Report by Tim Isakson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just got back from GenCon, and on the whole it was an excellent convention - much larger dealer room than in previous years. Although there was some apprehension in the air about the WotC/TSR sitution, that doesn't really have much to do with boardgames, so I'll not say much about it.
I talked to the folks at Rio Grande Games, and in particular Jay Tummellson, about their plans. They are already importing a pretty impressive selection, including Lowenherz, Mississippi Queen, Bohnanza, Tutankhamun, and quite a few others, mostly cards games from Amigo and Abacus. They also had El Grande and Konig & Intrigant, along with the Promo cards from Hans im Glück. I asked if they intended to produce an English language edition of El Grande. It sounded like they were seriously considering it but I got the impression the decision hadn't been reached yet. I also asked if they would provide a means for people who already have the game to get ahold of a set of cards in English, and was told that they would consider it (so if people are interested in such a thing, let 'em know - email is WrgmsWst@aol.com).
Mayfair had the stuff they've brought out (Manhattan, Modern Art, Detroit Cleveland Grand Prix, and Streetcar) as well as a large stock of the German Die Siedlers, Seefahrer (spelling likely wrong - my German is nonexistant) and the tournament set of the Kartenspiele.
Other companies that had European stuff were Winsome Games with Transsib, Ferrocarriles Pampas, and the Trainsport games - as well as the regular line. I tried a game of Ferrocarriles, and it was pretty decent - I'll need to try it a few more times to be sure, but it had a lot of difficult decisions to make, and some interesting mechanics.
Also, I saw a game being imported by Clash of Arms games called Africa that was published in France by a company whose name I don't recall (but I'd not heard of them before). It looked like a mostly military oriented conquest game of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries, but I have no idea how it played as I didn't see any demos. It looked like it had nice bits (little ceramic villages as markers for cities), and the map was nice looking - but no clue as to how the game plays.
A lot of other things were on hand at GenCon - quite a lot of RPG stuff, many Miniature games (including the Flintlocque folks, from Scotland - that looks like a fun game if you're into that sort of thing, especially the upcoming Sharpe's Rifles tribute/spoof - Sharke's Rifles, where Sharke is a Half-Orc/Half-Elf, which translates roughly as Half-English/Half-French in the games setting).
In general, I would say that this years Con was my best ever - both in terms of events played in (including a couple of boardgames), which were of uniformly high quality, and in terms of general atmosphere and fun of the con itself. It didn't hurt that there were several things I wanted to get from the Exhibitors room (I'm now afraid to go to Essen - I'll probably end up broke and destitute if I ever make it there...).
Anyway, thats the news from GenCon - a good time, and it looks like the German invasion of the US games market has begun in earnest this year.
The Game Cabinet - email@example.com - Ken Tidwell