My first GenCon adventure
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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I realize that there are a few other lists running but I really wanted to put up a list detailing my own experiences at my first ever GenCon. While I am going to cover the games that I played, I also am going to try and cover the overwhelming experience that is GenCon.

It was informational overload from the moment I set foot in the convention center, just soooo much stuff to try and look at. It is interesting that the euphoria that starts the convention slowly starts to fade until that very last day when I looked at my friends and saw that they too had hit the wall, and were ready to get back to Texas.

I am going to break this into two segments. First is the games that I played, and the second part will cover some disappointments, and just the general experience of the convention.

Enjoy!

I had to edit this to add an item that is not a game, yet every gamer will want.

The Sultan gaming table by Geek Chic. Just amazing stuff. And amazingly expensive.
http://www.geekchichq.com/Index.html
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1. Board Game Publisher: SlugFest Games
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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I debated on mentioning this or not, but one of the reasons I was attending GenCon was to help out at the Slugfest boot as a member of the Slug Crew. I help run demos all 4 days of the convention, and got to meet all of the Slugfest team. Wonderful people that helped me enjoy the con and give handy advice on how to survive the best four days in gaming.

I had alot of fun running demos for anyone that walked up (Which was alot!). I have to say that there was never an empty table at the booth, with folks wanting to play every one of the games slugfest offers. I realized later in the convention how significant that fact was, while many vendors had demos running, alot of them didn't have many, or at times, any.
 
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2. Board Game: The Red Dragon Inn 2 [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1028] [Average Rating:6.90 Unranked]
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
TX
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This was the first game I played at GenCon. It was also the first game I ran as a demo at GenCon. Therein is the beauty of the game. Played the first? Then you can play the second with no ramp up time to read new rules, etc. The game has 4 new characters each with strengths and weaknesses, and the same fun humor as the first game. I brought a copy of this home with me, and I am looking forward to my first 8 player RDI game.

An aside.

I lost count of how many time someone would ask "So has anyone ever thought about turning this into a drinking game?"

I mean really, you HAVEN'T done that yet?
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3. Board Game: WarGods of Ægyptus [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:7764]
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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One of the miniatures games that I got to demo. LOVED IT!

Now this is a game I had never seen before, it's just not sold in any of the gaming shops here in Austin. I mentioned this during the demo and one of the Crocodile game reps told me that there is a large group that runs tournaments out in west Texas that he could get me in touch with. I found it a bit funny, and told him that while I appreciate the offer, it would be too far to go. He didn't realize exactly how big my home state is and that a trip to west TX is a minimum 4 1/2 hour drive, each way. If they are out near the border its closer to 8.

Anyhow,

This game has a fantastic game mechanic for determining your combat rolls and save. Simple and elegant, after a brief explanation my friend and I jumped in and began merrily slaughtering each other. I won (which seemed to surprise the crocodile folks, since they had stacked the demo in the other sides favor), and would consider purchasing the game, if it weren't for that lack of opponents.
 
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4. Board Game Publisher: Privateer Press
 
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
TX
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Wow. What a great booth. Very VERY enthusiastic bunch of "Press Gang" members here. Huge crowd every day of the con. Lots of product, they had some fantastic miniatures on display as well.

On to the GAMES!
 
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5. Board Game: Monsterpocalypse [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:1386] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
TX
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Ok, this is the first game at the con where I thought that I just need to buy it on the spot.

And that surprised the hell out of me.

I don't as a rule ever buy into a game that is "collectable". Just wont do it. Especially one that has random blind purchasing, so you have to buy up a bunch of different boosters just to try and fill out the teams that you want.

Now I know that many gaming stores have a "swap meet" so people can trade the figs they don't want for the ones that they do, but I just hate the idea. If I want to get a certain set of minis, then let me buy them, and only them.

And yet I made up my mind after playing the game and went Saturday morning to purchase a starter set and booster. One of my friends was going to do the same, and he is of the same belief I am about collectible games.

Only to find them sold out.

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6. Board Game: Warmachine [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1286]
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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Played Warmachine.

Wish I hadn't. I gave up on tabletop minis a long long time ago, swearing them off and the hefty bill that is associated with the games. (Games Workshop anyone?)

But this game is fun! It is fast, and as I found out can be bought into for a relatively low dollar figure. I say relatively , because even though you can just play the game with a nice little box set and not need to buy any other minis, we all know that getting that special character or certain unit will make your army just the best.

