(Note: I had planned to do this wrap up as an audio episode, but for this first time this year, I have come down with the post-con crud. So instead of forcing you to listen to my froggy, sneezy voice, I will just leave this here. You know how it goes.)
Gandersnitch: Hello! Gandersnitch the Goblin here, joined today by my manager/agent Robert, to give you the lowdown on the pretty awesome weekend that we had at Con on the Cob. This is a show in it’s eleventh year, spearheaded by the wacky (and possibly certifiably insane) artist, game designer, and all around hoopy frood, Andy Hopp. Andy, and his die hard team of Cob-thusiests, have managed to create a campy, casual, and family friendly gaming convention that is an absolute blast for all ages.
Robert: It was pretty sweet. This is the only indoor convention we do that I would feel perfectly fine bringing my kids and turning them loose join the feral tribe of wandering Cob kids.
Gandersnitch: I think it is a requirement that you at least keep one eye on them.
Robert: I am busy enough keeping all my eyes on you. Seriously, stop trying to walk off with the hotel light bulbs. Who even does that?
Gandersnitch: If you would ever replace the one under the stairs, I wouldn’t have to! Anyways, for those who don’t want to read the whole report, let me sum up. Games, cool stuff to buy, raffles, silent actions, art shows, panels, musicians, movies, cosplay, parties, free food, kids room, two games libraries, and giant stand up corn people. Sounds pretty typical right? Oh no! This is not a typical show. I… Well, crap. I don’t even have the words.
Robert: I do. That is kinda my job, after all. I think what sets this one apart is how well Andy and his team manage to craft an inclusive experience that feels full of options, but never overwhelms you. I did not see anyone stressing out, at all, all weekend long. Maybe they were, but I did not see it, so they hid it well. There were plenty of tables to play games at, weird and off beat wares in the vendor hall, great art, two games libraries, and a top notch staff. They pretty much had all their bases covered. They even had a con suite of free snacks and drinks. It was simple fare, but a crucial addition that was open to everyone.
Gandersnitch: Yes! It is so hard to find good food that fits under my nose, but a folded peanut butter and potato chip sandwich was just the ticket. I think I ate that for most of my meals this weekend.
Robert: Plus they picked a hotel that had a free hot breakfast for the guests. Nothing extravagant, but it was nice to wander downstairs and hang out with other pajama clad attendees each morning before having to return upstairs and drag your butt out of bed.
Gandersnitch: The stairs were in fact the only thing we could probably fault this show on. No elevators seemed to exist, which means that this could be an issue for those with mobility challenges. My suggestion to those folks, bring some canopy-bearers with you and enjoy the con like royalty! Now, the hotel was rather old and shabby, but not uncomfortable. Don’t go expecting the Ritz!
Robert: Exactly. This feels like the sort of hotel I stayed at as a child with my dad. In fact, it very well could be one of them. The downside of that is the lack of elevators. The plus side is the indoor restaurant (which we did not try), the rather large indoor pool, two video game arcades, a mini-golf course, and giant tubular indoor playground. This is a self contained 80’s family vacation destination hotel. And it totally worked for the vibe of the show.
Gandersnitch: And if you come in on Thursday, you have plenty of time to just relax and enjoy the vacation.
Robert: That is something that struck me as odd at first, but by the end of the weekend, I realized how well it worked for the entire atmosphere. The show starts on Thursday at 2pm and runs through Sunday evening. This means we drove in, set up our table, and had to basically chill out till Friday morning. There was nobody shopping Thursday night.
Gandersnitch: Wait… What? You didn’t sell any of my books on Thursday?
Robert: Not a one.
Gandersnitch: Hang on. Where did I put that phone number for a new agent…
Robert: Put the phone down, we are fine. We sold a few on the other days. My point about Thursday being, that from a business standpoint this may seem like a mistake. It is not. It sets the whole tone for the weekend. People were relaxed and having fun. They checked in on Thursday, unloaded their bags, wandered around and got the layout of the place, and maybe played a few games with Santa Clause down in the atrium and were rearing and ready to go Friday morning.
Gandersnitch: Santa Claus is one of my new best friends. We are totally tight now. That guy has a pretty sharp wit, really, which is impressive for someone so bloody old. We hung out for a lot of the con just bantering back and forth, and people stopped to watch and listen to us. They even suggested we do a panel next year. That is how cool this show is, Santa Clause show up for crying out loud!
Robert: As did Dan the Bard, and a pretty impressive magician named Richard W. McClendon II. Now, it is a gaming convention. So let’s talk a bit about the games. First off, we had great sessions of our in development games, “Hogswallow” and “Are You Mental?”
