The boys and I made our way to GenCon this morning. We spent most of our time in the exhibit hall today doing WotC demos to fill up our cards for the prize area. We had 8 items completed by early afternoon and the boys decided to roll for their prizes. Tristan and Logan picked up some Magic cards. Caleb opted for the D&D miniatures. Caleb opened them on the way home and there is a fair amount of figures in the pack. His rare was the Hunched Giant which looks like the Cave Troll from Fellowship of the Ring.
The WotC area was impressive as usual but not nearly as over the top as last year with the full size displays of the military vehicles for the Axis & Allies Miniatures game and the huge Hecatomb display. The focus this year is very much on fantasy — D&D and their new CMG, Dreamblade, in particular.
Many of the demos are the same as those we played last year (Heroscape, Star Wars Minis, Magic, Magic online, Axis & Allies Minis). D&D Minis was something new we tried this year. Can’t remember if it was there last year or not. It works much the same as the Star Wars Minis game but set in the fantasy world of D&D. There are differences but each game has comparable mechanics. In a way, the ability to cast spells in D&D Minis is similar to the Force powers some of the characters in the Stars Wars Minis game. Each acts like a special ability with a limited number of uses during the game. D&D Minis also uses other rules from traditional D&D gaming that will be familiar to RPG players such has movement on a diagonal (1 – 2 – 1 – 2 …), critical hits, morale checks and attacks of opportunity. This makes sense since D&D Minis is all about encapsulating the combat aspect of RPGs into a game and adding the collectibility of the figures to keep you coming back for more (and one of the reasons not much of this product has made its way into my house!).
The other game we played which is brand new was Dreamblade, another CMG. Dreamblade was rather interesting. You play on a 5x5 grid with miniatures that spawn onto the board each turn. At the end of a turn where you’ve scored more points than your opponent, you gain a victory point. The first player to 6 victory points is the winner. You score a point (for your ‘turn’ score, not victory points) for each character killed on your opponent’s team. There are also sqares on the grid that are worth varying points to one of the players. If you control (i.e. only your characters are in the square) a square that is worth points to you at the end of a turn, you add those points to your score for the turn. The player with the highest ‘turn’ score receives a victory point. The turn consists of an initiative roll, spawing new characters and two actions. The actions are either shift (move one square) or strike (combat characters in the same square). It’s a little bit of abstract strategy mixed with dice rolling miniatures combat. Unfortunately, the collectible aspect reduces my interest. The starter kit is $30 and the boosters are $15 each.
Hecatomb was one of the games last year that dominated the WotC booth. While I was playing the D&D starter game and talking to the gentleman running the demo, he told me that Hecatomb more or less imploded. There is no demand for the product. It was noticeably absent from the convention — especially considering the attention it was given last year. I checked the event catalog this evening and there are no tournaments scheduled either. Another trading/collectible card game bites the dust. I have not played Hecatomb so I have no idea if it was any good or not.