Brumcg's Gen Con 2013 Report... RPG Flavored!
Bruce McGeorge
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I'm still trying to wrap my head around Gen Con 2013. For the first time in Indy, we stayed at the convention; it's something that I've wanted to do for a long time. (Much more on that below.)

It was still intended to be part convention, part vacation with buddies... but I went in assuming it was going to be heavy on the convention. It turned out rather strange...
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1. RPG Item: Friends or Foes [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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We were down a member this year as our buddy Jeramie took a job out of state in early August. Bad timing...

So the crew was Gary, Smooth, Joe, Steve, and me. We did RPG events and the Zocchi seminar together, but then it's fair game on everything else.

Gary and Smooth are our casual group members. I think they like the spectacle of the whole thing and enjoy the social aspects of the trip.

Joe is our resident board game guy, and Steve is our primary GM. I see Joe a fair bit in the Exhibit Hall as we go through the thing very methodically. Steve on the other hand is a ferret...

It's a good group, and I can't wait for 2014.
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2. RPG Item: AC1: The Shady Dragon Inn [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:6224]
Bruce McGeorge
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As I mentioned, for the first time in Indy, we stayed at the Con. Joe - our normal host - has his house for sale, and evidently we are not considered a selling point!

Joe guided us to the JW Marriott. It's a very nice place. I loved having a short, walking commute to the convention each day, and it was nice to know that you had a sanctuary if needed.

Unfortunately, the place had two personal downsides for me; neither are the fault of the JW.

I've always wanted more convention time during Gen Con. When we stay at Joe's, we're normally at the con from 10:30-ish to 5:30-ish. I was really looking forward to doing more things early and late... and the event schedule ended up being a bust. Almost everything I wanted to do fell in that 10:00 to 6:00 gap. I did a few early morning walks looking for something, and it just didn't work out.

Worse, I've turned into a light sleeper over time. Even though we were on the 20th floor, the noise from downtown was insane. The worst nights were Friday and Saturday. With the MotoGP in town, Indy turned into motorcycle central. It sounded like they were taking laps inside my room. Note to self: buy some ear plugs.

Over the four nights I estimate that I got 16 hours of sleep. It caught up to me Saturday night.
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3. RPG Item: Tavern Kit Part 4: Food, Drink & Other Services [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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Food is normally an important part of our Gen Cons. It may have taken a bit of a back seat due to budget concerns... and my cast iron stomach eventually rebelled. gulp

Food trucks:

Serendipity - Very Good (Cuban sandwich and amazing truffled fries)
Taco Lassi - Very Good (steak, chicken, and vegetarian tacos)
R&R Extreme Wings - Good (Hot Garlic and okay fries)
Der Pretzel Wagon - Good (Der Fritz - ham bacon and cheddar)

Restaurants:

Delicia - Good (I probably liked it the least); this ia a latin restaurant outside downtown. I had Mofongo which I've always wanted to try.
Granite City - Good, convenient, but overpriced (Black & Blue burger)
Maxine's Chicken & Waffles - Great catfish, everything else okay
High Velocity @ JW - Good (Cobb salad)

Unfortunately, all of the food (especially the fried food I think) caught up to me late Saturday afternoon. I had "indigestion" from that point forward. Fun!
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4. Board Game Designer: Lou Zocchi
Bruce McGeorge
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While combing through the event catalog, I found Game Industry Insider Hearsay Tales presented by Lou Zocchi. I thought it had "hoot" potential, and I was right.

I was a bit worried when he started with "In 1958, Charles Roberts released Gettysburg...", but the anecdotes started flying soon after. It was an amusing 2-hours. I've heard versions of some stories before... and I know there could be some, um, facts checked. Still, I'd highly recommend this to everyone once. I think a second time would be mostly repeats.

There was an unfortunate end to things though. I've been doing seminars for years. They are always free and no one collects tickets. So, of course, Zocchi wanted the tickets. Then as a further surprise - even to Zocchi - there was a $2 charge. Whoops. I had brought the entire group... sans tickets. For awhile, I thought he was going to make a big deal about it, and I felt bad that the other attendees spent money on it.

He was still talking after 2 hours when we left; everyone in the group was starving.


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5. RPG Item: Rocket Age [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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So... Joe is my hardest member of the crew to get into an RPG, and he quickly targeted this one. I didn't have a ton of interest, but I take what I can get.

