This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people at the annual gaming convention at U of R known as Simcon. Located in Rochester, New York, you don’t want to miss the fun at this event organized by the University of Rochester Simulation Gaming Association with the event host being U of R student: Stephen Watson. If you’re in the Rochester area and you like to play tabletop or card games, you have to check out the Simcon for 2019
Visit the Simcon website for registration, event listings, and other details: http://sa.rochester.edu/simcon/blog/
Like I mentioned it’s a gaming convention for tabletop games, which means more than just Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering (although they have events for that too). At this 3 day long convention you can help playtest up and coming games like Ruthless, a sci-fi about an ancient spacecraft, meet members from local gaming studios like Kinsoul Studios, or just hang out with friends and play your favorite games. The convention offers a thorough collection of tabletop games for participants to utilize in the central ballroom (Frederick Douglass Hall this year) or in private rooms if you register beforehand. Don’t worry if you forgot your dice because you can find several vendors selling tabletop supplies, magic cards, button/pins, and cool gaming earrings. Simcon is the longest running gaming convention in New York State and was originally designed by Maren Cooke
In case you are reading this and you are new to tabletop games then here are some details. Tabletop games is a broad spectrum of games ranging from board to RPG to card games. Think about your favorite board game… now add in character sheets, dice, cards, and action! RPG tabletop games (think of Dungeons and Dragons) can span multiple sessions for a campaign and allow players to create their own character to interact with a world narrated by a game master (GM). Players normally will roll a die (or dice) to decide if they succeed or fail at certain actions, for combat, and other dynamic events in-game. On the other hand, card games can sometimes last less than an hour and come in many different styles. A card game everybody knows is Go Fish or UNO, but the genre applies to games like Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon Trading Cards, and Arkania – Destiny’s Recipe. Tabletop games cover genres like dice games, simulation games, and so much more. This doesn’t even begin to cover the encompassing category of tabletop games, so for a bit more information visit this wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabletop_game
Meet the Simcon Host
Stephen Watson is the humble host of Simcon 2018. He is a member of the University of Rochester Simulation Gaming Association and Senior U of R student. On top of organizing Simcon, he was acting moderator and game master for several events throughout the convention.
“Simcon is amazing because it allows tabletop industry professionals, hobbyists, and newcomers to be immersed in a weekend of board games.”
Stephan was born in England, raised in California, but moved to Rochester to attend U of R as an Optical Engineering student. Stephen will be staying in Rochester after he has obtained his degree to work on his career. Aside from putting together conventions and doing school work, Stephen also indulges in photography, reading, and is a member of the U of R tennis club. Thank you Stephen for organizing this amazing gaming convention!
Game Studios/ Game Designers
Simcon is a great place for studios to showcase games and even find play testers for new games they are working on. Maximum exposure and also maximum fun! Take a look at the game companies that made an appearance at Simcon 40!
DPH Games is a game company that produces tabletop games in New York. They have a successful enterprise with 7 unique tabletop games including Catch Me If You Can, Psychological Warfare, Cats, Legacy at Sea, Zombie Apocalypse Geocaching, The Gate of R’lyeh, and Affliction: Salem 1692. You can purchase and support their games by visiting the website here: https://dphgames.com
“DPH Games Inc operates out of upstate New York. Our goal is to produce high quality games that are fun, use unique game mechanics and involve complex strategies in their execution. We strive to create games that make you laugh, think and enjoy each other’s company. There is nothing quite like a group of friends or family members sitting around a table involved in an interactive game. The experience brings people closer together and isn’t that what it is all about!”
Kinsoul Studios is a local game development company for tabletop games. Located in Utica, New York they are comprised of 5 members dedicated to bringing innovation and immersion to their fantastic tabletop games. Below you will see Matt Molanare, Adam Zalatane, Jeff Dunlap, Eric Covatchitch, and Jordan Mathews. Their games are focused around ease of play, colorful artwork, and of course fun! Simcon featured all 3 games by Kinsoul Studios including Alkemia: Destiny’s Recipe, Steepseers, and Proving Grounds. Keep reading to get a closer look at their games and/or visit their website: http://www.kinsoulstudio.com/
“KinSoul Studio is made up of a group of good friends with a strong passion for gaming. We understand the love and excitement players can have for the worlds developed in games, and we aim to provide our players with the richest of experiences.”
