GenCon 2015 - the events and games!

GenCon time again! As always it was a blast. This year we tried more than usual to play games or do events that we don't get to do at home. Bo staff fighting, True Dungeon, an author talk, crafty things like book binding, larps, and tons of new board games!

Highlight: 21 days to a novel by Michael Stackpole was awesome! Solid, practical advice that I can imagine following. I may try it for nanowrimo this year.

Lowlight: Remain Indoors! This was terrible. Directionless and confusing, this larp wouldn't have been my thing if it had limited it's badness to just that but then add in sexual harassment throughout the room and it worked out to be the opposite of enjoyable. Worst experience of four years of GenCon.

Thursday: First day there, mostly walking around the vendor hall and demoing games. So much fun!
  • +++ True Dungeon (Underdark Puzzle): As always, a big difference between Thursday runs and Sunday runs. Should have enough tokens now to make 2 more rings of heroisim. Next year we'll run with a couple more level 5 characters! A helpful coach told us about the td mobile app -- will definitely use that next year to manage party inventory!
  • + Highlighting and Shading: Painting techniques. This was fun, likely will sign up again next year for a different topic. Similar to last year's session, but the big thing is that I use too much paint per layer right now when I'm painting at home. My layering is obvious because I use too few and too thick layers. Layering aspect was similar to last year, big take away for me this year was how to choose the shade color. Deep shadows of red should be purplely, not dirty red. I suspect that'll make the biggest difference in my painting.
  • ++ Tides of Time: Fun two player game that Wendy and I demoed specifically for us to play. Tickets cost $2, got you a $2 coupon to spend on the publisher's game, game cost $8 after coupons. So we got it! Biggest complaint with the game: it should have Love Letter's form factor. The card's artworks are great, but IMO not worth a tarrot-sized card. It makes shuffling harder, prevents the game from fitting in your pocket
  • ++ Intro to Bo Staff Fighting: This was a ton of fun. Staff fighting is cool and the instructors were great. If I'm ever going to cosplay Kaladin I think I need to learn to do the basics of this smoothly. That way I can at least demonstrate the basic moves as if I was training a brand new squad. Going as Kaladin with one of his lieutenants and Wendy playing Shallan would be awesome. I was supposed to do Intro to Sword Fighting right after but my ankle was bothering me on and off all weekend -- fallout from overextending myself running races the previous weekend.