Damn drug dealers, know how to set the hook and then just reel you in.
 
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7. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
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Man, what a monster of a booth. In talking with some of the FF reps, they told me it took them 2 days just to get the booth set up. It was by far the largest bit of real estate taken up by any company there. There were demos of everything, including games that are still in the testing phase.
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8. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:63]
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
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This is it.

The absolute grand prize winner. I knew about this game before I got there, and was ambivalent. I just could see how this could be turned into an enjoyable game. Well it is more than enjoyable, I thought it was superb, with the same top notch production values that FF uses in their games.

I have seen that some people were unhappy with the board layout, and the little plastic raptors and vipers, but I think that they were fine. And I think that the gameplay will MORE than make up for any shortcomings someone feels exist in bits and pieces department. Trying to figure out who at the table is the Cylon and trying to 86 your battlestar is a what makes this so fun.

I wanted to buy it as soon as I was halfway through the demo.

And they had already sold out.
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9. Board Game: Moto Grand Prix [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:4071]
 
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
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Well one of the things I had been planning on doing while at Gencon was to find a copy of Formula De to take home. Found 4 in the store next to the auction, and they were just at about 40 dollars. Then I noticed that if I waited until saturday they would be 30. Great! I would just wait one more day and then grab the game.

I now realize that waiting for a good deal on a game just means you are going to be waiting a long long time.
I was getting a bit frustrated that everything I wanted to buy was bought before I could get to it.

So after a Battlestar demo, I wandered to the other side of the FF booth and found MotoGrandPrix. I don't know if I am going keep looking for a good deal on Formula De, because this game is just as fun, if not somewhat more so. And since you get to change up track layouts, I don't have to worry about dropping a ton of cash on more maps!
 
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10. Board Game: Red November [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:1465]
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
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This is a game that I didn't demo. I wish that I had, but my best friend did, and told me that he hated it. He thought the premise was great, loved the idea itself, but said that the gameplay was tedious and robbed the game of any fun. I would have to say that my friend and I are pretty much identical when it comes to the games that we like and dislike, but I have a nagging feeling that I missed out on something good there.

After all there were I think some good games at the convention that were just being demoed by not good people.
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11. Board Game Publisher: Twilight Creations, Inc.
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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Ok. I want to like the games from Twilight. I own Zombies with a few of the expansions, but the game just gets too bogged down, the mechanics of when and where you can use items stinks, and the game moves waayyy to slow for what it is.

I can't say I was really interested in any of the products at this booth but I am a huge fan of anything Lovecraft or Cthulhu so I did stop to try..
 
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12. Board Game: Innsmouth Escape [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:11112]
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
TX
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Love Arkham Horror. Saw this and thought, well ok, it's like a tiny little version of Arkham that you can break out when you don't have all night to invest in a game of AH.

This was just plain underwhelming. One of my group had tried it on Friday, and came away unimpressed. He also said that he was fairly sure that the guy running the demo had never played it or read the rules. So we went back on sunday and tried it as a group.

Sat down, started fiddling with the game, not one person from the booth showed any interest in what we were doing. So I picked up the rule book and started going through it while the other member of our group tried to get the game set up from what he could recall.

At some point a guy that I am assuming was with Twilight came over and asked it we were wanting to play.
No dude, we just want to fondle the little plastic deep ones and read the rules.

Come on.

So we start playing, and the "helper" kept giving us answers to questions like " Umm, I don't know" and "Well, I''m not sure, but lest just do xxxx" with it being obvious he was clueless as to how to play.

Now maybe the game is ok once you know all the rules. But from what I could read and what we were "taught" this game is a stinker. As a deep one player, all I need to do is park 3 deep ones on the spawn points and crank out mobs faster than tribbles in a grain silo, eventually the board is so saturated in monsters the human player cant go anywhere without having to wade through 5 or 6 mobs.

Thanks, but I'll pass
 
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13. Board Game: Chaos Marauders [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:5810]
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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Ok, so this is where I am going to move away from the games that I had been playing and cover just the experiences and environment of the convention.

I start with Chaos Marauders. A game that is probably at the absolute top of my wish list. In my wandering of the con, I stopped in at the booths of dealers that sell old games. All of them knew it. None of them had it.

So I wander into the Auction. Right as they are doing the GW products.

I go up the to front to see what they have, and there it is right on top. I hustle over to get my bidding ticket right as they bring out the game. The auctioneer starts to go on and on about what a great game it is, and how hard it is to find, and I keep thinking "Shut up, Shut up, if they don't know about it, don't try and sell it to em!"

