Best new board games unveiled at GenCon 2019

Peter McPherson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The newest in board games were on display at GenCon last week. For many, GenCon is an annual pilgrimage. For others, this was their first time making the trip. But for almost everyone, it was all about the new games for sale.

GenCon is one of the biggest board game conventions in the world and is by far the largest in North America. Founded by one of the creators of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax, GenCon is a celebration of the latest in board games, role playing games, and comics.

This year's convention drew over 60,000 attendees. Here are a few of our favorite popular titles that debuted or released at GenCon 2019.

1. Horrified by Ravensburger

In this cooperative board game designed by the team at Prospero Hall, the players take on the role of monster hunters defending their village from a handful of classic Universal Pictures villains. These terrifying foes include Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and others. Each monster presents their own challenges and behavior, forcing the players to adapt or face certain doom.

The board depicts a gorgeous village in eerie blues and greens, and the game includes seven miniatures, one for each of the monsters.

2. Black Angel by Pearl Games

One notable heavyweight from the convention was Black Angel, designed by Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges and Alain Orban.

This complex strategy game centers around the massive spaceship known as Black Angel on its long journey to humanity's new home. Because the nations of Earth cannot quite agree on how to manage the ship, they have created several AIs, which are controlled by the players. The AI who best demonstrates their ability to protect the interests of humanity is victorious and will play a major role in the next chapter of humankind.

3. Abomination by Plaid Hat Games

Designed by Dan Blanchett, this gruesome game gives players the opportunity to build their own monsters using spare body parts.

It's just as grim as it sounds. Dr. Frankenstein's monster is hosting a contest to encourage scientists from around the world to try to discover the secret of creating life by building monsters from whatever parts they can come across -- a roundabout way to give the monster a friend. This involves more than just slapping together arms and legs, -- players will work in their lab, collect body parts throughout the city, and recruit help to bring their creations to life. The player who constructs the best creature is declared the winner.

4. PARKS by Keymaster Games

This game by Henry Audubon features illustrations from 59 national U.S. parks -- needless to say, it looks lovely on the table.

In PARKS, players journey along trails across the four seasons, collecting memories along the way. The trails change and become longer from one round to the next, increasing the challenge as the game progresses. Though the theme and look of this game are simple and charming, the resource management and engine building aspects provide plenty of opportunity for strategy.

5. Medium by Greater Than Games

This party game plays similar to an improv activity by which two people attempt to say the same exact word. In Medium, designed by Danielle Deley, Lindsay Sherwood, and Nathan Thornton, teams of two will attempt to think of the same word after playing two cards from their hand.

One player lays down a card first, then their partner chooses a card from their hand that bears some similarity. When both players are ready, they count down from three and say the word they are thinking of. If they say the same word, they earn the highest possible score for the round. If they were incorrect, they get two more attempts, basing their next words off of the previous round. This simple party game plays quickly and is ideal for friends and family members who think they know each other well.

6. Mental Blocks by Pandasaurus Games

If you have ever wanted to shout at your friends over a pile of colorful building blocks, this is a game for you.

Mental Blocks, designed by Jonathan Gilmour and Micah Sawyer, is a game of collaboratively solving a puzzle of several colorful blocks. Each player holds a secret card which shows the puzzle from a certain angle. However, one of the players may be a traitor attempting to throw the group off course. On top of that, players only have 10 minutes to either solve the puzzle or find the traitor.

7. Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by Thunderworks Games

Designed by Jordy Adan, this game puts players in the role of map makers in the same world as the popular game Roll Player.

Following the popular trend of roll-and-write or flip-and-write games, Cartographers has players drawing shapes on their papers according to the cards flipped in the center of the table. The game is played over four rounds (corresponding to the four seasons), each with their own goals and scoring conditions. At the end of the game, the player whose map earned the most points is the winner.


Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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