Gen Con 2012 FLAIL STYLE

Greetings! I’ve had a week to recover from Gen Con, and here’s my recap!

I’ll be honest. I was overwhelmed (in a good way). It’s hard to remember everything. In fact, when I ask my brain what happened, it says “BUZZZZZ” . I do remember sharing a room with Micah from Obsidian Portal, or at least a reasonable android facsimile of him. I met up with lots of my Internets friends and at least managed to touch base with some of my old friends (even if I didn’t get to play much with them as intended).

Overall, it was pretty rad. And now, highlights!

Valuable Life Lessons Gleaned From Gen Con 2012

1. You Can’t Please Everybody, So Make Yourself Happy


I saw a lot of old friends at Gen Con, and I’m glad I got to hang out with all of them. That being said, I spent entirely too much time this year worrying about  Fancypants Blogger Duties vs. hanging out with Friend Unit X vs. Friend Unit Y and if someone would be put off if I didn’t hang out with them and trying to wrangle schedules in order to kill several social birds with one stone at a critical lunch convergence. It was pretty difficult not to succumb to analysis paralysis, and that’s the last thing I wanted to happen during the limited timeframe of a convention. It’s making me hyperventilate just thinking about it.

In retrospect, I think most everybody was just having a good time no matter what because, well, Gen Con. I think, next convention, I am going to pick out a bunch of stuff I want to do, and hopefully I’ll be able to drag some friends in with me. There’ll be plenty of time to hang out.

2. Get In Shape Before Next Convention

Two man enter. One man leave. I’m guessing it’s gonna be my roommate over there on the right. Gearscore and all.

I’ve been coming to Gen Con nearly every year since 1997, and up until the last couple years, I was doing karate and lifting weights pretty regularly. Walking around endlessly at a con didn’t bother me one bit. It was kinda refreshing, to be honest. Then I had a kid, and the nice neat schedule I had kind of blew up, and I fell off the workout wagon. Hard.

Now that I have breached the upper end of my 30’s and am cruising perilously close to 300lbs, things have changed. Knees hurt. Hips hurt. Feet are only now coming back fully online. I could still make it everywhere I wanted to go without trouble, but it’s not hard to see that might change 5 or 10 years down the road.

I find it a little weird that the idea of being unable to get around Gen Con is motivating me harder than thoughts of heart disease, but I’ll take what I can get.

3. The Phone Is The Spice

The last thing my phone saw before its untimely battery death.

I thought I was being all smart and getting my smartphone set up in advance to prepare myself for anything at the con. Weeks in advance, I had my events were in Google Calendar, shortcuts to send a Glympse to my wife to let her know I was en route there and back, anti-theft software installed in case I lost my phone (or someone lost it for me). I tried out different keyboards to optimize my ability to type fast so I could livetweet events. I was like some kind of Mobile Internets Rambo and I had explosive tipped smartphone arrows.

Couple problems with that plan. One, turns out the mobile version of Google Calendar likes to try to be helpful and automatically adjust all my event times when I travel to another timezone. Glad I caught that in time. Another thing? All that prep is useless if your phone runs out of battery, a fact I discovered when we started to livetweet from the D&D Keynote Address and I discovered I had 5% power remaining. I did what I could, but it wasn’t much. So it was on Friday that I remembered to bring my charger with me. Good thing, too, because the seminar I livetweeted at 10am that morning took me down to 10% power. I’d heard 4g can really guzzle battery, but I had no idea. “No worries”, I thought. “I have my charger!” I then proceeded to go 17 different places that did not have an accessible AC outlet anywhere near where I wanted to be. Finally, on Saturday, I got the bright idea to install JuiceDefender, which would kill my data and wifi connections when I had the screen turned off. This helped, but it made tweeting a pain while I waited for it to turn my Internets back on. It beat worrying that I wasn’t going to get calls and texts from people wanting to hang out.

Unfortunately, not getting calls and texts still happened in the form of my phone’s speaker completely dying at some point on Saturday. I just sent my poor Galaxy Nexus off to Phone Elysium, and one of his brothers arrived in his stead. Godspeed, good Android.

Next year, I’m still going to have my tiny computer. And I’m also going to have several printed copies of my schedule and other important stuff, and at least one backup battery.

 4. Hell Yes Midnight Registration

‘Nuff Said. I was surprised to find a 20 minute long line at 12:30am, but I had Twitter on my phone and I was too tired to care.