Games Over Coffee
Games Over Coffee is a gaming company located in Rochester, NY. Since 2011 Games Over Coffee have been hard at work to design and bring to life several tabletop games. Visiting Simcon was Kevin Colagio who spoke at the Game Creator’s Panel and Demoed several games. Games Over Coffee has been visiting events all around to gain playtesters and put the games through strict analysis and many iterations. Their most developed game is Hero Flix, a competitive game revolving around creating movies, but they are also in development for Governance and Blipvert. For more information visit their website here: https://www.gamesovercoffee.com
“Founded in 2015 and located in Rochester, New York, we have been working on developing games since 2011.”
Ryan Morgenlander & David Erbelding
Two Game Design and Development students from RIT had an idea and went for it. Together Ryan and David put together a genius tabletop game called Cheating Death. They have playtested at Millenial Games, RIT Star Fest, Imagine RIT, and now Simcon. They will be demonstrating the game at events to come, so follow them on facebook: @CheatingDeathGame
A local tabletop game designer that demonstrated several games at Simcon. Play tests include Farce Recon and Ruthless. See his Patreon account here: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=9897534
A local tabletop game designer and creator of Cold Quest – Tundra Tactics. See below for info on Cold Quest and visit the Cold Quest facebook page: @coldquestboardgame
Several game studios and lone wolf designers brought games to get playtesters and gain exposure. Take a look at what Simcon had to offer for playtests!
“An introductory campaign for an in-depth sci-fi tabletop RPG. Explore an ancient spacecraft, crashed long ago on your planet, and discover the secrets locked within. You are not the only ones who seek this prize, however, and you and your competitors may have awoken something that should have remained asleep…”
From the game creator: Robert Watson, Ruthless is a scifi RPG tabletop adventure that allows players to explore an ancient spacecraft. Although this game is still in the works you can see in depth maps, fully functioning character sheets, and game rules below. Robert graciously allowed me to sit in and observe his first play test of the convention. Robert acted as the GM and attendees include Steve Bierre and Conrad Holzemer. Visit here to help Ruthless by donating: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=9897534
Watch this video of Steve and Conrad’s confrontation with the beast and their interactions with the ship A.I. known as Cam.
“A Fun intro mission for an action hero themed tabletop RPG. You are a covert agent working for ACE, who must infiltrate a movie set and find out what has been happening to the extras who keep going missing. The game rewards style and humor as well as clever tactics and quick thinking.”
Another creation by Robert Watson, Farce Recon is full of laughter and excitement. This suave group of agents travel to Indonesia to a sketchy movie set. Outrageous stunts and crazy actions occur as this fantastical tabletop game ensues. Robert Watson leads these agents on an epic adventure through Chapter 1 of Farce Recon. Players must you their Charm, Instinct, and Intellect, to solve the mystery (having some interesting abilities helps as well). Hero Points are awarded to players who use style and wit (decided by the GM). These points can be used to buff rolls, reroll, become immune to damage for a short duration, fear enemies, or disintegrate the bullets from enemies weapons. See the video below for a brief glimpse at how crazy Farce Recon can get.
“Cold Quest is an Arctic-themed race game with domino tiles as ice floes that players use to cross the board.”
Cold Quest is a board game that supports up to 4 players and is fun for friends and family alike. Players will race around the icy board and reveal tools or traps by flipping over ice floes (domino tiles). It’s a fact paced racing game where opponents must use strategy and luck to win. The first person to cross the board and get onto his/her goal area wins the game!
“Eskimos on a vision quest…”
Players can melt, maneuver, and move on each turn to obtain flow tiles, use them, and then move 1 space (2 spaces with the use of special items). Tiles include Early Thaw, Fish, Ice Breaker, Kayak, Polar Bear Relocation, Snowshoes, and Thin Ice. Visit the official facebook page for Cold Quest here: @coldquestboardgame
Created by Ryan Morgenlander & David Erbelding, Cheating Death is a fun game where the goal is to stay alive the longest (consistent with the title, I know!).