This was a typical RPG con event for me. It wasn't very good. It was a 2-act adventure, and I was hoping that it was over after Part 1.

There were mixed feelings from the group afterwards; almost everyone was able to salvage something positive, but that didn't make up for a 4-hour block of time.

Designer Ken Spencer came to the table before the event and introduced himself and did a sales-pitch for the game. It was a nice touch and a little awkward at the same time.
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6. RPG Designer: Wolfgang Baur
Bruce McGeorge
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Saturday was seminar day for me, and Secrets of the Small Press with Wolfgang Baur, Nicole Lindroos, Darrin Watts, and Jared Sorensen was the best of the lot. It was very entertaining and interesting.

If you are thinking "one of those is not like the others" you are correct. Sorensen definitely considers himself a hobbyist while the other three have done (or are doing) game publishing full-time.

Many of the people in the room are considering starting their own ventures. I hope they took good notes since there was so much good advice dispensed.

Unfortunately there was also the audience member who asked the question "What is Kickstarter? Is that something that's going to help me run a game?"
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7. RPG Item: Dragon Age RPG, Set 1 [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:159]
Bruce McGeorge
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The presenters were Ed Norris and Chris Pramas.

This one was disappointing for me. I'm interested in the upcoming non-licensed AGE setting. I found out that it was going to be a fantasy setting. Um. I knew that. It's in the very early stages (outline) and they hope to have it out in 2014.

The rest of the content I already knew due to a great forum post by Nicole Lindroos. They now have a Lore contact at Bioware that will expedite the flow of info, and Pramas is undergoing surgery for his back and neck issues and will hopefully get back to work soon. Actually, I was surprised to see him at Gen Con...
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8. RPG Item: Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:54]
Bruce McGeorge
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I normally attend the Pinnacle seminar as I did this year, but I had to leave this after 35 minutes to get to my next event.

Big announcements were for a sci-fi setting (Parsec something Last Parsec) that will be a four book Kickstarter project with a Star Frontiers feel and that Necessary Evil 2 will be coming out (Christopher McGlothlin is the lead designer).
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9. RPG Item: 13th Age [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:107]
Bruce McGeorge
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So... two hour RPG events are hard. I've now done three, and only one was done correctly in my book. IMO, it should be "here are pre-gens, here's how the game works, two gunmen break down the door, what do you do?"

This one was not done like that. The GM - actually I think this is what Pelgrane Press intended - wanted us to fill out our "One Unique thing, our ICON relationships, and our backgrounds." Um... three of our players haven't even heard of 13th Age. So the GM had to explain a bunch of the setting and some of the rules to us so that we could attempt to get started. To give you an idea of our group, though, Steve uses Fate-ish aspects in his game, and most of the players would rather roll on a random aspect table than come up with something on their own.

To make things worse, this is when I started to feel ill. I was very tired, my stomach started to go south, and I had a hard time concentrating.

There was a roleplay segment at the beginning that could have taken forever if we bit. I'm the biggest roleplay guy in the group, but I just wasn't up to it. Instead, I kept trying to get the show on the road.

We finally got to the "dungeon", had some fights, and it was done. It clocked in at three hours. To my surprise, I tried to end it at the 2-hour mark, but my group wanted to finish it. Bwuh? I assumed they hated it, and I was wrong.

I'm not a big fan of D&D from a mechanical perspective, so it's not surprising that there's much about 13th Age that I don't like. I think Icons are interesting in theory, but I'm not sold on the practice based on a single con play. The GM struggled with it when we rolled 9 5 or 6's in the pre-game ICON checks. It reminded me of my old Champions game when everyone rolled on their Hunteds and they all were supposed to make an appearance.

Regardless of what I thought, the group really seemed to enjoy it. So... awesome!
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10. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:286]
 
Bruce McGeorge
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I'm so embarrassed.

On Saturday night, Joe wanted to play this. Based on how I felt, I should have declined. Instead, a fired back a 5-Hour Energy and gave it a try.

I rage-quit about 50% through the game.

My body laughed at the 5-hour Energy. I just kept fading. My stomach hurt. The game was fiddlier than I wanted it to be. It seemed pretty clear that the randomness was going against us, and we weren't going to win.

I started to get frustrated and had a super-hard time concentrating... abruptly said "I'm done" and pushed back from the table. I instantly regretted it and was very embarrassed (still am).

