News from the Bottom Shelf

The biggest gaming event in the western hemisphere has come and gone and a mass of games lies in its wake. GenCon was bigger than ever this year with a mountain of news to match. I don't typically focus on new upcoming games mostly because there are other places that do it better, but it's GenCon! So I'll make an exception and point out a few games that stood out to me and I feel were a bit overlooked ... at least until Essen.

Set in the world of Seasons, Lords of Xidit is actually a reimplementation of an older game called Himilaya which was released on 2002. I never got the chance to play Himalaya, but taking a look at this makes me wish I had. It's a programmed movement game, where players plan their moves in advance in an effort to build temple, defeat enemies and control regions. It's not too far from concepts found in many other games, but what really sets it apart is the scoring system. There are four distinct areas to score in and coming in last any any one area will eliminate your from contention. Add in some gorgeous art and more than a handful of plastic pieces and you get my most anticipated game coming from the the convention.

Legendary Encounters is the next game in the Legendary from Upper Deck. Instead of commanding a team of superheroes, you'll be in control of a group of space marines working together to fight of an infestation of aliens. If anything, it appears to fix some of the thematic inconsistencies found in its predecessor and introduce some new twists to keep things fresh. If that sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out Joel Eddy's preview from the show floor.

There aren't enough heist board games. There are plenty of train games, but there aren't enough heist games. So where would a train heist game fall on that spectrum? I'm not sure but I'm intrigued. In Colt Express, players are raiding a moving locomotive in order to fill your coffers. But for some reason you've all decided to rob the same train at the same time. Not only do you have to deal with moving through a moving train, you have to dodge opposing gunfire, fisticuffs and the on board marshal. To make it even more enticing, Colt Express uses a three-dimensional train with two levels and seemingly superfluous three-dimensional cacti.

While King of New York was garnering most of the attentions, it was iello's other game that was the apple of my eye. Cute and Cthulhu don't frequently mix and perhaps there's a good reason for that. Or perhaps Night of the Grand Octopus has stumbled onto something grand. Secretly select the location on the board you want to go and resolve any conflicts that arise. Land in the same room as an opposing cultist and a compromise has to be made or both face the consequences. Land in a room with an opposing baddie and, well, baddie things happen. I don't have any particular affinity for Cthulhu so kudos to the designers for getting me intrigued.

And while GenCon appeals more to my sensibilities as a board game enthusiast, there's no denying the popularity and influence that Scrabble has had on the board game hobby. While I'm no huge fan of word games, there are those who are absolutely consumed by them. Word gamers are different different breed including Nigel Richards. Richards is a Scrabble powerhouse (and a bit of a recluse). Fivethirtyeight details his absolute dominance and why he was the favorite coming into the world championships, but it was relative newcomer Conrad Bassett-Bouchard who walked home with the crown and $10,000 prize. Looking at the winning board it's comforting to know that 'barf' was part of a world championship.