GenCon wrap-up

By Wendy C. Carson

Here’s a look back at GenCon:

WEDNESDAY, JULY 29

John went downtown to take part in some of the Trade Day panels and picked up his event tickets. Trade Day events were mainly for educators, librarians and games retailers.

After picking me up from work in the afternoon, we made our way back to the Indiana Convention Center so that I could pick up my event tickets. However, the line stretched the length of the building about three-wide and was moving extremely slowly, so I decided to try and get my tickets on Thursday.

THURSDAY, JULY 30

We got up early to get into the Press line and get our badges before going to a 9 a.m. writing seminar. While John held my place in line, I sauntered up to Will Call and got my tickets in a matter of minutes. We usually go straight to the Exhibit Hall, but since we decided to do things differently this year (and were both interested in the panel), we gave back our early entry tickets so someone else could take our places. Judging by the long line at the Press room, it really looked like they were going to run out or early passes this year.

The seminar was about the business of writing, and how to navigate through the obstacles and pitfalls that can befall a budding writer. We met some great people and were glad that we attended. We also went to a networking panel later that day. As with past networking panels we’d attended, they all really boil down to: “Don’t be a dick to other people.”

After the networking panel, our stomachs were growling so we went out to the food truck area on Georgia Street for some grub. I got an amazing grilled cheese sandwich (barbequed meat, two kinds of cheese and caramelized onions) while John got a combo platter at the Jamaican truck. We shared our meals and then had a doughnut sandwich for dessert. This was one of the most delicious and decadent things I’ve ever eaten. It had a large scoop of Nutella gelato sandwiched between two halves of a chocolate yeast doughnut. Mmmmm…

We decided to tackle the Exhibit Hall by starting at the furthest end (row 3000) at “Entrepreneur’s Avenue,” which we were most interested in checking out. Not only is it nice to support new games and creators, but some of our favorite games have come from there. This year once again did not fail to impress. Watch for our reviews of the new hot games that everyone’s going to want to play.

There was one small drawback overall. Many companies throughout the room were advertising and demonstrating some amazing games, but they were merely prototypes to be Kickstarted or produced later. In fact, we had a major, “Shut Up and Take My Money” moment when we played World Champion Russian Roulette and weren’t able to buy it. We tried to get one of their demo copies, but to no avail. We did talk to them and they should send us a copy as soon as we can have one but we will still do a quickie write-up of it soon.

We then attended a seminar on researching for writers. It was quite helpful. I am slowly working on a story whose main character shares a life story very similar to an existing person, and I got advice on how to approach her, as well as friends and family, for interviews.

Anyway, after that, we hurried off to get ready for the Miskatonic University Graduation Ceremony. (We volunteer to be part of the Chaosium Games official H.P. Lovecraft-inspired event each year.) I was to be the “Dean of Women” but ended up being more of the “Mistress of Discipline.” The event was wonderful. Each year, not only do more and more people attend, but they come up with the most amazing material to add to the storyline that we really don’t have to do much besides give them a topic and let them go. Our Valedictorian won by “sacrificing” himself (almost literally). When he fell down, his head whacked a steel beam in the room with a resounding THUD. Once he assured us he was OK, another person said he “Majored in Necromancy” and brought him back from the dead. I really can’t wait to see next year’s “Cthulhu for President” rally. It’s going to be amazing.

FRIDAY, JULY 31

I had tickets to the 10 a.m. puppetry panel with guest of honor Trace Beaulieu, so we arrived around 9:15 or so because I expected a huge crowd. It turns out that there wasn’t, but being early allowed me to talk to Trace on and off for a bit and that was quite fun. He’s got a lot of great stories and is very easy to talk to. Since the staff seemed short-handed and were busy getting everything set up, I ended up organizing and controlling the line for the event, as well as the one next door which was also very popular.

There was some confusion over when the panel ended, so John ducked out around 11 to make it to the Gaymers (LTBTQ gamers) panel and I joined later after reminding those in charge that this was scheduled to be a 1 hour panel, not a 2 hour one like was occurring. The Gaymer panel was a nice discussion and it was good for us to be reassured that we are not alone in facing similar challenges.

Afterward, we headed off to the dealers room to play some Mayfair games to earn the “Knight of Catan” ribbon & the half-price coupon that goes with it. Frankly, the coupon is the only way we can afford to buy some of their games at all. I managed to get mine partly by running several demo games of Catan Dice, since they were short-handed and we own the game. John had to run off and attend a panel on podcasting during this time.

We then met up again and tried some more games. I had tickets to the 4 p.m. autograph session with Terry Brooks, but when I made it to the line there were about 40 people from the 3 p.m. line in addition to the hundred or so in the 4 p.m. line. Since I really don’t like his writing and was only there for the autograph in principle, I gave my tickets to someone else.