Lesson learned.

Whether the game is good, bad, or indifferent... I don't know.
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11. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Bruce McGeorge
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The rest of my entries are about things that I checked out in the Exhibit Hall, but I wanted to talk about FFG first.

I finally got into their booth on Sunday morning. I'm not sure why they did this, but you had to line-up to get in their booth... to buy things... for the entire convention. I understood what they were trying to do (huge playspace, small store), but I hated it.

At this point, they would be better off doing what WotC did. Get a big demo area, have your booth there, and sell from that spot. WotC did sell product in their space, so precedent has been set.
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12. RPG Item: Dungeonslayers (Version 4.0) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:2582]
Bruce McGeorge
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I thought I was in the market for a fantasy RPG, but after checking out a couple of things I realized that I'm not. Dungeonslayers looks like a perfectly good light to medium crunch set of fantasy rules, but it's not what I want after all.
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13. RPG Item: Eternal Contenders [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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A quick look showed that this was too narrative for what I wanted. That wasn't a big surprise, but I wanted to check.
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14. RPG Item: Warbirds Role Playing Game [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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I picked up my Indiegogo copy and spoke with the designers for a bit. Super nice people.

The game looks gorgeous, and I started to read the setting stuff. I'm blown away by the layout... and layout is something that I don't normally notice.
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15. Board Game: DreadBall: The Futuristic Sports Game [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:1448]
Bruce McGeorge
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I'm a huge Blood Bowl fan, so I wanted to get a closer look at DreadBall.

My problem is that I want Blood Bowl with all of the bells and whistles, but in a shorter format. That's probably impossible. Dreadball looks like a good game, but I'd rather play Blood Bowl.
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16. RPG Item: Monster Island (RuneQuest) [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:2444]
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Despite getting some mediocre feedback from someone that I trust, I liked the look of the book. I'm probably going to order it this week.

I don't know what to do about RQ6. It looks like another serviceable set of D100 rules. I'm torn between buying them to use with Monster Island, checking out Monster Island first and then deciding on RQ6, or just skipping RQ6 entirely.

Oh, nice group of guys at the booth. One of them took my picture looking at one of the books. Scary.
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17. RPG Item: Ghost Towns [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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I'm currently running Deadlands: Reloaded. If I could have used Ghost Towns right now, I would have grabbed it. It looks good, but less of a toolkit than I expected. I'm saving it for another day.
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18. RPG Item: Odyssey: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:1370]
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I flipped through this and gave it a thumbs up.

It ended up being my only purchase at the convention!
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19. RPG Item: Razor Coast (Swords & Wizardry Version) [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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I worked a booth once; it's hard. Everyone is different.

I wanted to check out Razor Coast and Tome of Adventure Design. The sell was too hard for my taste. Razor Coast looked like "D&D, but on a boat" which is what I expected. They didn't have any ToAD.
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20. RPG Item: Astounding Adventures [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:6543]
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This looks very good, and I'm going to pick it up. I probably should have picked it up at the con...
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21. RPG Item: Owl Hoot Trail [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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I liked the look of the system, but the genre mash-up didn't work for me. Pretty much what I expected.
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22. RPG Item: Hillfolk [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:434]
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I picked up my backer copies of Hillfolk and Blood on the Snow.
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23. Board Game: Showdown: Icons [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:10551]
Bruce McGeorge
United States
Lawrenceburg
Indiana
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I should have demo'd this, but opted for an overview instead.

If I was in the market for a $45 filler game, I would have bought it. I liked the gameplay and the quick plays. The price point felt too high, and we rarely do filler games.
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24. Board Game: Helvetia Cup [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:4176]
Bruce McGeorge
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Lawrenceburg
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I should have demo'd this.

Again, it's the Blood Bowl thing... and I'm a soccer fan to boot.

I'm going to keep my eye on this one.
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25. Board Game Designer: Robin D. Laws
Bruce McGeorge
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Lawrenceburg
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I forgot about this...

During the con, Robin Laws tweeted:

Quote:
Know that question I get asked more than any other? In Sept there will be a new answer. #battlechimp


For those that don't know, that's clearly a reference to Feng Shui 2nd Edition. I stopped by the booth and gave him a thumbs up... which I'm sure was a big deal to him.

Actually, he seemed very pleased by the reaction on Twitter and at the convention.
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