Brian's Gen Con 2014 (with Gen Con Tips)
Brian Current
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Carmel
IN - Indiana
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This was my 4th Gen Con and as with every one of them I had a great time. This list is to share my experiences. I also thought I might give a few tips for those who will be coming to their first Gen Con in the next couple of years.

Please feel free to share your experiences, tips and thoughts.
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1. Board Game: Spurs: A Tale in the Old West [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:3332]
Brian Current
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IN - Indiana
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On Wednesday evening, I met up with Rob , Allen and JT from Richmond VA at the Convention Center. I met Rob and Allen 5 years ago at Origins and we have be playing games and hanging out at every Gen Con since then. JT turned out to be another great guy who was coming to his first Gen Con with them.
We immediately started gaming right there in cafe. I had brought Spurs: A Tale in the Old West so broke it out. As always with Rob and Allen, lots of laughing and fun.

Score: Rob 15, JT 11, Myself 6 and Allen 1 (but he did kill a rabbit- barely)

Tip #1: Get your badge early. Gen Con will call does a great job in moving through long lines but there can be some really long lines. You can avoid standing in line altogether by having your badge mailed to you or have a shorter line if you can go during non-peak hours on Wednesday (before 5pm or after midnight). If you show up at 9:30 am on Thursday to get your badge you are probably not going to be in the dealer hall at 10:01 am.
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2. Board Game: The World Cup Game [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1787]
Brian Current
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IN - Indiana
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This was my most anticipated game of Gen Con. We had scheduled it months prior. It was the second annual 8 person Gen Con The World Cup Game. It featured myself, Rob, Allen, JT, Scott, Ignacy Trzewiczek, his buddy Rafał Szyma, and the reigning champ Joel Eddy (Drive-Thru Reviews). We ended up having it a local restaurant who's manager gave us the run of the place. By the end we were all cheering, yelling and laughing at every card or die result.

In the end we crowned a new champ as Scott defeated JT with the Netherlands over Belgium to win the Gen Con 2014 World Cup game.

Joel did a video of the game here (did I mention Joel won it last year?).

Tip #2: Don't wait till Thursday to start gaming, schedule something Wednesday. By Wednesday evening there will be thousands for gamers in town. Go downtown and game. You won't get in trouble for starting early.
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3. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:128]
Brian Current
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After The World Cup Game, Ignacy Trzewiczek was nice enough to teach us Imperial Settlers. By that time we were the only ones in the cafe. He walked us through an entire game. Ignacy is not only a great game designer he is a great teacher. We all understood the game and play was competitive.

Scores: Myself 56 (wins by tiebreaker), Allen 56, Gary 55, Scott 42

Tip #3: Whenever possible have the designer teach you the game. Gen Con is a great opportunity to interact with designers and publishers. If the designer is at Gen Con with his or her game, they probably would love to teach it to you (by Sunday they may be pretty tired of doing so).
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4. Board Game: Rent a Hero [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2173]
Brian Current
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After closing down the cafe (when we finished Imperial Settlers it had been closed for some time) we headed to Rob and Allen's hotel, the JW Marriott, and found a table to play one last game for the evening. Rent a Hero turned out to be a pretty good little game. After the game it was getting late so I headed home for the evening.

Scores: Myself 6, Allen 5, Rob 4 and JT 4.

Tip #4: If you are from out of town, book your hotel early. Hotel space is competitive for Gen Con. Rooms at the hotels connected to the Convention Center can sell out in minutes after becoming available.
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5. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:52]
Brian Current
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Rob managed to get a pass for Thursday that allowed him to get in an hour early (9am) to the dealer hall. He snagged Five Tribes for me before the dealer hall officially opened Thursday morning. It was a good thing, as they were rationing them to so many per day and they were gone within 5 mins of opening. What it meant for me, was that I did not need to run for any particular game.

The funny thing is that I did not get to play this during Gen Con. From what I heard, it was the game of the Con for many people. Look forward to playing it later this week.

Tip #5: If you are in a group, work as a team to snag the games you want. If you split up you can get different games for each other.
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6. Board Game: Diamonds [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:663]
Brian Current
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Because there was no game that I had to run for, I headed to Stronghold Games and got Mike Fitzgerald's Diamonds first. I have yet to get a game of it in yet but everyone I spoke with who played it said it was very good.

