Gen Con 2012 is over and this is my report on the weekend’s festivities. The information appears in no particular order.
Wizards of the Coast starts our report with the release of a new “Dungeon Command” set “Tyranny of Goblins.” I played with my cohort Werlen, who is a massive miniature fan, especially the now defunct “Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures” line. He knows the WOTC miniature lines intimately. We beat on each other a bit and he commented the monsters seemed more powerful than the previous sets. I hope this is not a sign of the infamous supplement power creep problem that filters in to many miniature games. Regardless, the game plays a bit like MTG with miniatures and some movement rules. I received a review set from Wizards, so a more comprehensive review is forthcoming.
Drawing some conclusions from the D&D Keynote speech, it looks like D&D Next is landing sometime in 2014. WOTC is taking a slow approach to the development cycle on their new game. I do not object too much if it turns out a superior game, but Paizo is not going to just sit around and not release product. Only time will tell if this approach is the wise course.
Wizkids had their new Marvel “TabApp” miniature line on display as well and I got a quick demo. Wizkids created a game called “TabApp” for the iPad that allows you to use the physical miniatures you purchased in the iPad game. Say you place “Cyclops” of the X-Men on the iPad and play the game. You move through rooms doing battle with his optic blasts and other special abilities. Do the same thing with “Captain America” and you are slinging shields.
Werlen is an electrical engineer and I am not unfamiliar with electronics, so the mechanics of how the pad “read” the miniatures interested us. I initially thought it was an RFID chip, but then remembered iPads do not yet support reading chips wirelessly. Wizkids instead uses a series of small, eraser-like conductive rubber pads on the bottom of the miniature. Each miniature has a unique pad configuration , so the iPad can determine which mini is placed. Clever.
Every year there is one company that seems to be the darling of the exhibitor hall. Exciting booth, great products and long lines make the darling easy to spot. “Fantasy Flight” won the award in my opinion. The new Star Wars miniature game was a huge hit, literally flying out of the booth. I even bought one and I am not a big miniature fan. There is just something visceral about flying Tie fighters against Rebel scum in X-wings that drew me in. Nice miniatures and I even got in a quick game in the hotel room. The quick start rules are a bit too quick and the game was flat. That said, I played a multi-ship prototype game with all the rules last year and it was very exciting. Take the time to read all the rules and make use of them. Trust me, it is a blast.
The exhibitor hall is a glorious bazaar of all things game and there is always something to spend your hard-earned dollars on at every turn, but I am strangely immune. I usually do not buy that much at the show and tend to buy later after mulling it over a bit…except this year. I weakened and my wallet felt the pain. One of my most exciting finds was a new RPG from France, Esteren. ( Yes, it is translated to English) I bought it after watching the book’s artist do a watercolor in a book for one of the Kickstarter supporters and it was amazing.
I am deeply interested in foreign RPGs because they tend to break the mold set by D&D that permeates the American RPG industry. Vive La Difference! I will give it a read and share my thoughts at a later date.
“Wings of Glory” from Ares Games once again seduced me with World War 1 aircraft miniatures. I picked up a massive Gotha bomber. I included a standard size plane so you can see the scale of this beast. Behold!
Digital RPG tools were big this year. No fewer than three companies had digital character tracking/online play software on display. Inkarnate and RPGwithme are web-based solutions and had booths on the vendor floor. The beta test code to join Inkarnate is “inkgencon15,” if you want to try it. There was one other company, Hazzah and I attended their launch party at a nightclub near the convention center.
Walking to the club was half the fun, as a massive biker rally filled the streets around the convention center. It made for an odd mix of people on the streets; bikers and gamers. Good times.
Anyway, Hazzah is part iPad app, part tabletop RPG. A new RPG system, Genesys is in development and it is the first rules set on the Hazzah system. Though still under development, Hazzah plans to remove dice and paper from your tabletop RPGs. You still play in person, but an iPhone/iPad is your character sheet and an iPad is the battle map. You track character stats on your phone and interact with the iPad for group like dice rolling and tactical movement. I suggest you check out the video on the front page of their site for a clearer idea of what is under development. I have a very rough copy of the first app release, but hesitate to even discuss it because it is an early alpha release. I will keep you apprised of any updates.
Tomorrow I will go into specific events at the convention and describe in horrifying detail the worst gaming experience at a convention…EVER!
Trask, The Last Tyromancer