Monday, August 8, 2011

Flying Battleships in Action – Leviathans at GenCon

I was looking forward to GenCon this year because it was going to be the premiere of Leviathans - a game that I contributed to.  Well, the fates conspired to prevent the product from being for sale at the convention (for more details go to  You would have thought I’d have been disappointed – but you’d be wrong.

She's a soaring beast of death and destruction! 
The guys and gals at Catalyst Game Labs managed to pull off the biggest non-release of a product I’ve ever seen!   They ran demos of Leviathans throughout the con.  Not only that, they gave away miniatures from the game if you sat through the demo.  Sit through one demo, you got a destroyer.  Sit through another, you could trade up for a cruiser.  Enroll in the King of the Skies tournament you could trade up for a battleship! 

The moment the doors to the main hall opened, the Leviathans demo was two people deep!  My son Alex playtested the game back about a year ago and he and our family friend Andrew played it and were surprised at how fun the game was.  It was the talk of the show.  Catalyst even had giant ship models on display from the game – over two feet long – which drew a lot of attention.  Yeah, it was disappointing that that you couldn’t buy it, but hundreds of people played the game and loved it. 

I took a destroyer into two battles, bringing glory to France!  We were playing the entry level rules (Lieutenants) so I was not able to unleash the torpedoes (the French favor torps in the game) but I still managed to cross the British T several times, riddling a cruiser, damaging her Tesla coils and engine badly in one game.  In another session my destroyer was able to run around the flank of the major slugfest between the bigger ships, peppering them from a distance, then sweeping in for the kill. 

So what did people say?  Here’s some snippets that I heard:

“I like the fact you roll the dice once and you know if and where you hit.”

“These miniatures are awesome!” (Hands down this was the most common statement) 

“When will we see the Germans and the Americans?”

“Do the rules include (your choice here from:  Altitude variations, crew repair, clouds, bracketing the enemy?)  The answers by the way is yes!  Some of these are covered in the Captain’s expansion, but they are there. 

“This is so simple but so cool.”

“Hey, the French use the metric system and the English guns are in pounds and inches!” 

“There’s a lot of difference between the English and French ships.”

“Dude, your keel just got broken.” 

“What tournament allows the torpedoes?   I want to fire the torpedoes!”

“How does this compare with Dystopian Wars?” 

“I usually repaint prepainted minis.  I may have to make an exception with these.” 

“Somebody go after the destroyer, he’s driving me nuts with those lucky shots!”

Sacrebleu!  Somebody do something about that cruiser – he’s punching holes in me like Swiss cheese!”

“When can I order this?”

People play a lot of games at the convention, and I was no exception.  At the same time, I was drawn over and over again to Leviathans, even just to watch.  There was a ton of good buzz about the game.  Catalyst also had a convention preview of Cosmic Patrol which I saw people purchasing a lot of.  More about that later.

For now, let me simply say, “Battleships CAN fly and did at GenCon!”


  1. For curiosity's sake, is there a particular faction you feel drawn to? I was looking through their forums some, but until I play the game I'm not sure who I'm going to root for. Do you think you'll be contributing any fiction to this world? Or do you think you have enough going on already?

  2. Hi Mikallo,
    I am fond of the French and the Americans in the game. I wrote both of these (and the Italians). I know people like to take shots at the French, but my work on non-fiction WWI books has gotten me to respect the French a great deal. I wrote them to be VERY cool in the game.

    I have writte some fiction for the game - in one of the expansion sets I penned one of the novellas.

    Blaine Pardoe