By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
— GenCon is rapidly approaching and most game companies are well on their way in planning a trip to Indianapolis for the biggest gaming convention in this country.
For those who don’t know, GenCon starts Aug. 16 at the Indianapolis Convention Center and runs for four days. Last year over 36,000 different gaming enthusiasts attended and this year the pre-registrations are up significantly from a year ago.
But more about the convention next week in an overall preview.
One of the more interesting companies who will be attending is Z-Man Games.
Zev Shlasinger created Z–Man games from the ground up. He recently sold the company but still serves in a consultant role and can be found most of the convention at the company’s booth talking to customers and answering questions.
GenCon is a ripe time for companies to display new games. Some are available for sale for the first time to the public at this pivotal event and some are merely shown for the first time. Z-Man will be showing Alcatraz: the Scapegoat and Atlantis Rising at GenCon and also possibly Battle Beyond Space.
“Alcatraz is a twist on the co-op genre,” said Shlasinger.” In this case while all players are working together to plan an escape it is known that one person will be left behind to be the scapegoat. So (the idea is to) jockey for position to not be the scapegoat when the plan is hatched.
“Atlantis Rising is the more traditional co-op wherein all players win or lose together. In this game players are trying to save their fabled home from sinking into the ocean by building the parts to a great machine, whose totality will beam Atlantis to another world. The island slowly breaks apart, making it time sensitive and harder to build the machine parts. “
“Battle Beyond Space is a space combat game that is easy to learn and fun to play. Four races with special abilities and cards that move your squadrons around space as you destroy enemy fighters and capital ships and collect alien artifacts.”
Those will be the company’s featured attractions, but not the only things available to try.
“We demo the above games since they are new and we offer some recent and a scant few ‘older’ releases should people want them,” said Shlasinger. “But we mainly like to focus on the new stuff.”
Z-Man is well known in the gaming community for the card game Pocket Battles, the board games Troyes and Pandemic along with the enormously popular Agricola and many other outstanding releases. But GenCon remains a big deal even for a company with such solid footing and a great reputation for quality.
“Well, Gen Con is the biggest game con in the US so it holds much importance to us,” said Shlasinger. “We try to premiere at least one new game at this show, usually a title that is looked-forward to by the players. More people seem to pay attention to the releases at this show. We feel that since there are a handful of large gaming shows in the US, all the shows hold some importance.”
Another newsworthy development for Z-Man was the recent announcement that the company has a new relationship to publish games from the internationally known Hans im Glück. This will bring one of the most popular games in the genre to the fold, Carcassonne.
“I think it will mean greater things for Z-Man and firmly plant the company's brand in players worldwide,” said Shlasinger of the new agreement. “I mean we had much recognition around the world but I think this will raise the recognition significantly.”
Right now no new plans have been announced for Carcassonne beyond continuing to make the product available.
So Z-Man is continuing its path to the top of the tabletop gaming world and GenCon would be a great place to see what it has to offer.