I spent this past Friday and Saturday at Gen Con, aka The Best Four Days in Gaming.
Gen Con was started by Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax back in 1968. It was originally held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Technically, it started the year before in Gygax’s home, but became a public event in ’68. From these modest beginnings the show has grown to around 28,000 (in 2009) making it the largest gaming convention in North America.
It’s a lot to take in, especially in two days. I walked the exhibit hall, saw the sights and tried to discern, out of all the new products shown or announced, what would be the new hotness.
Wizkids lives! Better still, Wizkids thrives!
Back around November 2008 Topps (then owners of Wizkids) shut the company down, citing the recession as the reason for pulling the plug. Refusing to let the popular Heroclix game die, both the fan community and some key industry folk (including some ex-Wizkids employees) worked to bring the game back. Deals seem to be on the verge of happening, then falling through at the 11th hour.
Then last summer the stars aligned and NECA became the new owner of Wizkids and it’s properties. The Hammer of Thor expansion was launched in November 2009 and the game has been experiencing growth ever since!
Several Heroclix items were on display, including the recently released Blackest Night Starter Set, and the upcoming Brightest Day Action Pack. Also shown were the soon-to-be released Watchmen deluxe box set and the Web of Spider-Man set. Fans of the game will be pleased to learn that Web of Spider-Man features no chase figures! The next Heroclix release after WoS will be DC 75th Anniversary. Sadly, none of these figures were shown. The sculpting and paint for Heroclix under the new Wizkids seems to be the best ever. Really strong on both accounts.
Also on display and for sale was a new, non-Clix game based on Suzanne Collin’s popular young adult novel The Hunger Games.
Early versions of Wizkids’ new Star Trek games were also show. Two games have been announced for later this year and early 2011. The first is a starship combat game featuring ship miniatures on clix bases. The miniatures for this game look amazing. The pictures do not do these models justice. The detail they’ve been able to achieve is really astounding. I was able to hold one of the 3D printer output orginals and a near production version to compare. Just fantastic. I cannot wait to play this game. The models appear to be from the TNG era, with both the Enterprise D and E present, as well as more recent Klingon ship designs.
The best news about this game is that it is NOT collectible. No blind packaging here. Instead you will be able to buy fleet boxes for the Federation, Klingons and Romulans.
The second game is a more Euro-style co-operative game. The playing pieces are the Enterprise bridge crew along with the movie Enterprise. No models were available to show yet. This looks to be a 2011 release.
2011 plans couldn’t be talked about just yet, but there’s hints of big things to come next year, especially when it comes to community building tools. Since the most difficult thing about most games is finding someone to play against, some strong community tools would be very welcome! I’m so happy to see both Heroclix and Wizkids back and doing well, and I’m excited to see what they’ve got in store for the future.
Back in May I wrote about another miniatures game that I was looking forward to called War Rocket: Space Battles in the Atomic Age by Hydra Miniatures (you can read that blog entry here). After more than two years in development, Hydra launched the game officially at Gen Con with the release of the War Rocket core rulebook. I spent some time talking with Hydra Miniatures president and principle sculptor, Matt Beauchamp. Matt stepped me through the basics of the game, which looks to flow very well providing lots of tactical options without the cumbersome rules of some other spaceship combat games.
I promptly plunked down my cash for my own copy of the just released rulebook. I still need to pick up some ship minis before I can truly appreciate this game, but – hey – one step at a time! But, the retro look of this game should appeal to fans of old school Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers or pulp science fiction adventure.
Well, that’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another Gen Con report. I plan on posting a report every day this week. So, please come back and check it out!