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Best of Gen Con 2012

By John Kaufeld
Published: August 24, 2012
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Families made up a larger portion of convention attendees than ever before.
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Darth Vader shows frustration with the TIE pilots demonstrating Fantasy Flight's Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game.

This year’s Gen Con in Indianapolis held wonders for retailers and customers alike. Hundreds of companies packed both the exhibit hall and the demonstration areas with a strong mix of new and evergreen titles, along with some surprise announcements and the convention’s first-ever keynote session.

The convention kicked off with its sixth annual Trade Day for retailers, educators and librarians. Attendees were treated to special training and demonstration sessions from Out of the Box Games, Calliope Games, Bandai America, Wizards of the Coast and others. Retailers also took home a selection of free games from exhibitors.

On the exhibit hall floor, trading card games still showed their popularity, but traditional board games, non-collectible card games, roleplaying games and miniatures games were stronger than ever.

Wizards of the Coast talked up its new Rise of the Underdark setting for Dungeons and Dragons. It featured new enemies and storylines focused on the Drow, including related storylines for D&D Encounters. Wizards of the Coast also showed its new Dungeon Command boxed combat game, which includes a fixed squad minis, plus maps and terrain. 

Fantasy Flight showed its long-anticipated Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game. The game includes a core two-player set plus boxed expansion sets. Fantasy Flight also showed Android: Netrunner, boxed-card-game remake of the popular Netrunner trading-card game. The early stock of Netrunner sold out in minutes on the show floor.

The Upper Deck Company had a strong response with its Super Hero Squad Trading Card Game, an easy-to-play collectible game based on the “Super Hero Squad” TV show. In November, watch for its Marvel boxed deck-building game, currently called Legendary. This game has a lot of potential thanks to its mechanics and the fascinating balance between competition and cooperation.

In the family games area, Wattsalpoag showed A Fistful of Penguins, a fast-playing dice game with custom dice and tremendously cute lucite penguin pieces. (The penguins were so unusual they might sell the game by themselves as a stocking stuffer.)

Foxmind demonstrated Fauna, a new title from Friedemann Friese, the designer of Power Grid. Fauna puts an entertaining new spin on wildlife trivia, introducing a betting element and rewards for being “almost” right.

Extending its popular Tsuro brand, Calliope Games previewed Tsuro of the Seas. This expanded version builds on Tusro’s basic foundation, adding new twists, a new type of piece, a larger board and deeper strategy.

The game researchers from Tiltfactor showed three new titles. Zombie Pox wraps a zombie infection theme around its engaging Pox game, with spot-on cartoon artwork. Tiltfactor’s new party games, Buffalo and Awkward Moments, will entertain teen and adult audiences. Both are interesting twists on classic party games that will make you laugh while making you think.

Catalyst Games showed an elegant two-player strategy game called The Duke. Its high production values and interesting piece-flipping mechanic will make it a solid seller.

Most of these games are available through game distributors. Contact Tiltfactor directly for wholesale pricing and ordering information.