Gen Con 2022: Polygon’s best board games are also the most chaotic
Gen Con 2022 felt like coming home to me. After nearly two decades of attending the board game Super Bowl, I’ve developed some very close friends that I enjoy seeing every year. Going two years without renewing those relationships was just too long. This year, after vendors closed, we weren’t interested in playing the latest European-style game, or a campaign in a box, or a sprawling grand strategy game Ameritrash. We just wanted to have fun, and the selection of new games on offer suited our needs perfectly.
In fact, I think the best games at Gen Con this year were the lightest, most frivolous things you could imagine. But more than anything, this year’s top games have been chaotic – including the title that just might be my own personal game in the series.
Psychic Pizza Delivery Guys Go Ghost Town
Psychic Pizza Delivery Guys Go Ghost Town is a hidden environment game for 3-5 players. Notice I didn’t say hidden move – like for example nuns on the run, Last Friday, Letters to WhitechapelWhere Special forces. In this game, each player is given a large laminated grid and a dry erase marker. The goal is to discover and deliver pizza to the residents of Ghost Town. What kind of pizza does every house want? You won’t know until you find a pizza, then use your psychic powers to guess where it belongs. The concept is just as dumb as the name – especially when you accidentally stumble upon a teleport space and need to start doing your Zork-like mapping again.
You can buy Psychic Pizza Delivery Guys Go Ghost Town direct from Board Game Tables Dot Com for $39.00 direct from the publisher.
Here’s a bit about the rest of the most chaotic new releases, presented in alphabetical order.
The latest from Smirk & Laughter Games, boo is a little game designed by Scott Brady that is absolutely charming. Inside, you’ll find a collection of wooden cats and a plush comforter. Flip the inside of the box over, place the quilt on top, and continue booping your opponents into a match-three-meet-zone-control fiasco.
boo Will be available soon.
cat in the box
cat in the box is a turn-based card game — like Hearts, Spikes, Euchreand Pinochles. Players compete to collect sets of cards by playing the highest card in a given suit. The problem is that all the cards are black. Players announce the suit they are playing, then write down the card they have played on a double-layered board with a unique token. If for any reason you break the logic of the tableau you are creating – by being unable to play a color or number from a missing card, for example – you create a paradox and all points that you have marked so far become negative. It’s an elaborate fuck-your-neighbor game, but also surprisingly fast and light.
cat in the box is available now direct from the publisher for $29.95.
The first thing I throw away when I open a board game is the punchboard. The second thing I throw away is the hourglass, if there is one. The stress of this thing has brought absolutely no enjoyment to any game I’ve ever played – except kites. Each of the various timers are different, with some being at 30 seconds, another at a minute and a half. Players take turns playing cards that match timers, cooperatively trying to keep all of these “kites” in the air before their sand runs out. Again, absolute mayhem, but also a great way to warm people up at the start of a long night of board games.
You can pre-order kites now for $20.
I was lucky to have a demo of AEG Bet ready by none other than Ruel Gaviola, who told the assembled influencers that he both consulted on its design and contributed voice-over work for the companion app. He described it as “a board game for board gamers”, which makes perfect sense. Basically, it takes horse racing and roulette, shuffles them into a real-time game, then adds alternate win conditions in the form of a stack of cards. That way, your family members who love going to the casino and understand things like trifecta betting and… well, math… can compete on equal footing with those of us who love to play. Ticket to ride.
Bet ready will retail for $39.99 and should be available for purchase later this year.
Change of reality
Academy Games is known for its heady historical simulations and strategy games. I am happy to report that Gunter Eickert Stellaris: Infinite Legacy it is going well. But what really made me turn heads was Change of realitywhich is very obviously inspired by the iconic lightcycle race in tron. It’s just that this time around the track is moving, with cubes spinning and pivoting along their axes. You haven’t lived until you take turn four and have it crash into your back immediately, outmaneuvering your opponent and sending them back to the starting line. There’s a deluxe edition, as well as optional rules for playing Mario Kart with seashells, bananas, and more.
Change of reality was only on sale this year at Gen Con, with the deluxe set going for $65. Expect to have the opportunity to buy it soon.