In 1968, Gen Con got its start as a wargaming convention founded by Gary Gygax, well known for his co-development of Dungeons & Dragons. Back then, it was a small gathering in Lake Geneva, WI. Today, the gathering of tabletop publishers and enthusiasts has blossomed into a titanic affair, with tens of thousands of attendees, and hundreds of games to peruse, preview, and purchase. 

It’s a tremendous challenge to cull down from all those projects (many of which look amazing) and highlight just a few, but a few games managed to snag more than their share of the spotlight thanks to smart concepts, innovative mechanics, or simply fulfilling long-held anticipation. Here are ten of the games (listed in alphabetical order) that garnered big buzz and excitement at this year’s show.  

The 7th Continent
Publisher: Serious Poulp

After a highly successful Kickstarter back in late 2015, The 7th Continent continues to impress. This exploration and survival game is inspired by the classic choose-your-own-adventure books. The cooperative game can be played solo or with up to four players. Players take on the roles of explorers in the early 20th century who are ranging across a mysterious land, aiming to lift curses placed upon them. Players must hunt and fish, gain new abilities, and otherwise find ways to survive in the harsh environment. The 7th Continent is built to support not just dozens, but even hundreds of hours of exploration and adventure across a modular board of terrain cards, and as such, the game includes a save system to let you carry over your progress from one adventure to the next.  

Codenames: Duet
Publisher: Czech Games Edition

Codenames (and its sequel, Codenames: Pictures) are two of the best tabletop game experiences of recent years, offering an engrossing mix of deduction, word play, and guessing wrapped in a sneaky, espionage overcoat. Codenames: Duet is the latest release in the mix, providing a smart twist on the rules that eliminates the need for two big groups of players, and instead offers cooperative play for as few as two players. The Codenames concept is firmly established at this point, but anyone who has played a few rounds of the original knows there’s good reason to be stoked about a new twist on the excellent formula.

Dragonfire
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs

Two to six players can come together in this deckbuilding card game set within the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms world. Gorgeous fantasy art and a clever adventure structure communicates the feeling of a classic RPG session, while the deckbuilding aspects let you build up your party of clerics, rogues, fighters, and wizards with new magic items, feats, and other improvements. Building off the excellent Crossfire deckbuilding system, Dragonfire has the trappings of a big launch, and continues the D&D brand’s expansion into gaming spheres beyond its core tabletop role-playing pillar. 

Next Page: A game of gnomish librarians, and post-nuclear Fallout