After spending the last few years since 2020 on hiatus or social distancing with masks, this year’s Gen Con returned to pre-Covid level numbers.
It’s an amazing sign for the industry and the world that everyone is able to once again go out and socialize with their favorite hobbies. It may be because the last few years were either canceled or smaller than 2023 felt so crowded. It’s safe to say that Gen Con has reached pre-Covid levels of attendance, and the crowd was hyped for it this year.
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Products and Games
There were a ton of new games revealed and released this year at Gen Con. We won’t be able to go over all of them right now, but hopefully, we’ll get our hands on them soon for some in-depth coverage. Here are some of the games we’re most excited about.
The Fox Experiment
The Fox Experiment by Pandasaurus looks amazing but perhaps is one of the more controversial games to come out of 2023. Not for any gameplay, designer, or retailer drama but because of its theme. The theme revolves around an experiment the Fox Experiment which aims to domesticate wild foxes. To that end, players breed foxes for desirable traits and each round chooses which ones to breed in order to create domesticated fox breeds and to have more desirable traits.
As you might imagine people who think animal breeding is a cruel process are turned off by the theme, and those who want to judge the game solely on its merits as a game are at an end. It’s actually sparked some decent debates online, but it’s also been a bit divisive. It’ll be interesting to see how Pandasaurus deals with the heat, and if the game lives up to the hype.
Tales From the Red Dragon Inn
Red Dragon Inn is one of the silliest drinking games and DnD parodies I’ve ever seen. Tales From the Red Dragon Inn takes our favorite tavern-loving adventurers and looks to put them in an actual adventure. The premise is the town is being invaded and it’s up to the patrons of the Red Dragon Inn to save the day. The mechanics look to deviate from the original, but the artwork and charm that made the original popular remain intact.
3 Ring Circus & Big Top
There were too big circus-themed games in the mix this year, and it’s a theme that I’ve often had late-night chats with friends over. The Golden Age circus is a theme that has been sorely lacking in the board game world and 2023 is releasing two strong options.
3 Ring Circus takes an area control approach as players manage their circus, and Big Top utilizes an auction mechanic to bid on acts for your show. It’s going to be exciting to see how these are received and I can’t wait to get them to the table.
I’m a huge fan of Scotch whiskey and also really excited for Distilled. It’s been under development for a while, and it’s just about aged to perfection. Distilled is a classic Euro-style game where players distill and sell various spirits. It requires some thrifty resource management to balance ingredient costs, but it looks amazing.
Tokaido is one of those great games that has a permanent spot on most gamers’ shelves and a fairly consistent rotation on the table. Now it’s getting an upgrade for gaming duos and couples. Tokaido Duo is a specific 2-player version of the classic Tokaido. It retains its amazing artwork, and I can’t wait to play it.
Michael Myers returns in board game form. The board game version of the classic horror movie is set to be released sometime in late 2023. If you’re familiar with the video game Dead by Daylight you’ll be familiar with the premise. One play takes on the role of Michael Myers and is hidden unless in the direct line of sight of the survivors. The other players take on the roles of the survivors and must escape. This all-vs-1 game looks to be an amazing blend of tension and fun gameplay mechanics.
For sheer style, Mistwind is one of my most anticipated games revealed at Gen Con 2023. It looks amazing. Players are traders who need to create trade routes from the Mistwind Isles. Did I mention that the primary mode of transport between the isles is flying whales? The artwork looks amazing, and the gameplay looks to be in-depth and strategy-heavy.
In the Exhibitor Hall during Gen Con, over 800 books were sold, with “Campaign Builder: Cities and Towns” emerging as the top seller, selling out by Saturday. As the organization is relocating its warehouse, they stumbled upon a few “Limited Edition Creature Codex” books, which were quickly snapped up by eager fans. For those who couldn’t make it to the event or missed out, a virtual booth was established, offering the latest titles and other products.
The Community Play section highlighted that Kobold Press expanded its community games, doubling in size this year. Over a span of four days, a whopping 57 GMs orchestrated five adventures across 367 game slots, engaging over 2000 players. A notable event was the introduction of the first in-person playtest of “Tales of the Valiant,” which showcased the new adventure “Sea of Bones.” This playtest was enhanced by the use of the new Valiant PC minis from Eldritch Foundry.
A special accolade was given to GM Emmanuel Boston and his team, who managed to complete the adventure in a mere 44 minutes, crowning them the reigning champions of this challenge. The invaluable support from Community GMs was emphasized, as they played a pivotal role in bringing the adventures to life. With feedback forms dispatched to GMs, the organization is eager to gather insights to make the next event even more grand and memorable.
Starfinder 2E and Pathfinder Remastered
One of the biggest announcements this year came from Paizo as they announced the 2nd edition of their sci-fi-themed TTRPG Starfinder. Paizo’s booths were swamped with convention goers taking a look at the future of Starfinder, and a remastered Pathfinder. So whether you’re a sci-fi or fantasy fan, Paizo has an updated game for you.
Dungeons & Dragons has been in gaming news quite a bit for various good and bad reasons. At Gen Con however one of the most game-breaking items in the game is getting a huge upgrade.
Wizards of the Coast is releasing a new supplement dedicated to the “Deck of Many Things”. Instead of the standard 13 or 22-card deck, this new supplement will have rules, cards, and options for 66 cards in the deck. It’s going to be wild.
Gen Con 2023 was a whirlwind of announcements, showcases, and unforgettable experiences. From navigating the throngs to diving deep into the latest RPG updates, this year’s convention was a testament to the ever-evolving world of board games and RPGs. Here’s to another year of gaming magic!
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.