Monday, August 25, 2014

Gen Con 2014 Recap

Despite yet another record attendance and sold-out events, this year's Gen Con was one of the best in a while. Here's a sampling of Gen Con Indy 2014 from my point of view:

The first wave of friends — Pete, Adam, Jeremy, and I — arrived in Indianapolis. After unloading all our gear in the hotel rooms, we made a bee-line for Will Call so we could get our badges and event tickets. That was followed by swag bags graciously provided by Jon Sudbury Games, sporting their Ortus Regni iconography.

For dinner, we hit the food trucks. Adam and I picked up Greedo sandwiches (Black Forest Ham, Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Wasabi Horseradish all on a large pretzel bun) from Der Pretzel Wagen. Kudos to them for going with a Star Wars theme! This would be the first of four Greedos Adam would get this weekend.

We finally settled in at a coffee table with a few comfy chairs and played:
  • Arctic Scavengers - A post-apocalyptic deck building game with a skirmish mechanic. We finally finished a game. Lunchtime is just not long enough.
  • Alien Frontiers - A resource management board game where your dice represent space ships which you assign to various resources with the goal of colonizing a planet. Jeremy just would not let me get the "ghost" ship.
  • Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - A worker placement board game with a Mayan theme. My heart wasn't in it, but I still came in second place by concentrating on crystal skulls.
Privateer Press Speed Paint
Honorable Mention
I got up early and hustled to the one Speed Paint Event I had a ticket for: Privateer Press. This year, Speed Painting was sponsored by Games & Gears and we were each given one of their synthetic brushes to use and then keep. I was only able to pull off an Honorable Mention, but one of the place winners couldn't make it to the final, so she gave me her seat. Thank you whoever you are!

Immediately after that was the Painting Infinity Miniatures: Faces Master Class with Angel Giraldez. Here's proof from facebook: Photo 1 and Photo 2.

Armed with some generic tickets, I was able to get in to one of the Reaper Speed Paint Events. I pulled off Third Place on my own with the help of some freehand work.
Reaper Speed Paint
Third Place

I had preordered a Games & Gears Limited Edition Gen Con Collectors Series Brush, but since you could only pick it up from the exhibit hall, this was my first opportunity to do so.

After a quick couple of stops in the hall, I tried to sit in on Angel Giraldez's Painting Infinity Miniatures: Weather and Leather Master Class. Even though Angel said I could observe, I wasn't getting much out of it without being able to put paint to metal. So, I went to Evil Hat's State of the Hat Panel instead. It was good to hear what they're planning next and they handed out free swag, including another copy of Fate Accelerated.

While I was there, I caught up with Ryan Macklin. Since he had jumped in on a question I had about ownership of Boosts on the Fate Google+ Community, I promised him a cup of coffee. I fulfilled that promise between panels and we had a pleasant discussion about the many facets of the Fate system. As an added bonus, he blessed my Fate Core book with his signature and a one-time +8 invoke!

Then off to Evil Hat's "Look under the Hat" Q&A Panel. They are a good group of folks and are gamers making games for gamers. One of the interesting take-aways was Rob Donoghue singing the praises of Adventure MAXIMUS!, an RPG designed for kids.

At that point, it was time to grab some grub and meet back up with the gang. I grabbed a Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese with Truffle Fries and a side of crab cake from Serendipity Mobile Catering. Talk about a tastesplosion! Then I settled in to play:
  • Sheriff of Nottingham - A bluffing game it which you are trying to smuggle contraband past the Sheriff. Probably the most fun game purchased at the con.
  • Shadowrun: Crossfire - A cooperative deck building game that does a good job of capturing the Shadowrun feel. And it kicked our butts.
As midnight rolled around, I realized I had missed the Painting Black and White on Miniature Figures class with Rhonda "Wren" Bender. Sadly, that marked the end of the roller coaster ride that was the first day of Gen Con Indy 2014...

First goal of the day: find and speak with Rhonda Bender. I apologized profusely. Rhonda was very understanding and was cool enough to give me the class notes and miniature (from Dark Sword Miniatures).

