Welcome to my third report on Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in North America, which was held this past August 5-8 in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you missed them, Report #1 can be found here, and Report #2 here.
FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES
In this installment I am going to be taking a look at Minnesota-based Fantasy Flight Games (aka FFG). FFG has been one of my favorite game publishers for several years now both from the perspective of a gamer and from my time as a game retailer. Everything about FFG has always been top notch. Not only do they make incredible games, but they’ve dabbled in movies, graphic novels and recently opened the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center gaming and retail space.
FFG is a huge presence at Gen Con. They have the largest and most active booth at the show. It’s almost overwhelming. They had nearly 20 tables set up that were constantly running demos of their latest releases. It’s always awesome to see so many people taking part in the demos, getting excited about the games and rushing over to the retail portion of the FFG booth and picking up a copy of a game to take home and share with their friends or gaming group.
FFG released several new products at Gen Con, including Dust Tactics, Cadwallon: City of Thieves (based upon the Rackham IP, Confrontation), DungeonQuest (an update of a classic Games Workshop boardgame) as well as the recently released Battles of Westeros game (based on the Song of Fire and Ice fantasy novels by George RR Martin). Battles of Westeros builds upon the game engine of another boardgame, Battlelore, which happens to be one of my favorites (which also built upon Memoir ’44 and Command & Colors Ancients before it).
I recently wrote about Dust Tactics, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that I picked up my copy of the game, and got to play it a couple times. I really dug it. It’s simple without being simplistic. It’s fast, yet strategic. Most importantly, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to play. I’m looking forward to getting in many more games of Dust Tactics in the future and growing the game with the various expansions that FFG has planned for it (there’s 5 expansions listed in the back of the rulebook).
BATTLES OF WESTEROS: A BATTLELORE GAME
The aforementioned Battles of Westeros was released about a month before Gen Con, but had a strong presence at the FFG booth. Being a huge fan of the original Battlelore game, I already had my copy. But, I got to play in a couple games at the con, which was great. There’s alot of similarities to the original Battlelore, but also just as many places where it deviates and becomes it’s own game. Honestly, that took me a bit to wrap my head around. I’ve been playing Battlelore for about 4 years, so those rules are pretty ingrained. I liked the changes set up in Battles of Westeros. It make for two different games, which is a good thing. Westeros is a bit deeper and more challenging than Battlelore.
As I mentioned, Battle of Westeros is based upon the novels of George RR Martin, specifically A Game of Thrones, and features the forces of the House of Stark and the House of Lannister. Two expansions were on display allowing players to built out their Stark and Lannister armies further. Although not officially announced, it’s a given that the other houses from the books will be added at some point.
Now, I’ve got to get around to reading that copy of A Game of Thrones that’s been on my nightstand for over a month!
One of FFG’s most popular boardgames has been Arkham Horror, a horror-themed game based upon the writings of Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos. In the original game the players pieces are cardboard stand ups, but now FFG has released a slew of pre-painted character miniature to spice up your game.
There was so much more to see at FFG, but due to time constraints I couldn’t cover it all. For more information on Fantasy Flight Games and their incredible products check out their website at www.fantasyflighgames.com.
Paizo is something of a jack-of-all-trades in the gaming world, and has become something of a powerhouse in recent years. They are an online gaming retailer, an RPG publisher, a boardgame publisher, a fiction publisher through their Planet Stories imprint and more. They used to produce supplements for Dungeons & Dragons and, in fact, were the publishers of both Dragon magazine and it’s companion periodical, Dungeon until Wizards of the Coast pulled the plug on both to manage the content online themselves.
When WOTC announced that D&D 4.0 was on the horizon, Paizo smartly saw the writing on the wall and began developing their own RPG called Pathfinder. Pathfinder would utilize the popular 3.5 D&D rules (which were available via an Open Gaming License). The Patherfinder Core Rulebook debuted last summer at Gen Con and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since, becoming the #2 role playing system. The Core Rulebook has been followed up with several other books including the Bestiary (detailing the monsters and creatures inhabiting the world of Pathfinder) and the just released Advanced Players’ Guide. There is also a wealth of other supplementary material including Adventure Paths, encounter modules, maps, cards and even Pathfinder novels.
Paizo’s quality is top-notch. So much so that, even though I don’t care for role-playing, I’d probably join a Pathfinder group if I came across one! At the very least I’ll be picking up the Pathfinder novels.
Paizo, of course, continues to publish Planet Stories volumes of which I am a huge fan! The imprint is comprised of great old pulp science fiction stories and newer stories not otherwise available in the United States.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for more from Gen Con 2010!