Gen Con 2011 Round Up

Gen Con 2011 is over, and while I was only able to watch from afar, there was lots of gaming news.

Dungeons & Dragons Product Seminar

The D&D product seminar has always been one of the things that I look forward to when following Gen Con news. It offers a look ahead at the next year’s releases for D&D. This year, Undermountain was the only core D&D product announced that I hadn’t already seen leaked. After the normal product run through, the Q&A section had some interesting tidbits. The biggest surprise, the announcement of a return of D&D minis with a new skirmish game, was saved for the very end of the seminar. If you’re interested, you can listen to the whole seminar on the Tome Show.

Before Gen Con, I made a few predictions for the D&D product seminar. Overall, I think they were pretty accurate, but it is hard to judge some parts of them because WotC really didn’t give details on much that hadn’t already been already announced or leaked.

Prediction #1: No New Edition

This one was completely correct. Neither 5E or a 4E Basic version was announced. Given the light product schedule and that nothing beyond April was announced, I still think it’s possible that we’ll see a new edition announced sometime in 2012.

Prediction #2: Digital Distribution and Premium Physical Products

WotC didn’t announce any type of digital distribution for 4E role-playing products during the seminar, but did say that they were interested in it when asked during the Q&A. They also mentioned experimenting with an Eberron subscription where a small fee would give access to D&D 3.5 Eberron sourcebooks.

The newly announced Undermountain adventure is going to continue the trend of premium physical products though. With that being the only truly new core D&D product announcement, it’s hard to say whether or not that part of the prediction was truly right.

Prediction #3: Dungeons & Dragons as a Broad Brand

While the Dungeon of Dread board game was cancelled, a new euro-style game, Lords of Waterdeep, was announced at Gen Con. They also re-affirmed that they will be continuing the line and hinted that they were working on some sort of mass battle game. My hope is for a Last War game set in Eberron, but we’ll have to wait for any more details.

On the video game front, they mentioned that Atari will release more D&D games and that they will be doing more tie-in products.

For support of old editions, the main tidbit was during the Q&A session when they said that they are trying to figure out how to bring fans of old editions back to WotC. The experiment with Eberron sourcebooks also sounds like a first step towards offering D&D 3.5 products digitally.

I think the return of D&D minis with a new skirmish game also falls into this idea of broadening the D&D brand, even though it definitely wasn’t an announcement I expected to see.

ENnie Awards

I have a somewhat mixed view towards the ENnie Awards. While I love the idea of RPG awards, I can’t help but feel the open voting and audience bias of the ENnies rewards games for good community management on the part of their authors more so than directly on the merits of the games.

That said, it’s always nice to see products that I’ve enjoyed winning and all of the winners are generally worth taking a look at. In particular, it was nice to see Dark Sun, Castle Ravenloft, Critical Hits, and BattleTech win awards, but I would have liked to see Gamma World on the winners list (it was nominated for Product of the Year). You can see the list of this year’s winners here.

Other News

The Star Wars license for role-playing, card, and board games has gone to Fantasy Flight Games and they’ve announced an X-Wing miniatures game and a rebellion-themed card game. While I really enjoy the Saga Edition rules, I am interested in seeing what FFG will be doing for a Star Wars RPG.

Margaret Weis Productions has picked up a license for a Marvel Comics RPG. They announced that it would use the Cortex Plus system and have already done the Smallville RPG with that same system. They also seem to be planning expansions based on major events in the comic books such as Civil War or Age of Apocalypse.

There were also a few other games released that I’m interested in checking out: The One Ring, Dungeon World, Amaranthine, and Fortune and Glory.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

2 replies on “Gen Con 2011 Round Up”

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