Another GenCon has come and gone, plus a drive to and from St. Louis to pick up the kids, and we are starting to recover from the exhausting trip. Of course, instead of relaxing last night, we had to scrub the floors in three rooms. It seems the dogs managed to outsmart our barricades without alerting the dog sitter, and there was quite a hidden mess to clean up.
So, how did the show go? What awesome things did we see and snag? Did we accidentally run over any celebrities with our truck? (To the last one, I say… If I don’t even know who New Direction is, are they really counted as celebrities then?) What are the plans for next year?
The show, as always, was huge, overwhelming, and awesome. This was the first year that Rebecca was able to attend, and she spent a lot of the week investigating cosplay, attending panels, and seeing costume contests. I did manage to drag her over to play a few games, and we walked around the exhibit all each morning to see if we could find anything cool. We picked up some fun MLP style miniatures from Impact Miniatures for the kids, as well as a really fun superhero math game called “Numbers League”. We ate some awesome pretzel sandwiches at the food trucks across the way, met a lot of new friends and fans, and had a blast debuting 50 Shades of Brown: the coloring book for Kids with just one crayon.
Rebecca played her first ever game of “Are you a Werewolf?” on Saturday night, and despite my initial frustration at the group for picking on the only guy with a darker skin tone to be killed first (a fact that seemed to make him uncomfortable as well), it ended up to be a pretty good game, with only Rebecca and I surviving and ultimately killing the werewolf. We also played a quick game of “Welcome to the Dungeon” in the Iello game room, which is a fun little game, if you aren’t already exhausted from the day and have more than two players.
Friday night, while Rebecca was watching a crossplay costume contest, I got roped into a tournament game of “Heroes of Normandie”, which I had never played, knew nothing about, and would never have looked twice at on the shelf. It was a WWII tactical squad based board game, pitting one player as the Allies against the other player as the Germans competing over a single objective. My opponent, playing the Americans, was an avid fan of the game and possessed everything they had published to date and was amazingly easy going and helpful about playing with a complete noob. I trounced him (though mostly due to some very lucky dice rolls.) Regardless of the fact that I won (and that I am really not a wargamer, especially a WWII wargamer), this game was a huge amount of fun! It was very easy to pick up and play, had enough strategy to keep me thinking, and seems to be infinitely re-playable, given the expansions, the scenarios, and modular nature of the boards and units in the core box. It is like having a whole miniature wargame without the need for an extra room in the house to house your terrain and miniatures. This one is absolutely on my Xmas list for this year. (Though I now see that they are making a cthulu themed version called “Shadows over Normadie”, and I bet I will like that one even better.)
Despite all the fun we had, and the evident increase in attendance, something about this year felt off. Maybe it was the conspicuous absence of Wizards of the Coast. Reaper, our favorite miniature company, was not there either (and I had really hoped to pick up some more paint without the need to pay shipping.) Overall, there really seemed to be a lack of spectacle that had been so present in years past. There were no major new releases (at least none we discovered) to get the crowd excited and buzzing, (though Smirk & Dagger’s new game Nevermore probably came the closest and looked like a lot of fun), and so many of the games were either “about to do a kickstarter”, coming sometime next year, or depended on the latest golden child trend in gaming (the draft mechanic deck builer) and just felt like clones of each other. If all the cool projects that were teased about this year do make it to GenCon next year, I imagine the atmosphere will be back to it’s old upbeat and exciting self.
As for other swag we picked up, Rebecca snagged a print from an awesome artist that we will frame this weekend and get on the wall, but I can’t tell you anymore than that since it is for an as of yet unpublished variant cover for a major comic book. We loaded up on Dryad Tea, so I should be able to make it through the winter now with my writing. I picked up some Dragon Dice, from a company that has revived the old TSR game, in an effort to make the scattered pieces of that game from my childhood playable again with my kids, and we also snagged a superhero card/board game called “Villains and Vigilantes” which we have not played yet, but looked family friendly enough and was half price since I had an exhibitor badge. At the very end of the day on Sunday, after the closing bell while we were packing up, I was approached by a man who really wanted some horns and wanted to know if we would trade for them. He was a game creator and graphic designer for Catalyst Labs, and ended up swapping for the “Shadowrun: Crossfire” game. We haven’t had time to play this one yet either, and it is probably way out of the kids’ league atm, but I flipped through the contents and like the fact that you can keep characters from game to game and purchase upgrades for them. It seems to be a nice combo between a board game and a lite version of the rpg.
What are our plans for next year? Well, we do know that we will be returning and hopefully with a game to sell. This really is a gaming convention (duh), and while we did awesome with our books (over 100 sold), books alone are not enough to make the expenses worth while. Also, while Gandersnitch was amusing for the folks who stopped by to chat with him, in a convention that large with people whizzing by so fast, he really becomes just another cool costume in the crowd. His magic really works better outdoors, in a smaller convention hall, or on the stage. It will all depend on how we decide to market Hogswallow, whether or not he returns to GenCon next year. That said, we do plan on running demos at our booth, games (as events) in the main hall, and maybe even play testing another game or two I have in the works right now. We will also be bringing a bigger crew – so start vying for favor now if you want to go with us next year… 😉