We eventually left at 6 p.m. when the Exhibit Hall closed and grabbed a quick bitr from Der Pretzel Wagon. While food-truck food can be a bit pricey – even though it’s often unique and a real treat — this place is a great bargain. You get a large sandwich, chips, drink and a huge pretzel for $11 (which is a pretty great deal compared to other trucks).

We then headed over to Union Station to check out the Gaymer gathering, which was supposed to be a sort of a mixer. However, even though the event sold out online, only a few people showed up. We did meet a few cool people, and won a copy of Cards against Humanity. We probably should have left early and gone to the Crossplay contest as I had signed up to compete. However, when I signed up, I wasn’t sure what my costume lineup for the weekend would be and was hoping to showcase my Minion outfit. Still, I was dressed as a female version of The Doctor, so I thought that might work but we just didn’t have the energy to schlep all the way over to the hotel where the event was being held.

Feeling totally wiped out, we went home to get some rest. Remember, we’re not as young as we used to be and the schedule is starting to catch up to us. Still, we had a great time that day and even more the rest of the weekend.

SATURDAY, AUG. 1

We took it easy in the morning and had a nice breakfast before heading downtown. We hit the Exhibit Hall as it opened and John and I both played games to get him his Knights of Catan ribbon. Then we used our discounts and bought some fun games that we will review later on (after the official reviews are exhausted). I did notice that this year Mayfair made the “Wood” ribbon games much more time intensive. I’m not sure why.

After this we ran off to the “Cthulhu All-Stars” panel which promised a séance to contact H.P. Lovecraft as part of the event. The discussion of Lovecraft’s works and their endurance prior to the ceremony were quite interesting — and who could have predicted the outcome of the séance? NOTE: I shot video of this and it should be posted here soon.

We then returned to the Exhibit Hall (yes, we do spend most of our time there but it is HUGE and since our main objective is searching out new games to review and promote, it makes sense to be there most of the con).

I spent the day in my Minion outfit and it was a big hit. Sadly, the booth selling official Minion games sold out as soon as the room opened, so I couldn’t get my planned pic with that.

After the hall closed, we had gotten tickets for a few cosplay events but there was a Gaymer’s picnic at Greg’s (one of the local gay bars) that promised food and drink, so we swung by. While there was some food (yummy burgers and hot dogs), the event never really happened. If it hadn’t been for a sweet young “Drag Princess” coming by and talking to us, we might as well have been invisible. Plus, I was the only female (cis or trans) in the place.

We had hoped to make it to the Talbot Street drag show that evening (a special GenCon event) but we were so exhausted we just went home and crashed.

SUNDAY, AUG. 2

So there we were on the last day of the con. Unfortunately, we were not able to sleep in, because when we got home on Saturday night, I looked over our event tickets and realized that I had signed us up for an 8 a.m. game slot playtesting a new game. So, we somehow got out of bed and made it to the event.

Being a Sunday morning slot, many of those signed up to play as well as demo the games did not show. There was a wide variety of games available but only around half of them were actually available. John and I both picked different games to play (neither of us got our first choice and I ended up with my third one). However, I really enjoyed the game I chose. It was a gangster themed game in which each player tries to build up their resources and allies in order to be the top mob in town. You’ll hear more about it in a later post as I was given a preview copy to review. and it will be on Kickstarter soon.

Even though the playtesting slot was two hours and most if not all of the boardgames took an hour or less to play, they officially would not allow anyone to sign up for and play a second game, However, prior to my game ending. another game designer showed up and watched us play. After we were done, he sat and talked to one of the designers of the game I had played and the three of us ended up playing his card game and it was also very fun. I also ended up getting a copy of his game, too, and again, it will be reviewed in conjunction with his Kickstarter as well.

When we were done, we tackled the Exhibit Hall and gathered up all of the review copies of games we could. Adding in the games we bought not strictly for reviewing, we ended up with more than 30 new games to review. Plus, I got a new copy of Telestrations to replace my old dying first-edition set.

There are also about a dozen other games that sold out during the con that we should be getting mailed to us. So even though we do a lot of theater reviews here, expect a lot of game reviews to be in the mix, especially once the Fringe Festival ends.

After the convention ended, we headed out and grabbed some dinner then ran back to Mass Avenue to catch a special GenCon themed edition of Lou Harry’s “Going, Going, Gone”. This edition did not disappoint in the least. The actors were hilarious and the items up for bid were the usual eclectic mix. In fact, we ended up exhausting much of our hoard of leftover play money from the past editions and brought home a rather full box of fun items.

Once again, exhausted but elated, we packed it in and crawled back home to spend some time with our oft-neglected friend that we call bed. I hope you liked my little tale of our adventure and will look forward to all of the many game reviews coming your way soon.

Note: GenCon returns to the Indiana Convention Center Aug. 3-7, 2016.

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