With movies, sports, and pretty much everything else being cancelled this summer, many people (including yours truly) are turning to board games. Sadly, among the casualties of the Covid-19 emergency were the Origins and GenCon board game conventions. Game makers usually release their big new games at these events, making them a great way for board game fans to learn about what’s new and decide what to buy.
GenCon went virtual this year, and I had the opportunity to speak with Mary Higbe from Goliath Games about some new games they are releasing. In addition to the video, Goliath Games provided me with demo copies of three of the games, giving me an opportunity to provide a detailed look at the game components in the previews below.
THE ESCAPE GAME: ESCAPE FROM IRON GATE
Concept: ESCAPE FROM IRON GATE is a way to bring the fun of an escape room to your game night. The game involves acting things out, solving puzzles, and trading items. While players are all wrongfully incarcerated prisoners, only one can escape, bringing elements of cooperation and competition. ESCAPE FROM IRON GATE differentiates itself from other escape room games because it can be played over and over again thanks to its impressive array of cards and a dice mechanic that makes each replay different.
Components: The components are top-notch. The art has a retro vibe and the style is consistent across the components. The wood meeples and dice feel great in your hand. The box and board is sturdy and thick. The best component is the red decoder, which is used to decode clues on some of the cards. This is an original and well-executed touch.
Instructions: The instructions are clear and easy to understand, making it easy to crack this game open with a new group of friends, even ones who don’t like extensive complicated rules.
Value: The game comes with a ton of cards. Given the sheer number of cards, this game really does have a lot of replayability, making it a good value.
Player number/Age Recommendation: 3-8, 13+
Concept: This is a simple pop culture trivia card party game. The twist is, it can be played as a battle of Old School (Boomers/Gen X) vs. New School (Millennials and Get Z). Half of the cards are questions that older people should get, while the other half is geared towards younger players.
Components: The game is composed to two thick stacks of cards.
Instructions: For a simple game, the instructions provide some ideas of different ways to play, depending on the ages of the people playing.
Gameplay: This is the type of game you play for bragging rights, but the real fun table talk with your opponents. A question about floppy disks will certainly lead to a “when I was your age, we had to use …” conversation with those who grew up on iPhones. This game can also be played via Zoom (or other phone conferencing app), with the person who owns the game reading the questions. This makes it a fun way for families to connect who have been separated by the Covid-19 situation.
Value: Eventually, you will get through all the cards and start remembering the answers. Having multiple groups of people you can play with will extend its shelf life. Even if you start to memorize all the questions, you can play game show host and use the game to spark fun conversations with your friends and family.
Player number/Age recommendation: 2-8, 18+
HARRY POTTER: REVEAL THE DEATH EATERS
Concept: A social deduction game where each player assumes a role from the HARRY POTTER universe. One player serves as the narrator Cornelius Fudge.
Components: This game is is made up entirely of thick cardboard tiles, each representing a character. The titles are thick and have a nice heft to them. The instruction book has a script for Cornelius Fudge to follow to move the deduction along. If I had any complaint, it would be that the box could have been smaller and still fit the tiles. As it is, it is still quite portable, but shrinking the packaging could make it easier to throw into a backpack to bring to friends’ houses.
Theming: HARRY POTTER fans will get a kick out of the many character roles they can take. Some, but not all, of the characters have abilities. These powers fit with the character (Harry’s power is using the Invisibility Cloak). With that said, each character’s ‘power’ is clearly written on the tile, so non-Potter fans can easily play this game.
Player number: 8-29 (not a typo! 29!)