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Games Seen at Gen Con 2023 V: River of Gold, Animals in Espionage, LA-1, and Marvel: Crisis Protocol – Earth’s Mightiest Core Set

by W. Eric Martin

I’m possibly nearing the end of my Gen Con 2023 coverage. I’ve been deleting images from my phone and tearing pages out of my notebook as I transfer all of that information into the database and this space, so I can see what’s still to be covered slowly shrinking. Let’s do more…

River of Gold will be the first release from new Asmodee studio Office Dog. The studio first popped up in June 2022 when it solicited submissions from designers, mostly listing what it didn’t want to see rather than what it did.

Creative sourcing manager Bryan Bornmueller has stated that Office Dog will release a wide variety of designs, and at Gen Con 2023 it debuted a 2-4 player Eurogame from designer Keith Piggott set in the world of Legend of the Five Rings, with Asmodee having acquired L5R (via Fantasy Flight Games) in 2015.

Here’s an overview of this 2024 release:

From the Spine of the World Mountains to the bustling fishing villages of Earthquake Fish Bay flows a river where fortunes can be made and lowly traders can brush shoulders with Rokugan’s elite. Will your clan become the dominant force along this River of Gold?

In River of Gold, players take on the role of river merchants allied with legendary samurai clans, each vying to exploit the river to earn wealth, glory, and wisdom. Will you invest in developing ports, markets, shrines, and more along the banks of the busy river? Or will you rely upon sailing the river of gold, growing your wealth and influence through delivery contracts, visiting the nobility, and garnering a bit of divine favor during tough times?

River of Gold being demoed at Gen Con 2023

Other titles announced by Office Dog for release in 2024 are Word Traveller, a game by Decrypto‘s Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance in which players use a limited number of words to get to the cities they want to see, with other players decoding their directions places like Paris, New York, London, and Tokyo, and Crafting the Cosmos, a design by David Gordon and TAM in which you use the forces of the universe – time, ionization, light, and gravity – to build nebulae and foster life across your ever-expanding universe. In game terms, Crafting the Cosmos uses a mix of city-building, engine-building, and worker placement.

The original• To continue with offerings from Asmodee studios, in Q4 2023 Atomic Mass Games will release Marvel: Crisis Protocol – Earth’s Mightiest Core Set, an updated edition of the Marvel: Crisis Protocol – Core Set that debuted in 2019.

At Gen Con 2023, co-designer Will Shick said that relaunching the Core Set serves two purposes. First, he and Will Pagani had learned a lot over the past four years, and they applied this knowledge to update all of the included characters, to add more dice mitigation among the character powers, to use four affiliations instead of only two, and more generally to refresh everything to make this Core Set a starting point for new players. The rules and all previously released expansions still work with this new set.

Second, the company has added more people to its staff and can now handle localization of the game — something that wasn’t possible in 2019 — so Earth’s Mightiest Core Set will also be released in French, German, and Spanish editions, and the expansions will also be multilingual in the future.

• I wrote about Dixit: Disney Edition in March 2023, and at Gen Con 2023 Asmodee showed off what’s inside the box ahead of its September 15, 2023 release date.

I’m not a huge Disney buff, so I didn’t recognize many of the cards in the box, but I don’t know whether that would make a difference as long as players didn’t give Disney-related clues or sentences during play. Disney clues might even be a drawback when playing with fans as you ideally want only one person to guess the correct card when you’re giving clues.

• I’ve played Joe Hout‘s Animals in Espionage four times on a review copy from Twin City Games, and I want to play more as it’s a neat “I cut, you choose” game in which you’re trying to collect one type of animal while getting the opponent to draft another and figuring out what they’re trying to collect — but I haven’t been getting much of anything to the table recently.

Anyway, here was Twin City Games’ Gen Con 2023 booth, which reminded me what I’ve been missing — then I forgot to visit them during the show to thank them for the review copy.

• The new edition of J. Alex Kevern‘s Gold West from Trick or Treat Studios, which I first talked about in a Gen Con 2022 report, is due out in Q4 2023.

Another upcoming Trick or Treat title covered in 2022 is LA-1 from Taran Lewis Kratz, Richard Launius, and Pete Shirey, a 1-5 player story-driven, co-operative adventure game in which, to quote the BGG description, “you take on the role of detectives working for Mace & Doyle Investigations who are helping one another to resolve cases in the post-apocalyptic city that was once Los Angeles. Each case can be played individually or as part of a campaign. Because of the multiple cards that can send investigations in different directions, it’s possible to play each case more than one time, having different situations and outcomes each time.”

ToTS developer Andy Van Zandt told me that a crowdfunding campaign for LA-1 will launch “soon”, with development of the adventures having been quite involved.

When you look in the box, you’ll notice a huge stack of cards with a “1” on the first card. If I recall correctly from that conversation, when you’re resolving elements of adventures, you’ll be directed to draw, say, card #23 — but the deck contains multiple 23s, and you’ll grab one of them and roll with it. If you play the adventure again and grab a different 23, then the story will move in another direction.

Emerson Matsuuchi‘s Halloween, a 1 vs. many game based on the first movie in the Halloween franchise that I first covered after GAMA Expo 2023, will be available at SPIEL ’23 in October.

• On the Justin De Witt scale, Castle Panic: Deluxe Collection from Fireside Games measures approximately .37 De Witts.

I don’t know how many copies of Castle Panic: Deluxe Collection Fireside Games brought to Gen Con 2023, but it had at least one for sale, and when I passed its booth on Sunday, it had none of the shelves — which means someone bought this monstrosity and had a plan to get it home. I’m guessing it was someone local because otherwise you’d need practically an entire suitcase for that one game.


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