GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!
9,972 Supporters
$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
15 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Conventions

Subject: Gencon 2008 travelogue rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Here’s a travelogue of my 4th annual trip to Gencon. I mostly wrote this for my own remembrance, but I thought some of you might enjoy it as well, especially if you were unable to attend and/or are curious what it's like. Gencon was a ton of fun this year as usual & even more packed with activity for me than it has been in years past. I also learned this year that running six sessions of 3 hour games is a tad too much. Where I can recall, I’ll reference some of the other sessions in which SWIGG members were involved. Please note that these are simply my impressions of the conference, as I’m unaffiliated with anyone other our humble game group.

SWIGG (Southwestern Indiana Gaming Group) Attendees:
Sean Browning
Rick Crowe
Jeremy Glave
Ron Keeping
Andrew Keeping (me)
Tom Nord


Wednesday, August 13th – Ron, Rick & I arrived in Indy around 5 pm. We checked into our first hotel, the Columbia Club, on the circle downtown. This was a real highlight of the trip. The Columbia Club started in 1889 to help elect Benjamin Harrison as the only Hoosier US President & the building we stayed in was built in 1925. The architecture was gorgeous & the various memorabilia displays were better & more personal than some I’ve seen in museums. Tom was already in town for work, and after meeting him for some BBQ around the corner, Rick, Ron & I retired to the library on the 2nd floor to set up & play a few rounds of Imperial to refresh my memory on the rules. This was the only night I got to bed before 2 AM.

Thursday, August 14th – After breakfast, Ron spent close to 2 hours waiting in line to register his auction items (he made $84!), while Rick & I oriented ourselves to the general convention layout. I’ve mentioned it before, but the convention center in Indy is massive beyond description and it takes a while to get your bearings, sometimes even after you’ve been there for 3 days. When the doors to the main exhibit hall opened, I darted in to get a special edition copy of the game Touch of Evil for Sean, then milled around for a bit checking everything out for the first time.

At noon I began the first of two 6 hour game sessions, starting with Age of Empires 3, followed by Imperial @ 3 PM. The theme for AoE throughout the weekend was that the one or two experienced players in the game crushed the newbies by effective use of the merchant strategy, although everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. A nice guy named Eric won Thursday’s session. Imperial was much more competitive, and I was bewildered by good the players were. In this session, another great guy named Robin narrowly defeated his son (on a tiebreaker!) due to excellently timed heavy investments into the eventual top country England. This game was a tight race though, & I recall the fellow that came in last could have easily come in first given one more trip around the rondel. Rick & Ron demoed the Z-Man game Pandemic! during this time and had very favorable things to say about it, despite our general distaste for cooperative style boardgames. Apparently the theme & gameplay do a great job of simulating the tension of being a CDC employee.

After my marathon session, I trekked back to the hotel to unload my games, which I’d become thoroughly sick of toting, & reconnect with Ron & Rick. Sean & Jeremy got to town at around 6:30 PM and we all toasted the official arrival of SWIGG. After a somewhat disjointed dinner at an Italian place (also around the corner), we again adjourned to the library sans Tom, who had 1 more day of work, for what turned out to be my favorite part of the trip, a long and satisfying session of Struggle of Empires. I believe I ended up winning through a steady, efficient acquisition of tiles (I had a huge & powerful mitt to tap in the last war), coupled with a tenacious grip on 2 territories, which provided a buffer until I could make some broad VP swipes in the 3rd war. We went to bed drunk, tired & happy around 2:30 AM.
Friday, August 15th[/b] – Sean & I were up and at it early, flitting around the peripheral convention areas. Sean became interested in D&D miniatures while I checked my bags at the new hotel. Today we switched hotels (Thanks for the great memories, Columbia Club!) to the awesomely proximate downtown Marriott. If you ever have the means, staying in a hotel with a skywalk to the convention center is so choice. I recommend it. I checked my bags & once again darted around the exhibit hall when it opened. It takes several laps over all 4 days to really see everything. My overall impression of the main exhibit hall is as follows:
1. It’s still a real thrill the first time you go through.
2. That thrill grows a little smaller each year, as you grow accustomed to seeing similar booths repeatedly, although there’s slight variation from year to year.
3. I was rather disappointed that Blizzard didn’t let us demo their World of Warcraft expansion like they did with the expansion 2 years ago. I guess they’re snubbing GenCon for their own convention. Jerks.
4. The Legends of Norrath promo girl was CUTE, as was Miss Marvel @ the Wizkids booth.
5. Rio Grande needs to stop partnering with C&C games in that cramped dungeon they call a booth. You have one of the best reputations in boardgames. Mayfair, Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight, & Z-Man all have nice booths & demos going, you should too.

At noon, the second of my 6 hour sessions began. This time it was Sean from SWIGG who won AoE, once again with effective employment of a merchant-heavy strategy. Imperial was again hotly contested. I was able to fill a spot & promptly came in last, completely out of my league against a really talented group of players. Robin won for the second time on a tie-breaker, which in my mind cements his status as the unoffical Imperial champion of GenCon 2008. Note to self: check out a game he recommended called Kremlin. Ron learned to play Junta during my Imperial session, and it seems like a fairly light but enjoyable “screw your neighbor” style game.