The bidding starts at 1 dollar.

15 hands go up. Now its at 10, then 15 and some hands drop. Now its 20 and some more go down.

30 and there are 3. 35 and its just me and one other.

40 and my buddy is asking my when I am going to stop. The other guy isn't even looking around. Just slumped over in his chair with his hand up.

42 and I am starting to wince.

46 and I am thinking about what the wife might have to say.

48, and I put my hand down. That hurt, to be so close and yet so far. I had a feeling that the other guy was just going to keep his hand up, no matter what.

Dammit.
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14. Board Game: Hook Line & Stinker [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Stephen Dunne
United States
Austin
TX
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Stinker being the key word.

And in this case, I am referring to the inability of so many people to participate in the daily rituals of hygiene. Holy mother of God! I cannot honestly say how many times I was knocked cross-eyed by the stench coming off of some of the people there. Also, please, PLEASE buy a toothbrush and USE IT!

I am more than happy to teach you how to play a game. But if you are going to sit down across from me at a tiny little card table and chatter away, don't be offended when I slide you a box of mints to try and mask the fact that your breath and the sewers have something in common.

I know everybody has different standards and all, but some common courtesy to your fellow man.

The best compliment that I think the group I was with got was when asked why we were in Indy and we replied that we were here for GenCon was

"Really? You don't look like it."


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15. Board Game: Surprise! [Average Rating:5.71 Unranked]
Stephen Dunne
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Austin
TX
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My final entry.

It's related to the convention and yet is not.

So this was my very first GenCon. I have been wanting to come to once since I first spotted something about it in the back of a Dragon magazine back in the 80's. Just could never make it work. For the past 6 years, my best friend has been coming to GenCon, mostly to drum up business. He is a freelance illustrator that does alot of work for various gaming companies, so he normally has a table there.

So over some beers one night, my friend my wife and myself are talking about GenCon. He says I really should go, I go on about how long I have wanted to, and then my wife says "Well just go then."

I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a trick. My friend jumped on it and said that I was going. No if's and's or but's. I had the pass from the wife, so off we go to GenCon.

Now, the other thing about this trip is that it falls on the weekend of my birthday. What a great thing! My first GenCon, on my birthday weekend! And with the spousal stamp of approval! Whoo Hooo!

So we get closer, just a few days to go before departure. And then the grumbling starts.

"Are you sure we can afford this?"
"I can't believe that your not going to be here for your birthday"
"Your so damn selfish" (She plays games too)

Etc, etc.

So the day that we are flying out, she wont even speak to me. I leave in a bit of a funk. I want to have a good time, but not at the expense of marital strife.

So during the convention, and random times I would call just to see if her mood improved. Seemed ok. Not very chatty, but not hostile. Asked what she and my son have been up to. Nothing, watching TV, boring stuff. So I feel better that she is not mad, but still a little thrown off by the whole thing.

Sunday comes, and it seems like the flight back to Austin takes forever. Get home at about 1 am. The wife is waiting for me with a beer, and I notice she has paint on her hands and clothes. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. I ask what she has been up to.

"I need to show you something upstairs"

So up we go. She heads towards the TV room. My man cave. I begin to despair. It is untouched. Now I am just confused, exhausted and nervous. Then she tells me to hook the video camera up the the TV to watch the tape on it.

We don't own a video camera. So now I am REALLY wondering what the hell is going on. I hook the thing up and press play. And the video start outside my house with my son narrating a story about a man with a garage filled with piles and piles of stuff that he wants to get rid of but his wife won't let him. The video continues, with more narration, my wife and her mother cleaning things, my pickup truck being loaded with boxes and stuff that I have wanted gone for a long time. The video ends with my son telling me to enjoy my new garage. The wife then takes my back downstairs and tells me to go check it out.

It is unreal. There is a carpet in, with fresh paint on the walls, a dartboard hung in a black oak cabinet, Guinness signs, a buffet with snacks and a kegerator in the corner.

Wife tells me that she had been planning this for a while, my own little Irish pub in the garage. All the hostility she had been giving me was just a smokescreen, and she and my son just played it off when I called, telling me how bored they were. In reality they were working out in a garage in the Texas heat while I was playing games in Indianapolis to give me a surprise birthday present when I got back.

At this point I am not sure that GenCon was the best part of the trip.

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