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10 board games to look for at Gen Con 2021 - preview

From sequels to beloved classics, to new releases from renowned creators.

Gen Con is back for 2021, with a slew of exciting upcoming board games for players to experience at the event. Taking place from September 16th to 19th, visitors can get their hands on a collection of new or yet to be released tabletop titles from all sorts of publishers and designers, so we wanted to give you a heads up as to what the most exciting board games releasing at Gen Con 2021 might be.

There are obviously a lot of games being shown at Gen Con 2021, therefore this list is far from all the convention has to offer. However, having gone through the titles confirmed to be appearing at the event, these 10 are what we consider to be the ones worth taking a look at - whether you’re attending or not.

Kingdomino Origins

Players: 2- 4

Playtime: 15 minutes

Suitable for: 8+

Kingdomino Origins layout image
The miniature mammoth figurines look positively adorable here.

The Kingdomino series has easily earned its crown as one of the most beloved modern board game franchises out there. Starting with the original, then Queendomino and now venturing into entirely new territory with Kingdomino Origins, the series certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

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Kingdomino Origins, which comes from Bruno Cathala, the designer behind the first entry in the series, has players travelling back in time to the Stone Age - a far-flung world from the series’ classic fantasy setting - and becoming people establishing their own prehistoric regions. Players can expect similar tile-laying gameplay mechanics to those found in the original game, but with some fun new elements, including the all-important addition of fire - a cave-person’s greatest treasure. There will also be three different modes included in the game, providing even more ways to experience Kingdomino Origins.

Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two

Players: 2 - 4

Playtime: 20 - 40 minutes

Suitable for: 9+

Unmatched: Battle of Legends - Volume Two cover
Iconic characters from across fiction, history and folk lore go head-to-head in this skirmish game.

Announced earlier this summer, the next mainline installment in the skirmish game continues its tradition of smashing together some fascinating characters. Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two is another opportunity for players to experience this brilliant franchise of board games that combine card play and miniatures gaming into one title.

Joining the already diverse roster of characters included in the series will be Achilles, Sun Wukong - the Monkey King - Ghanian warrior Princess Yennega and Bloody Mary, all of whom sound incredibly exciting from both a thematic and gameplay perspective. Whilst Achilles will be relying on his partner Patroclus for strength, Sun Wukong has a bag of tricks to pull from, Princess Yennenga has her loyal fighters and Bloody Mary can surround her enemies with terrifying ghost powers. As huge fans of this series, it continues to surprise and delight us with all the new ideas it brings to the table.

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future

Players: 2

Playtime: 45 minutes

Suitable for: 12+

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future layout
Fate of the Future has a distinct art style that looks inspired by the art deco movement.

For those of you who might actually recognise The Rocketeer, you might be wondering why a board game based on the 1991 Disney cult classic film is being released now? If you don’t recognise it, you’re probably just as confused. However, we are seeing a bit of a renaissance of obscure properties from the past receiving their own tabletop games, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing - especially when Prospero Hall has anything to do with it.

Prospero Hall is a designer studio that has created some bloody fantastic movie board games in the past, including Disney Villainous, Jaws and the monster mash-up Horrified. Whenever I see a game with the company name attached to it, my interest is immediately piqued. The Rocketeer: Fate of The Future will have its opponents competing against each other as the hero and villain from the film, which could involve some elements where the two sides play differently from one another in asymmetric fashion. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Camel Up!: Off Season

Players: 3-5

Playtime: 45 minutes

Suitable for: 8+

Camel Up: Off Season layout
The pop-up cardboard tents in Off Season are incredibly charming.

We’re big lovers of Camel Up! here at Dicebreaker, so naturally we’re going to get excited when another entry in the series is announced. Camel Up!: Off Season is far from what we were expecting, and is definitely more of a spin-off title than a direct sequel to the first game, but it definitely sounds and looks interesting.

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Instead of betting on racing camels to win coin, players in Off Season will be loading those famous two-humped beasts with goods that they’ve purchased at a bazaar that springs up whenever the racing dies down. An auction game, it seems that the trick with Camel Up!: Off Season is to set your sights on which items you want to gain from each round and put your money into that - gaining you both the goods and the useful power that comes with the market you purchased from. Certainly a lot less chaotic than the original game, Off Season features some fun-looking mechanics and excellent components which make it worth watching.

The Hunger

Players: 2-6

Playtime: 60 minutes

Suitable for: 12+

The Hunger artwork
The people of the village will have to keep their eyes out for an entire clan of thirsty vampires.

The next game from Richard Garfield - the creator of Magic: The Gathering, King of Tokyo and Keyforge, to name a few - The Hunger has some really interesting elements, beyond just the designer who made it. Easily, the card game’s most striking element is its premise, which has players becoming a cabal of vampires who desire to relieve their unquenchable thirst for human blood.

In traditional vampiric fashion, each night the players will be venturing out from their castle and into the town below to find some suitable victims to drink from. However, as tempting as it is to stay out where the food is, the looming sunrise threatens to put an end to those blood-suckers foolish enough to not return home in time. A deckbuilding game about collecting cards to capture the most bountiful of humans, The Hunger is positively irresistible - thanks to its combination of fun concept, proven designer, striking artstyle and compelling gameplay mechanics.

