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– by Brian Jasper

This last weekend marked GenCon, the good ol’ U.S. of A.’s biggest, awesomest tabletop gaming convention. Covering boardgames, card games, and miniatures, there’s never been a better time for hobby gamers as evidenced by the fact that this was the first sellout crowd in GenCon’s nearly-50 year history.

Featuring events for games such as Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering, GenCon has long been the destination for gamers. Increasingly, though, the booming hobby game industry’s tie-ins to established media properties makes it a notable event for geeks and nerds of all stripes. As such, I infiltrated the crowd and happily bring you back all the stuff worth knowing.

Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena

Published by IDW Games, this two-player deckbuilding/boardgame mashup has players taking control of water, fire and earthbenders in a competition style originating on the beloved animated series. The goal of the game is to advance your team furthest along an arena-themed board, hopefully ending the match by pushing your opponents out.

While Legend of Korra is already a big enough draw for many gaming enthusiasts, the miniatures, which serve as the game pieces, drew especially high marks from passersby. Designed and sculpted by Mark Fitzpatrick, who also worked heavily on the minis for last year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past boardgame, the figures perfectly capture the energy and style of the animated series.

Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena will be available soon through Kickstarter.

A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch

Many, many people have played the uber-popular game of Catan (formerly, Settlers of Catan). A new edition sees players compete to become the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch in A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch. While players draw resources from lands south of the Wall in typical Catan fashion, they will also be challenged by the threat of Wildling invasion. Fortunately, famous figures of Game of Thrones fame will be showing up to help.

This game had one of the bigger crowds at the convention and it looked super fun. The site of so many Wildling and Night’s Watch figures arrayed at the wall while Catan was being played out nearby definitely ratcheted up the cool factor to a solid 11. Fans of Game of Thrones should note, though, that the game is based off of the books and not the television show.

A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch is releasing soon.

Star Wars: Legion

There are already several incredible Star Wars tabletop games available from publisher Fantasy Flight Games. In fact, last year’s Star Wars: Rebellion is considered by many to be not only one of the best Star Wars games, but one of the best boardgames period to come out in recent history. Star Wars: Legion is more of a straight-up miniatures game in which players take control of either the Imperials or Rebellion forces and battle it out using different squad compositions and using a variety of tactics. As with many miniatures games, more figures and factions, though still unannounced, are almost guaranteed to be making their way to hobby game stores soon.

Fallout

An extremely popular videogame series hits tabletops this year. Inspired by both Fallout 3 and 4, in Fallout the boardgame, players explore an irradiated landscape just trying to survive. Along the way, they’ll gain skills, equipment and influence while various factions do battle. For fans of the videogame series, the creators of Fallout did a phenomenal job of staying on-brand and keeping the visuals very reminiscent of the games’ signature look.

Big Trouble In Little China: The Game

Perhaps no other game made 30-somethings squee quite like the adaptation of Big Trouble In Little China. A cooperative game, up to four players will traverse the board gaining power in preparation for a final showdown with Lo Pan, the Three Storms, and his minions. From my brief view of the game, the miniature game pieces didn’t look too special, but the game art and accessories all carried the movie’s iconic panache.

Planet of the Apes

GenCon saw not one but two different Planet of the Apes boardgames! The first, published by IDW Games (of Legend of Korra fame, above), is based on the original movie property. In a strange twist, players of this game play as the main character’s psyche as he faces various environments and horrors in his journey through — THE. PLANET. OF. THE. APES.

WYSIWYGames brings a wholly different Planet of the Apes game to players. Based off of the newer movies, this game features humans and apes at war across a three-dimensional board. The preview at GenCon was a bit sparse, but that made a lot more sense to me later when I learned that it wouldn’t even be hitting Kickstarter until early 2018.

Batman: The Boardgame

The hero that everyone loves to love is getting his own boardgame next year. Batman: The Boardgame features a fight between one villain and his/her henchman versus a team of heroes. The minis on this one looked great and though there are several games already featuring Batman, none of them seem as geared toward the hobby gamer crowd as this one.

Breaking Bad: The Board Game

Even years after its final episode, Breaking Bad continues to be a hot property. Players get to play as Walter or one of his nemeses (Los Pollos Hermanos, the Juarez Cartel, or the DEA). With multiple ways to win based on who you’re playing as, the game will hopefully capture the intellect and sly wit of the greatest show ever on TV.

Do any of these games sound good to you? Are you a gamer? If not, would any of these get you playing? Tell us in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter at @LRM_Brian!

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