Gen Con is a premiere event for board game fanatics. Publishers launch their latest titles and fans get their first peek.
This article is broken down into two sections. First are 13 games the author is excited to check out. This is followed by the top 10 games via fan vote on BoardGameGeek.com. Which game piques your interest the most? Leave a comment or hit us up on Twitter @TheGamesLetter and let us know.
One of the hardest tickets to get for Gen Con 2023 was for Lorcana, selling out almost instantly. From the publisher:
Disney Lorcana is a trading card game (TCG) that features Disney characters in both original and reimagined art styles that live in an all-new world with unique and magical gameplay.
The game is set in the rich and fantastical world of Lorcana, a combination of the words "lore" and "arcana". Players will take on the mantle of Illumineer, a powerful sorcerer, and band together Disney characters from Lorcana's "The Great Illuminary", a treasury of all Disney songs and stories ever made.
Find Disney Lorcana at booth 2001.
Tales from the Red Dragon Inn
Tired of just having your favorite characters from the Red Dragon Inn series drink and have fun? Me either, but the latest offering from SlugFest Games takes the adventures out of the bar, and into the world. From the publisher:
An explosion in the basement of the Red Dragon Inn launches our heroes on the adventure of their lives! Evil schemes are in motion - can the adventurers thwart them before it’s too late?
Tales from the Red Dragon Inn is a cooperative tactical combat game set in the well-loved fantasy world of adventurers and tavern brawls. The scenario driven campaign will pit players against unique challenges presented by each of the fully illustrated maps. Band together with your friends and with a bit of luck and careful maneuvering, you’ll complete your party’s objective…before your enemies achieve their own! Lay out your map and it’s on toward adventure! No dungeon master or assembly required!
Find Tales from the Red Dragon Inn at booth 2119, or on Amazon.
A beautiful looking game about stamp collecting might be the game I didn’t realize I needed before now. From the publisher:
Seek out prestigious stamps and compete to build the most lucrative collection in Penny Black. In each round, choose which three stamps to add to your collection, then strategically place them in your stamp album to score the most points based on your collection criteria. Each player's criteria varies, and there's no telling which stamps will be available next.
Keep an eye out for the Penny Black, the world's first adhesive postage stamp that ushered in the art of stamp collecting – and that is a highly sought-after prize in this game since it can enhance the value of your album. The player with the most valuable collection after ten rounds wins!
Find Penny Black at booth 1907.
The popular board game Scythe gets a sequel called Expeditions. From the publisher:
The sequel to Scythe sends players on a new adventure into Siberia, where a massive meteorite crashed near the Tunguska River, awakening ancient corruption. An expedition led by Dr. Tarkovsky ventures into the taiga to learn about the meteorite and its impact on the land. Itching for adventure, heroes from the war privately fund their own expeditions to Siberia, hoping to find artifacts, overcome challenges, and ultimately achieve glory.
Expeditions is a competitive, card-driven, engine-building game of exploration. Play cards to gain power, guile, and unique worker abilities; move your mech to mysterious locations and gain cards found among the tiles; use workers, items, meteorites, and quests to enhance your mech; and use power and guile to vanquish corruption.
Find Expeditions at booth 2909 or on Amazon.
Sheep herders, beware. It’s the age of dinosaur herding, and your flock might be lunch. From the publisher:
The era of the dinosaurs is here! Your goal in Chomp is to form herds of dinos and make sure they are all fed. Herbivores and carnivores both need food sources, but if the carnies are not properly fed, they don't mind chomping an herbie to fill their bellies!
You can find Chomp at booth 1641.
Ierusalem: Anno Domini
Can you gain enough influence to sit next to Jesus at The Last Supper? Fin out in Ierusalem: Anno Domini. From the publisher:
Jerusalem, spring 33 AD. A crowd gathers at the city gates to welcome Jesus of Nazareth as he prepares to celebrate Easter with his apostles and followers. With a revolutionary message, he has garnered supporters everywhere but also looks of suspicion among religious authorities. The Last Supper will soon be celebrated and the fate of one of the most influential characters in human history will be sealed.
