Monday, August 8, 2011

Gen Con 2011: The Experience

I got home from Gen Con last night, and tomorrow I'm leaving with the family for a cabin in the middle of Nowhere, WV for a week. The dive hotel I stayed in while in Indianapolis didn't have internet, nor will the cabin we're at the rest of this week. So, while I could, I wanted to share some general thoughts about this years overall Gen Con experience.

Like most things of this nature, my time at Gen Con had it's highs and lows. The lows, however, were all things beyond Gen Con's control and the direct result of bad decisions on my part.

I drove from Ohio to Indiana early Friday morning. Not even an hour into the drive I got pulled over on Route 42 for speeding. This was extremely aggravating, as I actually was trying to be mindful of the speed limit. It was a very foggy morning in rural central Ohio. But, my mind must have wandered long enough for my foot to rest too heavily upon the gas pedal, and BAM! There were the flashing lights. Not good. After being issued a delightful speeding ticket, I was back on my way.

The rest of the drive was much better. However, between being pulled over, a breakfast stop and a...ahem...potty stop, I got into Indy a bit later than planned. Parking downtown was already almost completely filled up. I finally found a garage that didn't say "FULL" near Union Station and jumped on the opportunity! It was already after 10:00am, and I still needed to walk to the convention center, pick up my badge and event tickets and get to the D6 Generation's Play by Mob event at the Westin hotel by noon.

As I was walking out of the parking garage, I noticed the sign that said all cars had to be out by 7:00pm. 7? Really? One of the events I was most looking forward to (Street Fighter Heroclix Release Tournament) was being held that night only at 6:00pm! Sure, I could have risked trying to move my car at some point during the day to another garage, but that was a) a sizeable risk giving the crowds and b) would have incured even more parking garage fees. So, in the end, I missed the event. And, I'll admit, it put a bit of a dark cloud over the day for me.

However, I got my badge and made it to the D6 Generation event in plenty of time. I got to meet the crew (Russ, Raef and Craig) as well as Russ' wife, Nicole (be sure to check out Total Fan Girl). I also met John from the Game On! with Cody and John podcast. The event was a total blast as the amassed crowd took on the part of 4 Space Marines (from Warhammer 40K) and Craig ran us through a Deathwatch scenario. It was crazy, and a lot of fun. This was followed by a brief Q&A time. It helped to disperse the dark cloud a bit...

The D6 Generation (Nicole, Raef, Russ & Craig)

Following that I made my way to the Exhibit Hall. Now, the Indiana Convention Center has been undergoing some major expansion and renovation the past couple of years and the new areas were now opened up. The new Exhibit Hall was where the old RCA Dome was, and it was huge. It took a little getting used to the new layout. But, I pretty much started at one end and worked my way through the crowds and the booths.

Gamers were everywhere...

I'll go into more specific details by company next week, but as is always the case at Gen Con there was a ton to see! Honestly, it can be overwhelming. If you weren't already cognisant of the fact that there's "too many games, and too little time"...the Gen Con Exhibit Hall would drive that point home for you!

The Fantasy Flight Games booth was practically a convention unto itself. It was huge. But, again, I'll get into specifics next week.

My biggest disappoint from the convention was there was no Battlelore present in the Fantasy Flight booth. I spoke with an FFG employee who, without saying anything concrete, sure implied strongly that the game wasn't dead and that there would be announcements in the future. How far in the future? No telling. Honestly, I already have enough Battlelore stuff to play the game for years and years...but, I sure would like to see some new armies introduced to the game system (like Elves!).

The high point of the convention for me was playing in a Pathfinder RPG session being GM'd by Greg A. Vaughan (who's written a ton of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder material for Wizards of the Coast and Paizo, respectively) and playing alongside Anthony Pryor, who is another RPG industry veteran. It was a lot of fun. I admit, I am sold on Pathfinder. I haven't played an RPG since the mid-90s (except for a brief dalliance with the Star Wars RPG). But, again, more on Pathfinder later.

I'll end on this note. As I worked my way through the cavernous Exhibit Hall seeing all the new games being hawked by the various publishers, I realized something for myself. I found myself wanting to focus more on the games I was already playing, rather than giving into the gamer magpie tendency to gravitate to the latest and greatest. My one big purchase at the show was the High Elves Battalion Box for Warhammer Fantasy Battles that I picked up from The Warstore. I've been needing this for some time now, as it forms the backbone of my High Elves army. Now, armed with fresh birthday money it is finally mine! This gets me so much closer to a playable army. I also picked up the magic dice for the WHFB: Storm of Magic expansion, a new Pathfinder RPG Adventure Path (Jade Regent Pt 1). I picked up the Pathfinder Tales novel, Prince of Wolves from a local Borders that was closing up, too.

Of course, now I'm exhausted! But, it was totally worth it...

My apologies for this being so brief. Please be sure to check back next week for more from Gen Con.

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