Depending upon the parameters you use, there are between 340 and 515 new board games with a GenCon adjacent release date. Either way, that’s a dump truck worth of cardboard and plastic that wouldn’t fit in a Bagster if you decided you didn’t like them and wanted to throw them out, forcing you to swing for the costly 20 yard dumpster.
Being that it’s expensive to buy the games–plus we just established that it’s even expensive to throw out the games–we need to make good decisions about which new board games we buy.
I’m not you; I’m me. But I’ll share my 7 Most Anticipated GenCon 2018 Board Game Releases, plus give you a little info into why I’m looking forward to the games. I’ve played three of these (due to early release copies from publishers), meaning most are brand new to me, forcing me to narrow down a list of 7 out of hundreds, using only the few tidbits of marketing copy we’ve seen. But maybe this list will help you get a sense of some of the interesting new board games hitting the market.
Click those first links for expanded pre-release looks.
My 7 Most Anticipated GenCon 2018 Board Game Releases
1 Horizons by Daily Magic Games
Horizons is for 2-5 players, recommended for 8+, and plays at about 20 minutes a person.
In Horizons, you are a star-faring species taking the first steps into a new galaxy. A 3x game, you eXplore new worlds, eXploit valuable resources, and eXpand your alliances! You build colonies to hold onto control in increasingly crowded star systems.
In 44 years, I’ve never grown tired of the space theme, so I’m digging this one. I also love the quick playtime, which is something you don’t see in games like this, as they tend to be a long slog. The artwork is bright and colorful and the MRSP is $50, a steal for what looks like is in the box.
I’ll have this in my hands before the first day of GenCon wraps!
2 Gizmos by CMON
Gizmos is for 2-4 players, recommended head-scratchingly for 14+, and plays in about 45 minutes.
Themed with the trappings of a science fair, players want to built contraptions within the game in order to get things done faster. Using four types of marbles plucked from the 3D marble dispenser to represent “energy,” players purchase and construct new additions to their gizmo. As players build, new attachments might trigger a chain reactions that lets you do even more on your turn.
CMON has a lot of games in this general genre that will be available at GenCon 2018 and I’m there for all of them. Gizmos has a 3D marble dispenser for heaven’s sake! I must have it. Besides, it’s by Phil Walker-Harding, who has been blowing up of late. The MRSP is only $35 and my girls will love it.
3 Dragon Castle by CMON
Dragon Castle is for 2-4 players, recommended for 8+, and plays in just 30-40 minutes.
This is a game that boasts of being freely inspired by Mahjong. During your turn, you take a pair of identical tiles from the central “castle” (known as the Dragon Castle) that was created during setup by stacking sharp-looking “Mahjong-style” dominoes into an ordered pattern. Players then place them on their player board to build their own castle.
There are special shrines involved and “spirit” cards of some type, but they honestly had me at Mahjong. A fresh twist on on a classic is not a bad angle to take, particularly when it has been shined up as beautifully as CMON has done it.
A few good spatial / pattern recognition games are always good to have in your collection and I look forward to introducing this to my girls. A MRSP of $50 felt steppingstones but then I looked at some pre-release photos of the components and realized this will be a heavy box of goodness.
4 Raids by IELLO
Players sail from island to island to collect viking plunder, plus fight each other for better position. The game has a beautiful and colorful game board and players follow a “trail” around in order to plunder. I’m not sure exactly how the gameplay works, but I’m basic and I saw Vikings and the beautiful board and cool bits and I was smitten.
Raids is another light-weight game that plays fast. Those type games have been money in my family of late, so I’m hoping Raids will add to that.
The MSRP on Raids is $42.
5 Trash Pandas by Gamewright
Trash Pandas is for 2-4, recommended for 8+, and plays in just 15 minutes.
In Trash Pandas, players are raccoons who are pilfering through trash cans for food. It’s a push your luck game, so players are trying to acquire more cards via rolling dice, but must stash them before they get busted and are shooed away with nothing.
Stop judging me. Stop it! I stand by my excitement for a game called Trash Pandas. The quick playtime is great and it has a silly theme. My girls are always asking to play a quick game and I’m sick of Sushi Go, so I’m thinking a quick 15 minute game like Trash Panda will be a big hit in our house.
The MRSP is a minuscule $12, which is much, much less than what you’d pay to call the local animal control.
6 Rise of Tribes by Breaking Games
Rise of Tribes is for 2-4 players, recommenced for 10+, and plays in as little as half an hour.
This is a Civilization-style game where players control a tribal faction in prehistoric times that’s looking to grow, move, gather, and lead their people. The board is modular, composed of hexes in various terrain types. Players roll two dice each turn, then may select from four actions. The power of your action depends on your die roll plus a value on an action card.
It was a former Kickstarter (I think) and it looks beautiful. But to have a civ game that is accessible and can play in under an hour is a wonderful thing, and one I’m looking forward to trying.
The MRSP is $50.
7 Century Eastern Wonders by Plan B Games
Century: Eastern Wonders is for 2-4 players ages 8+. It plays in 30-45 minutes.
Designed by Emerson Mastuuchi, Century: Eastern Wonders is the followup to Century Spice Road, one of my favorite games. This time players take to the high seas in the role of merchants seeking to prosper in the exotic Indonesian islands. Using a modular hex board not unlike Catan, players sail their tiny ship maple around to collect and upgrade spice cubes.
Century: Eastern Wonders can also be combined with Century: Spice Road to create a new gaming experience called Sand To Sea! It’s pretty slick and I love pretty much everything Emerson Mastuuchi touches.
The MRSP is $40 but I’ve been so looking forward to this one that I’d pay a million bucks for it.
A certain sub-set of nerds will be frustrated that this year’s GenCon doesn’t feature as many big box, dense, miniatures-heavy games as you might have seen in the past. And they won’t be wrong. While there are a few (I’m sure I’ll snatch a copy of the deep, genre-heavy Too Many Bones: Undertow as well), those brain-buster games aren’t the tentpole games at this year’s Con.
Instead, there is a smorgasbord of medium- to light-weight games with SHORT PLAYTIME, many of which have general appeal to families. I’m there for that.
Now, time will tell if these 7 games have staying power in the industry or if they were simply regrettable purchases from GenCon 2018: The Best Four Days in Gaming. For now, I am plutonium cardboard-grade excited.