Gen Con 2015: The Games Played Part 3

After getting out of the playtest room, I rolled straight into a game of

Numenera: The Hideous Game

I am a huge Numenera fan and regard it as the best RPG currently on the market. Period.  I jumped at the chance and the module was, as expected a great time. Since it will be published/run in future I will keep specifics to a minimum. We investigated some mysterious happenings  in the mighty city of Qi and by dint of some good rolling and great planning, we got the bad guys in a corner and beat them down. Not before I got to drop the gate behind them and utter the immortal words,” I am not trapped in here with you, you are trapped in here with ME!”

Rorschach is so quotable!


Which turned out to be truer than I knew when my friend and fellow player  dropped a level 9 cypher that summoned a level nine creature in a closed environment during the fight. Mind you, it offers no control over said creature, it just summons it .

So we got a Dream Sallow, which is a man-eating tree with a gas attack. We got beat like toddlers boxing  Mike Tyson.  Still, the bad guys got it just as bad. Happily, the local city guards pulled us out and bombed the sallow.

Remember kids, the only thing more dangerous than an enemy in an RPG is an ally!


PS. Back the Numenera expansion kickstarter. I am.

In the Cypher System vein, my next round was


The Strange: Mastadon

Again, this module is running in the future so details will be thin.  We played former government guinea pigs investigating mysterious disappearances and wound up in Ruk (think Blade Runner with more bio-engineering. ) After some good rolling and a couple of sneaky fast talk rolls, we achieved our goal with minimal carnage and once again proved that the only item you need in Ruk is a glider pack. We are always jumping out of windows!


Saturday morning I planned (and had tickets for) more Cosmic Patrol, but decided to skip it. Instead I took a few extra hours of rest and relaxation in preparation for:

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

I always stretch myself at Gen Con and the “Imperial Assault” game is way outside my RPG activities, so I signed up. Basically it is a miniature skirmish game with pre-printed maps, scenarios and PC development mechanics. A sort of miniature-heavy/light RPG game. Fantasy Flight put it out, so the components are lovely as usual.  Playing a hard-hitting rebel trooper Fenn Signis.  I and my team met with Han Solo in a bar and fought off waves of Imperial vermin, hacked a terminal and escaped.


The combat system is easy enough, but I am not sure the pre-programmed scenarios make for much re-playability.  The big surprise that Boba Fett shows up on turn three only works once. Still, it was fun as a one-off, but I am not buying in to this game.


Circus Maximus

A brief break for lunch and I entered the “Circus Maximus” for some chariot to chariot combat. I did not realize this was an old Avalon Hill title from the 1970’s, but looked forward to it for the nostalgia.

The thing about nostalgia is bad elements tend to fade and all you remember is the good times. In this case, I forgot about 1970’s era grognard game design elements.  Grognards, for those not over 40, were the foundation of modern tabletop gaming. They ran giant, rules-heavy miniature battles that eventually evolved into more modern tabletop miniature games and RPGs. Sadly, the 1970s were a transitional era and some less than desirable wargame elements made it into more mainstream games like “Circus Maximus.”

We got “character sheets” and went through a simple but at the same time convoluted chariot/driver character generation process. Then we carefully lined up the chariots at the starting line, got ready and we were off.


Here is what I had forgotten about these old games; they had no concept of “playability.” That is a design to keep people playing and having a good time. Nor did they have strategy as a key element of the game. Luck mattered more. So I rolled badly, once and died. This put me out of the game in the first 45 minutes and freed up three hours for the dealer hall.  The time for this style of game is long past. Game nights wither when players die and have to wait for everyone else to finish.

Sometimes nostalgia sucks.

Wandering the dealer hall and eating an overpriced dinner killed enough time to get to my round of:


Giant King of Tokyo

A press your luck dice game that allows you to smash Tokyo while fending off attacking creatures.  Crowds implied a good time, so I got in a game.  You take turns rolling dice to attack/defend yourself  trying for as many of the same “face” of the dice to match. Some strategy, but basically not much different than a hundred other dice games with different themes where you press your luck.



The giant monster cut-outs amused me for about five minutes, as did the over-sized (duct tape and foam) dice. Combined with the dull game mechanics make this a “must miss” event for next year.

I rushed to my next game with high expectations. Because I was going to take the:


“Zombie Train”

A Savage Worlds zombie game like no other. Pre-generated  characters included a legless, wheelchair bound hooker named  “Wheelie,” A crazy guy who thought he was Jesus, a blind guy and his dog and my PCs, a couple of food network cameramen that thought they were in a horror movie.  Then it really got crazy. My guys had a gatling gun and the blind guy carried a LAW rocket!

The zombies assaulted our humble dive bar and we scrambled to defend it.  The juke box played theme music (Juke Box Hero) during the battle, but switched to “Ode to Joy” when it came time for the Gatling gun slow-motion shooting spree.  Thank you Spotify!

We faced defeat against the undead hordes until the crazy guy decided to raise dead on a zombie and it worked! Once established as a deity, he took charge and lead us to the water treatment plant where Jesus and a follower drifted a classic Impala to get him a clean shot with the LAW.



My sides hurt for hours from laughing so hard. A great game.

Strangely, there was no train anywhere in the scenario.


Finishing up the night, I went around asking:


Are You A Werewolf

The legendary social game is a common sight after hours in the convention center hallways. 20 players get cards to determine if they are villagers or werewolves and vote to, well, lynch their best guess as to who is the werewolf.

The game is widely played at Gen Con, but I had never played before. After three games I decided it was not for me. It had no turn timer so there was a lot of sitting around doing nothing and the players were very much the mutant LARPing crowd I avoid. Amusing for a couple of hours, but I will pass next year.


That is it for the game reporting, save for one game that gets a special post because it is, pun intended, game changing. I will have more on Gen Con later this week.


Trask, The Last Tyromancer





Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

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