 5. Hotel Drinks Are Entirely Too Expensive

The “Pink Death” they served at Loughmiller’s (or, as I liked to call it, “Loggerhead Eurythmics”), however, was worth every penny.

6. Cards Against Humanity In A Hotel Lobby Will Get You The Stinkeye

The lobby of the Omni that night was about 1/3 gamers, 1/3 businessy types, and 1/3 socialites (I saw a chihuahua in a purse!). Guess which thirds administered the stinkeye. Totally worth it. 

7. It Is Very Hard To Find S Sized S T-Shirts For Kids

I realize I won’t have this trouble in a couple months, but it was uncanny how much of every other size they had at every vendor but yet only 1 or 2 S’s in styles I didn’t want. Doesn’t anyone else have an unusually large 4 year old they desperately want wearing an Optimus Prime shirt?

8. Tips for playing The Resistance

I really only have two tips for playing The Resistance. First, the game is much more fun if you can’t remember if you’re a spy, at least in the short term. It makes you far more convincing. Second, if you are a spy, you should totally mess with everyone and pretend you’re not. If you’re having trouble, forget if you’re a spy. Third, the person at the table who says they’re not a spy totally is. Also the quiet one. And the one who’s talking a lot. And the other people at the table.

9. Anytime After Midnight On The 2nd Floor Of The Marriott Is Always Magical No Matter What You’re Doing

I’ve been up there for an extremely late game of True Dungeon several times. Magical.

I’ve been up there to play a “revisit an old campaign” D&D one-shot with my old gaming group. Magical. And holy crap, was I ever sugared up.

This year, it was reintroducing my long-lost best friend (and Stupid Ranger cohort) Josh to Magic: The Gathering and polymorphing into Total Nerd BFFs Up Way Too Late And Reliving The Old Days, if only for a couple hours.

Totally Magical. One of the highlights of my con.

There may have also been an incident where he found a 4x t-shirt (three of Josh could fit in it) and I tried to convince him to wear it to sleep and pretend to his wife he didn’t know how it got there. He’s no fun.

10. Time Spent Touching Base Back Home Is Totally Worth It


My son Sam is 4, so he’s old enough to miss me when I take off for a few days, and I do miss my family when I’m away even though I’m hip-deep in cool stuff. So, I took his favorite (and my old) Laserbeak toy and wrote letters to him each night from me and LB describing our adventures that day. Sam was mostly aggravated that I wasn’t home (“Daddy shouldn’t live there. He should live HERE.”) but he still talks about some of the things I wrote to him about.

He was really excited about me bringing him presents when I got home. And while he enjoyed the stuff I brought him (especially the inflatable “emergency brain”), it’s the little things that matter to my kid. True Dungeon tokens and Obsidian Portal dice make an awesome parking lot. Who knew?

Thy Will Be Done

I only got geased 3 times (that sounds wrong somehow), but I did them all! (Well, sort of.)

For Bartoneus, I played some WoW TCG with my good buddy Dante from Stupid Ranger. (I won, but only because he’d never played before.)

Steve L. asked me to find the highest ranking WotC person I can find and try to convince them to put digital versions of books. I’m pleased to announce that, Thursday night after the D&D keynote address, I spoke to WotC president/CEO Greg Leeds on this very topic, and apparently I was convincing enough that they will be putting out digital versions of their books. I apparently rolled high enough on my Diplomacy check that my influence extended to several hours previous when this was announced at the keynote and that the digital materials will cover all previous editions of D&D. Damn, I’m good!

cakemage asked me to get more information on/review the new Iron Kingdoms RPG by Privateer Press. While I couldn’t get them to part with a review copy, I spoke to one of their reps for a few minutes about it. From what I understand, it’s in the same setting as Privateer Press’s miniatures combat games, Warmachine and Hordes — in Great Britain in the Industrial Age plus plus steampunk plus magic and fantasy. I’m not gonna lie, it looks cool. I’m told the game will appeal to new players, but have plenty of callbacks to its minis-combat siblings. Their rep couldn’t speak to when expansions or accessories to the game would come out, but they are definitely coming.

Final Synopsis

It’s like every other ‘con. Awesome fun, great memories, regrets of things you wish you’d done, sadness it’s over, and a car full of swag.

Next year, there is one thing I’m definitely doing. I’m having someone dope up my lunch and take me home unconscious, like they used to do on The A-Team to get B.A. on the plane. That last look at the Indianapolis skyline is a tough one.



  1. I feel so famous! Thanks Vanir!