Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gen Con 2015 Recap

This year's Gen Con was fantastic (and crowded) as usual! However, it's been over a week since Gen Con ended, so forgive me if the details have faded a bit. You won't get all the games played and meals eaten as much as in my Gen Con 2014 Recap.

You know you're at Gen Con
when you got your badge!
Eight of us arrived in Indy early afternoon. After sorting out rooms (the hotel pre-registration in January was a nightmare, BTW), we went down to Will Call to grab our badges, coupon books, and bags. We then indulged in tasty food (and slow service) at Granite City Food & Brewery.

Afterwards, we scurried back to the hotel to grab a table and get to gaming. I forget what all was played, but Brad finally got to try out Arctic Scavengers. This time we played with the Medic cards, which made purchasing cards from the common decks much easier.

Initially, I had a ticket to the 10 AM Privateer Press Speed Painting Event, but wanted to check out Evil Hat's "State of the Hat" address, so I talked my buddy Mike into giving speed painting a try. This had an interesting repercussion.

So, I attended the "State of the Hat". Evil Hat has their own breakdown on their site, but here's what I took note of:
  • Fate Accessibility - Elsa Henry of Feminist Sonar announced her handbook "for bringing characters with disabilities into games and players with disabilities to your table, using the Fate system as a lens for both."
  • Fate of Cthulhu - Think Terminator, but replace Skynet with Cthulhu.
  • Portal Jumpers - A kid-centric game along the lines of the 80s cartoon, Dungeons & Dragons, utilizing the Apocalypse Engine. It's my understanding that they will be revealing several worlds over time - fantasy, space, dinosaurs, etc.
  • Kaiju Incorporated - From Evil Hat's page: "A satirical setting about corporate excess and profiteering in the wake of wide-scale kaiju attacks..." Will be released as both a card game and an RPG.
  • The Dystopian Universe Roleplaying Game - A Fate-system RPG based on Indie Boards and Cards’ games The Resistance and Coup.
  • Dresden Files Accelerated - There was a discussion of using "Mantles" as part of character creation.
  • Bubblegumshoe - Veronica Mars-like teenage detective RPG using Pelgrane Press' GUMSHOE system. It's been enhanced with relationship mechanics and a fun layout. You can bet Kenneth Hite is involved.
  • Dresden Lives - The Dresden LARP continues to evolve.
  • Majestic 12 - A supplement for the Atomic Robo RPG with new comic art! I'm looking forward to this one.
  • Young Centurions - A young adult prequel to Spirit of the Century using Fate Accelerated.
  • Do: Fate of the Flying Temple - A Fate version of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.
  • War of Ashes RPG - To sum up in two words:"Muppet wars". It's a loosely Fate Accelerated RPG based on Zombiesmith's miniatures game and capable of using minis. It is in the process of being printed, due in October, and they are taking preorders.
  • Shadows of the Century - Spirit of the Century takes on 80s action TV. It is currently in alpha playtesting. I'm SO excited to get my hands on this!
  • Blood on the Trail - Vampire Oregon Trail anyone?
  • Don't Turn Your Back - Card game based on the Don't Rest Your Head roleplaying game. Just starting to ship to Kickstarter backers.
Say it: "verdigris"
I had to leave "State of the Hat" early as I had another Privateer Press Speed Painting Event at 11 AM. There were some extra seats, so Mike decided to purchase two of them and speed painted TWO miniatures in 45 minutes! I did some nice burnishing, verdigris, and rust effects, but they did not impress the judge.

After that was a quick run into the exhibit hall to hit up the Games & Gears booth for my Gen Con Collectors Brush Set that I preordered. They were kind enough to let me upgrade my set so I could get Mike a set of synthetics, a towel, and some brush soap. While we were there, we ran around looking to take advantage of some of the coupons.  Imagine my surprise when we ran into Trace Beaulieu and Crow of MST3K fame. I totally didn't realize he played Dr. Clayton Forrester!
Trace, Crow, and me!
Trace is starring as the human in the VERMIN Web Show, which just got funded on Kickstarter!