“Come check out this mortality mocking board game. Fight awful inflictions as you try to outlive your friends and family.”
Players go through 5 phases each turn including Beginning of Turn, Cheat, Move Roll, Cheat (again), and End of Turn. After moving the player will land on A, C, or F marked on the game board; these letters correspond to the 3 types of game cards: Affliction, Cheat, and Fate.
Affliction cards are permanent and will bring the player closer to death. Cheat cards are used at the players discretion and will bring the player further from death (in one way or another). And Fate cards are instantly flipped cards that affect the player or game in a random way. The Cheat phase is used to purchase cheat cards, and beginning/end phases are used for applying card effects that trigger at these specific phases.
The game is straightforward and exceedingly fun! See the below images for a full description!
Alkemia – Destiny’s Recipe is a vibrant “card game” created by Kinsoul Studios. I put “card game” in quotes as it has so much more than cards. It features 6 playable alchemists to choose from when starting the game which naturally means that up to 6 people can play at once, with a minimum of 2. The point of Alkemia – Destiny’s Recipe is to explore the land, collect ingredients, create things, unlock the crest recipe, and ultimately synthesize the Crest of Creation to win the game!
In addition to just cards Alchemia contains field tiles, ingredient tiles, tokens, dice, and other game pieces. For a more detailed look at the rules be sure to visit the kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/827090433/alkemia-destinys-recipe-0
“We tried to focus on making things colorful!” — Matt Molanare
This is an understatement as the game has tons of bright contrasting hues that evoke a fun and uplifting beat to the game experience. There is room for both competition and cooperation as you go along, but remember that you still want to be the first to create your crest.
“Alkemia: Destiny’s Recipe is a resource management board game for 2-6 players where each player leads an Alchemist through the colorful, hand-drawn world of Alkemia on a quest to create alchemy’s ultimate item, The Crest of Creation. By gathering from a large array of natural ingredients and purchasing recipes to higher level items, players will race to be the first to create the Crest. Players will connect with the backstories and motivations of our Alchemists, and are sure to re-visit the endless combinations of items and powers they can obtain.”
Take a look at the video below for Alkemia – Destiny’s Recipe in action!
Steepseers is another game designed by Kinsoul Studios. From the multiple playtests I saw a lot of eager participation and fun. Another colorful and innovative game by Kinsoul!
“Steepseers is a resource gathering tabletop game for 2 – 4 players, where each player becomes one of the last Steepseers and must work to deliver visions in order to help the public believe in them again, before it is too late. With the help of a specialty tea house and a friendly Steam Spirit, players will gather and steep the ingredients needed to trigger visions and earn Belief. Just don’t forget what’s in your teapot!! Steep your way to victory by collecting the most Belief before time runs out.”
The above description says it all! Steepseers may seem a bit complicated at first but makes sense after a couple of rounds of play. Each turn you have 3 phases: Re-Attune, Gather Roll, and Match. During Re-Attune you can switch your focus onto a different vision. During Gather you will roll to obtain more ingredients for your teapot. Finally during Match you will dump out your teapot and try to match ingredients with any attuned visions. After a certain amount of time the player with the most points earned will win.
“There are still those who remember a time when Steepseers, prophets of things to come, were respected and loved. A time, where the power of Steam Sight was celebrated, not spoken of in whispers.”
Watch a turn of Steepseers in the video below!
“You are a travelling martial artist, looking to learn from and compete with the best fighters from all parts of the world. Utilize skills from the different schools of martial arts you have explored and hope for just a little bit of luck as you test your mettle in the Proving Grounds.
Proving Grounds is a fast-paced martial arts card game for two players that captures the moment-to-moment excitement and unpredictability of a masterful fistfight. There are no turns- players roll dice and play cards at the same time- so the action is swift and you must remain vigilant. Prove your mastery and claim your place as the world’s best fighter!”