Gandersnitch: Yes! “Are You Mental?” went great for the first time out of the gate. A guy who thought he was Obama led the team of lunatics to the Grand Canyon to kill the Speaker of the House (who tuned out to be Cher) with a flaming sword. It was a blast!
Robert: And with that one sentence, we just landed on the FBI watch list.
Gandersnitch: Whatever, we were there already. We also met some great people, and made a lot of new friends. Including Yasmine and Dahlia (I still say they are sisters), who were at their first convention EVER. For some reason they insisted that the beast card in Hogswallow was a “beautiful” beast…
Robert: It is the eyelashes.
Gandersnitch: I just think they have a thing for minotaurs, but whatever. They won an award for their cosplay too. Something about a Big Comfey Couch… I dunno, but it was adorable.
Robert: Speaking of adorable, I am told you judged the children’s costume contest.
Gandersnitch: I did. Which always kinda makes me a little hesitant. I am not sure how I feel about having the kids compete like that. I think the fact that they made the effort, and channeled their creativity into a costume, is enough to applaud them all. I don’t know that we need to pick out the best and give that one an award. Maybe just a costume parade, where they do everything the same, but don’t give out awards.
Robert: I think I can agree on this one. I am not a fan of “everyone wins just for playing” in sports or scholastic competitions, but I think maybe the huge buckets of candy they had all just collected as they trick-or-treated though the halls was reward enough. Though, I did not see any disapointed children, and I hear that you changed the category of “Most Adorable” to “Best Cow”.
Gandersnitch: Well yeah! How do you pick the most adorable out of 30 kids? Best Cow was easy, there was only one. Of course, she had already run off somewhere, so we switched it on the fly to Best Cow and/or Ladybug, because the ladybug was still there.
Robert: I also hear that you made it on a video podcast (Dice Squad) and won an award.
Gandersnitch: I won an award? Holy Crap! Was it for “Best Cow?”
Gandersnitch: Yeah! Probably because I won every game I played, and only made one teenage girl cry.
Robert: … I … what? …
Gandersnitch: So! About those games. Santa brought a whole friggen sleigh full of games, and all of the ones I got to play were a lot of fun. I will just break them down in order below.
- Nefarious: This was least favorite of the games, though it was still entertaining. Basically, you are a mad scientist trying to build crazy inventions and spy on your neighbors. The cards are clever, but it wasn’t the sort of thing I see myself picking up. Santa has it, and I am fine playing his copy next time we meet.
- 40 Below: This is an awesome card game with a very simple premise, get the lowest score possible. I won this one with a score of -52. The next closest score was somewhere in the positive 30s. But despite that, everyone had a great time. It really is saying something when you can lose a game, nay not just lose but get STOMPED, and still have fun. I went for some really gutsy moves in that game, and got incredibly lucky. We almost went out to buy a lottery ticket that night after the game.
- Steampunk Rally: I actually canceled the second day of Hogswallow (nobody had signed up anyways) to play this game with Santa and some of his friends. It was dice rolling card drafting game that had you building contraptions to race towards the finish line. I attempted my gutsy play style again, and did make it over the finish line first, and the furthest past it. Then my machine blew up and so I got last place. Still, it was a great game!
There was also a LOT of role playing going on, and some really cool older guys with a massive fantasy war battle game set up with terrain and troops and castles. They had me run the goblins for a round, and I rocked it. But I am told the goblins were wiped out after I left. There were even robots fighting to the death in an enclosed Plexiglas arena on Sunday! Real, honest to goodness, fighting robots. I have seen the future, and it has spinning saw blades.
Robert: So, all in all, it was a really impressive weekend. It was a small show, and the hotel spreads it out a bit, so at times it was a little lonely stuck at the booth but I absolutely plan on returning, and maybe we will see about getting you and Santa on a panel together for next year.
Gandersnitch: With fighting robots! Seriously, That guy needs a beard trim. Hook me up with that saw blade thingy and watch me shave Christmas! Brilliant! It can be a made for TV movie, filmed right there at the Cob! Get me Andy on the phone, we gotta do this thing…
Robert: Next up is Oddmall, at the end of the month, another event by Andy Hopp. I think this one is more of a funky shopping show, but if Con on the Cob is any indication, I expect great things. You really should check it out. And maybe buy some books, so that I don’t have to tell Gandersnitch that he actually can’t fire me. Goblins never bother to read the fine print in their contracts.