Trask’s Gen Con 2010 Report

Gen Con 2010 was a smooth experience for the most part. I measure this by the fact I spent more time playing games than dealing with logistics of day-to-day survival.  I played games at a fast and furious rate, played a couple of demos and lurked in the dealers hall seeking game bargains.  That is not to say everything went perfectly. There were some glitches and a couple of things that boiled my blood, but that rant comes later.

I arrived late Tuesday so I could attend the Gen Con 2010 Trade Day. Check out my Trade Day post for more info on this event.

Thursday started early with a trip to the press room for my early vendor area entrance pass.  Not sure if it was worth waking up early for this next year. Getting in at 9:00 AM was great last year because it gave me time to chat with a couple of the companies before the horde descended. This year, trade day attendees and a seemingly endless line of VIG buyers filled the hall substantially and made it far less conducive to reporting.  Speaking of VIG buyers, could someone please tell me why there were so many VIGs this year? I thought the VIG program a bit expensive measured against the benefits, so I skipped it.  Did I miss something?

Before going in to the game I played, I want to mention a few of the vendors that caught my eye. Most of the new products I saw at GTS 2010, but there were a few items worthy of mention.

Wyrd Miniatures exploded this year and rightly so. Malifaux is a fun, fast miniature skirmish game with some fresh miniature sculpts. All this and it has a great storyline as well. A very long line stretched around the booth for their latest release “Lord Chompy Bits” and for the promo “Nurse” miniature.   On a personal note, I cornered Eric Johns of Wyrd Miniatures about a possible “Malifaux” role-playing game in the future. I think the mini game is fun, but I really want to see an RPG for this setting. Despite my best efforts his response was aggressively non-committal. An RPG is not on the table, nor is it off.  For my part, I intend to make a pest of myself until I get an RPG out of Wyrd.  I am so determined that I would help write it if necessary!

“Eoris” debuted at Gen Con 2010 as well, much to my surprise. I did not see them on the vendor list and they sort of just appeared.  I quickly snapped up a copy of this long-delayed game and am reading it.  A full review goes up in the near future, but so far the world is complex, artistic and beautiful.

“Soda Pop Miniatures” made a nice splash at their first Gen Con with their line of anime-inspired miniatures. SPM also announced a new anime themed game “Super Dungeon Explore” for next year that uses an 8-bit video game theme and Japanese anime miniatures. Looked clever and I got a shot of the demo.

Gaming Paper released their new line of 8.5×11 grid paper and a very cute Stan-drawn Christmas wrapping paper for gamers. Though my wife would not enjoy a beholder with a Santa cap on the family wrapping paper. GP also earned a well-deserved Ennie for their products. Nice to see a small start-up do well.

Here are some more shots of the Wizkids Heroclix “Star Trek: Expeditions.” Hitcounts  on this were larger than I expected, so clearly there is a demand for this game. I made sure to get a shot of all the ship miniatures. Note that the real game will use larger versions, these are just prototypes.

I also got a some art shots from the new Cubicle 7 “Lord of the Rings” role-playing game. I got them off of a monitor, so apologies for the fuzziness.

Enough talk of vendors, it is time for the games.

I attended a  “Battletech Boot Camp” from Catalyst Games with the intention of doing the “Battletech Grinder” event later in the day. Battletech is still very similar to what I played many years ago.  We had a good time blowing each other up, but were too burnt out by the evening to go to the Grinder battle.

Though we had tickets to a “Leviathans” demo after the “Battletech” game, we skipped it. I played a demo last year at GTS and hoped to see the final game. Sadly, the game still uses cardboard prototypes for the miniatures. I asked Randall Bills of Catalyst about the long delay between announcement and release of “Leviathans.”  Randall indicated that the recent financial issues and the need to focus on “Shadowrun” and “Battletech”  releases pushed “Leviathans” down the priority list. Considering all the issues Catalyst had this year, their large, busy booth seemed to signal a comeback.  I wish them well and hope to see “Leviathans” released soon.

Haaldaar and I moved to the Mayfair game room for some “Giant Pompeii” and “Giant Tigris and Euphrates.” Older games it is true, but still a lot of fun on the big board. In the same room some clever gamers used lighted LED ice cubes to play “Powergrid.”

Friday brought “Chronicles of the Shattered Empire,” the successor to “Living Arcanis” from Paradigm Concepts. I enjoyed the great story and the new rule system worked very well. I bought the “Quickstart” book and plan on playing the campaign.

