Gumbo’s 2017 GEN CON Preview — Hot & Spicy Games at Gen Con 50 – PART UN

From its humble little beginnings in Gary Gygax’s backyard in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to the four day spectacle sprawling over downtown Indianapolis, GEN CON 50 is ready to celebrate a half-century of bringing the gamer community together.  Part trade show and part adult summer camp, GEN CON organizers have promised to bring the heavy this year in celebration of its golden anniversary.

The Krewe de Gumbo will be there again this year! Bradly, Bryan, B.J., Dave and Carlos will be roaming the halls looking for The Next Great Game — and playing lots of Star Wars Destiny, too.

But what games are the members of the Krewe really hoping to see, play and buy? The Gumbo guys, along with contributions from Gumbo contributor, Matthew Ward of The Dukes of Dice and WAM! Boys, give you a list — in no particular order – of games that are getting some buzz.

Here’s Part Deux and The Final Part of the series.

Ca fait chaud! These are Board Game Gumbo’s hot games of GEN CON 50!



Published by Blue Orange Games (2017), booth # 1811, designed by Hjalmar Hach with art by Sabrina Miramon.

Bradly – This is probably the most visually appealing game I’m aware of at Gen Con this year. It looks absolutely stunning on the table for such a basic theme. Essentially you are placing trees and trying to get as much light for those trees as possible to help them grow. The ‘sun’ rotates around the board each turn, shining light on different areas. Players can plant varying height of trees, so it’s possible for someone to place a tall tree next to someone’s small tree and therefore cut off the small tree from getting any sun. There’s a very cutthroat element to this game that doesn’t come through immediately as you look at it; who expects that in a game about growing trees

BJ – Yes, I got to watch Tom Vasel teach this one t Dice Tower Con. Very impressive looking on the table! An interesting theme, good production, fairly intuitive rule set — early pick for a Spiele de Jahres nomination? Temp rating – Scorching.

Bryan – I am also stunned by the response to this game. It never would have been on my radar if the community as a whole wasn’t so wholeheartedly endorsing it. Yet the more I watch it played and see just how well the game is done, the more interested I am in it.


Ex Libris

Published by Renegade Game Studios (2017), booth #2211, designed by Adam P. McIver with art by the very talented, Jacqui Davis.

Bradly – Gnomish Librarians. What, you need more than that? That was all I needed to be interested in this game, but to each their own. Ex Libris is a worker placement game where you are sending your gnomish meeples (gneeples?) to collect books and place them in your player area. At the end of the game you get bonus points for various things, like if your books are in alphabetical order, or if they’re in tidy rows. There’s also a good collection of players powers, the rooms change each round to provide new areas to send workers, etc. This is basically a worker placement game with a nice puzzly addition added to it with how you collect and store your books, but the theme is just, well, unique.

Matthew Ward (WAM! Boys, Dukes of Dice) – Renegade has a good eye for games and this is hitting some sweet spots for me. I enjoy the planning of Worker Placement and the idea that the spots will shift and change seems like fun. There is something about walking into a library and feeling a sense of adventure for me. Layer the fantasy theme on it and I am really hoping I get drawn into the potential narrative. There’s not enough out on this game as of yet, but it’s high on my radar.



Published by Mayfair Games (2017) booth # 117, designed by Phil Walker-Harding with art from Klemens Franz.

BJ – A great tile laying game that I got to play at Dice Tower Con. It has been hard to get but hopefully they will have copies at Gen Con 50. A more cut throat gamery version of Cottage Garden, where it is a race to build the best bear park and score the high point tiles. I love Cottage Garden, and have it already, so I can only give this one a temperature rating of Warm Enough for Spring, but it is may-buy-if-nothing-else-jumps-out for me.

Matthew Ward (WAM! Boys, Dukes of Dice) – I think Barenpark is a tile laying game that makes 4 player Patchwork a real hit. Phil Walker-Harding knows something about creating accessible games, and the theme is fantastic. If only the setup was as simple and fun as the game play. Mayfair did a great job with the Klemens Franz art, and I hope this one gets the attention it deserves.


Flip Ships

Published by Renegade Game Studios (2017), booth #2211, designed by Kane Klenko, with art by Kwanchai Moriya and Anita Osburn.

