Top 6 Games to Buy at Gen Con 2017
Modern Board Games

Top 6 Games to Buy at Gen Con 2017

For board gamers, Gen Con is a magical place, with new releases and old favorites lining the halls. Read on into this article to discover some of the games we're most excited to buy at this year's convention.

Every year one of the biggest board gaming conventions rolls into Indianapolis. Gen Con is a massive event in the board gaming world, where dozens of games are released every year, and 2017 is no different.

There are so many games available for sale and demo at Gen Con this year and games are added to the board game geek convention tool on a daily basis. In this article we’re going to dig in to some of the games we’re most excited to purchase and play this time around.

Make sure to check out the companion article: Top Six Games to Demo at Gen Con 2017.

Games (and Expansions) to Buy

These are the games that will definitely be available for purchase at Gen Con. We’ll absolutely be purchasing these games as soon as early as we can. These games are not all true “Gen Con releases”, but most have come onto the market within the last few months.

Star Wars Rebellion: Rise of the Empire Expansion

Star Wars: Rebellion (SW:R) from Fantasy Flight Games was one of the hottest games of 2016 that made it onto our Best Games of 2016. Set in the timeline of the original trilogy, SW:R let you step into the world of Star Wars, pitting the Rebellion vs the Empire in an epic, sprawling, asymmetric game. For more about Star Wars: Rebellion, check out our review.

Rise of the Empire, expected to be for sale at Gen Con, is an expansion that will incorporate both the events of the newly released film Rogue One, as well as additional content from the original movies. It adds new leaders, new units, new missions, new projects, and new objective cards. It will also provide a streamlined variant on the combat system called “Cinematic Combat” that will use an additional set of custom dice, new faction-specific tactic cards that are both tailored to the specific combat units, but also played in a different method altogether. Since the clunky combat system was the only negative gripe I had about the base game, streamlining this while simultaneously adding more content makes Rise of the Empire an insta-buy for me.

First Martians

While some people who pre-ordered First Martians directly from Portal Games already have their copy, First Martians’ official release is at Gen Con. This should prove to be a hot ticket item that I have no doubt will sell out. From designer Ignacy Trzewiczek, First Martians takes the basic system of his hit game Robinson Crusoe, but sets in on Mars. You are the first colonists on Mars, and must work together to build facilities, plant seeds, explore the unknown, and just stay alive on the harsh red planet. First Martians is a beast of a game that comes with six different one-off scenarios and two campaigns that span across multiple sessions. It also seamlessly implements an app in order to handle some of the bookkeeping that was necessary in its predecessor Robinson Crusoe. From my initial plays of First Martians, I can tell this is a game that I can really sink my teeth into and will get a lot of mileage.

Star Trek Ascendancy: Borg Assimilation

Star Trek: Ascendancy (ST:A) is a 4x game from Gale Force Nine that also made our Top Games of 2016 list. ST:A lets you take control of a faction–Federation, Klingons, or Romulans–and build up their civilization from a fledgling people venturing out in the unknown to a galactic empire spanning across the galaxy. For more about the base game, check out our review.

In addition to the promised new factions of the Cardassians and Ferengi, Gale Force Nine has announced a splash release of Borg Assimilation. Borg Assimilation brings in the terrifying and nigh unstoppable Borg as an AI-controlled faction that all of the players must collectively team up to fight and keep them from running roughshod across the galaxy, destroying and/or assimilating everything in their path. They can take over planets, ships, even entire factions. Should this happen, the player or players who have been assimilated will now take over as the Borg while the others scramble to keep the Borg from erasing their civilization too. This expansion is definitely high on my buy list. After all, resistance is futile.


Lisboa is the latest game from master heavy game designer Vital Lacerda. Vital’s previous games, including Vinhos (a Meeple Mountain Favorite), Kanban, and The Gallerist, are heavy simulations with strong thematic ties. On November 1st, 1755, the city of Lisbon, Portugal was devastated by a massive earthquake, subsequent fires, and a tsunami (all of this actually happened).

In Lisboa, players are influential nobles seeking to collect the most wigs possible by the end of the game through a card-driven, hand management game. On your turn you will be scheduling hearings to garner favors and working with architects to rebuild the city. Like The Gallerist and the deluxe reprint of Vinhos, Lisboa was gorgeously illustrated by Ian O’Toole and each card and tile includes historically accurate images and figures. Lisboa was available in limited release at Origins and, like Vital’s deluxe reprint of Vinhos, was funded with Kickstarter.


The “escape game in a box” board game craze has stepped into the limelight of board games with Exit: The Game winning the Kennerspiel des Jahres (connoisseur/expert game of the year) for 2017. Deckscape is a similar style of game to Exit, and the Unlock! system but it has a twist on them. In both Exit and Unlock! you need to pass each challenge in order to move on but in Deckscape you can only attempt each challenge once and you get the correct result either way. Your score at the end of the game is based on the number of challenges you answered correctly. Like Unlock!, Deckscape is a reusable game system and is entirely encompassed in a small deck of cards. Two of the Deckscape games will be available for sale at GenCon.

The Climbers

The Climber is a 3D strategy game where your goal is to get your player piece as high up as possible. On your turn you’ll place a block onto a growing stack of blocks then you’ll move your piece onto a piece with their color showing. You have limited access to ladders so it’s important to plan your moves effectively. The Climbers is the first game in Capstone Game’s “Simply Complex” line of games and is currently available for pre-order with GenCon pickup available and the game will be available for sale during the con.

Honorable Mentions

Downforce, Raiders of the North Sea, Whistle Stop, Photosynthesis, Whistle Stop, NMBR 9, In the Year of the Dragon: 10th Anniversary, Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary, Valletta, Lignum, Mini Rails, Scott Pilgrim DBG, Orleans: Trade & Intrigue, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Monster Box of Monsters

So what games are you looking forward to purchasing and playing at Gen Con? Tell us in the comments below!

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About the author

Jesse Fletcher

I have loved board games since childhood. Re-discovered modern gaming in 2013 and never looked back. I enjoy stupid, silly fun as much as I do strategy, and aspire to never lose the childlike joy that board gaming provides.

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