Proving Grounds is the least developed game by Kinsoul Studios, but also the easiest to pick up (Easy to play but hard to master). The game involves two players only who will sit across from each other. Each player has a deck of martial arts cards, a die, and 8 life tokens. Players draw 4 cards and the action begins!
Proving grounds is a unique card/dice combo game where the player will take cues from the dice to be able to play certain cards. Both players will take their at the same time and roll their die or play cards simultaneous. Only certain cards can follow certain dice rolls, and other cards can follow other cards to form unique and devastating combos. This game is super fast paced and can be extremely entertaining. See the below images for detailed instructions.
From Games Over Coffee comes Hero Flix: an intricate game that involves becoming a movie producer and trying to produce as many successful movies as fast as possible! By intricate I mean in-depth, thoroughly researched, and great visual appeal. Games Over Coffee hit a homerun with this excellent tabletop thriller and might have hit a niche audience with dreams of making it big in the film industry.
“Producing a movie shouldn’t be too hard. All you need is the right talent, the right props, maybe some extras, at least one good location, and you should be good to go! Unless someone sabotages your plans or something unexpected happens.”
Hero Flix supports 2-6 players that will aggressively scavenge for actors, sets, audience members, and props, to be the first to reach $100 million dollars. During play there are always 3 movies that players can race to complete, but be careful because opponents can use actions to steal some of your profit, delay your production, and other devious acts (you can also play cards to improve your production value). You can react to others malicious cards, use some flexibility to complete movies with extra items, and much more!
Game perks include the option of taking aggressive cards out when playing with a more casual audience and even a team mode where producers can team up with each other to reach their $100 million goal. Watch as Tomasz plays against Kevin Colagio (one of the game developers) in the video below.
Another creation from Games Over Coffee, Governance caters to a different niche of tabletop players: politics and government. With so many political events lately, it seems that interest in politics is growing. In Governance you take the role of a politician who can suggest bills, lobby against other bills, start campaigns, and use all sorts of different methods to achieve your political goals.
“While working to manage the country, you need to plan on dealing with the lobbyists that are hired by industries, finicky voters, and events that cause people to agree with (or be angry at) public policies. Sometimes, the Events can cause future issues with new policies.”
The game features a political policy spectrum board that lists several different types of government types and where on the spectrum the current government lies. Each type can be moved using bills, amendments, lobbying, random world events, and ultimately the voters!
Kevin Colagio shows Tomasz the basics in the short video below.
Unfortunately AButtonGames didn’t have the pleasure of attending the below gaming session but read on to get a short snippet of what they have to offer!
Star Wars Home Brew
“Horror Themed one shot in a lovingly crafted star wars homebrew system.”
This 5 player game was held on early Easter Sunday and was game mastered by Daniel Stegink. What I assume is a RPG tabletop game, I can only speculate that this home brew might be similar to Edge of the Empire.
Humans and Households
“You are a 20th level DnD adventurer meeting up with your party for your weekly Humans And Households game. Expect hilarity to ensue.”
The GM for this role reversing tabletop game was Marc Halbritter and was hosted in a private room. I can only imagine what kind of strange inception-like gameplay that this demo had to offer.
A Parasitic Mind (Kids on Bikes)
Hosted by the Simcon organizer himself, I am deeply upset that I didn’t get to attend this intriguing RPG tabletop session.
“Kids on bikes is a cooperative RPG where the players help build the world and narrate the action. You are a kid growing up in a small town, and you and your friends are the only ones who seem to notice the darkness creeping into your town. Are you strong enough to stop it? (Stranger Things/Stephen King’s IT style adventure)”
I have always been a fan of horror games and it seems that this tabletop game would take one of my favorite shows and bring it to life in an immersive tabletop RPG.
Just Here to Play!
The Gate of R’lyeh
“The Gate of R’lyeh is a social deduction game about stopping cultist from releasing C’thulhu from his eternal prison.”
DPH Games presents: The Gate of R’lyeh! It’s a (semi) complicated game but reeps immense fun once everybody has learned how to play. The game has a similar feel to the tabletop RPG Call of C’thulhu but works more like a game of clue. I observed a play session lead by Dan Hundycz from DPH Games. In this game the cultist’s lost but that’s not the case every time. You see, among a group of players the cultists will be your peers and will actively sabotage your plans.
