An estimated 600+ new board games were released at GenCon 2018. That’s enough cardboard and plastic to fill the city dump at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
To commemorate this onslaught of new board games, I whittled it down in order to share my 7 Most Anticipated GenCon 2018 Board Game Releases. Since the release of that list, I have gone to GenCon, had a blast, plus have hauled games home (plus many more games) to give them a thorough play.
I’m now ready to now share the best games of GenCon 2018, after having now played or demoed oodles of them.
My 7 Favorite Board Games from GenCon 2018
1 Horizons by Daily Magic Games
Horizons is for 2-5 players 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 really enjoyed Horizons, particularly after getting a demo from the designer, Levi Mote. Getting it home, I also loved the quick playtime, which is something you don’t see in games like this, as they tend to be a long slog.
2 Everdell by Starling Games
Everdell was a game that wasn’t high on my radar going into GenCon 2018. I had missed the Kickstarter, so I wrote the game off, only giving it any attention when the publisher’s publicist reached out to me. I’m so glad she did!
The theming of Everdell can trick you. To be clear, it is 110% wonderful. But the woodland “critters” can make you think it is a children’s game. While older children will absolutely enjoy the game, there is plenty depth enough that adults will love it as well.
Everdell is a beautiful game aesthetically, plus it is also a beautifully designed game. Period.
3 Raids by IELLO
Players sail from island to island to collect viking plunder, even as they fight each other for better position. Raids has a beautiful and colorful game board to invites players to follow a “trail” around in order to plunder. But it is not your child’s Candyland.
Raids is a light-weight game that plays fast. Those type games have been money in my family of late, so I’m happy to have discovered Raids at GenCon 2018.
Here is my full look. [LINK] You can get Raids here for an affordable price.
4 Trash Pandas by Gamewright
Trash Pandas is for 2-4 players who have about 15-20 minutes to kill.
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.
The quick playtime is great and the silly theme works. My girls and I have played the game several times. I’m happy to report that I win, as a second grader has nothing on me. O’Doyle rules!
Here is my full look. [LINK] Trash Pandas is a steal at $12. Grab it here or ask your FLGS about it.
5 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 various terrain hexes.
Rise of Tribes is beautiful. But to have a civ game that is accessible and can play in under an hour is a wonderful thing. I loved it.
6 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.
Being that I love Century: Space Road, I had super high expectations for Century: Eastern Wonders. It didn’t disappoint.
You can get it here, plus it has already hit your FLGS.
7 Western Legends by Kolossal Games
I had missed the Kickstarter, so Western Legends was another game that wasn’t even on my radar until a publicist reached out to me.
I often like an Old West theme though, so I figured it was worth my time to at least give it a look. The first thing that struck me were the visuals. It is a beautiful game and the Old West theme is very well done visually.
But it was the demo that hooked me. The gameplay is solid and immersive. Even though it is mechanically strong, there is an incredible amount of story to the game. Interestingly, the game can go wildly different directions as well. Based upon your decision, you can become a Marshall, an outlaw or more, often through the course of one game! And those choices really make the game interesting, plus give it replayability.
I’m now a fan. The Kickstarter is now being treated as a pre-order portal, so I recommend requesting Western Legends at your FLGS.
GenCon 2018 had a smorgasbord of medium- to light-weight games with SHORT PLAYTIME, many of which have general appeal to families. I was pleased.
Although there were a couple of surprises, many of the games I was anticipated turned out even better then expected and kept their place on this list. Now we wait to see if they have staying power in an industry that is churning through new board games faster and faster.