Gen Con bills itself as "The Best Four Days in Gaming," but if you want to have your best possible four days, you've got to have a plan. In less than 24 hours, the doors of the Indiana Convention Center will open, and over 30,000 gamers will enter a massive exhibit hall that is jam packed with companies demoing prototypes and selling advance copies of unreleased games. There might just not be enough time to see it all, so to help guide your way, here are our picks of the hottest titles you should be checking out at GenCon 2011:
Battleship Galaxies: Hasbro is no stranger to the strategy game market, but their releases usually are published through their subsidiaries Wizards of the Coast or Avalon Hill. However, this is the first time that a core Hasbro game has been re-imagined for hobbyists. The classic game of Battleship has been turned into a spaceship war game, and it's good. Getting something right on the first try is a big achievement, and it makes this game worth checking out.
Burning Wheel Gold: Designer Luke Crane teased fans of the series earlier this summer with details on a new third edition, sold as a massive 600-page tome that will cover all aspects of the popular Burning Wheel system. If this book turns out to be even half of what it claims, it will be the star of Gen Con's Indie RPG scene. The book won't officially hit the streets until later this year, though, so head straight to the Indie Press Revolution booth to buy a copy as soon as doors open.
Star Wars: Fantasy Flight announced their acquisition of the Star Wars gaming license and revealed two games for release in early 2012, which we wrote about earlier this week. Needless to say, these two games are the stars of Gen Con at the moment, so get yourself over to Fantasy Flight's booth for a demo. While you're there, pick up a pre-sale copy of the Gears of War board game, and check out the unreleased games Deadwood and Rune Age.
Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan: AEG is bringing their mega-popular Legend of the 5 Rings franchise into board game form for the first time. In Ninja, one player will attempt to infiltrate a well-guarded castle under the cover of darkness. Other players control the guards in this one-versus-many style of gameplay.
Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War: Publisher Stronghold Games will be exhibiting at the World Boardgaming Championship in Lancaster, PA instead of having a booth at Gen Con this year, but that doesn't mean you can't pick up pre-release copies of this highly anticipated game. Stronghold has a sales agreement with retailer Troll and Toad's booth. If they sell out early, keep an eye out in open gaming for copies because you want to play this game.
Leviathans Core Box Set: Be sure to check out this truly unique take on miniatures combat, where airborne warships duke it out in a steampunk alternate history 1910. The starter set includes introductory French and British fleets. For those looking to really dive into the new system, there is also an expansion pack available for each fleet.
Other games to check out: Steve Jackson Games will be releasing Munchkin Zombies 2 at the con. Gary Games will have a new promo pack for Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. Cryptozoic's much-discussed entry into the board game market will finally be shown in playable form with their first three games: The Walking Dead, Penny Arcade: The Game, and Food Fight. In addition to their new Pathfinder Battles miniatures line, Paizo will be showing off the latest Pathfinder supplement, Ultimate Combat. Sandstorm Productions has a unique take on the classic Werewolf game with their Mythos-themed Are You the Cultist?