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Candice’s Gen Con 2023 Round-Up/Discoveries: Part 2

by Candice Harris

Eric’s final Gen Con ’23 post inspired me to finish consolidating my notes and share more of my Gen Con ’23 experiences.

• In between meetings I squeezed in a quick game of Luc Rémond‘s Sky Team at the Hachette booth. Sky Team is a co-operative, limited communication, dice placement game from Le Scorpion Masqué and Hachette Boardgames USA, where 2 players take on the roles of a pilot and co-pilot working together to land planes at a variety of different airports. The awesome dice placement decisions were reminiscent of Under Falling Skies, but extra interesting since you have to work together without communicating with your partner. I thoroughly enjoyed my first play of Sky Team and look forward to playing it more.

Cargo Empire is an upcoming pick-up-and-deliver game from designers Alexander Bogdanovsky and Pini Shekhter, which Moaideas Game Design is crowdfunding on Kickstarter in Q4 2023. In Cargo Empire, 1-5 players build networks and deliver cargo in a fanasty land.

Prototype components

• Folded Space had a booth at Gen Con for the first time and it was cool to see some of their new inserts. If you’re not familiar with Folded Space, they make lightweight game inserts/organizers from Evacore, which is a memory foam made from 75% recycled plastic. Their original inserts were all gray colored, but now their newer inserts are printed with color, which is an awesome improvement aesthetically, as well as a big help with organizing components in the trays.

Revive insert

Gloomahaven: Jaws of the Lion (new v2 version)

Ierusalem: Anno Domini insert

Nidavellir insert

My beautiful Folded Space Undaunted: Stalingrad insert in action (this photo is not from Gen Con)

Kyle Shire and Alexandre Uboldi‘s Queen by Midnight from Darrington Press seemed to be a popular Gen Con ’23 release. Considering its intriguing table presence and the fact that it’s a deck-building game where you battle as asymmetric princesses, I’m definitely interested in playing it sometime.

• I grabbed lunch with Dávid Turczi one day at Gen Con and got the lowdown on an upcoming release he’s working on. Of course, I’m sworn to secrecy and not allowed to mention any details, but let’s just say he’s cooking up something cool (as usual!) that we’ll hear more about in 2024.

• I stopped by the Elf Creek Games demo area and they were showing off the new edition of Keith Ferguson‘s Santa’s Workshop, which is a re-implementation of the original Rio Grande Games edition from 2017, and is due out in December 2023. The second edition includes some improvements such as double-sided player mats with a new family-friendly side for younger and/or less experienced players.

I also got a sneak peek of the prototype of the upcoming Secret Villages expansion for Merchants of the Dark Road, which adds a rumors module, and a secret villages module with leads you take and activate at the secret village, plus new heroes and new events.

Prototype expansion components

• At Pax Unplugged ’22, I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Kelley from the One Stop Co-Op Shop podcast and YouTube channel, which is a channel I often watch to discover games that play well solo. I got to hang with Mike at Gen Con ’23 and I really enjoyed my play of his prototype of Flame & Fang, which is a co-operative, scenario-driven game co-designed by Peter Gousis, and published by Escape Velocity Games and MVP Boardgames.

Here’s the story behind Flame & Fang, which is being launched for crowdfunding on Kickstarter on October 11, 2023:

In a world where dragons were thought to be extinct, somehow a clutch of eggs survived. Now hatched, the siblings must struggle to thrive in a harsh world that doesn’t seem to want them there. Worse yet, they have attracted the attention of an evil presence that has begun to stalk them…

Our 4-player game at Gen Con(prototype components)

In Flame & Fang, players will have to manage the three different aspects of their dragon: the need to fight, the desire for flight, and the thirst for the hunt. Each turn players will draw and play cards that will let them fly around the board, gather resources, upgrade abilities, battle enemies, and turn new pages to reveal their story.

During the game, 1-4 players will cooperate to guide a group of dragons through a series of adventures. Players will each control their own dragon to navigate the chapters that continue the tale of how the dragons will grow, mature, and overcome obstacles. The game requires deck crafting, hand management, action selection, and cooperative planning to ensure success!

Flame & Fang had some really interesting deck crafting and hand management decisions, and I always enjoy collaborating with my teammates in co-op games. Playing one scenario left me curious about the rest of the game and future adventures, so I’m looking forward to hearing more when the Kickstarter launches and playing it more in the future.

• Walking around the convention halls all day can be rough on your feet, so it was nice to sit down for a few minutes at the BackerKit booth to chat with Max Salzberg (co-founder) and Justin Hannigan (V.P.) from BackerKit to hear the inspirational story of how they went from running the first six-figure campaign in crowdfunding history, to discovering the need for a robust pledge manager, and then creating it. Wanting to further improve the creator and backer crowdfunding experience, BackerKit officially launched a full-fledged crowdfunding platform in June 2023 with a big project kickoff from Cephalofair Games (Gloomhaven: Buttons & Bugs, Gloomhaven: The Role Playing Game, Miniatures of Gloomhaven, Gloomhaven: Second Edition, and more).

Max and Justin were very passionate about their mission to create helpful tools for creators to connect with their backers, and for creating an enriching space for both creators and backers. Going forward we’ll likely see more and more board games crowdfunded via BackerKit as an alternative to Kickstarter and Gamefound.

• Speaking of BackerKit, Leder Games was promoting their upcoming expansion for Greg Loring-Albright‘s asymmetrical pirate game Ahoy!, which will be crowdfunded on BackerKit in Q4 2023. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about this Ahoy! expansion.

• At the Brotherwise Games booth, I checked out Castles by the Sea, which is a puzzly sandcastle-building game for 1-4 players with Santorini vibes, from designers Jon Benjamin and Michael Xuereb.

Aaron Mesburne‘s 2-player, Boss Monster tile placement game Overboss Duel was also available at Gen Con from Brotherwise Games, and is now available at retailers. Overboss Duel uses the same core system as Overboss, but this time players are directly competing on a shared player board.

John D. Clair‘s Empire’s End was also available for demo at the Brotherwise Games booth and is en route to backers, and targeted to be available at retailers in mid-November 2023. I enjoyed playing this at Gen Con ’22, so I’m glad it’s almost officially available.

Shortly after Gen Con ’23, Brotherwise Games successfully crowdfunded Michael Xuereb’s Dungeon Kart on Kickstarter (KS link). Dungeon Kart is an all-new racing game set in the world of Boss Monster for 2-8 players, which will be available for late pledge in October 2023.

• Every now and then when I’m wandering around at conventions, I have to stop and check out a game solely because the box cover art is really cool and grabs my attention (or scares me a bit). Such is the case with Kevin Wilson‘s The Stuff of Legend from 3WS Games, where 3-6 players collaborate as a boy’s loyal toys working together to rescue him from the evil Boogeyman.

The Stuff of Legend set up for a demo

• I tend to dig performance-focused board games such as Shakespeare and Castell, so I had to stop by Devir‘s booth to get a quick look at Remo Conzadori and Fabio Lopiano‘s 3-Ring Circus. In 3-Ring Circus, 1-4 players take on the role of circus directors touring the U.S. in the 19th century, hiring performers, and putting on performances in different cities to become the most famous circus in the U.S.

Plaid Hat Games was showing off Freelancers: A Crossroads Game, which was their big Gen Con ’23 release designed by Donald Shults. Freelancers is an accessible, fantasy RPG campaign experience for 3-7 players, driven by a story-telling companion app, similar to Forgotten Waters.

<–In case you missed it, Candice’s Gen Con 2023 Round-Up/Discoveries: Part 1–>


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