I decided not pick up Panamax yet until I got a play of it. Some in my game group were getting it and I wasn't a fan of Madeira (which was last years game with 2 of the 3 designers) I then headed toward IELLO to see if King of New York had sold out yet.

Tip #6: Do your homework so find can find hidden gems (pun intended). Reading game descriptions, watching video reviews, searching Geeklists and knowing what game designers you like will help you pick out games that may not be "hot" but that you will enjoy.
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7. Board Game: King of New York [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:426]
Brian Current
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As I suspected King of New York was sold out (again daily rationing) quickly (<15 mins). There was a sign with that information to greet me as I approached the booth. I had interest in the game but was borderline on purchasing it. I think it will be a good game but I need to play it a couple of times to see if I can justify owning it and King of Tokyo.

Tip #7: Do your homework so you have an idea what is going to hot. There are lots of great previews and geeklists before Gen Con that will give you an idea to what people will be running for.
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8. Board Game: Epic Resort [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2802]
Brian Current
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It was now 10:20 and I did not feel like chasing anything else. So I set down with JT and Allen for a demo of Epic Resort. They were still waiting on their shipment of the game but had pre-production copies for demo. After playing a couple of rounds, it seemed like a good, light game with a fun theme. Later when they did get their stock, I purchased it.

Tip #8: Demo, demo, demo, then buy. Not everyone subscribes to this philosophy but it saves me a lot of money. I have a list of games to buy and a list to demo. Usually I end up buying only about 20% games off of the demo list. This year it was even a lower percentage.
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9. Board Game: Longhorn [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1857]
Brian Current
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Later, I stopped by the Blue Orange Games booth to play for free copy of R (aka BraveRats with original Japanese art). I lost horribly and did not win a copy. But I decided to pick up to a couple compies of the hard to find Bruno Cathala game Longhorn, so they threw R in for free.


Tip #9: Plan your walk. As I mentioned I have a plan of games to buy and games to demo. I have it laid out in booth number order. That way as I walk up and down the the isles I don't forget about what games of interest are at publishers as I pass by their booth.
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10. Board Game: Sheriff of Nottingham [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:244]
Brian Current
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I had pre-ordered Sheriff of Nottingham and stopped by Arcane Wonders to pick up the game and the promos for it (one pack at Arcane Wonders and one pack at Dice Tower booth). I also picked up Mage Wars Arena promos while I was there.

Tip #10: Collect all of the free promos you can. My plan that is laid out by booth numbers also included key promo items from the Gen Con coupon book. Last year selling promos from Gen Con paid for my registration.
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11. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:128]
Brian Current
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I stopped by the Portal both to talk to Ignacy and his wife Merry. They had sold out of Imperial Settlers in 25 minutes. They had both worried about not selling well but we had told him we thought he had another hit on his hands (like Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island last year). I picked up my copy of Imperial Settlers that I had preorded and Ignacy personalized it with a drawing and signature:
Did I mention that Joel was the winner of The World Cup Game last year at Gen Con?

Later I got another play of this in and won again (that always makes you view a game in favorable light). For me this was Game of the Con.

Tip #11: Pre-order the games you really want. If there is a game that you know you are going to buy, check the publisher's website for pre-order with Gen-Con pickup.
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12. Board Game: Lighthouse Run [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Brian Current
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IN - Indiana
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There was a over-sized prototype of Lighthouse Run that Scott and I got to demo. It turned out be interesting sailboat racing game. Very simple, clever game mechanics (or mechanisms if you prefer). The over-sized demo copy had 8-inch light houses that lit up when you put a meeple next to them. The person demoing it said the finished product would have smaller lighthouses that lit up as well.

Tip #12: Try lots of games you have never heard of, even ones you don't think you would like. If you make a list, don't let it keep you from trying games that are not on it. You may find a great game where you did not expect it.
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13. Board Game: Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion [Average Rating:8.49 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.49 Unranked]
Brian Current
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Rob and I both had an interest in this expansion. We had a long discussion with Uwe Eickert (designer/publisher) and decided to demo it the next day because they did not have the people to demo it on Thursday. But we never made it back. I think this may go on my wishlist. Very interesting design ideas.

