One Late Gen Con Report

Yes, it’s been a few weeks now since the convention ended. Between some post-Gen Con business and a bit of con crud in the house, it’s been difficult to get back to the blog. But at long last, How I Spent My Gen Con.

Get Bit! Missing in Action

My one real disappointment of the convention was that the new edition of my board game, Get Bit!, didn’t get finished in time to make it to Gen Con. (I’m sure like many Gen Con disappointments, it arrived on Monday, just one day late.) Thus, there was only a single copy there for demo purposes.

I am happy to say that the game is about to become available for purchase to the public. If you’d like to get in on a great price, check out the Kickstarter by the publisher Mayday Games. The Kickstarter runs for just two weeks and ships a short time after it closes, so please contribute while you can. This new edition includes a plastic shark (modeled very closely on the LEGO shark I’ve been giving out for years) as well as revised rules, updated graphics, and still dudes you can pull the limbs off of and feed to the shark. Please check it out.

 Missed Opportunities

There were a few games I wanted to demo there, but the opportunity never presented itself:

  • Blood Bowl: Team Manager was the big one I wanted to try, being a big Blood Bowl fan and having looked forward to some card game implementation for a while. Every time I walked by the FFG booth during the first two days of the con, nearly everyone in line seemed to be buying a copy. After that, they sold out. I’m definitely going to grab this when it’s available for general sale.
  • Super Dungeon Explore blew me away with the miniature designs on their website and was interested in checking out the game to go with it. Every time I stopped by, I wasn’t able to get the attention of anyone working the booth, and there was some kind of weird pre-order anyway, so I skipped it. Maybe I’ll give it another try at another convention.
  • Star Trek: Fleet Captains was on my list because of my feelings on Star Trek: Expeditions. While I’m not generally a war game guy anymore, I’m a sucker for Star Trek, especially one with cool pieces.

The Events

  • DD&D is our big event of the year (which explains why I’ve been talking about it so much) and while it wasn’t flawless, we heard a lot of good things from our players, so I’d like to think we set an enjoyable tone for the convention. It also meant we were treated like royalty in the sports bar for the rest of our stay.
  • I was a guest on the Obsidian Portal panel with Jerry about using a wiki to run your campaign. I thought it went very well and we had some great questions from the audience – definitely check out the video if it’s a topic you’re interested in.
  • Margaret Weis Productions announced that they will be making a new Marvel RPG, and the team they have assembled is awesome. Our very own ChattyDM is having a big role in this one, which is super exciting since I remember him back when he was just a new D&D blogger, and I’m proud to see how far he’s come. I’ll have a role working on the game a little down the road as well, so I was thrilled to have the announcement get out there to the public.
  • As I hope you’ve now seen, I’ve joined the ranks of D&D freelancers (at least on an occasional basis) with my first Dungeon magazine adventure, Rumble in the Valley. There were a few events that WotC put on to give us some more information. I was especially glad to see plenty of fellow bloggers in the same panels, as I have the totally non-biased opinion that bloggers are smart people with a deep understanding of the game. I had to duck out of one of the panels early to attend the Ennies ceremony.
  • The highlight of the convention, of course, was winning the Gold Ennie. It was pretty amazing to be surrounded by friends when it happened, and then to be around and watch other friends win awards. One funny thing about winning the award: because I arrived at the last minute, I forgot to load the list of names that I wanted to thank onto my phone. While in the awards, I couldn’t get a signal, so I stepped out during the awards before our categories were up to do it and totally missed the procedure for accepting the award. When the silver was announced for the great Gnome Stew, Danny and I turned to each other and said “Is that good for us or bad?” Then when the gold was announced and we went up onstage (while “Through the Fire and Flames” played) I totally blew past the two kids who actually gave the award and went straight up to the podium. Fortunately, Danny and Phil had me covered. Afterward, my hands were shaking so much I couldn’t send text messages telling people we had won!
  • That evening, we went over to Scotty’s Brewpub to celebrate, catching the end of D&D Trivia. There, we hung out, ate food, and had a few drinks (some with popsicles in them, one a giant fishbowl with gummy sharks) and talked with cool folks like Kato Katonian, Merry Dragon, and Trevor. We ended up not staying that late, which was good for not being messed up for the D&D New Product Seminar the next morning.