"El Toro"
Mike and I couldn't stay in the exhibit hall very long as I had a ticket for the 2 PM Reaper Speed Painting Event. Mike decided to sit in on this one too. There was some sort of mix-up and we were given clay golems from the Bones line to paint instead of a primed metal pirate. It was difficult trying to paint mounds of flesh and still stand out from the crowd. I decided to paint mine as a luchador complete with an "El Toro" tattoo on his back. Mike painted his as the grown up version of the Coppertone Baby. Surprisingly, I came in second place, beating Marike Reimer! Marike is a real good sport and gave everyone who placed above her a $10 gift certificate to the Dark Sword Miniatures booth.

I couldn't celebrate too long, as I had the "Airbrush Techniques Q&A" class with Angel Giraldez immediately after. It was amazing seeing Angel work up a miniature from a black primer coat to clean highlights with just an airbrush. Immediately after that was "Highlighting & Shading, The Next Step to Competitive Painting" with Golden Demon winner Dennis Smith. I was able to follow what Dennis was doing, and actually achieved some decent highlights on the provided Infinity miniature (pictures don't do it justice), but I was not keen on the color choices – the red came out more orange when we were done.

Since this was my busiest day, the rest of the evening was a blur, but I'm sure I had a Greedo sandwich from Der Pretzel Wagen. Unfortunately, they forgot the wasabi horseradish!

At 10 AM, I participated in the only hands-on class I could get with Angel Giraldez: "Painting with Angel Giraldez: NMM". It was my first time trying Non-Metallic Metals under instruction, so it came out surprisingly well. It turns out it's pretty much highlighting up to white. The Non Metallic Metals Set from Vallejo made it relatively easy. I should post a photo...
Angel Giraldez's work on the left, my attempt on the right.
I spent the rest of the day walking the entirety of the exhibit hall, even handing off my 2 PM Reaper Speed Painting Event ticket to Mike. I bought surprisingly little this year, but I did pick up a slightly dinged up copy of Machikoro from CoolStuffInc based on recommendation alone.

Upon leaving the hall, I made arrangements to meet Brad, Scott, and Kristin at Mikado Japanese Restaurant for sushi. Even though they are contemporary sushi, the fish was good and their Seafood Puff is to die for! Yum!

After returning to the hotel and staking out a couple of tables to game on, I followed the ENnies twitter feed. Even though Dungeons & Dragons swept most of the categories, I was happy to see Evil Hat Productions (Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game), Monte Cook Games (The Strange, Ninth World Guidebook), Modiphius Entertainment Ltd. (Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War, MUTANT Year Zero The Roleplaying Game), and Kenneth Hite (Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 2) get some lovin'.

Around that time, you could clearly see fireworks from the window of the room we were gaming in. It was part of a nearby baseball game, but I like to think it was Gen Con's way of saying hello.

Even though we had planned to play Fiasco Wednesday night, Friday was the first time we actually got a chance to. Mike and I wanted to see how Fiasco would handle cyberpunk, so we played the Hard Wired Playset by Alex Mayo. Sadly, it wasn't the best attempt as half the table wanted to do J-pop cyberpunk while the other half wanted to do dark and gritty cyberpunk. I will give Rich credit for staying in character and shooting the kneecaps of two other PCs in the first go around the table, particularly since he hasn't roleplayed in years.

Saturday started with another 10 AM class: "Freehand with Marike Weimer". Found out two interesting things about Marike: 1. Her Real Life Job™ is IT-related (as is mine) and 2. She takes quite a few clever shortcuts when painting miniatures, not that you'd know it. Her freehand is impeccable. Go ahead, check it out. Here's her website again.

After her class, I decided to drop in on the Games on Demand room and see if I could pick up a 2-hour game. Note for newbs: you need to sign up for games at the table in front of the room and games cost generic tickets, generally two. I did none of these things. I wandered in looking for Will Hindmarch to see if I could drop in to his Project: Dark game. Will kindly let me know his game was full, but his buddy Cory was available to run a game and runs them well. So, I stopped by Cory's table, and he let me know I was a newb and how to get things sorted out. At the registration table, under Cory O'Brien (I'm pretty sure this is his website), was listed Fate and Leverage. I chose Fate as I'm always interested in seeing how other folks run it and headed back in. Eventually, the table filled up and we jumped into an animorphic pirate tale full of swashbuckling and shenanigans! Cory does run a fine game, and started by canvassing the players for a list of 'Pirate Codes' unique to our ship – breaking one of these codes created a one time boost against you. Unfortunately, my two hours went quickly so I had to leave. But, I left the metal golem stuck with a "tangled in rope" aspect with two free invocations.