We met at Champions (the restaurant, not the online game) for dinner & beers at around 6:30 PM, excluding Sean, who had a pretty busy day. I lost track of him after our AoE session & I think he was more or less incommunicado from then until 8:30 PM that night. At some point he learned to play Last Night on Earth. At 8 PM, Ron went to play a group trivia game called Wits & Wagers while Jeremy & I found Sean playing in the D&D minis hall. We became interested & joined him for a series of bouts. I got my butt kicked repeatedly by minis veterans but had a good time. I may have rediscovered a modernized hobby from high school.

At 11 PM, we all reconnected. Ron went up to bed because he had an 8 AM session the following morning & Tom/Jeremy went back to the hotel where Tom was staying for work. I convinced Sean & Rick to join me for a beer at RAM, where we stayed, discussing the day & enjoying the friendly atmosphere & friendlier beers until around 2:30 AM. RAM really caters to the convention, and their IPA is delicious. Instead of playing sports, they played the movies 300 & Sin City on their big screens, with big robust surround sound to complete the ambience.

Saturday, August 16th – Ron was up and at it early, playing what he described as a very enthusiastic game of Liberte at 8 AM. Sean, Rick & I slept in a bit but we were awake in time for Sean to get into a pickup game of Agricola & Rick into a session of Rail Baron around 9:30 AM. Every year, it seems like there’s one boardgame that creates a lot of buzz, and it’s no surprise that Agricola had that distinction this year. Impromptu sessions popped up everywhere, such that even though we had no scheduled sessions, at least four of us had the opportunity to play or observe it at one point or another. Apparently, Ron took over for Sean about halfway through the session in a situation he described as “no crops and a screaming baby,” but was able to recover to a 2nd place finish.

Saturday’s AoE session was won by Thursday’s winner, Eric which, similar to Robin, makes him the unofficial Age of Empires 3 Champion for Gencon 2008 in my book. SWIGG was the ONLY group running Age of Empires 3, Imperial, Struggle of Empires (run by Sean), or Liberte (run by Ron), which I guess I see as both good and bad. It’s nice that we can bring quality games that we enjoy up to the convention to share with other boardgamers, but I wish there was more balanced distribution of offered games among other GMs & Sponsors. Outstanding games such as Caylus, El Grande, & Princes of the Renaissance are nowhere to be seen. I’m guessing this is somehow related to Rio Grande’s rather conspicuous lack of visibility during the convention as two thirds the aforementioned games are all published through Rio Grande.

About this time Sean was running a grueling session of Struggle of Empires, which I think ended up lasting 5 hours and included the departure a couple of players who were forced to leave before it was completed.

I was relieved to have a shorter session today (only 3 hours) which gave me more time in the main exhibit hall. I had been eyeing a game at the Mayfair booth called Gangster, which I finally got to demo. A sidenote: Dave with Mayfair does a great job of explaining games succinctly & clearly. It’s a nicely fast-paced & appropriately complex area control game, and I love the theme. You can’t help but quote Don Corleone or James Cagney when you play. About this time Ron & Jeremy began setting up Twilight Imperium in the Open Gaming room, while Tom unfortunately had to head back to Evansville. I realized I hadn’t had a moment to sit down and peruse the rules for the D&D minis I’d purhcased the day before, and resolved to do just that. I discovered what turned out to be an excellent restaurant simply by heading east on Maryland St. It’s called J. Gumbos I think. The storefront was deceptively humble but the food was classic Cajun and their beer tap menu was outstanding, up-to-date with Owner’s comments on what looked to be about 40 taps. I happened to sit down next to our server from the prior night, named Brady, and we had an excellent conversation about beer.

I got back to the Open gaming room around 8:30 PM and Sean, Ron, Jeremy & Rick were well into what turned out to be a 7-hour session of Twilight Imperium. I had intended to play D&D minis until around 11 PM orso but the area was being used for something called a “minis draft” that I didn’t quite understand. That turned out to be serendipitous though, because I came back to the Open Gaming room just in time to get into a pickup game of Agricola. So that’s how we spent the rest of Saturday. The report on TI:3 was that it was fun but extremely long & tiring. Apparently it drove Jeremy clinically crazy around 2 AM. All I can say about Agricola is that the hype is real. This is a fantastic game. We all went to bed around 2:30 AM again, exhausted and, for some of us, a little loopy.

Sunday, August 17th – Sunday seemed to fly by. We were mostly busy checking out of the hotel. I hosted my final session of Age of Empires at noon and played in it for the first time. The session itself was sadly the worst of the convention for me, running a full hour past its completion time and delaying our departure. However, I was pleased to see Marshall, who had just learned the game in Friday’s session, win by virtue of a well-executed albeit slightly lucky discovery strategy.

As always, it was sad when it came time to leave, but I was definitely more exhausted and ready to go this year than in the past. I’ll probably cut my scheduled hosting sessions down to 2-3 for next year. Six is too much like work! Look forward to next year.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Mooresville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great summary Andrew - I think you captured most of it. At least we have something to relive until next year!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Ober
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
fishtobaskets wrote:
5. Rio Grande needs to stop partnering with C&C games in that cramped dungeon they call a booth. You have one of the best reputations in boardgames. Mayfair, Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight, & Z-Man all have nice booths & demos going, you should too.


Rio had a whole room! It was right across the hall from the exhibit hall, and they had 15-20 games set up in there, as well as free snacks and sodas. Oh, and an ice cream bar on Friday night during the 2nd annual Spiel-a-thon! It was pretty sweet.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I remember seeing that room! But every time I poked my head it seemed like there were 1 or 2 private sessions going and nothing else.

Nuts!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.