Friday: Packed day!
  • ++ Rattle Battle Grab The Loot: Light hearted ship building dice and tactics game. You're pirates working together to seal loot from the navy and merchants. Spend loot on upgrading your ship. Very very light hearted, fun, and adds randomized tactics. I liked it! Same publisher as Tides of Time, same $2 off each, so we bought it. Best feature: metal coins which clink ever so nicely. Our friends at a different demo table had a pretty terrible person explaining the game. Multiple times they were like "that can't possibly be the way X works, that's dumb" but saying that to the person explaining this is difficult, so they asked for the rule book and pointed out when there was a contradiction. That happened all the time.
  • +++ Here at the end combat arena: Laser tag, in a room, with trophies to grab and cover to hide behind. It was exhausting, made me sore, hurt my ankle, and was sooooo much fun. Totally worth it.
  • +++ Writer's Craft - 21 days to a novel: Michael Stackpole gave a fantastic talk. To be clear, you shouldn't expect to have a complete novel at the end of the 21 days, however you should expect to have all the planning and groundwork needed to start the actual writing by the end of 21 days. Things like major characters, major story arcs, scene outline of the book, etc. He has the meat of the talk for sale here if you're interested. A good preview before purchasing is available in his blog posts here
  • ++ Malifaux Demo: Small scale skirmish warfare game. As my friend Andrew puts it: D&D 4e where you control the whole party vs someone else's party (he may be a little cynical, but it captures the mechanics pretty well). I've been looking into getting into some kind of tabletop warfare system for years but army sizes have seriously put me off from it. This hit about the right scale for me. Wendy and I bought the starter box and a faction box each. Once we're settled at our new place, I'll get to assembling and painting!
  • Helix & Helix: I didn't actually go to this larp. My ankle was hurting from the earlier laser tag and I decided not to push it. From everyone else in our group who went, it sounded amazing though so I'll keep it here. Next year!!!
+/-AEG Big Game Night: Go to an area, demo a bunch of AEG games, then pick up a giant grab bag of games! By the time we got there, the major big games were full so we went to the empty tables which had games we hadn't played before (turns out to be a small set). The games we got in the bag were Seventh HeroJunta, Lost Legacy Orb of Prophecy, a board for Trains (which we don't own), and Munchkin Loot Letter (love letter, with a munchkin theme). I had fun, but I'd rather have picked games to play test and directly bought them if I liked them. Overall, I think I'm a bit dissatisfied with it and next year AEG Big Game Night won't make the cut. We did get to hear that someone proposed to his girlfriend over a game of love letter and she accepted, so that was a nice d'aaaaaw moment.
  • - First game was Why First?: Blah, this was interesting to play once. I'm set on that for the rest of my life now. Game play was entirely swingy and I felt like I had no real influence in the outcome of the game. It could be a good casual game for folks who don't want to take anything seriously. Maybe decent when drunk.
  • + Second was Cypher: Good game overall, fast and the same format as love letter with a neat sliding draft mechanic.
  • + Third was Seventh Hero: This was fun and moved quickly for the first couple games when we were new and only had 4 players. After that, we tried with 5 and it just dragged on and on as we all tried to prevent the lead player from winning, and they simply waited for the right card to come along. I'm so/so on this game from ending on that note. BGG does say the game is best with 4 players, not 5.
  • - Fourth was Card of the Dead: Worse than Seventh Hero, better than Why First. You start with a small hand, eventually run out of cards and work your way to simply top decking everything. If it's supposed to be a light card game as a filler game, I'll take Pairs 10 of 10 times to fill that niche. There's simply no decision making process to be done, outside of the first few turns.
Saturday: I went to fewer events than normal because I went out to get cupcakes for Wendy's birthday surprise. =)
  • ++ True Dungeon (Sable Combat): Fun! Half the group had run though it the day before on puzzle, so the first room was simple. They hadn't gotten the second puzzle room, but this time we worked it out. For the rest of it, we blew through the monsters in less than two rounds. Next year we'll probably run entirely on hardcore as our gear keeps getting better. By then we should have at least three rings of heroism!
  • + Wood Hardbound Book: Crafting! We bound blank books with wood hardcover planks. It was really cool. Only one + because the clips for holding the bits together as you got started were a bit crappy. There were two classes of clips: the good ones and the impossible ones. As one of the last people getting supplies, I got the impossible ones and had to wait for someone to leave early to leave early and give up their clips. It was fun, and if I wasn't rushed at the end, it'd be two +'s.
  • ---- Remain Indoors: I'm never running anything with this group ever again. I'm also never signing up for any larps with so little description again for fear of another group.

    In a group that was about a third women (8-10 women), two female characters were both defined in terms of their husbands and the third female role written to be promiscuous. When asked about the lack of female characters the hosts said something along the lines of "well, that's just the source material, it's a 'boy's club'". Come on, characters could easily be switched up. Not that it stopped people from creeping because the characters weren't female. Two notable creepers were someone who was epically drunk with no sense of personal space or where the line was for touching, and one who thought he was being sly by saying "I'd like to f*** you" to someone in german. The complete lack of direction in the larp provided ample opportunity for these guys. To the GM's credit, after the game was done and they saw the drunk guy cornering a friend of mine, they surrounded him and explained that wasn't okay, but they weren't exactly attentive during the game when similar cases happened all around the room.

    This was definitely the low-light of GenCon this year.
Sunday: We were supposed to have some time to play more board games after True Dungeon but that didn't work out because of flight delays. No GenCon is complete without travel issues!
  • ++ True Dungeon (Underdark Combat): We played this on Hardcore. I think it's our first time doing combat straight on hardcore and we won, even with a couple mistakes and having random people in the group with us. We were down by half the party in the last room but still, woot! I felt a little bad for the random people who hadn't done the dungeon before but the puzzles remaining were the first crystal room (simply coordination) and the mushrooms (impossible to understand puzzle clues) we didn't feel _too_ bad. Sadly one of the random people died half way through and normally wouldn't be able to talk with the rest of us for the dungeon. Fortunately one of our characters has a shirt of speak with dead, so I tried to walk him through what steps we were taking in the dungeon.


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