Late Wednesday night I arrived to Atlanta and went down to get some early gaming in before the start of the show Thursday. The first game I got to play was Kronia. Kronia is a light bluffing auction game that has players trying to get God favor tokens. Players will have a set of cards numbered 1-10 that they will play to bid on one of the auctions each round. Starting with the first player, they will play a card face down in front of one of the temples holding a token. After each player has played a card, each player (starting with first) will be able to swap the card they played with one from their hand, move the card played to another temple, or do nothing. Once everyone has performed an action or passed, the cards will be revealed one temple at a time. Player with the highest card wins the token. If there is a tie, the player that has their card on the bottom of the pile (first to be played at that temple) wins the tie. The winning player will discard the card and the losing players will have the option to discard their card or a different one from their hand. The goal is to collect tokens of the same God to earn points. Cards 1-5 have a star on them. If you win an auction with that card, you place the card in front of you and you earn points based on how many of the star cards you won auctions with. This will go for 10 rounds and afterwards players will count up their points. Player with the most points wins the game. I enjoyed Kronia for being a light bluffing game and trying to figure out what your opponents are doing, but it was also nothing special that would make me want to play again. This is a good game for taking on a trip and for those who have not experienced many bluffing games.
One of the games I was most excited to play was The Godfather game by Eric Lang (Arcadia Quest, Blood Rage, Rising Sun). The Godfather is a worker placement, area control game that has you taking the head of a mafia family. Players will be placing family members on various spaces on the board to obtain cards to complete mission cards and to gain control of part of New York. Completing missions can range from extorting money from another mafia family to making a few of those family members sleep with the fishes. You will actually remove other player's family members and place them face down in the river. They do get them back next round, but it still felt great and thematic. I enjoyed this one so much that I played it twice during the con. Taking money from players was fun, especially when I did it to Nils. (pretty sure he said something not nice in German) As far as euro games go, this is one of the more thematic ones and follows the original Godfather movies well. Reminds me of Lords of Waterdeep with a area control mechanic. I highly enjoyed this one and look forward to having my own copy very soon.
Ethnos was the biggest surprise for me of the convention. Before heading down, I had never heard of this game. After some of the big name titles, this was my game of the convention. Ethnos is a area control game that plays like a gateway game but has deep strategy that will make any seasoned gamer love it. Each fantasy race in the game has a deck of cards. You will select what races are included in the game and shuffle them together. The cards will consist of the fantasy race, what color region on the board it represents and the race's special ability. Players will be trying to play sets of either same color or same race cards to add tokens to the board. The player with the most tokens in the region gets victory points. What makes Ethnos stand out is that you only use the race ability of the card you make as the leader of that set. So with all the cards you lay down to place a token, you will only use the one power. Also after you have played a set, any cards remaining in your hand will be placed in a face up pool for players to take on their turn. This prevents the keep taking cards strategy of Ticket to Ride. The game played in about in an hour and comes with lots of races to mix up each game to feel differently. Easy to teach and learn, this could be a huge hit with any game group. This is a game I will definitely seek out to buy and play.
Gekido is a miniature tabletop game that has bots fighting each other in an arena. The bot miniatures were beautifully painted and sculpted to make the game pop. Each player will have a bot in the arena which is a square grid with 9 spots. (you will not be hiding in this game) Players will be moving and attacking other bots in the arena, while also managing how their bot takes damage. Each bot will have a player board that will hold dice that mark the number of hit points your bot will have. After you have taken a full die worth of damage (6), you will place that die in one of your bots upgrade slots. This adds a balance of wanting to take damage to get stronger, but also not so much damage that you die before winning. I was the first eliminated in a 4 player game so you can see I need to work on my balance. Each spot will provide buffs and debuffs to your bot. This is a fairly quick game that is meant as pure smash'em up fun like King of Tokyo. Because of the painted miniatures, the price is a little higher than you would expect for a game like this, but value is always in the eye of the beholder. I enjoyed and would play it again if it hit the table. I enjoy fun, reckless bot combat, and that is what Gekido provides. By the way I was the yellow bot and at the table we renamed him as The Situation Bot. He has a party light on his head and 4 fists for fist pumping.
