“Wrestling of bodies strengthens them, this is a wrestling of minds, in the conduct of life, caution and circumspection, foresight in looking for advantages and discovering disadvantages. Consideration of consequences. It teaches the consequences of rashness, of inattention to our affairs, of neglect, of circumspection – ’tis a constant Lesson of Morality.”
– Benjamin Franklin, “The First American,” Founding Father, Manuscript on “Morals of Chess”, (1732)
Truly an original American “renaissance man,” Benjamin Franklin was somewhat of an enigma. Although a prodigious innovator, he never patented any of his inventions; noting he was “glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.” Reputed to be fond of the drink and the ladies; but not as a woodpusher. Come on people. (Woodpusher: [noun] def. A weak chessplayer; connotes someone who moves pieces around without any plan.) One of the best Chess players on newly christened American soil, he authored a pamphlet on the “Morals of Chess.” His words above make clear Big Ben understood the importance of games in our everyday lives.
One of Franklin’s more famous witticisms was: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And thus, we pick up where Part I of this series left off, again emphasizing the importance of planning your upcoming trip to GenCon’s dealer room to maximize your enjoyment. This time I preview smaller game manufacturers from the letters M-Z.
Mesa Boardgames will descend upon the dealer room with their angels v. demons game Ragami. Reviewed before its release, it takes place in a city where “there are always people with problems,” (sounds like the one I live in). Angels compete to vanquish marauding demons in a conflict driven VP chase. Perhaps they will also be hauling their sea-borne discovery game, Caravelas, or a bottle or two of Vintage.
What, you ask, does “this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore [mean] in croaking “Nevermore [Games]?” Well, it croaks, or clucks: “Chicken Caesar!” no doubt! You like I will be kicking yourself for not thinking of this clever political roost based on a luncheon staple. Their recently successful Kickstarter project for the game has also guaranteed a forthcoming expansion. Game play promises to be full of politics, backstabbing and flavor. Nevermore Games will hopefully be demoing their other project, Mars Needs Mechanics, (obviously a Hoodoo Gurus reference), where players represent engineers and tinkerers competing for a chance at space flight. Show some emotion and strut by their booth.
Not all games have to be “theme related” to be fun, or featured at the Con. In fact, with kids of my own, I like to come home with a few “family games” we all can enjoy. While hiking around the hall, stop by Moosetache Games booth and make a game of it with their titles Hike and Rowboat. Both are quick family oriented award winning games at a great price-point. They promise cognitive learning from the gameplay, and have earned awards for being educational and fun. Wattsalpoag Games will showcase their dice rolling zoo and animal management game, A Fistful of Penguins.
When Cranium first came out, I thought it was genius, and provided a welcome break from boring family holiday get-together fare like Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble. Now Wiggity Bang! Games has taken that great idea, and made it more fun in Furt. With a huge splash of humor the interactive party game scene just got a lot more interesting. Perfect for teens of all ages, Furt just sounds funny to say for cripes sakes. The “Furt Junior” title, Magic Feather is great for your shorties 7 and up. My only question on these two is their sustainability and replayability after a few sessions.
North Star Games’ highly successful party games, Wits and Wagers and Say Anything, each get family versions. Speaking of family versions, Pajaggle will have its line of dexterity and brain-teaser puzzle games available, which look like fun, spacial recognition workouts for your brain. Looking to hook your kids into RPG-ing at an early age? Well, you might pick up Protagonist Games’ RAWR! The rules are easy to learn, kid friendly, and perfect for introductory, family RPG-gaming.
You can’t miss with any of these games, and if the kids are not coming, this is a great way to get them a “souvenir” that the whole family can enjoy.
If you are in the know, then you will stop by MYNDzei (pronounced “Mind’s Eye”) Games’ booth for Pirates of Gold Cove, a trick taking card game for kids of all ages. Wishing Tree Games invites you to curry the favor of the Seven Sisters, each named after one of the seven deadly sins, in a hand-management, worker-placement, Euro-style board/card game.
In the “name says it all” category, PM Games’ Biomechanic Dino Battles pits your, well, biomechanical dinosaurs against each other in, um, battles. Rather Dashing Games has one on their hands, Four Taverns, where every great adventure begins. Players compete to develop the best watering hole in the land by sponsoring the most dashing and successful plunderers. Polish off your best pick up lines and add chicken wings to the menu and you may just win it all.
Sirlin Games will be packing its trio of quick and easy games playable right out of their boxes, Yomi, Puzzle Strike and Flash Duel. The latter has seven different game modes and simulates a sparring match between two players getting ready for a big tournament. Studio 9 Games’ dual offerings Villagers & Villains and Treasures & Traps are relatively inexpensive card games that can be played in less than half an hour. Checking into the “this and that” game title category is Prolific Games’ “Flapjacks and Sasquatches.” Bring your took and back-bacon and be prepared to chop some wood.
Tasty Minstrel, capitalizing on a run of successful Kickstarter Campaigns, may have their newest game to show off, Ground Floor, a business building worker placement board game. They most certainly will be featuring Eminent Domain, a role selection space themed deck-building game that has received good reviews. [News Flash!!!] Just released on Boardgamegeek, they will also be demoing Kings of Air and Steam! Woot! End of the line buddy, I’m gonna be camping out for that one.
You have got to feel good about Two Lantern Games’ story. A husband and wife team, they set out to make interesting, replayable games for two. Their first title, Morels, while mushroom themed, plays like a walk in the woods, with many layers of strategy and yet, can be learned in minutes. Check out the designer, Brent Povis, tell you everything you need to know about playing, and look for much more to come from them in 2013.
Save some time for Thornhenge Games’ Kickstarter project, Lyssan. The components and art look pretty good in an Arthurian/medieval style combat, board control game. And, as would be fitting, on your way out, take a few with you playing Van Ryder Games’ nihilistic zombiepocolypse “If I’m Going Down…” Van Ryder has taken all the suspense out of the gameplay as you are assured to lose your life in the end, but asks the question, “how many zombies can you take out before you breathe your last?”
The Game Crafter folks will be there, and anyone interested in the self-publishing craze should stop in and talk to them first hand about what makes a successful game.
DO NOT go to GenCon and be a Woodpusher! Of any definition. My next piece(s) will turn the bright lights on the larger game companies and their new products releasing at the Con. Again, let us know if you have any special requests or games you would like to see reviewed in future posts, and we will try to get a game or two in!