It’s Gen Con week! Or at least it would have been. For the first time in over 30 years, I won’t be traveling with my fellow gaming geeks to the mecca that is Gen Con. So I thought I would take a look back and share some Gen Con past.
GenCon 2010 was a blast. I did a ton of gaming and brought along some new friends since John and Ben decided to ditch me this year. They were replaced by Proxy John and Proxy Ben, I’ll refer to them as Ty and Josh for the rest of this story.
Leading up to GenCon, I of course didn’t leave enough time to get everything ready so I was up painted and modeling right up to the night before, and didn’t really start packing until Wednesday morning.
The excitement was palpable as I loaded up the truck, picked up Josh, then Ty and we headed for Indy. Five hours later we were pulling into the Hilton. After unloading the truck and hitting CVS for supplies, we made our way to the convention hall to pick up the swag bag and convention program.
Then it was time for dinner. I recommended Scotty’s Brewhouse. John, Ben and I found this place to open last year’s con. They have a great outdoor patio but it was so hot and humid nobody wanted to be outside. We found a spot at the end of the bar and enjoyed a couple of pitchers of Fat Dragon scottish ale and Ty discovered the wonder that is “the shewman special”: half-pound, hand-pattied, grilled burger, peanut butter, jalapeños, cheddar cheese and bacon. For dessert, Ty was talking with the manager and got us some samples of “Dragon’s Milk”, a %12 alcohol bourbon aged stout – very good.
We wandered back to the hotel and broke out DungeonQuest (1987) and a few more beers. We were joined later by Josh and Ty’s friends Matt and Alayna. More on them later.
Day 1 – Thursday 8/5/10
The first official day of GenCon! I roll out about 9:00 to start the con out with a Flames of War game. On my way to the game I pass by the mass of people starting to queue up waiting for the exhibit hall to open at 10:00.
Flames of War is a WWII miniature game. The scenario was a simulation of the German invasion of Stalingrad. I was commanding a group of light armor, anti-tank guns, and a pioneer platoon on the left flank. Across the table, I was facing a unit of Russian tanks. The tanks had good cover and the Russian player wasn’t going to move out unless I forced him to, so I made an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge him. By the end, my tanks and anti-tank guns were gone and the pioneers were in retreat. The game ended up being a victory by the Russians, as they were able to push across in the center of the table and on my flank. We (the Germans) were able to take the right flank and made an attempt to take back the center but too little, too late.
The game was run by a group from the Indy area – Able Kompanie of the Game Korps club. Great terrain and miniatures, and very well run by David and Chris. This was good news because these guys were also running the game that Josh, Ty, and I were all going to play in on Friday.
While I was playing FoW, Josh and Ty explored the exhibit hall. Josh was nice enough to stand in line to get the new Deathwatch book for me and get it signed by designer Ross Watson!
After FoW we all grabbed some lunch at Champions, I spent a little time in the hall and then headed for my evening Lord of the Rings game.
I had only played LoTR once a few years ago at Adepticon and that was a huge re-creation of the battle of Helm’s Deep. This scenario was the skirmish battle at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring when the fellowship is attacked by Orcs and Frodo is trying to get across the river to head to Mordor alone. This was a lot of fun, a small game with just four of us. Me and another guy playing the heroes and the other two playing the orcs. I controlled Frodo, Legolas, and Aragorn. The cool thing about this game is that the heroes play like heroes killing lots of orcs and able to overcome the odds. We were able to get Frodo across to the boats but he had to go on alone since Sam ended up getting captured by the orcs…
Friday night was beer and pizzas back at the hotel room. Matt and Alayna joined us to play Zombies!!!. Matt went on a zombie killing spree to win.
Day 2 – Friday 8/6/10
I was up and out early since you can always sleep after GenCon. Grabbed some breakfast and checked out the auction store. I then spent some time in the exhibit hall once it opened. Not much exploring, as I decided to stand in line for about 25 minutes at Fantasy Flight to pick up the new DungeonQuest and Death Angel games.
I then rushed over to the Weston to see Wil Wheaton (Star Trek:NG, Big Bang Theory) It was standing room only but I really enjoyed getting to see Wil live. I’m just a little older than him so I really identify with his stories of growing up and playing games in the 80’s. Here is some video I recorded of his talk.
You can also find better video of his whole speech on YouTube.