The point of The Gate of R’lyeh is to seal the gate by creating sigils (if you are an investigator) or to sabotage the incantation (if you are a cultist). Each player can take several different kinds of actions on their turn including adding cards to the incantation, looking at the incantation cards and swapping out a card, drawing cards, or making an accusation (voting to out one of the cultists). And don’t forget about insanity! Some actions will give insanity which will essentially make your character crazy and give you a random detrimental effect drawn from the Insanity pile. Here is a complete listing of the rules in PDF form! (DPH Games can explain better than I can).Rulebook: https://dphgames.com/wp-content/uploads/Rlyeh.pdf
Watch the investigators as they succeed in quenching C’thulhu’s uprising!
The Savage Worlds ruleset is designed by Pinnacle Entertainment and contains guidelines for roleplaying games and miniature games. It includes character creation, gear, basic game rules, situational rules, powers, game mastering, a bestiary, and one sheet adventures.
The Devil in the Dark (Rippers)
I had the pleasure of sitting with a group playing RPG tabletop: The Devil in the Dark (Rippers). This is a victorian based tabletop rendition using the Rippers edition of the Savage Worlds core ruleset. If that sentence sounded like gibberish to you then you are not alone; I was pretty uneducated when I first Invaded Mike Sprague’s private session, so let’s dig in a little bit. The Savage Worlds ruleset is light weight and meant to keep bookkeeping to a minimum for the Game Master. The Rippers series is a specific genre that focuses on the Victorian era (1837-1901 England). This era is associated with Frankenstein, werewolves, vampires, big poofy dresses, top hats, canes, and mutton chops. This is also the era that is associated with the popular Steampunk genre. The Pinnacle Entertainment website can offer more insight on Savage Worlds.
“Trouble is brewing in the coal mine in the Midlands, in the form of accidents and sabotage. The miners blame it on the supernatural beast and are threatening to strike. The local constabulary force is too small to deal with that, and there is tension with the local baron. Your lodge has been asked to help find the source of the problem. Who or what is responsible for trouble. Players take on the role of Victorian heroes in the Savage Worlds adventure.”
This Simcon event was lead by Mike Sprague as the game master and attended by George Spargue playing Frank Dillon as the Vigilante, Evan Mottley playing Sarah Poe as the Arcane, and Ian Pope playing Derek Peterson as the Detective. Their investigations lead them to cross paths with a “magical” cat and ultimately to a grungy coal mine where something sinister awaits them. Check out this video for a look into play session as they choose the path less followed, overcome fear checks, and play with fire.
We Be Goblins
“A savage take on the Pathfinder Free RPG Day module. Players take on the role of Goblins of the Licktoad tribe, vying to complete a very important mission to recover a lost treasure.”
This is another event led by Mike Sprague using the Savage Worlds rulebook. Although I didn’t get the chance to sit in with the group I have no doubt that We Be Goblins evoked just as much fun, adventure, and epic monologues.
Similar to the Savage Worlds rulebook, the Numenera RPG rulebook offers a huge amount of information. The Core Rulebook for Numenera includes a detailed description of the Numenera world, character creation, how to play, the different settings, creatures and characters, Numenera in-depth knowledge, adventures, and appendices.
The Thief, the Clave, and the Ultimatum
“A powerful entity of the prior worlds threatens to destroy the clave of Naraderan unless the people turn ofver an artifact called the Raft. But there’s a problem: Someone has stolen the Raft, and it’s up to PCs to track down the thief in a vast and ancient ruin.”
Led by John Kramer, a group of adventures must prevent aliens from destroying the clave of Naraderan. Laughter and fun ensues through this epic tabletop RPG. Participants for this event include Tomasz Bozant, Steve Bierre, and Dan. Watch the conclusion of this group after destroying the ruin with explosives.
