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Candice’s Gen Con 2023 Round-Up/Discoveries: Part 1

by Candice Harris

I had a fantastic time at Gen Con 2023. It was one of those conventions where I felt like I had been there for five days before day one was even over – but in a good way. I went in excited, and came out even more excited and energized, until I came home sick and lost my energy. I’m relieved to be feeling better now so I can dive into all of the games I brought back, and share some photos and highlights from my trip.

• I was excited to see there were advance copies of David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin‘s General Orders: World War II available at Gen Con, considering it’s not officially out until October 2023 from Osprey Games. I posted an overview of General Orders after playing it with David on Tabletop Simulator in March 2023, so it was great to see the physical copy in person. I really dig General Orders, and I especially appreciate that it comes in a small box.

David Thompson teaching Paula Deming just before the doors opened to the general public on Day 1

Marco Canetta and Stefania Niccolini‘s ZhanGuo from What’s Your Game? is a game on my “shelf of opportunity” that I’ve been wanting to play for a while. Thus, it was really cool to check out the new version Zhanguo: The First Empire, which is an upcoming SPIEL ’23 release published by Sorry We Are French and Hachette Boardgames USA. Even though I haven’t played the original ZhanGuo, I’m familiar with how it works, and after hearing about the enhancements and added variety in Zhanguo: The First Empire, I am very stoked to play this new version.

Zhanguo: The First Empire

• At the Devious Weasel Games booth, it was awesome to catch up with Jenna Felli and pick up the Find Muck expansion for Cosmic Frog.

Me & Jenna surrounded by

Tani Pettit‘s fabulous Cosmic Frog art

Jenna and team were demoing Cosmic Frog and last year’s 2-player identity struggle hit, The Mirroring of Mary King.

I’m already looking forward to Jenna Felli ‘s upcoming 2024 release Murray the A**hole Frog, which is a unique card game where you’ll be playing a variety of fly cards to create swarms, while avoiding Murray.

Some prototype cards/art for Murray the A**hole Frog

• I had a moment to sneak away with Cole and Drew Wehrle to play a prototype of Jo Kelly‘s intriguing, unique-themed Molly House, which is a 2021 Zenobia Award finalist Wehrlegig Games will be crowdfunding in Q4 2023.

Here’s a high-level description of what Molly House is all about:

In Molly House, you play a group of gender-defying queers known as “mollies” who are regulars at a molly house in 1720s London. Your aim is to meet other mollies in secret and put on the best festivities in your molly house, but you need to do so while evading the notice of the moralizing constables of the Society for the Reformation of Manners.

Molly House is a competitive game with co-operative elements for 2-5 players in which you need to collect sets of resources like dresses, alcohol, and masks to plan festivities in the molly house, and visit cruising grounds to meet other mollies. In doing so, you’ll be creating happiness for yourself and your community, represented as joy in the game.


However, you’ll also be creating liabilities for yourself and others. Cruising or making your neighbors suspicious may lead to your arrest, which in turn may lead to a jail sentence — or even the death penalty. Putting on festivities will inevitably attract the attention of undercover constables, who may eventually raid the molly house, arresting all players.

To win, you have to balance your needs, represented by your personal joy, with the needs of the molly house community, represented by collective joy. If there’s not enough collective joy at the end of the game, no one wins. If more than one player fulfills both needs, the one who is held in the highest esteem within the molly house wins.

Even though the Molly House is still being developed, I’m impressed with what I’ve experienced so far and I’m really excited to play it more. I love how unique it feels with its interesting blend of mechanisms that tie so well to the theme. Of course, I’d expect nothing less from a game published by Wehrlegig Games, but it’s always refreshing to see what they cook up for us.

• I was pleasantly surprised to discover there’s a new version of Uwe Rosenberg‘s classic bean-trading game Bohnanza with beautiful flower art by Beth Sobel. I grabbed myself a copy of Bohnanza: Dahlias and also brought a couple home for some friends who are fans.

• Speaking of flowers, Garden Guests is team-based, astract strategy game from Stephen Glenn and Van Ryder Games with an incredibly attractive table presence. Keep an eye out for Garden Guests, which is due out in Q4 2023.

Isaac Vega‘s Wild Gardens was being demoed at the Rose Gauntlet Entertainment booth. It seems like a light, cozy, and interesting game, and I couldn’t help but love those vibrant colors and art by Alyssa Menold, who was at the booth showing it off when I stopped by.

• While I was at Gen Con, I also had the opportunity to play a few games in BGG Hot Games Room including Tiger & Dragon, a new tile-shedding game from designer Hashimoto Atsushi, which was co-published by Oink Games, Arclight Games, and Switch Games. In Tiger & Dragon, you’re trying to be the first to get rid of all your tiles, like many card-shedding games, but in this case the scoring rules change from game to game, so there are some numbers more valuable than others when it comes to scoring the last tile you place. I ended buying myself a copy of Tiger & Dragon and I’m looking forward to playing it more.

• I loved my first play of Age of Innovation, the new version of Terra Mystica from Helge Ostertag, Capstone Games, and Feuerland Spiele. Age of Innovation adds a ton of refreshing variety to Terra Mystica. The factions are no longer associated with a specific type of terrain; instead you randomly pair one of many faction tiles with each terrain type to create different factions to draft each game. In addition, you have a new resource (books) which you can use to claim new innovation tiles which give your faction unique abilities, further deepening the wonderful asymmetrical gameplay many people already love in Terra Mystica. With all of the new additions and variety, the replay value is off the charts for Age of Innovation. Fans of Terra Mystica and Gaia Project, and fans of heavy strategy games should definitely check this one out.

My Forest Inventors

Our exciting, table-hogging 5-player game of Age of Innovation

Wild Realms, from Daywalker Syndicate, caught my eye when I was wandering around in between meetings. I stopped by to take a peek and discovered it’s a competitive animal kingdom-themed card battle game for 2-4 players, designed and beautifully illustrated by Jeremy Gulotta.

• Besides new Gen Con releases, I’m always excited to get sneak peeks of upcoming SPIEL releases when I attend Gen Con. One in particular that has me super excited is Kutná Hora: The City of Silver, from Czech Games Edition (CGE) and designers Ondřej Bystroň, Petr Caslava, and Pavel Jarosch, which Eric originally announced in April 2023.

Kutná Hora is a historically-based city-building game for 2-4 players with some unique supply-and-demand mechanisms that sound fascinating. Even though they’re completely different games, I got a very similar “excited and intrigued” feeling after hearing about Kutná Hora, like I did after hearing about Deal with the Devil at Gen Con in 2022. It sounds very unique and meaty, and I can’t wait to play it.

Prototype of Kutná Hora

• While I was meeting with Nathan from CGE, I also checked out Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition, the newest expansion for Lost Ruins of Arnak, which includes 2 new leaders, new cards and tiles, plus components for a six-chapter campaign which can be played solo or co-operatively with 2 players. I’m pretty late to the party when it comes to Lost Ruins of Arnak, but I’m realizing there’s no better time than now to get into it.

Plenty of awesome content in Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition

• At Asmodee’s press event the night before Gen Con opened, there was a prototype of Keith Piggott‘s River of Gold being shown off. River of Gold is an upcoming mid-weight euro game set in the Legend of the Five Rings universe, which is due out at Gen Con 2024 from Office Dog. In River of Gold, players build locations along the river, deliver goods, and compete for influence. More to look forward to down the line!

River of Gold Prototype


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