GenCon Recap – Demo Games

GenCon Recap – Demo Games

One of the big things that you do at GenCon is go around and shop, because there are about a million dealer booths. Okay, a million is well over the top, but there are a lot of them. And you can probably spend your whole time walking around the dealer hall and probably still have missed something and not tested all the games available for demo. I was able to demo a lot of games that I found quite interesting, so I want to highlight a few.

Deranged – This game from HobbyWorld out of Russia is still in demo/beta phase, but the quality of the production seems like it’s very close to done. And it was one of the games on my radar from before the con. I liked this idea that you were having to get rid of curses to escape this town. But you also had another secret objective. But there’s a chance that you’re going to end up becoming “deranged”. Basically, there’s a chance that you’re going to turn into the monsters that you’re trying to avoid in the town, and the only way to save yourself is to kill a human. The game play was a lot of fun, and the game plays quite quickly. It was one of the highlight demos from the con.

Homebrewers – I brew my own beer, or I have in the past, and I have never been that interested in the theme of brewing beer in a board game before. But I saw this one on the table, and it looked simpler than some of the other ones, so I decided to demo it. It was a lot of fun. The game is basically an engine builder, where you try and balance brewing four different types of beers, but you can make them better by adding ingredients to the beer that will gain you more money or cause your beers to score better at the summer beer festival and Oktoberfest. So you’re trying to build up this engine that is going to make your brewing as efficient as possible. The game also plays really fast, which was something that I was worried about with a lot of engine building games.

Bottom of the 9th – Not a new game, but an interesting little baseball game. Instead of having to play 9 innings, this game basically just puts you in the pressure situation of dealing with pushing a run or two across to win the game in the bottom of the 9th inning. The game plays fast, and offers some luck, but also some decision. I’m not sure that the game is for me, simply because I don’t have someone whom I’d play it with all that often. But the concept of the game was interesting, and it seemed to work well for what it was supposed to do.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

God of War – One of the bigger games at the con, this was one that we actually tested out fairly late and we waited in time to get demoed. God of War is based on the video game(s) and you take on different characters as they fight against the hive of dark elves. The game offers some interesting choices for deck building, and has something I like, which is that you add cards you get to the top of your deck, so you aren’t waiting for them to randomly show up. The demo game, was, unfortunately a bit easy, which was intentional, but that meant that while you got a feel for the game, it was hard to tell how challenging the actual game would be. I liked the theme, and I liked how it played, but I’ll be curious to see as reviews come out, how hard the game actually is.

Final Hour – If games of Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror are too long, Final Hour focuses down on that last battle with the cultists as all you’re trying to do is figure out what the ritual is, before time runs out. This game is supposed to play in two hours, and I can see it playing in even less than that once you know what you’re doing. It’s really a puzzle game as you try and figure out what two symbols are missing from the board, but with a couple of interesting mechanics in it. You get a random, I believe, action that you’re going to take, and you have two different parts, move/attack or move/search, but you don’t know which one you’ll take for sure. Because the first two people in “initiative” get to move/attack and last two move/search. But you might not have the low number card you want to go faster and attack, so you’re move/search hurts the team. The game seemed like it would have some nice pressure to it. Not sure if there’s room in my Lovecraft collection for the game, though.

Dreams of Tomorrow – Not all demos are good, unfortunately. This one is hard to know what I actually think about it. There were two factors that made it hard to really demo this game. The first was that the person who got us into the demo was way to aggressive about it. We almost felt trapped into doing it, and then the person who was running the demo was clearly done running demos of the game. The concept was interesting, you’re trying to create a series of dreams to give you points but really to send back in time to stop the world from being destroyed. But while the rondel mechanic (taking actions in a circle so that you can’t get to some actions right when you want to) was interesting, the game itself was more of an abstract puzzle with a few little twists to it. I don’t think, even with a good demo I would have loved this game, but the demo definitely made it worse.

Letter Jam – So, this is a game that I was excited for going into the convention. And because of that, we actually ended up demoing it twice. The reason for that is that the first person we demoed with was clearly done with running demos, either for the day, but it seemed like for the con, on day one, and one of the people was not that interested in actually playing it. Letter Jam is a cooperative game, and the person who I was there with, didn’t realize that until half way through. But the concept for the game, a Hanabi/Mastermind style word game, is interesting, so we decided to try it again a couple of days later. We actually avoided getting into the first demo to get into because it was the same person doing the demo as the first time, but the group we had for the second time and the person running the game, which isn’t something that’s needed for the game, did a great job, and it was so much more fun. At that point it was sold out though, otherwise I would have probably come home with it.

Zona – Another game that I really wanted to see on the table. This game is very interesting as you fight monsters and search for secrets to be the first to get into the vault around Chernobyl. So it’s an alternate world with monsters and magic, but a ton of fun. You have dice that you rolled for combat, but there are ways to mitigate them. The game was also interesting, because the people demoing it were only taught the rules, since the rule book was still in Polish and cards had just gotten translated into English. The aesthetic and game play, though, were a lot of fun, from what we got for it, and I want to see a more finished version of the game, but if it plays like it did, I think it’s a game that I’d want to get.

Now, I know that there are so many more games that we demoed at the convention. There was a wrestling game, Just One (for the fun of it), Iron Forest to see the prototype, and more. Like I said, we could have just done demos the whole time and it would have been a blast.

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