United States
Absecon
New Jersey
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Microbadge: City of Heroes fanMicrobadge: KeyForge fanMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: Star Trek Online playerMicrobadge: Star Wars: Outer Rim fan
I watched a demo of this then got to play one with different factions.

It's an interesting blend of Magic: The Gathering and Elder Sign - you have a personality card and you cast spells and summon creatures to attack the opponent or block their attacks. At the start of each round both players roll their dice, then during the round they use the results to pay the the costs of the spells and summoning.

It was different enough from Magic and its ilk and I liked the spin each personality imposed on the proceedings. I also like that it came with half a dozen preconstructed decks, as "deck building" before a game is my least favorite part of card games.

They were out of copies at the con but offered free shipping to anyone who wanted to order a copy at the con, so I did.
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20. Board Game: Bad Medicine [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:6271]
Board Game: Bad Medicine
Bill H
United States
Absecon
New Jersey
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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation." LP Jacks
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Microbadge: City of Heroes fanMicrobadge: KeyForge fanMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: Star Trek Online playerMicrobadge: Star Wars: Outer Rim fan
I bumped into Gil Hova demoing this game and an expansion for Battle Merchants.

We played a demo round. Players get a hand of cards and a made-up malady is presented. Players use the syllables at the top of cards to name their wonder drug and use keywords on the cards to pitch exactly how their drug works. Each other player then throws in a side effect and the player chooses the one they like the most. Then everyone votes on which drug should be distributed.

The maladies are funny and the side effects are hysterical, especially taken against the malady they were trying to treat.

I ordered a copy of this when it comes out later this next month(?)

Ask your doctor if Bad Medicine is right for you.
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