Tip #13: Talk with designers about their games. They generally are pretty open about its strengths and weaknesses and who it fits. They can also explain why they made certain design decisions.
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14. Board Game: Heroes Wanted [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1456] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
Brian Current
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I picked up my KickStarter order at Action Phase Games booth. I had played it in prototype form with Travis R. Chance and Nick Little (I) before the KS campaign began. It is a hilarious game with solid game play. Travis is a good dude who I get to play games with here locally.

I then left Gen Con at 3:00 pm. That is right, left the convention (just for the evening) at 3:00 pm on the first day - to go play in an actual soccer game (which ended in draw after extra time - shakes fist). I then went home, showered, ate dinner and spent time with my wife and two children.

Tip #14: Be healthy. A lot of people get sick or don't feel well after Gen Con. Let's see, you ate fried food or hot dogs every meal, you stayed stationary 90% of the time and you barely slept. Hmmmm.
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15. Board Game: Der schwarze Pirat [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:2625]
Brian Current
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I thought my gaming was over for the evening but my four year old daughter surprised me by requesting to play Der schwarze Pirat (The Black Pirate). A fun little game where you blow ships around using small bellows. She counted the coins and declared herself the winner by saying "I am the greatest pirate in the world!" After that my wife and I put her to bed. I myself was in bed by 11:00 pm.

Score: Elizabeth 14 and Daddy 9.

Tip #15: Invest in love ones. They may not understand your need abandon then to sit around with a bunch geeky dudes and push cardboard around for days at time. Make some time deposits before and after Gen Con.
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16. Board Game: Subdivision [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2054]
Brian Current
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Not only did I leave early on Thursday but I came late on Friday. Part of investing in my loved ones was watching my four and one year old, while my wife had a dentist appointment and got her hair done. I was able to make it down by 12:30 pm and picked up my Ruth Chris bag lunch (sliders) and ate with Scott, Rob, Allen and JT.

We then returned to the pick up and play room and played Subdivision with Rob and Allen.

Scores - Rob - 104, Allen 89 and Myself 88

Tip #16: You can even pre-order lunch. I am local and love some of the food trucks. But the lines at lunch time at Gen Con are crazy. To save time, order the lunch from Ruth Chris ($9), change your eating schedule or ask a local who can point you to a good spot away from the crowds.
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17. Board Game: Concept [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:566]
Brian Current
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Scott and two others joined us for six person play of Concept. In my opinion it more of an activity than a game (think Pictionary without having to draw). Anyway we had fun.

I then decided to hit the dealer hall again before AEG Game Night. Lots of short demos and promos but no purchases.

Tip #17: Hit the dealer hall when it is less crowded. I usually avoid the dealer hall on Saturday because the crowd size is so big. A new crowd comes on Sunday for family day so it is crowded mid-morning then as well. Thursday and Friday are your best bets.
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18. Board Game Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Brian Current
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IN - Indiana
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AEG Game Night is a popular annual event that costs $32. You get to play many Alderac Entertainment Group games (mostly newer ones) and you get a box of games included:
Doomtown: Reloaded standard version

Smash Up: Monster Smash foil version

Sail to India

Trains: Nagoya Map

Straw


Sail to India was the only one I was really excited to get.

Usually I do this event with Allen and Rob but they did not get in this year.

Tip #18: Register for popular events early. Know when registration opens and be ready to register for all the events you think will sell out quickly.
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19. Board Game: Mai-Star [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2220]
Brian Current
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IN - Indiana
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The first game I played at AEG Game Night was Mai-Star. The theme was a little weird - you are a geisha trying to get customers. The game play itself was interesting as you try to get rid of cards in your hand and score points before your opponent. I played this with Rachel? (a very nice AEG volunteer) and won a three round game.

Tip #19: Play board and card games with strangers. I had a goal of playing games with 30 different people at Gen Con and hit it. Meeting new people is one of the best parts of a convention. They are probably just a geeky as you are.
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20. Board Game: Card of the Dead [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:13074]
Brian Current
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Worst game I played all weekend. I won because my single opponent was surrounded and eaten by zombies. Not because of my skill, simply because she drew poorly. This is definitely not my game. I don't like the zombies theme and it is one of those games that basically plays you and you just end up doing what the card says that you just drew. I guess zombies really do sell.