A side note, normally I eat pretty poorly at a convention. Lots of Subway and bagels. That said, their was a special event called “Devour Downtown” running in Indy the week of Gen Con. I meant that all the restaurants  had very reasonable set menus. Sensing an opportunity, we had a very tasty steak dinner at “Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse” for $30.00. Mmmmm….tasty and the desert had about 1000 obscenely enjoyable calories!  I would go again in a heartbeat. Hence, no gaming Friday Night.

Saturday landed me in a World War 1 air battle with “Wings of War.”  Specifically, we played a 40+ man skirmish. The skies swarmed with aircraft! After getting shot down very quickly and coming up in a reserve plane, Haaldaar and I started turning the tide and eventually cleared the skies of British planes in our area. Quickly noting a weak front to the east of our position, Haaldaar, myself and another heavy two-seater took off to fight for the fatherland. Three planes pursued us and I turned back to do battle with them single-handedly. It was three to one and I shot down two! I wound up with four kills, but that was not enough to place this year. Great fun all around and I will return next year.

After the air battle, we moved on to “Dust: Tactics” from Fantasy Flight Games. World War 2 meets alien technology in a  miniature skirmish game.  “Dust” is a fun, rules-light miniature game I would play again, but there is a problem. Actually, it is the same problem all miniature games have: cost. I thought it was a bit expensive  and could not justify the $100 for the basic set.  Fun, yes, but not appearing in my budget anytime soon. This is an iPhone shot, so apologies for the poor quality.

My final round was some Paizo “Pathfinder.” This was my first experience with “3.75” and it felt like old times. I know 3.5 OGL very well and had no issues with the system. Character classes were fresh as well. Looking at this as a possible game for my weekly online game using d20Pro.

That concludes my list of games played, now it is time for to rant a bit. There are two issues that greatly irritated me at Gen Con 2010. Winner by a large margin was the “will-call” line to pick up tickets.  Thursday morning I got up early to pick up my months-ago ordered tickets from the will-call booth and met a line that stretched from for a couple of blocks (not an exaggeration) through the Indiana Convention Center. To their credit, several volunteers worked hard at the will-call booth to get the tickets distributed. My problem is I walked past  booths for registration that had people twiddling their thumbs. My blood boiled.

I am normally understanding of lines at conventions because they are volunteer-driven events.  As a for-profit enterprise, Gen Con is subject to my wrath as any other business when providing sub-standard service. I hope next year Gen Con learns their lesson and allocates their resources with more wisdom.

One final annoyance was the 5% fee to refund generic tickets. Though it cost me a trivial amount of money, I seethed. I usually pay a “restocking” fee to get my money back, not so Gen Con can store my money for another year. Carefully stored an interest bearing account, no doubt.

That is the end of my Gen Con 2010 report. I picked up “Eclipse Phase,” “Legend of the Five Rings”  core book, the “Enemies of the Empire” supplement, and “Cthulhutech.” So expect reviews of these soon as well as a couple of interviews. I know you will find them interesting.

See you next year!

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

trask

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.

3 thoughts on “Trask’s Gen Con 2010 Report

  • August 10, 2010 at 8:32 pm
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    What happened with will-call was that the system set a lot of people to “will call” when they ordered “send it to me.” If my friend hadn’t thought of e-mailing customer service I would have been in that line too.

    I checked out Star Trek game based on your review. Wish it were based on ST:TNG.

  • August 11, 2010 at 4:39 am
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    Thanks for the reports! The dearth of information from Indy during the weekend was weird – I’m glad to see someone was taking their press pass seriously.

    Regarding the wait for tickets, I had a very similar situation happen at a local con recently. Oh well…

  • August 12, 2010 at 6:47 am
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    “One final annoyance was the 5% fee to refund generic tickets. Though it cost me a trivial amount of money, I seethed. I usually pay a “restocking” fee to get my money back, not so Gen Con can store my money for another year. Carefully stored an interest bearing account, no doubt.”

    “The only person who makes slavery possible is the slave.” — John Campbell

    GenCon, like Origins, stopped being a convention for gamers a long time ago; it’s just a trade show, now, albeit a fun one. But like most activities targeting business, the organizers assume business can – and will – bear any cost. “Money IS, dude!”

    HMGS and Strategicon for me.

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