Back in 1996-1998 I was a big MtG player and was introduced to many gaming conventions including GenCon UK / Europe by way of Pro Tour qualifiers. I fully blame GenCon for getting me into board gaming in the first place. While visiting gaming for those qualifiers I was introduced to a little game called Settlers of Catan and that's where it all started. All these years later I am going to the mother-Con for the first time. I will be working, however, there is plenty I'm planning to see and do while I am there. I fully intend to do a few Magic drafts for old time sake. Here's what I am looking forward to seeing and/or picking up. If you want to see the full list, I've prepared a single page version of the full BGG preview list 

La Stanza (Quined Games 1955)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Lastanza
Available for demo only. This set collection game, set in the Renaissance period comes from Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade (Madiera, Nippon). It was available on Kickstarter and is due for release in October 2019. Quined Games are still taking pre-orders. We saw a prototype of this at UK Games Expo it looks to be every I'd expect from this designer/publisher duo, well, I guess trio.

City of the Big Shoulders (Parallel Games 1641)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Shoulders

I had the chance to play a prototype of this at HeavyCon V back in May 2019 and it was by far my favourite at the Con, this is a good job really as I will be demo-ing it with Parallel Games for the whole weekend. The elevator pitch is that it's an 18xx without trains and with a worker placement phase and you should absolutely come over and let me tell you about it in person.

Pipeline (Capstone Games 457)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Pipeline

Pipeline is an economic and industry building game previously funded on Kickstarter from first-time designer Ryan Courtney with artwork by Ian O'Toole (Lisboa, Scarlet Pimpernel). I saw a prototype for Pipeline at HeavyCon III in 2017 and it's finally available to purchase from Capstone Games and will by all accounts take up most of my luggage space.

Draftosaurus (Ankama)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Draftosaurus

Draftosaurus is a drafting game with a difference, instead of cards you're drafting cute as hell chunky dinosaurs. Choose a dino, place them in your park strategically and pass the remainder to the next player. The game is appears quite lightweight so a good introduction to drafting for the family.  Ankama are also presenting Monster Slaughter and Tales of Glory which I've had the pleasure of looking at.

Atelier: The Painter's Studio (Alderac Entertainment Group)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Atelier

One of the most stunningly presented games I've seen coming up, the player board is actually the painter's palette. Each player is an artist running an art studio (atelier), rolling their four action dice and using them in turn to collect assistants and colours and in order to  complete paintings to make the most points.

Welcome To.... (Deepwater Games 471)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Doomsday

While the market has been flooded by Roll and Writes at the moment (including Ganz schön clever, Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write, Patchwork Doodle, etc) Welcome To... is one that stands out and still gets frequent plays from us. We even got a 12 player game in at the last Uncon including many familiar faces of the UK gaming scene. There are a number of new themed versions available including Halloween, Outbreak and Winter Wonderland. I am excited to see if they each add any new and interesting flavour (yum, brain flavour).

Oceans (North Star Games 2309 / 2435)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Oceans

Having been fans of Evolution since we played it prior to Essen one year and then consequently buying everything North Star Games had when we went to the stand, we then had the pleasure of becoming part of the play testing team for Oceans. It's a new spin on the Evolution mechanic with marine life (including some legendary), operate within the marine ecosystem, feed from the reef, leech from your neighbours species or even straight up eat them with an Apex Predator. This is a standalone addition to the Evolution series from designer Dominic Crapuchettes and well worth a look.

Planet Apocalypse (Petersen Games 1261)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Apocalypse

The new game from Sandy Petersen and a return to "apocalyptic horror" where you and up to four others take on the Hordes of Hell. Following in the footsteps of Cthulhu Wars, I would expect it to make as big an impact. This definitely isn't my sort of game but the miniatures are going to be a spectacle, wish I had room on the mantle piece for them. You can take a look at the Print and Play to get a quick taste.

Revolution of 1828 (Renegade Game Studios 2201)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases

Campaign trail games are not a new thing, however I am always excited to find out about anything Stefan Feld. This political duel between two suitors for the US Presidency relies on each player both winning support from electors and smearing their opponent, which we are all too familiar with in the news of late.

Honarary mention goes to The North Sea Epilogues RPG which is available for GenCon pickup from Renegade.

Shards of Infinity: Shadow of Salvation (Stone Blade Entertainment 709)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Shardsofinfinity

We love Shards of Infinity from the team that brought us (and is also bringing us another) Ascension. This second expansion adds a new hero, Rez to play alongside the other characters in the base game. But in a more interesting spin they are adding a Battle Book with a branching story that can lead players through a cooperative campaign mode.

Honorary mention goes to Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top which is a quick take that card game from Ascension / Shard's of Infinity designer Justin Gary

Encore! (Stronghold Games 1919)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Encore

Yes, it's another Roll & Write but considering it's from Marcus and Inka Brand (Village, Exit, Rajas of the Ganges) this is worth a quick play.

Emperor's Choice (Tasty Minstel Games 1335)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Choice

Emperor's Choice is a set collection and auction game from designer Hisashi Hayashi (Trains, Yokohama). Each player takes the role of one of the Emperor Qin Shihuang's subordinates in Ancient China promoting his large-scale projects that lasted for centuries beyond his reign. Support the Emperor whilst influencing your own standing in the Imperial Court and earn victory points for your achievements.

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! (Forbidden Games 2237)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Pirates

Forbidden Games have had great success with Racoon Tycoon and Railroad Rivals in just the last year. Both excellent quality in terms of gameplay and components and they have set a standard now which they are going to hit again with Pirates! It's a deck / pool building game but you navigate your ships through the Caribbean islands along three different winds tracks towards your goal in Trinidad, plundering ships and towns for treasure along the way. You had me at Forbidden Games. P.S. if you visit their booth over GenCon they will have a special "Fat Cat" blend coffee on the stand. Honorary Mention: take a look at the Raccoon Tycoon: Fat Cat Expansion while you're there.

Talisman (The OP, USAopoly 137)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Batman

If you've never heard of Talisman then you've been living under a rock for 30 years. Talisman is the classic roll and move fantasy game first introduced by Games Workshop in 1983. Now with Pegasus Spiele due to re-issue the 4th Edition later this year. We also have Talisman: Batman – Super-Villains Edition, Talisman: Kingdom Hearts reigniting the classic game and introducing it to a new generation of gamers with these much loved franchise themes.

Choose Your Own Adventure: War with the Evil Power Master (Z-Man Games 1629)

GenCon 2019, Indianapolis - Essential Releases Adventure

We are old enough to have read and enjoyed many of the Choose Your Own Adventure books in the 80s, having played House of Danger which stayed true to the format whilst updating and refreshing it into a cooperative game. Picking up this next instalment is a no-brainer.