In Ierusalem Anno Domini, each player represents one of the communities of followers of Jesus of Nazareth who, coming to Jerusalem from nearby towns and villages, want to approach the place of the Last Supper and position themselves as close as possible to the seats of Jesus and his apostles.
You can find Ierusalem Anno Domini at booth 2719 or on Amazon.
Kutná Hora: The City of Silver
Create an empire by mining and refining silver in the 14th century. From the publisher’s description:
Join other ambitious guild leaders in mining and developing the famous City of Silver during its period of rapid economic growth and expansion in the 14th century — from the first discovery of silver near the cistercian monastery to the construction of Kutná Hora, which quickly became one of the most important cities in central Europe.
Kutná Hora is a historical, asymmetrical city building euro game for 2-4 players that features a real-life supply and demand experience where every action you take has an impact on the game’s dynamic economic systems.
Mine ore and smelt it into a fortune of silver for expanding this beautiful historic city, but take care to balance your personal goal advancement with the need to further the city’s growth. Everything is connected, and sometimes the path to personal victory relies on the prosperity of the many.
Find Kutná Hora: The City of Silver at booth 235.
The latest in the Forbidden series of cooperative games. From the publisher:
In Forbidden Jungle, your team has crash-landed on a mysterious jungle planet, and you need to work together to survive. Search the ruins of an abandoned outpost for an elusive escape portal, all while fending off an ever-growing horde of venomous creatures and an escalating chain of collapsing locations. Shift tiles to power up the portal and live to see another day!
You can find Forbidden Jungle at booth 1907.
Knowledge is power, and saving it by passing it down is critical in this game by IELLO. From the publisher:
Heirs to an exceptional knowledge that has survived the ages, it is now up to you to preserve the vestige of your civilization.
Ancient Knowledge is a strategic card game in which you erect monuments and build artefacts to pass on your knowledge. Time will make your constructions ephemeral,so make the right decision and combine the many cards at your disposal, because all knowledge is doomed to disappear…
Ancient Knowledge can be found at booth 1321.
You are a scientist, sent to investigate a newly formed island. What will you learn through your investigations? Find out in Emerge. From the publisher:
New islands have emerged from the ocean, and as scientists, you must research the new, developing ecosystems present there. Watch the islands on the board grow in three dimensions as you learn more about them, and add colorful plants and animals to each island as you explore their ecosystems.
Each round in Emerge, earn points by rolling your dice and using them to collect research and make discoveries. All players start with the same research board, but throughout the game you can modify your own board and change what you're researching. After eight rounds, score points based on how flourished and biodiverse your islands are as well as varying research objectives.
You can find Emerge at booth 215.
Freelancers: A Crossroads Game
Explore a garbage-filled dystopian future that runs on the gig economy. Sounds about right. From the publisher:
Congratulations! Humanity is dead! The bad news is that all they left behind is their garbage and a broken gig economy. That's why we need freelancers like you who are ready to take any job, no matter how loathsome. As a freelancer, you will delve into ruins, brave the wilds, and slay the hordes of hideous creatures that litter the dark forgotten corners of the world. All so you can gather loot and return home, ready to blow it all and start over again the next day. It's a lousy gig, so it's perfect for the likes of you.
Freelancers: A Crossroads Game condenses the fantasy RPG campaign experience into a single night of fun and mayhem. Create a character, roll funky dice, and blaze your way through multiple stories set in a world of magic, monsters, and murder. Better yet, no game master is required, as a magical companion app does all the storytelling for you! Immerse yourself in fully-voiced, industry-leading audio as you play. Explore hundreds of branching paths in five highly replayable campaigns. Mix and match a multitude of species and jobs to build your own unique character. Pick up and play, simple rules, low commitment and no prep.
You can find Freelancers: A Crossroads Game at booth 2021 and on Amazon.
Praise your god - a giant galactic octopus - by collecting tentacles to prove your devotion. Yup, you read that right. From the publisher:
Welcome, devotees! The celestial gaze of the Great Inky One falls upon you; do you have what it takes to be the most dedicated follower?
