Thinking of next year's GenCon

It's been more than a week since getting back from GenCon and I have to admit, I'm still thinking about it. While we all had tons of fun, how would we make it even better next year?

Hotel Coordination

The trip planning started when D&D Next was announced. I couldn't make it to the D&D Experience so I figured that GenCon would be the next best place to playtest. From there I had to convince Wendy ("Lets find a half-marathon near the convention and get your August half out of the way"). It was a pretty easy sell, she also really enjoys gaming. Then we got our friend Tammy interested and she did an amazing job spreading the word. At the end, we got 8.5 people to come (one person came for half the con). Unfortunately, everyone signed up at different points and we ended up spread out across three separate hotels. Meeting up meant a lot of walking. That was fine, except for the time involved! We could've been playing something during that time!

Next year, we're all booking GenCon tickets as soon as possible and reserving a block of hotel rooms as soon as possible.

Booking enough tickets for everyone

There were a few events which would've been better if we had simply gotten enough tickets for everyone involved. D&D next and True Craft were what we lacked enough tickets for. However we also weren't very coordinated in picking what exactly we wanted to play. Choosing at the last minute led to a couple people to play Traveler (which I understand they really enjoyed).

Next year we plan to play a more varied set of games and will probably buy up the full tables of whatever more than one of us is interested in playing. Since we can easily release the tickets after finalizing our plans (at a reasonable 5% cancellation fee) this shouldn't be a big deal.

Planning fewer True Dungeon runs

While planning this trip we heard good things about True Dungeon but had no idea what was really involved. For the uninitiated, you traverse a dungeon, room by room, with a fixed amount of time per room. Each room has either a puzzle to solve or a monster to fight. We ended up booking one run of Giants Travail, two runs of Draco-Lich (puzzle oriented) and one run of Draco-Lich (combat oriented). That's a lot of TD, especially since the puzzle oriented runs were back to back. We did really well in all of the runs. We didn't get to kill the boss in Giant's and figured out all of the puzzles in Draco-Lich. We were too slow with one puzzle and had hints from more experienced players for another one but failing both wouldn't have set us back too far. However running Draco-Lich the second time didn't involve much thinking and it was boring by the third time (except for the combat rooms since they had changed).

Next year we'll run the dungeons, first combat on normal then puzzle on nightmare. That way when we run through the puzzles a second time we'll have more tension, particularly in the puzzle-only rooms.

Hosting a game

I run a home D&D campaign as well as the occasional one-off adventure. Coming to GenCon for the first time I was shy about running a game and opted to only play in other's games. As much fun as that was I think next year I'll run something like Mouse Guard on Wednesday night. Hosting a game for people I don't know should help me up my own game and since almost everyone I met was really nice and friendly I think it'll be a fun change. I don't want to run the game during prime GenCon time so Wednesday would be a fun tradeoff.

Playing games I'm less familiar with

Several people recommended Pathfinder while we were there and a couple recommended Hackmaster. I figure if I'm going to try something new, GenCon is the place to try it.

Taking Direct Flights

We nearly missed our connecting flight on the way home because of aircraft maintenance on the first leg of our trip. While direct flights are more expensive, being faced with the prospect of being bumped to a flight the next day because of an airline or weather related delay was annoying and sufficiently stressful that next year we'll just book direct flights.

With all these things for next year, what did we end up doing this year?

In no particular order:

  • D&D Next - Seeing the next iteration of D&D was fun. It was just Wendy and me the first time we played. The second time we managed to get a table for all of us but only because some people hadn't shown up and we could get standby tickets. This is the kind of event that we'll book full tables for next year and return whatever we don't plan to use day of.
  • Mistborn RPG - Coming from D&D, Mistborn was light on mechanics and heavy on role playing. That's very conducive for playing it the first time at a con with a pickup group. Knowledge of the underlying world did help though as the magic system isn't very traditional. Unfortunately two people in the group had a hard time engaging and left shortly after two of the standby folks left. I think they were unfamiliar with the setting and the rules, and weren't really prepared for an RPG heavy game. Our attempts to get them involved in the game repeatedly fell flat. Oh well, everyone who stayed was great! Wendy and I had a lot of fun with it and I think the other couple did as well. A friend wrote up his experiences in his play through with Brandon Sanderson. I'm both happy for him and envious! Also an event that we wish we could've gotten the full table for since four of us played across three separate sessions.
  • True Dungeon & True Craft - As noted above. Tons of fun, looking forward to doing it next year. Puzzle oriented was much more fun with our group though I understand many groups had a lot of trouble with it.
  • Using Improvization to put more role playing in your role playing (yo dawg). This was a great session. I had already heard the main points put across in the session but putting them into practice with fun skits and exercises really drove it home. Brad Knight ran a really really good session. Now I wish I had signed up for his session for GMs too. Getting called out as a Googler by a Googler I didn't know was the most memorable bit, but all the rest was fun too.
  • Constructing Scale Mail Bracers - This was fun but so tedious. I was faster than most in our group and I still didn't get around to completing two bracers in the time allotted. Definitely worth doing at least once if you're a crafty sort of person. I don't think we'll do it next year though.
  • Orc Stomp 5k fun run - See Wendy's post for a nice review. I finished a couple minutes behind her and we'll probably do it again next year. =)
  • Brandon Sanderson reading & signing. It was really Brandon Sanderson and Michael Stackpole but I wasn't familiar with Stackpole's work and we had to get across the con for our next event (Mistborn RPG) so we didn't stay for the full reading. Before he read, he explained he was a long time genconner and wouldn't be offended if anyone left if they were double booked. That made me feel so much better about leaving early. I feel like I need to read something of his to make up for it <added another book to the list>.
  • Walking around the convention hall - There are so many more board games and game systems than I had imagined. Walking into the convention hall was like being a child and walking into a candy store for the first time. Everything called out to you. Fortunately for my wallet I was able to resist many temptations. Having to pay for luggage coming home makes for a good deterrent against buying too many new games.


Popular posts from this blog


Dice, probabilities, and Go - Part 1

Planetfall by Emma Newman