What I Played and Bought at Gen Con 2018
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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This year was my eleventh Gen Con. This was also the first year in a number of years that I did not run any events. This led to me playing more unique games throughout the whole convention.

Gen Con continues to be my favorite time of the year. I really love making these post-con list because I tend to look back over them from time to time to relive the fun I had. I also enjoy reading about other people's Gen Con experiences and thoughts, so please feel free to make comments. I tried to be as detailed as possible while staying concise so I hope it is an enjoyable read.
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1. Board Game: Destination: Neptune [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:9783]
Board Game: Destination: Neptune
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Gen Con starts with the unofficial day zero on Wednesday. There are a handful of events on Wednesday, and they tend to fill up quickly. I got really lucky this year in that I was able to get into a couple of these.

The first was this hand management space race game. It is decent with some clever mechanisms. The only issue I had with the game was turns tend to be five seconds or five minutes, and it can be an intensive amount of downtime if all the opponents take a five minute plus turn.

The designer/publisher just updated the rules and printed a second edition. He had a ding and dent copy of the first edition to give to the winner of this event. It ended up being me. So I was only two hours into Gen Con and I already had a new game!
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2. Board Game: Dawn Patrol: Role Playing Game of WW I Air Combat [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:4891]
Board Game: Dawn Patrol: Role Playing Game of WW I Air Combat
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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The second Wednesday event I got into was a learn to play game for Dawn Patrol. This is the only game that has been played at every Gen Con ever. This is one of those games that has a dedicated following, and there are people who come to the con to play a lot of this game.

It is a game of WWI aerial combat. It was decent but the game also really showed it's age. There is a lot of record keeping and charts. Another aspect of the era it came out of is the game is made with having campaigns in mind, so it is possible to develop and maintain a roster of leveled up pilots.

For the dedicated fans I see why this game has appeal and why it has endured.
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3. Board Game: Sushi Go Party! [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:185]
Board Game: Sushi Go Party!
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
Indiana
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After the events, I headed to one of the convention center food courts because I knew there would be gaming there. I had plans to meet somewhere there, but I played this before hand with some local Indy gamers I knew.

It was a six player game. I more or less ignored one card type that required collecting three to get ten points. This was to my detriment because that seemed to be the winning strategy, I finished middle of the pack.
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4. Board Game: Federation Commander: Klingon Border [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:2469] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Federation Commander: Klingon Border
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
Indiana
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Before Gen Con I posted on a facebook group for this game to try and coordinate plays at Gen Con. The first was with a guy who was an old Star Fleet Battles player, likes Federation Commander, but has not been able to play it much.

I brought stuff for a couple of different scenarios and we did a Kzinti vs. Klingon one that involved capturing a neutral freighter.

I plotted a faster speed, beamed marines over to the freighter, and survived the initial pass fairly well. He lined up behind me, but was quickly scared off by a whole swarm of drones. He did some skillful maneuvering to escape what could have been disastrous, and then a series of bad anti-drone rolls made it so the drones were a threat.

While my missiles chased him, I got into a good firing position. After clearing the drones, he made a desperate gambit and did a high energy turn for an alpha strike. I weathered it decently gave some damage of my own.

I had held back a power in the shooting, but he did not. This allowed me to use a tractor beam and then I unloaded a new wave of drones to destroy the ship.

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5. Board Game: The Fox in the Forest [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:416]
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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After Federation Commander and some food, I met up with a friend from my game group and since it was just the two of us. I had brought this game just in case that happened, and it turned out it was one he was interested in playing. It went well for him, not so much for me, and he won in four hands.
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6. Board Game: The Mind [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:582]
Board Game: The Mind
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
Indiana
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Another member of our game group joined us and we played this game. In general, I am not a big fan of cooperative games. This particular play did not change my mind. We lost in the eighth round, and at the end I did feel this game is very much not for me.
 
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7. Board Game: Qwingo [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:8392]
Board Game: Qwingo
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
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I had plans to meet up with someone else, so this was the only game we had time to squeeze in. It fit the time length perfectly, and I squeaked out a victory.
 
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8. Board Game: Federation Commander: Klingon Attack [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked]
Board Game: Federation Commander: Klingon Attack
Sean Johnson
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When I posted in the Facebook group, two people responded. It has been almost a year since I played Federation Commander (which is one of my absolute favorites), and I got to play it twice in one day!

