GenCon is a few weeks early this year, which has thrown me off schedule-wise.
As long-time readers know, every year, I crown "Gamethyme's Game of the Year" for the best (for me) new-to-me game played since the start of the previous year's GenCon. Note that these are not all "new" games of the last year - they're just games that I had somehow managed to not encounter previously.
Some years, there is a clear (and easy) winner.
This year will be a bit trickier. Here are the games I consider the front-runners:
Star Realms. A small-box deckbuilder that I've played a ton of via their app. I think that it's a bit too random, but my regular defeats (and all-too-rare victories) tell me that there is definitely a skill component in play here,
Hyperborea. A "bag-builder" with a conquest theme that seems to be trying to bridge the gap between Euro-style games and American-style games. I liked it a lot, but it takes just a hair too long for my regular Wednesday group to bring it to the table very often. It also feels like the game often ends just as your "engine" is getting started.
Machi Koro. Another engine-building game. That seems to be A Thing with the games I've played this year. You know how we tend to describe games in terms of other games? This one reminds me of "Strategy Craps." Solid knowledge of probability will definitely help players at this one, which is very random in the early game. Mid-game and late-game, however, that randomness flattens out.
Witness. Speaking of describing games in terms of other games: This game is really good, even if it is "Logic Problem Telephone." Each test provides a puzzle that must be solved by passing information to other players verbally, without writing anything down. The first few cases do a great job of teaching how to play, but some of the later cases are crazy-hard. This is not an easy game, despite the simplicity of the rules.
Cutthroat Caverns. How had I missed this for so long? I'm a sucker for a good semi-cooperative game, which this very much is. Players need to work together to beat the monsters, but they also want to be sure to be the one to get that last hit in so that they can claim the glory for having killed it. There's a fair amount of trash-talk and screw-your-neighbor in this, both of which I love in a game. And there are multiple expansions which shake it up without screwing it up.
Nations: The Dice Game. I'm always looking for a game that's fast. And this definitely fits the bill. In fact, it's fast enough that I'd throw it into the "Filler" category time-wise. But there is some meat in there, and there are decisions to be made that do impact play. And a two-player game takes just over ten minutes. What's not to like?
Now it's possible that something else will hit the table in the next two weeks that will knock these off of my "best games so far" list, but it's probable that one of these will wind up being my Game of the Year (which will be announced in two weeks).
Also on the list but just barely shy of this short list:
Argent; The Consortium, Council of Verona, and Ca$h 'n Gun$ 2nd Edition. In nearly any other year, I suspect that these would have made my short list, but this year has been filled with really good games. Argent takes up just a bit too much table space to be a regular game on Wednesdays, Council of Verona is fun. It's solid. I don't crave it. And Ca$h 'n Guns requires the right crowd for me. There are people that I just can't play this game with, either because they're too random as players or because they don't grasp that there is a ton of strategy in this game.
The winner will be announced in two weeks, while I'm in Indianapolis.
Like previous years, I'll be trying to post my GenCon impressions in the evenings. There will be nearly fifty of us there this year in three different demo areas, so that'll be interesting.
I can't wait, and I hope to see you there.