The reason I left early? Another Reaper Speed Painting Event at 2 PM. The miniature as a fur-clad female druid and I tried some of the NMM skills I picked up, but no win for me.

Brad picked up Poop: The Game for my lovely wife who finds humor in all things scatalogical. It's kind of like Uno, but there's a toilet/flush mechanic that can return stacks of cards to your hand and keeping you from going out.

Shortly after, I got a text from Keith Potter, one of the Chicago Area Game Writers Colloquium (CAGWIC) guys, asking if I'd be interested in hosting a Fiasco game for a few friends. We were also able to snag another CAGWIC member: PK Sullivan. I secured a game table at the JW, we decided on the News Channel Six Playset by Chris Norwood, Ken Coble, and Tom Gurganus, and ran with it. I played, Bruce Bauer!, the grizzled veteran news anchor just looking to retire after 60-some years. Keith played the Arts and Events reporter, Olivier Devereaux, who had been around as long as I had, but was having the best time of his life and looking to keep me around for company. His roommate, Jeff Flynn, played by Bear, was an unscrupulous bookie and all-around crook. On the other side of me, PK played the young, fresh-faced rookie, Rob Bolton, with a proper education looking to make it big. He had ousted the previous weekend anchor, Drake Dunbar, played by John, who had slipped into a drinking habit after losing his job of 15 years, wife and kids. The game was rife with ballot-box stuffing, horse racing scandals, and even Rob punched Bruce ON-AIR. Loved it! Easily in my top three favorite Fiasco games!

After bidding my CAGWIC friends adieu and taking a quick breather, I sat down for a full night of card and board games. Specifically:

  • Castles of Mad King Ludwig - A tile placement game where you purchase rooms to build a castle worth the most victory points. Players take turns as the Master Builder who sets the prices for the room tiles. It was fun and I won the game (never mind Jose bumping the score track), but I found myself trying to build the perfect castle. Is there a solo mode?
  • Red7 - A card game that looks like Uno, but is so much more intricate. Each card has a number, color, and rule attached to the color (and an icon that does special effects for the super-advanced game). The object is to follow the current rule but be higher than the rest of the table by number or color – red being high on the ROYGBIV scale – thus Red7 is the highest. If you cannot play a card to follow the rule, you can change the rule, or both. Yeah, it's tricky. I was just starting to get the hang of it and would like to try Red7 again.
  • Tricks & Treats The Card Game - What a way to come down from Red7. You lay out several trick-or-treat baskets, randomly and secretly determine which is your basket, and then play candy cards on top of the baskets, trying to get the most candy at the end without letting on whose basket is whose. Aimed at a younger crowd, methinks.
  • Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000 - The premise of this Kickstarted game is simple: fill a large bowl with 25 wooden food pieces (in five colors and five shapes), flip over a cardboard token with a picture of a piece of food, and use chopsticks to grab that piece of food and drop it into your smaller dish before the other players do. In reality, it's a mad frenzy of chopsticks jousting, food flying, and bowls clacking! The box says it takes 15 minutes to play. It took us half an hour to get through 10 of the cardboard tokens and we were drenched in sweat. 
Sunday, we packed up the cars, checked out, and headed to Steak and Shake for a surprisingly quick breakfast. Then it was back to the exhibit hall for one last shopping spree.

I headed to the Geek Chic booth to pick up a new "Cowboy" mustache monocle/necklace for the wife. Then I picked up the 3rd edition rulebook for the Infinity tabletop miniature wargame - the art is gorgeous! While I was at the Infinity/Corvus Belli booth, and since my regular gaming group is playtesting the Infinity RPG, I picked up some Infinity Tokens from the Warsenal folks who were sharing the booth. In talking with them about the Infinity RPG, they mentioned that Corvus Belli would be producing miniatures for the Kickstarter when it launches. They just happened to announce the miniatures at Gen Con. Check out these beauts:
I got a chance to thank Angel Giraldez and shake his hand one last time before he had to leave. Before I left the booth, I had to snap a few pics of this gorgeous piece of scenery/terrain:

Finally, at 2:30, was the Reaper Speed Paint Final. We painted the same miniature we had for the final last year, so I decided to go with lighter colors. I did not win. Alas.
And with my brushes, gaming bag, and fresh purchases in hand, we left Indianapolis; Gen Con 2015 came to a close.
Obligatory Speed Paint Finals Photo
Courtesy Pete