Cosmoctopus is an engine-building, tentacle-gathering board game for 1 to 4 devotees. Guide Cosmoctopus through the Inky Realm, a flexible configuration of tiles, to gather resources and obtain powerful cards that represent relics, scripture, hallucinations and constellations. Harness the power of these bizarre objects and experiences, craft potent card combinations and be the first to gain 8 tentacles to win!
You can praise Cosmoctopus at booth 361.
A game based on the Cold War, with different objectives based on the number of players. From the publisher:
DEFCON 1 takes place during the cold war from 1950 to 1990. All cards and technologies are historically based.
Featuring different gameplay for each number of players:
2 players - Frontal Shock Game, nervous and tense.
3 players - Death Circle Game with secret objectives.
4 players - Semi Cooperation Game and Secret Objectives Game.
5 players - Secret Objective Game.
Each of the 5 asymmetrical blocs has its own strengths and weaknesses, through its own Technological tree, Mission and Objective cards, and even scalable pool of Units. Each player has Mission cards in their hands, and will gain rewards upon fulfilling each of them, bringing them closer to victory. As the DEFCON level decreases, depending on the actions of the players, new strategical options will become available like building nuclear bombs. There is also a Space Race which allows you to earn Influence and to add new Spatial Technologies on your Technological tree.
You can find DEFCON 1 at booth 541.
The Top 10
These are the top 10 most anticipated games as voted by members of the website BoardGameGeek.com. Excludes reissues and expansions.
10. My Island
From the creators of My City comes My Island. From the publisher:
After a long journey you have arrived on a mysterious island. Explore the island and create a thriving community as you rogress the story! My Island is a legacy game. This means that the rules and your gameboard change and evolve thorughout the course of the game. Each player has their own island, which they redesign and change during the course of gameplay. Three games together will form a chapter. For each chapter there is a sealed envelope containing new rules, more story, and even new pieces for your gameboard! Experience the secrets of the mysterious island in 24 fascinating games. This standalone spiritual succesor to My City features hexagonal pieces and a brand-new story.
Find My Island at booth 2405 or on Amazon.
9. Age of Innovation
Can your faction innovate the most by terraforming the world? Age of Innovation gives you the chance to find out. From the makers of Terra Mystica. From the publisher:
Twelve factions, each with unique characteristics, populate this world of varying terrains. Here you will compete to erect buildings and merge them into cities. Each game allows you to create new combinations of factions, homelands, and abilities so that each game isn't the same as another.
You control one of these factions and will terraform the game map's terrain into your homelands where you can erect your buildings. Proximity to other factions may limit your expansion, but it also gains you significant advantages in the game. This tension adds to the appeal of the Terra Mystica series.
Upgrade your buildings to gain valuable resources such as tools, scholars, money, and power. Build schools to advance in different sciences and collect books, which you can use to make innovations. Build your palace to gain a powerful new ability or build workshops, guilds, and universities to complete your culture.
Find Age of Innovation at booth 1649.
8. Point City
Draft cards to build your city. Find combinations that work to win the game. From the publisher:
From the team that brought you the smash hit Point Salad, Point City is a card-drafting, engine-building game with more than 150 unique building cards, giving you the opportunity to create a completely different city each time you play!
The rules are simple: Take two adjacent cards from the dynamic city grid and add them to your expanding city. Use your resource cards and bonuses to construct building cards that require specific combinations. Build special civic structures to multiply your city's points and be the top urban planner!
Point City takes the same simple concept of drafting cards and building the best combinations, then adds new layers of resource management and engine building to the mix — making the game easy to learn, but challenging for everyone!
You can explore Point City at booth 403 or on Amazon.
7. World Wonders
Find out what it takes to build your own ancient city with World Wonders. From the publisher:
Take on the role of the great leaders of the past to build your own Ancient City.
Each player will use their Gold each round to build tiles that will increase their city's economy. A city that produces more food and generates commerce brings more population. Make your city grow!