Dungeon Scrawlers: Heroes of Undermountain

Players: 2-4

Playtime: 15

Suitable for: 10+

Dungeon Scrawlers - Heroes of Undermountain maps
Dungeon Scrawlers' sheets provide players with various challenges to overcome in the dungeon.

An official Dungeons & Dragons board game, Dungeon Scrawlers: Heroes of Undermountain not only features aspects from the world’s most popular roleplaying game, but it comes with a nifty little gameplay concept to boot. Taking place in the dangerous underground rooms and corridors beneath Waterdeep, Dungeon Scrawlers is not your average adventuring board game. Rather than rolling dice, players will be scribbling with pens.

The upcoming game comes with a selection of different dungeon layouts for players to tackle, with the goal being to make it through its labyrinthine halls and to the boss before the time runs out. Using a marker pen, players will be able to apply their different abilities and powers - which will depend on which class they’ve chosen - to the various enemies that occupy each dungeon, eventually going up against its designated boss. There’s also treasure and artefacts to collect along the way. The more players manage to do within the time, the more victory points they’ll earn - making for a frantic and utterly silly race for the finish-line.

Vivid Memories

Players: 2-4

Playtime: 30-45

Suitable for: 13+

Vivid Memories cards
Each card in Vivid Memories could represent a core memory in the main character's life.

Coming from the studio behind dice-rolling game Sagrada, Vivid Memories is an unusual-sounding board game about reconstructing a person’s childhood moments by using a deck of beautiful cards. The concept of the game is incredibly intriguing - players try to build up a series of core memories using smaller fragments in time - and also seems like it could present a challenging experience.

An engine-building game at its core, meaning that players gradually open up new opportunities to upgrade their current system, Vivid Memories has players choosing whether to save a moment as it happened to gain abilities or as it was first imagined - widening their potential for scoring those all-important points. Though the gameplay looks to be very compelling, Vivid Memories’ most interesting aspect is its artwork, which does a lot to carry its theme and reminds us of some great board games like Dixit and Mysterium.

The Last Friday

Players: 2-6

Playtime: 30-120 minutes

Suitable for: 14+

The Last Friday board game layout
Players will either be sneaking or fleeing across the board in this horror game.

If it’s not obvious by the title and the box art for this game, The Last Friday is heavily inspired by the classic slasher movies of the 1980s - think Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween, to name but a few. One player takes the role of a killer who must stalk across the serene campsite currently occupied by a group of unfortunate teenagers and cut down their victims one by one. These ‘victims’ are controlled by all the other players in the game, who must attempt to escape a grizzly fate to come back fighting.

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A hidden-movement game, The Last Friday features the perfect formula for building atmosphere and creating tension, which is exactly what you want from a horror experience. Taking place over the course of four separate chapters, which serve to shift the power dynamic between the killer and the survivors, changing who is the hunter and the hunted throughout. Whilst the lone player has the advantage of stealth and strength, the others can use their collective efforts to gather the knowledge and equipment needed to survive the night. The Last Friday looks to combine some well-worn horror tropes with some interesting gameplay mechanics to create something worth experiencing.

Origins: First Builders

Players: 1-4

Playtime: 60-120

Suitable for: 14+

Origins: First Builders board game artwork
The setting of Origins combines ancient history with futuristic aesthetics.

From the designer of Nemesis - that board game with the terrifying alien that’s trying to kill you - Origins: First Builders is a civilisation game about being super powerful galactic beings who are attempting to guide humanity into a more advanced age. Origins is the kind of board game that players can chew on, thanks to the fact that it contains many different paths to victory, with none of them necessarily being the ‘right’ one.

Each player has their own city that they’ll want to develop throughout the game, gradually adding new tiles that will provide them with special abilities that they can harness to push them further along the various victory tracks. Deciding how to use each turn efficiently will undoubtedly be crucial to winning Origins; it’s just the kind of tabletop title that will keep players coming back for more because they haven’t quite sussed it out yet. For a board game with a fascinating premise, beautiful artwork and a lot of potential for replayability, Origins: First Builders should definitely be on your radar.

The Dragon Prince: Battlecharged

Player: 2-6

Playtime: 15-30 minutes

Suitable for: 10+

Your favourite characters from The Dragon Prince are depicted in this skirmish game.

Based on the animated fantasy series released on Netflix, The Dragon Prince: Battlecharged is a skirmish game featuring characters and locations from the show. Obviously a big part of the appeal of this one is its theme and presentation, with miniatures modelled on beloved characters such as Rayla and Soren, but it’s also got Brotherwise Games behind it - a publisher that’s already done some great work with licensed properties in the past, such as Call to Adventure: The Stormlight Archive and Call to Adventure: The Name of the Wind - so there’s definitely more worth paying attention to than just the name.

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Each of the eight playable heroes will have their own unique fighting style that fit with how they battle in the show. Players will be able to try out and decide which of the characters better suit their approach to the game. Players can utilise their chosen hero’s deck of ability cards against their opponent/s, alongside their specific hero card.

The Dragon Prince: Battlecharged can be played as a team game - with players fighting with one another against another duo - or as a series of fights between separate players. However you decide to play The Dragon Prince: Battlecharged, it’s sure to be an intense experience that both fans and newbies to the series can enjoy.

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