Gaming

At Gen Con, it becomes difficult to actually play games between everything else going on. I made it a priority to get involved in more games this year, and while I didn’t play everything I wanted to, the agenda definitely worked well.

  • I ran Leverage twice during the convention: once for folks I knew from Twitter, and once at Games on Demand. Both times, it went really well, and fit cleanly into a 2 hour slot. I used a job based on real world events (poker’s “Black Friday”) and made a selection of pre-gen characters based on existing fictional characters. I heard that at least one of the players went by the MWP booth to buy it because of my game, which is the best result you can get from a demo. Leverage continues to be a game that I love exposing new players to and plan to keep doing so.
  • Thanks to some awesome organization by Chris Tulach, I was able to play in a Magic: The Gathering booster M12 draft. I came in above average, which tends to be how I do in drafts, but I still love every one I can play. Commander was also popular during the convention, and I am totally hooked by it.
  • I organized (in a loose sense) a Fiasco-flashmob inviting all comers to play after the Media Meet & Greet. We ran 4 tables simultaneously, each with a different playset. I finally got to try Gangster London, a playset I’ve wanted to do for a while, and it did not disappoint. We jumped around so much in the narrative and made such a twisty timeline that we had to write the order of scenes down on an index card. At one point, every character was actively trying to kill every other character EXCEPT the professional assassin. If that doesn’t sum up a good game of Fiasco, I don’t know what does.
  • I did some playtesting of unreleased games too, which is something I really enjoy doing but rarely get a chance to do at conventions. I really hope what I played finds a publisher since I had a lot of fun.

The Swag

What is Gen Con without a weeping bank account? Here’s are the games I went home with.
  • Dungeon World, the hack of Apocalypse World for D&D-style play. While I’m very vocal about not needing another fantasy adventure game, this one peaked my interest because of the AW style of running the game.
  • Escape from the Aliens from Outer Space: The only Diana Jones Award nominee I wasn’t familiar with prior to the convention, this board game combines a bit of Battleship and a dash of Werewolf.
  • Guestbook, a game I supported in Kickstarter, and got to play with Filamena. In addition to the first series, I also received two promo guestbooks and looking forward to trying it more to get the hang of it.
  • Crappy Birthday, the new party game from the party game geniuses at North Star Games. I received a review copy of this game. While borrowing heavily from the Apples to Apples playbook (a game that I am not the biggest fan of), giving it a twist that makes the games run smoother and with tons of fun.
  • Neverwinter Campaign Setting, a book I was not planning on owning given that I’m not a big Forgotten Realms guy. I received a review copy and was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed reading it. There is plenty in this book to steal for any setting book and I plan on writing more about it later, but for the time being, I encourage you to check out Rob Donoghue’s and NewbieDM’s respective reviews.
  • Dragon Brigade: Opening Salvo is an introductory adventure for the Dragon Brigade RPG which I’ve been working on for the past few months. I also playtested this adventure. A limited number of print copies were available at Gen Con, but everyone can get the PDF for free.
  • Cheers, Gary is an edited collection of Gary Gygax’s postings on ENWorld with the proceeds going to the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund, a quite worthy cause. While buying it, I was able to meet Gary’s wife Gail and tell my story about the time I got to listen to him and my dad tell stories. At the booth they recorded my story as a video testimonial, but overall, I was happy to be able to tell Gail what her husband meant to me, which was quite moving.
So I’m happy to call that the Best Gen Con Ever. It’s going to be hard to top… but that doesn’t mean I’m not already looking forward to next year.
About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.

Comments

  1. Wanted to publicly congratulate you guys for the ENnie win. Back in 2008 it was CH and the RPGBN that got me motivated enough to start my own blog, so congrats again and thanks for setting a high bar.

    We didn’t walk away with a podcasting ENnie, but we have another year to get that done. 🙂

  2. Thanks, sir. Next year: DM Guys win for sure.