Top Ten Gen Con Stories of 2016, Part One

Gen Con is huge, noisy, exhilarating, and intimidating all at the same time. Is it about buying games? Or playing games? Or seeing friends? Or making new ones? Regardless of why you went to Gen Con, here are our top ten stories that developed during the Best Four Days of Not Sleeping, 2016 edition:

 

#10 — NAUVOO GAMES GETS NEW LICENSE

Any Brandon Sanderson fans out there have to be pumped with the news that The Reckoners has been licensed by the guys that brought the excellent insider trading stock game, Stockpile. I actually visited with Seth Van Orden and Brett Sobol on Saturday after our demo of the Stockpile game, and they hinted that the game is in development and should be faithful to the series.

According to the press release:

Today, Nauvoo Games announces the acquisition of the license to design, produce, and distribute a board game based on The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson.

The Reckoners series is the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring the novels STEELHEART, FIREFIGHT, and CALAMITY. Each book hit the top of the charts upon it’s one of Brandon Sanderson’s most popular series to date. Featuring heart stopping action, laugh out loud quips, and some of the most unique superpowers, this is one of the top action-adventure young adult properties of the last few years.

The Reckoners board game, designed by Seth Van Orden and Brett Sobol, allows players to take on the roles of the novels’ protagonists and work together to save the world. In The Reckoners board game, players must overcome multiple ruthless and power-hungry ‘Epics’ – the equivalent of supervillains – that each have unique, game-impacting abilities. Players must decide how to resolve these competing priorities together to eliminate epics and ultimately win the game. How, when, and where you act will determine your victory or failure.

Consistent with Nauvoo Games’ mission, The Reckoners board game will be easy to learn, quick to capture your attention, and enjoyable to play over and over again. Experience the thrill of fast-paced action planning in The Reckoners, coming soon.

Easy to learn? Quick to capture attention? And enjoyable, too? Sounds like the perfect game.

#9 — RESTORATION GAMES

At The Dice Tower Live show on Friday, Rob Daviau announced the formation of a new company, Restoration Games. I can’t describe the company any better than he and his partner do on their home page:

We take games from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and fix them up for the modern gamer. Because every game deserves another turn.

Truer words have not yet been said. If I went by sheer buzz, this was one of the “buzziest” stories during Gen Con or in the Twitterverse. Their brilliant marketing ploy was to ask a gamers attending the con (or you can go to their website and vote) a fun question, “What favorite game from your childhood would you like to see brought back but updated?” Holy meeples, Batman, that’s like asking the Pope if he would like to say a few words about forgiveness.

By the way, the only true answer to that questions is “Dark Tower.” You’re welcome.

Good luck to Restoration Games, and can’t wait to see their first production.

#8 — GEN CON NUMBERS — HOLDING STEADY???

According to various news outlets, Gen Con LLC pulled out all the stops to increase the turnstile attendance for this year. The for-profit company added tons of new exhibitors, expanded into Lucas Oil Stadium with True Dungeon and Cosplay events, and eased the crunch on gamer wallets with a “value priced” four day badge.

Did it work? Is Gen Con topping out?

The seven year streak of ever increasing turnstile attendance continued, with over 201,852 attendees in 2016. That figure was up 2.5% from the previous year’s attendance. The downside was that unique attendance was flat, ending just over 60,000 (about the same as last year, hence the term “flat”, Mortimer.)

The 4 day badges were popular, with a 4% increase in unique holders. And the events themselves were much higher. Did you know that there were over 16,500 different ticketed events? I didn’t (especially since so many were sold out by the time the Krewe got serious about attending.)

Next year, Gen Con turns 50. That will generate one heck of a marketing push, I’m sure. They have already expanded into the stadium, so I am not sure what else the con can do to increase attendance, but let’s keep an eye out over the next year. See you August 17-20 in Indy!

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#7 — QUIET GAMES MADE HEADWAY AND STOOD OUT FROM CROWD

One of the pleasant surprises at Gen Con was the fact that “little” games from “little” companies can really rock the convention. Sure, the big titles (SeaFall, Cry Havoc, etc.) dominated news coverage leading up to the con. Sure, there was a mad scramble for those games when the Con opened.

But, everywhere we went, people were talking about smaller companies and smaller games.  Case in point — Celestia was being played everywhere and selling for a good price (I even saw a small group playing it behind the “stage” at The Secret Cabal meet up on Saturday night.)  3 Wishesseemed to be selling well, and a tiny company like Formal Ferret Games could have a big hit with The Networks, even up against all of the marketing hype of the Asmodees of the world.

That’s great news for our hobby, and great news for smaller publishers. Gamers love to game, and if you give a gamer a great time, word will spread.

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#6 — BGG HOTNESS = BIG HIT!!

If you were hanging around the Board Game Geek forums right before con (and if you weren’t, are you really a board gamer or did you just stumble onto this page because you like Cajun food???), then inevitably you saw a wonderful thing happen. Somewhere, somebody mentioned playing hot games from the 2016 releases.

Bingo bango, the next thing you know, Eric Martin and his wonderful crew at BGG took over. They sent the call out to the publishers to bring in copies of the best and brightest games from 2016. There were at least 60+ games in the room when the Krewe de Gumbo made our way to the Hotness Room!

What a great idea — with the mayhem going on in the Exhibitors Hall and in the board game area, it was nice to find a quiet area away from the craziness where you could sit down for two hours with your friends and try out that hot game you have been wanting to see. We here at the Gumbo went straight for Imhotep, by Phil Harding-Walker, a game that so many people have raved about. Unfortunately, none of the members of the Krewe de Gumbo own the game, so it was never going to get played until we checked it out.

Three plays later, the game is a firm hit in our group (and has already been played again at our Gumbo Gen Con-Con.)

Hopefully, the crew at BGG (that’s Board Game Geek, not Board Game Gumbo, Mortimer,) can keep the BGG Hotness Room going in 2016.

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You are halfway there through the Biggest Stories from Gen Con 2016. Come back soon for the second half, and as always, we welcome your feedback.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.

 

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