We played the other scenario I brought. This one also has a neutral transport, but it could only be towed. The guy I met up with wanted to use the frigates from the other scenario. He wanted to play the Klingons, so I once again had the Kzinti.

This guy was a really old school Star Fleet Battles player who used to play campaigns that would take a couple of years to resolve. He wanted to learn Federation Commander because the game play is stream lined ans faster.

He plotted a slow speed, which was a bit of a mistake against drones. It also hurt that he rolled badly on his attack, and I rolled really well. By the second round his speed was up, but the drones chased him off. This allowed me to make a maneuver , capture the freighter, and tow it to safety to fulfill the scenario condition. Even though I ended up winning, I think both of my opponents enjoyed playing.

After this game, I headed out to be ready for the first official day of Gen Con.
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9. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:367]
Board Game: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics
Sean Johnson
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It is my tradition to do an event on Thursday morning to stay out of the madness of the exhibition hall opening. This year my Thursday event was this game using the epic rules. This is similar to Memoir 44 Overlord where there are teams and and an overall commander. We did 3 on 3, and I was the British commander.

This battle had some really great back and forth to it. We started off really strong on the right side, and it seemed like we were going to be able to push and capture an objective. The French counter-attack was fierce. By time we finally pushed it back on the right flank, that whole section was emptied out on both sides.

As the fighting on the right slowed down, the French pushed hard on the center, where we had a victory objective held in the center of the map. Our British forces were dislodged, but we quickly came back, only to be kicked out again. We finally got it back a third time.

The entire time the left flank had been mostly quiet, and it was a bit of a joke during the first 2/3rds of the game. However, after we got the center back I was able to give the left flank commander a general advance card which opened up the left flank. This relieved pressure on the center, and we got the cards to push hard.

Unlike the other two sections there was not a lot of back and forth, just steady British gains and we reached the victory threshold.
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10. Board Game: SteamRollers [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:2049]
Board Game: SteamRollers
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
Indiana
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After my event I went into the main exhibition hall with my short list of games I wanted to check out of acquire. This was high on my list because of my wife. She likes pick up and deliver games, and she likes roll and write games. I sat down for a demo and after one turn I knew this was a must purchase for us.
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11. Board Game: Terraforming Mars: Prelude [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars: Prelude
Sean Johnson
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Terraforming Mars is currently my wife's favorite game, so when I picked up Steam Rollers I got the new expansion as well.
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12. Board Game: Critical Mass: Raijin vs Archon [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:5470] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
Board Game: Critical Mass: Raijin vs Archon
Sean Johnson
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Another game on my short list was this one. It uses simultaneous selection which I like. However, I passed on this one. One base game only has two different mechs, and it felt like there would not be a lot of replayability there.
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13. Board Game: Remnants [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:11118]
Board Game: Remnants
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
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This was another game on my short list and I got to do a play demo of it. The game has some fun ideas, I really liked that die rolling for resources is done in real time.

The game also seemed to do a good job with the theme. The game mechanisms are all about reinforcing scarcity. It felt like this game included the punishing pressure of a co-op game in a competitive game. I was not wild about that part. This is a game I would play, but I did not want to purchase.
 
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14. Board Game: Islebound: Metropolis Expansion [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
Board Game: Islebound: Metropolis Expansion
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
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While walking from booth to booth, I went by the Red Raven Games booth. They had this expansion on sale for $5. My wife and I have Islebound on our 10x10 list, so the infusion of new buildings will be a welcomed add-in.
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15. Board Game: Captive [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:3437]
Board Game: Captive
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
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One of my must buys was a Graphic Novel Adventure game. In the end I went with this one. I am really looking forward to getting into this.
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16. Board Game: Robotech: Ace Pilot [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:10781]
Board Game: Robotech: Ace Pilot
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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I do not know much about Robotech, but this was on my short list because it is a dice game based on shooting spaceships. I demoed the game at the booth, and I liked it. There is a grid of enemy ships that require so many hits to be destroyed. On a player's turn they roll dice and they are trying to get symbols to activate pilots who will deal damage in specific ways. Players get a total of three rolls to get the symbols needed.

It seems like a fun and unique take on a push your luck dice game. I was impressed enough and the price point of $25 was low enough that I picked it up.
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17. Board Game: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:140]
Board Game: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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Going into Gen Con this was my most anticipated game, so I pre-ordered it. I picked up my pre-order on Thursday. I know a couple of people who played it that night and they said good things. I am really looking forward to doing it myself.
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18. Board Game: Rainbow Knights [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:13804]
Board Game: Rainbow Knights
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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After I got through my short list, I started going through the hall stopping at what looked interesting and demoing whatever was open. This is a super fast playing game, where players have a stack of clear cards that trace a rainbow path across them. Players play the cards in real time with a slight overlap to create a tron light cycle effect. The goal is to be the first one to play out all of their cards or to be the last one standing.