At this point I began considering just taking my box of games and leaving.

Tip #20: Don't let theme or panic steal your wallet. There are a lot of impulse buys that take place a Gen Con. "Look it is a game about spaceships. I like spaceships, ergo I will like this game. Here is my money." Or "I better buy it before they run out." Or you could get it for 33% less at Cool Stuff three weeks later. Or discover it was not that great and save 100% of the money you would have spent on it. Slow down make wise decisions.
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21. Board Game: Pagoda [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1644]
Brian Current
United States
Carmel
IN - Indiana
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Since Rob, Allen, and JT were unable to come to AEG Game Night. They found some other games to play and I decided to continue with AEG. After I began playing Pagoda I began to second guess my decision.

I thought I would like this game but I was wrong. The last 4 turns I had 9 cards that I could not do anything with - they were all green and there was no green pieces to be had and no way to get rid of them. I was stuck with no moves and the game was very boring.

Tip #21: Be flexible. Not all of your plans are going to work out as you planned. Events may cancel or waits may be too long. Be ready with a plan B.

Edit: I got my nights mixed up. Colts game on Saturday.
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22. Board Game: Doomtown: Reloaded [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:832]
Brian Current
United States
Carmel
IN - Indiana
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I can see that some people are going to love Doomtown: Reloaded. I am not one of those people. There are two many terms and weird CCG-type rules. The guy teaching me kept referring to rules from Magic: The Gathering and I kept reminding him that I have never played that. At one point I checked BGG on my phone to see if anyone had put their copy up for sale (I was planning to).

I decided to end the game more quickly by challenging my overpowered opponent to a duel. I lost and we both were weakened in the exchange. I did it again and lost. Again and lost. And as used my last character to challenge again. The AEG volunteer said, "You don't want to do that. If you lose the duel, then your opponent will win the game." I replied, "If I lose, we all win." I lost spectacularly and just smiled when he asked, "Do you want to play it again?" I was done with AEG game night and I took my box of games in search of a game that I liked.

Tip #22: While at Gen Con check BGG occasionally for news, updates and reviews. During the convention things change, announcements are made and sometimes small games make a big splash. Stay informed.
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23. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Brian Current
United States
Carmel
IN - Indiana
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Saturday morning began with a math trade. Some of what I received included:
Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men with lots of extra cards including rares
D-Day Dice KS with bag and lots of extras
Agricola x 2 (did not use duplicate protection)
Copycat
Nuns on the Run
several other games and $95 in gift certificates

Tip #23: Try a mathtrade. Gen Con has the best math trade because there is no shipping and it is huge. For more information on math trades click here.
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24. Board Game: Thunder Alley [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:540] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Brian Current
United States
Carmel
IN - Indiana
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After the math trade, I met Scott, Rob and JT in the Pick Up and Play Room for a game of Thunder Alley. Rob taught the game and we had a good time. I had purchased the game but not had not got it to the table. I did not do well, got lapped and finished in third. Still it was fun.

Tip #24: Don't over schedule. Some people run from event to event, missing some because others run over. Don't worry about missing something because no matter how hard you try you will miss a lot. Slow down and enjoy yourself.
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25. Board Game: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:64] [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Brian Current
United States
Carmel
IN - Indiana
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While we were playing Thunder Alley Allen started punching his copy of Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game. I suggested that he ask Christy to teach him. I knew she had played the game and was a great teacher. She gladly agreed to teach. All of the volunteers in the Pick Up & Play Room are great (but I am biased since it is my game group).

When we finished Thunder Alley, we roped Christy into playing and she led us on a great adventure. I am still not sure if we lost or not but we all had a blast. Again I am not a fan of zombie games but this one was actually very good. I will be interested to see how the game system works with other games and themes.

Tip #25: Use the Pick Up & Play room (and the help). Most of my time at Gen Con is spent here. I prefer to play games rather than just collect them. There is a library of games available to use and group of volunteers that can teach almost anything.
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