Rise of Moloch is a 1 vs team game that is set in the World of Smog steampunk universe. We played one mission that required us to save a princess from a burning building and get her to an exit spot on the board. She did not make it out of the building and from what I heard during the convention, she never made it to an exit for the whole convention. Each character had their own feel and how they played. I was a person with Tesla gloves that could do lots of damage. Each round a player on the team would place cards in the order of who will play which turn. The enemy will place cards on opposite turns for their mobs, some special summoning, and each of their boss characters (there were 2 during this mission). Rise of Moloch had a similar feel to Star Wars Imperial Assault except we never felt we had much of a chance. The game is still being balanced at the time of the show. My hope is that with changes this could be a very fun game to play. There is a great game in here, but right now it just feels like the game is taunting me. This was my least favorite of the show, but I think it could become a hit once everything is balanced and finalized.
Lorenzo is a medium weight Euro game that does not feel like anything CMON has ever put out before. If I would have guessed who published this game, I would have guessed TMG. Lorenzo has players taking the head of a noble family during the Italian Renaissance. Players will be placing family members at different spaces on the board to gain buildings and materials. Players will also have to pay attention to their reputation with the church, as that is checked at 3 points of the game and will provide penalties for not meeting those requirements. You are trying to get the most prestige (victory points) by the end of the game. I enjoyed the game, but it does suffer from a ton of icons and symbols. This is on par with Guilds of London in terms of the number of icons and having to look up what each one does. This game will not be for everyone, but those who enjoy a meatier euro game will enjoy it. I would play it again, but I would also not seek it out to play.
Massive Darkness is a co-op dungeon crawler that has players venturing through some very dark areas. Each player will play a character that will have a unique class. During the game, your character will level up and gain new abilities that you will get to chose from on your player sheet. Monsters will show up when you open doors or enter special areas and could keep spawning on you. We played a beginner mission that had us just trying to leave a hallway area. Some of the tile spaces are lit and some are dark. Players will get special bonuses if they are currently in a dark space. For example, my guy had a boosted crit when in the shadow tiles. It was a shorter demo but I had a ton of fun playing it and it had beautiful miniatures that should be great to paint. Some may not care for the darker fantasy theme. It may be too dark for my group, but I would play it again if it hit the table somewhere. Lots of fun and will be a hit for those who enjoy dungeon crawlers and campaign games.
Council of 4 is an area control-ish type game that has players playing tiles of the various council members to place tokens on locations. Each location will provide some type of bonus and if you place a token that is connected to a location you have already placed a token, you will receive that bonus again. Each area of the board will have a council of four members of the kingdom and you are playing favor tiles so that you can build in a location in their area. Council of 4 reminds me a little bit of Royals. We only played a shortened game for the demo, but I enjoyed it enough that I would like to play the full game a few times to see how I really feel about it. Everything is very colorful and the Council of 4 in each area are represented by larger miniatures.
The game of the convention was also the last game I got to play. I was able to play a full 5 player game of Rising Sun. I was very excited about this game because I love the feudal Japan theme and I backed it on Kickstarter. This met my expectations and more. I will not go into details in this article because I will be doing a full preview soon on Rising Sun in the coming week or two. Rising Sun reminds me of a mix between the role selection in Puerto Rico and the combat of Cry Havoc. That would be the best way to describe this area control game that encourages players to form alliances, but also provides benefits for those who don't. The miniatures were on par with the amazing work done in Blood Rage. The only downfall for me is that it is not out yet. Some will be disappointed that there is no 2 player mode, but I see how it would not work with the mechanics in place. My get all the huge monsters strategy did not pay off as I was either last or second to last. The game played at around 2 hours including learning the game. There will definitely be a battle between gamers who like Blood Rage more and those who prefer Rising Sun. (Both play very differently) You will have to wait for my preview to find out my side in that battle.