It was a cute little game.
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19. Board Game: Sweet Jenny [Average Rating:6.57 Unranked]
Board Game: Sweet Jenny
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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This is a gambling style card game made by the company that makes the 7th Sea RPG. It is meant to be a game played within that universe. I did not care a whole lot for it and I thought it was just ok as a game. However, if I played the RPG playing it in session would be an immersive experience.
 
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20. Board Game: Most Wanted [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:6740]
Board Game: Most Wanted
Sean Johnson
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North Judson
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This game has a wild west outlaw theme, but it's central mechanism is forming basic poker hands. This is a great use of poker hands, but I felt like the game went on a little too long. Whenever a player loses a hand they got in on, they potentially lose points. I felt like this caused things to drag out a bit. Despite that, this is another game I do not need to own but I will happily play.
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21. Board Game: TAGS [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3959]
Board Game: TAGS
Sean Johnson
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This party game is in the same vein of Scatergories. A grid is created with different letters and different categories. Balls are seeded on this worth various points. A player than has fifteen seconds to name whatever they can that fits the category and begins with the letter. Personally, there are other party games I would rather play.
 
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22. Board Game: Unlock!: Mystery Adventures – The Nautilus' Traps [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:4072]
Board Game: Unlock!: The Nautilus' Traps
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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After leaving the main hall, I checked out the consignment store. Every year I look for Federation Commander/Star Fleet Battles Captain logs. find one I do not have more years than not. This year I found one. I also found this game.

My wife and I have not played this Unlock scenario yet, and a new copy was there for cheaper than we would find anywhere else.
 
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23. Board Game: Full Thrust [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:2951]
Board Game: Full Thrust
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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In the evening I had a Full Thrust Star Wars event. While it was not entirely un-fun, this event was probably my low point in Gen Con. I wanted to do this event for two reasons. First, I love spaceship combat games and I have always heard good comments about this system. Second, I love Star Wars.

This event was not my favorite for three reasons. First, teaching games, especially complex games, is hard. The rules explanation was over half an hour, it was meandering, and afterwards I barely felt like I had a grasp of what was going on.

Second I was not a big fan of the system. I know buckets of dice are fun, but this one had too many. This meant each salvo would probably have a lot of hits, and it would often reach a damage threshold. This required a disabled check roll for every single system in the damaged section. It took forever. In the scenario, I charged ahead after the objective while my team mate kept the rebels at bay. I was not involved and waited for about 30 minutes while this single round of combat resolved.

My final issue, is a minor one but a personal one. I love Star Wars, and this was not Star Wars. Star Destroyers do not shoot missiles, and they can not roll. I know this was Full Thrust with a Star Wars can of paint slapped on it, but I wanted it to feel a bit more like the source material.
 
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24. Board Game: Secret Hitler [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:179]
Board Game: Secret Hitler
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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After Full Thrust I had gotten an event ticket for Secret Hitler to close out the night.

The first game was kind of annoying because of a tactic one of the people took. It was a group of eight strangers, and he had claimed to have never played the game before. Early on, he purposely discarded a liberal policy card instead of enacting it. He admitted to it and claimed it was to try and earn the fascists trust. When he was told that the fascists all knew each other at the beginning, he claimed that he had missed that part and was not aware of it. Later when he was chancellor a second time, he broke the rules and showed everyone he was given two fascists cards. This, of course, was all an act. He had lied about never playing the game and was a fascists from the beginning. That ploy only worked because of the group being all strangers.

The second game was a bit more standard and the liberals won that one.
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25. Board Game: Firefly: The Game [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:331]
Board Game: Firefly: The Game
Sean Johnson
United States
North Judson
Indiana
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I started Friday morning bright and early with the math trade. I ended up making eight trades, and of all the games I recieved Firefly is the one I am most excited about. In addition to Firefly I also got the following:
London Dread
One Night Ultimate Alien
Wonderland
Traitor Mechanic
Don't Turn Your Back
Abaddon
Rise of the Zombies

I have participated in the Gen Con math trade for years, and this was far and away the best organized and ran the event has ever been.
 
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