Find World Wonders at booth 529.
6. Last Light
A 4x game where you gather light from a white dwarf star at the end of the universe. From the publisher:
Last Light is a fast-paced 4x game with 3D planets and a rotating board in which players playing asymmetrical alien factions simultaneously gather light right before the heat death of the universe.
Each turn, players select an action card, then all players take their actions simultaneously, exploring planets, mining for resources, gaining new technologies, and commanding fleets all while racing to the center of a rotating board to the last known white dwarf star to gather light for their civilization to survive.
Find Last Light at booth 2603.
5. Great Western Trail: New Zealand
You manage a sheep farm in New Zealand. Just make sure your farm is far away from the dinosaurs of the Chomp game. From the publisher:
In Great Western Trail: New Zealand, you are a runholder — that is, the owner of a sheep station — on the South Island of New Zealand at the end of the 19th century. Recent years have seen your family farm prosper by diversifying your breeds of sheep and by increasing the value of your wool.
With the dawn of the new century, new challenges have arisen. You must acquire new and improved breeds of sheep to ensure the prosperity of your family business and the laborers who work for you.
You can find Great Western Trail: New Zealand at booth 183 and on Amazon.
Can you help Earth thrive? Grow your ecosystem to defeat your opponent. From the publisher:
Earth, the soil that supports and sustains our beautiful planet, Earth. Over thousands of years of evolution and adaptation the flora and fauna of this unique planet have grown and developed into amazing life forms, creating symbiotic ecosystems and habitats.
It’s time to jump into these rich environments and create some amazing natural synergies that replicate and extrapolate on Earth’s amazing versatility and plethora of natural resources. Create a self-supporting engine of growth, expansion and supply where even your unused plants become compost for future growth.
You can find Earth under your feet, at booth 1642 and on Amazon.
A city builder, focusing on 19th century Barcelona. From the publisher:
It's the mid-19th century. The city of Barcelona is the most densely populated city in all of Europe. Shortly after the old city walls were finally destroyed, Ildefons Cerdà, who is now considered the inventor of urbanism, presented the plan for the creation of the "Eixample", the expansion that Barcelona so desperately needed. Its construction began in 1860.
In Barcelona, you will take on the role of builders in 19th-century Barcelona who are working on the new expansion to the city. Your main goal is to construct buildings to accommodate the citizens who want to leave the old city, and in the process, you will also build streets, create tram lines, and build public services. You may even decide to explore "Modernisme", a new architectural and arts style that has been gaining popularity among the rich.
You can find Barcelona at booth 2527.
2. Race to the Raft
Help cats escape a burning island on, you guessed it, rafts! Can you save the kitties? From the publisher:
Race to the Raft is a co-operative, path building, tile placement, social puzzle board game for 1-4 players.
In the game, you play the role of the disorientated island cats who are lost on the smoke-filled island. Nothing seems to be where it once was, and you must find a safe route to the raft by placing pathway cards.
As you build pathways, fire — which is represented by different shaped tiles — will spread across the island, limiting your options. You need to find the balance between creating long pathways and keeping the cats ahead of the flames as you move towards the raft.
Follow the cool cats to booth 2758 to check out Race to the Raft.
1. 3 Ring Circus
Can you become the most famous circus in the country? Hire performers to achieve your dreams. From the publisher:
The circus has come to town! Under the tent, jugglers, clowns, magicians, strongmen and wild beasts capture the curiosity of a dedicated audience that applauds non-stop. After each performance, your little troupe accumulates fame and may one day pique the interest of P.T. Barnum, the greatest circus mogul of all time.
In 3 Ring Circus, players take on the role of a circus director who tours the United States at the end of the 19th century. Your objective is to hire artists and offer performances in various towns and cities with the intention of gaining fame. In towns, features are easy to set up and give you starting resources to upgrade your cast; small cities are somewhat more demanding, but they allow you to come into contact with better artists; audiences in big cities are even more demanding and want to see very specific numbers, but performing there brings you much more fame!
Swing on over to booth 2718 to check out 3 Ring Circus.