“A shooting star fell near our village and now time is broken. Cause sometimes follows effect, time loops upon itself, and strange visitors from all times now, then, and what will be are encountered. Discover the secret of the falling star and set time right before it all unravels.”
Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to sit with the Time Inconsistent group but this is another Numenera RPG session led by John Kramar. The Numenera rulebook features many unique situations and so much potential for fun. I have no doubt that this session contains all of that and more.
Warhammer 40,000 is a war game created by Games Workshop. It is set in a fantasy world filled with turmoil and obviously… war!
I caught the butt end of warhammer 40k but what i could see, this enormous game spanned over 4 tables full of awesome figures, scenes, and landscapes. Take a look at some pictures below.
Magic the Gathering
Magic the Gathering is a card game created by the successful game studio: Wizards of the Coast. Magic was created in 1994 and has been gaining popularity since. New lore, campaigns, and cards are released periodically to keep the game interesting, ever-changing, and always making more money. At Simcon there was plenty of players in private groups but also a couple of scheduled drafts.
A standard draft costing $10.00 for entry using the Rivals of Ixalan magic set. This was a standard 3 pack draft with pods of 6-8.
“A Wacky draft using a Conspiracy and Unstable pack, along with one of your choice. This is going to be a fun draft that you don’t want to miss out on.”
Boldo’s Free Chopped Box Draft
A free draft hosted by one of the Simcon vendors: Baldo’s Armory. Baldo’s Armory brought a box of magic cards and let players draft from it and let players pick the rules.
Dungeons and Dragons
The most classic form of tabletop RPG formats. Most people know about DnD and if you don’t feel free to look it up in google.
Adventures in Filbar
Two sessions of Adventures of Filbar were played through Simcon, GMed by Henry Ernsberger.
“Your party happens on the small settlement of Faraday and they’ve seen their fair share of adventurers come and go, some returning, others have not. Perhaps you too can find glory in the adventuring trade or find naught but hardship. Regardless, your journey starts here”
This Dungeons and Dragons event was open to new or old players and could potentially create a character sheet (or choose a premade). Fun always follows where DnD is played.
Cairn of King Eddles (DnD 5e)
Another DnD adventure GMed by Stephen Watson.
“After spending a little time going through dusty old tomes and documents your group has discovered a tapestry offering you clues to a long dead and buried king. Since kings are usually buried with their riches and no information shows that his tomb has been located perhaps a little grave robbing may be in order!”
Other Simcon Events
Fantasy Prop Making Workshop
A workshop that was hosted by the Anime Interest Floor.
“We’ll havea couple of supplies on hand, so bring your ideas and creativity.”
Although I didn’t get to attend the workshop, I’m sure they had a blast with prop creation.
Game Creator’s Panel
Moderated by Stephen Watson, the Game Creators panel featured several tabletop game creators talking about the sweat and tears of creating tabletop games from an idea to a reality! Panelists included Dan Hundycz, Kevin Colagio, and Alex Prybala. The first half of the panel consisted of open audience conversation, and the second half consisted of some play testing.
Containing games, cards, dice, and everything in between, Baldo’s Armory has some cheap prices. Located at 891 Monroe Ave, Rochester NY
“Boldo’s Armory: A better Place for Games. Boldo’s is a one-stop shop for board games, card games, miniatures, role-playing, and not to mention custom-made armor! In addition to selling, Boldo’s runs Magic: The Gathering tournaments, RPG campaigns, Board Game Nights, and Warhammer 40k/Fantasy games EVERY WEEK! Visit for store hours and event times.”
Visit Bordo’s Armory at www.boldo.com
Black Unicorn Wood
Hand made goodness everywhere! Midori is friendly and appreciative of all customers.
“Black Unicorn Wood: A place to find fanciful artifacts, from steampunk jewelry to geek-inspired buttons, all hand-made by Midori. Visit her booth if you’re looking for something special you can show off and wear, like a d20 necklace, steampunk earrings, or a geeky pin.”
Visit Midori’s website at: blackunicornwood.storenvy.com
That’s it folks! I hope you got some useful information about tabletop games. Make sure to visit Simcon in 2019 if you are in the upstate New York area!!
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