I then picked up Josh and Ty for lunch. On the way back to the convention center I had to break the truth to them that there really wasn’t a “
After lunch, Josh and I dropped into a quick hour demo of Malifaux. I wanted to try out this skirmish miniatures game that has crazy miniatures and uses cards instead of dice.
Friday afternoon was my second Flames of War game and one of the highlights of the con. The scenario was The Bridge at Remagen. The board and minis were amazing, and the game was run by the guys from Able Kompanie again. Josh, Ty, and I all were playing in this event. There were eight players, five American and three German. We decided that three guys with last names Toepfer, Weis and
CoopmanKoopmann should probably be the Germans 🙂 We were joined by Mike from Able Kompanie who helped run the game and provided us some coaching as the “German High Command”. The Americans were coached by David, who is Scottish. His accent certainly added some atmosphere to the game.
Our goal was to keep the Americans off the bridge for as long as possible. We even had an armored train that showed up midway through the game. We were doing well but then had three platoons fold all at once. In the end, we did squeak out a win. Mostly by preoccupying the American tanks, slowing their advance, and some strategic late-game artillery fire that kept the closest American troops pinned down. Special thanks to Mike for helping us out and making it a great experience!
After fighting off the Americans we were hungry and thirsty. The “Shewman” was calling Josh’s name so we headed to Scotties again for more peanut butter burgers and Fat Dragon.
We caught up with Matt and Alayna again for Friday night gaming. Matt is a Magic the Gathering God. He was working at GenCon with another group running Magic tournaments but has worked for WOTC at Magic events all over the world. Because of this the brand manager for Magic, whom Matt knows, stopped by the room for a beer and a quick chat.
We had let Ty roam the exhibit hall unsupervised again and he had bought more games. One of those was Last Night On Earth, so continuing our zombie theme we broke that out for the late-night gaming. This a cooperative game with one person playing the zombies (Ty) against everyone else and it incorporates all the classic zombie movie themes. It’s a lot of fun but that night the zombies won.
I was up and out early(ish), swung by the auction store but didn’t pick up anything. Did an hour demo of Firestorm Armada by Spartan games, just to check out this miniature starship combat game. A solid game similar to their Uncharted Seas game.
After that, I had some time to roam the exhibit hall. I took the SPEW-AI test for Outbreak Undead, and stopped by to see Alayna who had a booth in the artists’ area. She’s a digital painter from Madison who has some really cool art. I brought a print of “Mountain Castle”.
Saturday afternoon was my Space Hulk game. This was a reworking of last year’s game with the same board. I had a repeat player from last year and someone who watched his friend play last year so he wanted to play this year. The game was a rout for the Genestealers, who played well but had some incredible luck in shooting the Terminators. They did find the Inquisitor but the Marines took too many losses and were never going to make it into the control room.
We did have a good location for the game, in a wide hallway between the exhibit hall and the CCG hall so we had lots of walk-by traffic.
After Space Hulk, Josh and I jumped in the BattleTech simulators, and Josh, who had never played before, kicked my ass.
We then met up with Mike, who works with Josh and John at Kohls, for dinner. Mike was at GenCon playing Magic all weekend. He heard about our Space Hulk game so we decided to do an encore game with Mike, us, and a couple of his friends. We set up in the hall area again and got tons of traffic and people stopping by to check out the game. Since I was trying to play and teach, Ty took over as PR person and answered questions about the map, games and models. One guy who stopped by was Tom from miniaturereview.com. Check out his site for information on all kinds of miniatures and tons more GenCon coverage.
Late Saturday night we stopped by the CCG hall see Matt. He was playing Magic so we watched him surgically destroy his opponent. But he did it in a fun, entertaining way. Amazing.
Back at the room we tried to finish up the last of the alcohol and played another game of Last Night on Earth. We had a chance, but the Zombies (Ty) won again…
The last day of GenCon is always a little bittersweet as you know the fun is going to come to an end soon. We made our last pass through the exhibit hall for any final purchases and then finished our GenCon experience with lunch at The Ram.
GenCon 2010 was great, I think this was my 23rd GenCon and easily ranks in the top 5. Played a lot of games, met new friends, and had a great amount of fun. I was so busy playing games that I didn’t have a lot of time in the exhibit hall to buy stuff, but that’s not a bad thing 🙂
I’m already looking forward to GenCon 2011, and have the hotel room booked…
I hope you enjoyed this look back and I can’t wait for Gen Con 2021!