GENCON 2019 Top Ten Releases

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“Meeple Gamers’ writers are getting the jitters for these hot new games released at GEN CON 2019!”

– Heather Swanson


A record breaking 70,000 people attended GEN CON in Indianapolis, IN at the beginning of August 2019.  It is a convention primarily about table-top gaming and is the largest of its kind in North America.

For game reviewers this is a busy time of year.  Publishers give copies to writers in order to advertise and vie for the limelight.  Meeple Gamers’ reviewers received over 100 games through this year’s convention.

We haven’t started into the reviews but wanted to get the news out about what we are excited to play.  This top ten list is only games we received to review that were newly released at GEN CON 2019.  You will gain some insight into what seasoned gamers are most excited about.

Stay tuned for the follow-up reviews of all these games to see if our writers were spot on with what would be the hottest games.

Re-Chord – Yanaguana Games

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For those of us with even a passing interest in music, Re-Chord has been dropped to mimic the Beatles and the ilk that has shaped American music. Here’s the thing, they say 95% of the hottest rock, uses three chords only… 

So, the question in this game becomes, from what I’ve seen, do you use what is popular, or something different that leads to big points… Like getting to the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop, we all know the correct answer might just be three… I’m excited to see what these designers have done to make rocking out exciting in cardboard.

– Josh Hale

Dragonrealm – Game Factory

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Dragonrealm is the follow-up to Dragonwood where you leave the confines of the forest to seek adventure and fortune with the mystical lands abroad.  Using similar card and dice mechanics from the previous game, players place meeples on locations to gain treasure.  

This game is a step up in complexity but still captures the same feel of the world.  Do you dare sneak into the Ogre’s Treehouse lest some pesky goblins get in your way of your gold?

– Matthew Kearns

Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon – Iello

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Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon looks like the next best seller from Bruno Cathala. That in itself will make it land on a top 10 list, but there are other reasons to consider. 

The layout of the board and how the components interact with it looks amazing. Eye catching artwork is the final piece of evidence that I present to persuade you. 

All three of these facts make Ishtar an easy pick for our GenCon top 10 list. And if you need any more convincing, its published by Iello. Iello + Bruno = winning.

– Ben Parker

Legendary: A James Bond Deck Building Game – Upper Deck Entertainment

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I’m excited about this game for a couple of reasons. My group loves deck builders. It’s probably one of our favorite mechanics. We have several of the other Legendary games and enjoy what Upper Deck has to offer.

In this one, players get to play through four classic James Bond films. One movie from each actor that has had the privilege of starring as this iconic character. I cannot wait to see what twists they’ve added to the Legendary system.

I’ve grown up watching James Bond this is going to have so much nostalgia. Be watching for my review soon!

– Mary Crabtree

Cloudspire – Chip Theory Games

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I was drawn to this game first by the beautiful artwork and fantastic components.  As I began to learn about the game I was impressed with the variable faction powers, changing strategy, and the many different fighting units.  Oh how I love the different factions!  It makes me think of a nature style theme, which is my favorite.  

I like the fog of war aspect when events drop and force players to change their strategy.  To me, all this screams “replaybility.”  I like a game that is going to be fairly unique each time I play.

Another big bonus is solo, cooperative, and player versus player modes.  Wow!  Count me in Chip Theory Games. 

I want to jump right in and sink my teeth in this fantastically produced game! 

– Heather Swanson

Shadow Rivals – Moaideas Game Design

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Shadow Rivals pits you against other thieves on a mission to steal the most awesome shadowy goods. The art reminds me very much of anime, but with a very distinctly board gamey twist. 

Moaideas focuses on distilling fun to it’s base spirits. I have no doubt, and a string presumption, this game will be more high quality distilled fun. For anyone that has not checked out Moaideas, you have done yourself a disservice. Now’s your chance.

– Josh Hale

Lockup: A Roll Player Tale – Thunderworks Games

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Lockup: A Roll Player Tale is a worker allocation game in which players compete to become the most powerful crew in the prison. Each turn players move their workers around the prison. At the end of the round crews earn rewards based on influence in each area of the prison. They are able to hire more crew, craft items and increase their reputation. 

The goal is to be the crew with the most reputation at the end of the game. All of this has to be done while maintaining a super low profile. Get too bold and you will draw the attention of the prison guards who will come raid your chambers. 

With stunning artwork and a wonderful theme (who doesn’t love prison!), Lockup is positioned to be a breakout hit. Lockup: A Role Player Tale was a no-brainer when thinking about what should be on our GenCon top 10.

– Ben Parker

Disney Villainous – Evil Comes Prepared – Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH

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My game for the top 10 is Disney Villainous: Be Prepared. I like this for a lot of different reasons. It’s an auto add to my collection. I already enjoy Villainous and an expansion is a great add. It’s a game I can play with my family and I don’t have a lot of these. 

It uses a villain from one of my favorite movies, the Emperor’s New Groove and Rattigan from the Great Mouse Detective. This shows their commitment to opening up to the wider Disney catalog. They also use of Scar from the Lion King. The combination of lesser known and more established hints at some of the other movies they might not have used otherwise. 

Each villain feels thematic and gives you the experience of being them. Overall, the combination of playing with family, a game I already like, and the hope for the future  put this on top of my list of games.

– Steve Mayne

Letter Jam – Czech Games Edition

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Letter jam is everything you never realized you wanted in a game until you play it.  Players take a series of rounds giving and receiving clues in the form of numbered tokens.  The tokens represent the order of letters that spell a valid word.  

There are a very limited number of clues available during the game and the mechanisms force all players to take near equal part in the giving and receiving of clues.  Rather than having instant gratification on each solved clue, players keep their deductions hidden.  

At the end of the game, each player then attempts to solve a meta puzzle by spelling a valid word out of all the letters they have.  The real trick is unscrambling a valid word out of the other solved clues and sometimes a set of possible options for what a letter could be.  

Spelling and vocabulary skill is helpful but doesn’t require extreme mastery.  Most word games of this category make me feel dumb  compared to my very skilled friends and family.  Letter jam makes all of us feel good as they give applause worthy clues and I get to feel a part of it when solving the clue clicks into place.

– Joseph Summa

Mint Cooperative – Five24 Labs

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Mint Cooperative is the newest edition to the wonderful Mint games. Like its predecessors it it a big game in a tiny mint tin. Unlike other Mint games, Mint Cooperative is the first co-op game in the series. If you couldn’t guess that from the name, well now you know. 

Combining the talents of Jonathan Gilmour and Brian Lewis (giants of game design), you are guaranteed an amazing experience and you will be hard pressed to find such a lot of game with such a small footprint. 

Players work together to save their town, Mintopia City, from the dreaded ruin of Halitosis, the arch enemy of all that is lovely smelling. Each player is a superhero with unique abilities and all players must work together to overcome the horrible evil before life and smells as we know them are destroyed. 

Mint Cooperative is bound to leave a cool refreshing feeling in your little gamer heart.

Disclaimer: Josh Hale, owner of Meeplegamers, is the Five24 Labs’ lawyer.  However, this top ten list was developed by the volunteer writer-reviewers.

– Ben Parker


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