Earlier this year my oldest daughter and I attended Origins 2012. It was my first gaming convention and I left with ideas for being more prepared next time. Therefore, I had my list of "must buys", "interested", and "wishlist" games. The latter consisted of mostly older games, but since I had MSRP and online prices listed next to each game on my list I was hoping to do some comparison shopping and pick up a few deals.
This was my first Gen Con and I was bringing my primary gaming partners, my wife and my brother-in-law, for their first con and their first real exposure to the hobby at large. I knew I would have fun, my concern was whether they would with hopes they might find a new game or two they would be excited about.
After a restless dream of finding a wad of $50 bills just outside of the convention center to spend on games, we left Cincinnati early Saturday morning for Indy. My wife drove while my BIL and I played a game of Summoner Wars to get the gaming started right.
We found parking close by the convention center and were able to get in line with about 15 minutes to spare before the Exhibition Hall opened.
My wife and I lined up at the far left end in order to hit the Iello booth and pick up a second printing copy of King of Tokyo to ensure I left with something off of my must buy list.
My BIL lined up in the middle section in hopes of getting one of the much hyped and shipped-in-overnight copies of Android: Netrunner.
I give FFG credit for responding to the outcry over the Netrunner fiasco earlier in the week and their effort to intercept and drive in another 300 copies of the game for Saturday morning. As luck would have it, my BIL was able to acquire a copy when there were probably 50-60 copies left.
30 minutes into our day at Gen Con and we had successfully secured two of our "must have" games in hand.
<Deep sigh of relief>
At this point we were a bit overwhelmed by the expanse of the booths but managed to work our way over to the far right side to work our way up and down the aisles over the course of our one day at Gen Con.
We planned to take as much in as possible while trying a few games on of our list if there was minimal wait, otherwise we would note booths we would come back to at the end of the day given we had time.
The first game of interested we came across was Seasons which looked gorgeous, but it was sold out and had people waiting so I just took a quick picture and we moved on.
We came across a small booth with a small shelf or two with a variety of games upon which my wife found The Castles of Burgundy. This has been at the top of my buy list since before Origins. The best part, I got it at an online price saving me a trip to B&N when we get home where I intended to buy it with our 10% off discount had I not found it here!
Next we ran into Flash Point: Fire Rescue with no wait. So we sat down and played a 4p family game in which we managed to win after a doubtful start. I felt it lived up to my expectations, however my wife and BIL were a bit luke warm on it, perhaps because the guy demoing it for us was tired and a bit out of it. (I'll keep it on the wishlist).
It was getting close to lunch time so opted to finish two more aisles and then get a bite. We came across Morels and Sentinels of the Multiverse both which were on my list of games to check out. Both booths were busy so we noted where they were and planned to check back.
Last stop before lunch was C&C Games selling Rio Grande titles. I had seen their deals at Origins but regrettably didn't buy anything then. It was here where I bought Dominion: Intrigue for us and Dominion: Seaside for a friend at a great price. I was hoping to get Power Grid and some expansions for various people on my list, but they did not have what I was looking for or were charging, oddly, more than MSRP.
With a bag full of games and a belly telling me it was time to eat, I took the first load to the car and met up with my wife and BIL at the food trucks. This was a real hit for us. We had Indian food at the Spicy Box truck and my wife grabbed a cup cake at another truck for dessert. My wife and BIL are big food truck fans and would liked to have spent the entire afternoon taste testing, but alas I dragged them back in for the second leg of our adventure.
We started round 2 with looking a bit closer at the FFG booths which were, as expected, littered with awesomeness. This is when I got a closer look at Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game which had nice looking miniatures and looked enjoyable as I watched. (Added it to my wishlist after the show, kicked myself for not getting a copy while I was there.)
We made our ways through the aisles a bit faster with renewed strength and refreshment. We stopped by to see the Plaid Hat guys, but most were either at lunch or at lunch themselves while the booth looked busy. My wife had hoped to put faces with the voices she hears when I listen to the podcasts. Oh, well.
We eventually got to Game Salute's booth where we purchased another game from our must buy list, Innovation: Echoes of the Past. I had purchased the base game from them at Origins and it has been our most played game each month since then, and was my wife's current favorite.
We actually zipped through the remaining aisles as we found less interesting stuff to look at, or were running out of capacity to take much more in. So my wife opted to look at the Art Show while my BIL and I tried to take in a few demos. We thought we'd try and get some instruction on Android: Netrunner, but it was full. Star Wars: X-Wing, full. Level 7 [Escape] (which I thought looked like a thriller after watching the contest videos on BGG Friday night), full. Bummer. We watched some of each of these before my wife found us. She had tried again back at Morels, it too was still busy. Our hopes of at least one more demo game were dwindling...
We decided to check back with Sentinels of the Multiverse, even though they were already sold out, we thought we'd try and get a demo of it. As luck would have it, after watching two seats opened up and my BIL and I sat down with another couple who taught and navigated us through our game.
I played Absolute Zero and we took on "something(?)"-tron in the industrial environment. AZ was a bit odd in my opinion for a super hero, who attacks himself? Odd, but I did eventually have a card where certain kind of damage I do to myself were instead counted as added hit points.
The game is presented in beautiful comic book styled art work. The quality of the cards were superior in my experience. The game itself was a bit more complex than I had been led to believe. Regardless it is definitely a game I would like to have and attempt to convince some of my gaming friends to play. The additional new box, markers, and punch outs address some of the first printing's issues, for those concerned.
We were spent at this point. We had a full day. We got to see some really cool stuff. We ogled all the miniatures and were overwhelmed by the various systems. Our favorite, mainly for the scale, was probably Dream Pod 9's Heavy Gears system. FFG was quite a site. The tables at Geek Chic, as always amazed. We loved the player mats many of the vendors had for their demo games, would love for them to sell them. I may have to pimp some of my own. I for one appreciated some of the deals I found on some of the older games.
As we walked out of the Dealer Hall, we thought we'd just peak in the big gaming area to see what it was all about for future reference. Wow! Hundreds, maybe a thousand or two tables everywhere! This opened our eyes to other possibilities we were not ready to consider for our first visit, but was the spark that my wife and BIL needed to make future con visits more plausible. Amazing site.
Next time, I we agreed we would want to visit for more than a day and take in more gaming and events. We'd like to meet more people.
Back at our hotel we grabbed dinner and cracked open King of Tokyo which was an instant hit with my wife and both kids. My oldest and I had played it at Origins and knew what to expect, but the biggest reward was my youngest liking it as she is the hardest to get interested in a game. My BIL read the rule book for Android: Netrunner and then lent it to me to read during the week while he was away for business. We'll be trying that soon!