BJ – Flip Ships is a co-operative dexterity game from Kane Klenko (Fuse, Flatline, Covert) that plays like Space Invaders the Board Game; alien ships are slowly attacking our planet, and up to four players work cooperatively to flip their ships onto the cards. Each player has special powers that they can unlock, and the powers get stronger as the aliens get more closer to landing. The big battle ends with ships getting flipped into a 3D mother ship. Looks great on the table. Temperature rating — Rocket fuel ignition; This is a must buy for me — if I can get it before it sells out.

Matthew Ward (WAM! Boys, Dukes of Dice) – There are few dexterity games I am interested in playing, but Flip Ships is one of them. There’s a real challenge in getting those discs to land where you want, and the tension ramps up quickly. The theme is great and Kwanchai Moriya did a superb job on the art. This is definitely a great game for a beer and trash talking game night.



Published by Fireside Games (2017), booth #1349, designed by Justin De Witt with art from Víctor Pérez Corbella.

BJ – I love co-op games, especially when there is an element of danger! I want there to be a tough challenge but one that is beatable even with new gamers, who are often the easiest to get to play a new co-op. Here comes Fireside Games with their latest, this time not about defending a castle but instead defending a huge forest from wild fire. You can tell Justin spent a lot of time researching the theme — the tools, the moves, the danger, and the personalities shine through. I’m demoing this for Fireside all week so come by booth #1349 and try it with me. Temp rating — wildfire, of course.

Bryan – It seems like a good light co-op game. Something that can be played with anyone. I really like games like this for getting people into the hobby because not everyone wants to jump right into something super competitive on their first run. There are more and more families coming into the hobby and this is where they start.img_0080

Wasteland Express Delivery Service

Published by Pandasaurus Games (2017), booth #2853, designed by Jonathan GilmourBen Pinchback, and Matt Riddle, with art by Riccardo BurchielliJosh Cappel, and Jason D. Kingsley.

Bradly – I was lucky enough to get a copy of this game through a demo service I volunteer for, and I can see why it has so much talk surrounding it. First of all, the production is top notch. Everything from the art, to the components of the game itself, are really stellar. The organizer that comes with the game is as good as ones you’d spend an additional $40 on from another company. Pandasaurus really went out of their way to make this game excellent. And the gameplay is really excellent as well. Essentially the game is just pick up and deliver, but you can choose to focus on acquiring goods through buying them from colonies or by taking them from raiders. I won’t say it’s my favorite pick up and deliver game, Oracle of Delphi is still at the top of that list for me, but especially if you have a love for the post-apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’-esque setting, and you enjoy pick up and deliver games in general, you’re going to love this game.

Matthew Ward (WAM! Boys, Dukes of Dice) – I picked up Merchants and Marauders, because I love pick up and deliver and being a Pirate. The one thing that would make this better is a post apocalyptic theme with simpler mechanics and I think Gilmour, Pinchback, and Riddle might have just done this for me. I am still waiting for my copy to come in, but I am incredibly excited.


Fate of the Elder Gods

Published by Greater Than Games (Fabled Nexus), booth # 1343, designed by Christopher KirkmanRichard Launius, and Darrell Louder.
Bryan – Now this game has my interest and has for a while. It is more euro style than one would expect from something based in Cthulhu. The players are not elder gods or people trying to stop them, but play as the cultist who are trying to bring their god into this world. With a variety of mechanics and an interesting theme this game looks like a fun time.

And then there are the games that we cannot buy, but are available for demoing:


Alien Artifacts

Published by Portal Games, booth # 1850, designed by Marcin Senior Ropka and Viola Kijowska.

Bradly – Having already demoed this at BGGCon last year, I’m a little surprised it still hasn’t been released. I plan to demo it again at Gencon and I hope the extra time has led to a truly excellent game. It would be disappointing if they spent all that time and it’s still similar to what it was last year. Having said that, what it was last year was excellent. A 4-player 4X card game that plays in about 30 to 40 minutes. It’s more complicated than something like Jumpdrive but still fills that same niche. (editor’s note: for a more in depth look, see Bradly’s excellent previous blog post here.) 


The Networks: Executives

Published by Formal Ferret Games, booth # 2665, designed by Gil Hova, expected in 2018.

BJ – I am a big fan of Wordsy and to a lesser extent The Networks. It wasn’t that the Networks was a bad game — in fact, I love the theme, the card play, and the humor. There just didn’t seem to be enough there to entice my group to play more than once, and I am hoping that this expansion provides the depth it needs to make this a true six out of six game. Verdict: must play!

Check back tomorrow for seven more hot games, plus a few more games that are only available for demo at GEN CON 50. Tell us what you think by by hitting us on Twitter or on on Facebook.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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