Then I tried to get in to both of the Privateer Press Speed Paint Events for that day again. The first round had a waiting list 9 people long. The second round, I just barely made the cut, but ended up giving my seat to a gal who had never painted a miniature before coming to Gen Con.

I decided Friday was my day for trolling the Exhibit Hall. Here's the highlights:

After dropping off the spoils of the day back at the hotel, I met up with Brad and his friends Scott and Kristen for sushi at Mikado Japanese Restaurant. From there, back to the hotel to get some gaming in. We played:
  • Adventure MAXIMUS! - I was so excited about it, I texted my buddy Brian earlier and he picked it up. As such Brad and I ran through a quick adventure with Brian's family (it was Brian's wife's first time GMing! She did great!)
  • Firefly Board Game - I had heard from several people that the Firefly Board Game did service to the source material, but was kind of dull and lacked player interaction. Scott insisted I try it for myself, particularly with the newly released Blue Sun expansion. I'll admit it was fun, but I felt it was still far too long of a game. I was content to play up to the point at which you meet the requirements to actually start the missions. Fortunately, Mike showed up at that time, I brought him under my wing, showed him the ropes, handed off the con to him, and went to bed. Mike got Kaylee killed.
Getting up early, I was finally able to get into the last Privateer Press Speed Paint session. After all that, I didn't place. So, I checked on our regular GM, Josh, who was running a Stars Without Numbers game. Unfortunately, only one player out of the six who registered showed up. On my way out, I stopped by Games on Demand and caught Will Hindmarch running Project: Dark

By the time Will's game wrapped up, I wasn't feeling too hot, so I popped back to the hotel for an hour nap. At that point, Josh (of Fair Game fame) texted me, so I joined him in the Exhibit Hall. I introduced him and his boys to Adventure MAXIMUS! While the three of them were digging in, I headed back to the Indie Press Revolution booth to pick up Dungeon World for Josh. By the time I returned, Josh was deep in discussion with the distributor and his boys were swapping places with Francis, the game's designer. It goes to show how easy and fun Adventure MAXIMUS! is. Josh ended up purchasing 7 copies with the trimmings.

I bid farewell to Josh and his minions and met up with Brad to have Shrimp Po-Boys from the Sot Sot food truck. We then returned to the hotel to play:
  • Fiasco - We played The Beast of Sucker Creek Playset. It was Mike's first time playing and one of the best Fiasco games I'd been in in a long time. Three drug-addled monster hunters and a conspiracy theorist country girl all caught up in a government conspiracy. Only the girl got away.
  • The Resistance: Coup - A brutal last-man-standing bluffing game. Brutal.
  • Kittens in a Blender - "You are twisted. I can’t believe you actually want to put these adorable kittens in a blender!" Yes. That.
Privateer Press Speed Paint Final
Honorable Mention
The day started out with a bang with the Privateer Press Speed Paint Final. I achieved an Honorable Mention for going with a more aquatic theme. The First Place Winner already had a set of the Games & Gears brushes that was part of the prize, so she gave them to me. Thank you!

That finished up around 11:15 AM - just enough time to grab one more Greedo from Der Pretzel Wagen! Then, Brad and I hit the exhibit hall for some last minute goods:
Reaper Speed Paint Final
Third Place
Brad and I then went up to the Miniature Hobby Events area and waited for the 2:30 Reaper Speed Paint Final to begin. Despite the fact I thought my color choice and blending were poor, I guess my freehand and OSL (Object Source Lighting) were enough to secure me Third Place! The prize included another set of Games & Gears brushes, so I payed them forward to the Honorable Mention.The gal I gave up my seat to earlier took First Place! That was something like her seventh miniature total, but she had an art background and paints nails at a mani/pedi shop.

Since we packed the car earlier, it was just a matter of jumping in and going home — tired.

It was definitely one of the better Gen Cons in memory. Also, between purchases, freebies, and prizes, I ended up with 11 brushes!

Obligatory Speed Paint Finals Photo
Courtesy Pete


Ryan Macklin said...

Thank you again for the coffee! It helped get us through the wedding. :D

- Ryan

cyberook said...

Hey Ryan!

Glad it helped!

Thanks again for the discussion. And thank you for putting together one of my favorite game systems and continuing to support it!