September 1, 2014 by crew
Community member redben gave Backstagers a run down of his trip to Gen Con 2014 and here it is now for all to read! Enjoy!
Thursday (and Wednesday)
We flew from Newcastle to Indianapolis via London and Chicago on the Wednesday. I was up at 5.45am for the flight and by the time we arrived at the hotel it was 11pm local time, or 4am GMT. Despite having been up for almost a full day at that point, most of it spent either cramped in airplane seats or stood in queues, we decided to pick up our passes and tickets then rather than doing it in the morning when it was likely to be busy. As it turned out, it was busy on Wednesday night too! The queue ran about two-thirds the length of the convention centre.
Fortunately, GenCon turned out to be an exceptionally well-organised event. There were lots of booths open and the queue moved quickly. From there we took a walk over to The Ram, a pub which partners up with Privateer Press for the duration of the event. By the time we arrived, things were winding down and they weren’t selling any merchandise. One quick drink later we headed back to the hotel and I passed out around 1am.
I was due to kick things off in the morning with a 9-11am slot playing Romance of the Nine Empires, a card game from AEG, who are more famous for one of their other card games. I was prepared to write that one off given how much sleep I needed to catch up on but my UK-oriented body clock came to the rescue and I was wide awake by 4.30am! I was registered for the event with one of the people I came over with and when we got there we found we were the only two people who had signed up. We had what was essentially a demo game which we both enjoyed. The base set comes with five pre-constructed decks and was being sold for only $30, so we decided to pick a copy up from their stall in the trade hall.
By the time I got to it on Saturday I learned a very important GenCon lesson: if you decide you want something get it straight away as it may not be there for long. We’d finished the demo by 9.30am so I popped into the trade hall for a quick look around, spent a chunk of it gawking at The Others minis at the CMoN stand and chatting to Mike McVey about the game. They hadn’t had enough time to get any minis ready to sell beyond 100 copies of Pride, which were being sold in batches of 25 at 11am each morning. I managed to get one later in the weekend and got Mike to sign it.
I then headed upstairs for an 11am-1pm slot to learn how to paint faces with Corvus Belli studio painter, Angel Giraldez. This was limited to ten slots and we were using the new Pan-O Fusilier. Angel has only recently begun learning English, for which he repeated apologised, but with his girlfriend and Bostria on hand to translate, everything went smoothly. This was the event I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. Just to get to watch Angel do his thing was a thrill in and of itself, but at each stage of the process he took the time to go around everyone individually to offer help and advice. For those interested, Angel uses:-
Cork Brown as the base colour, Flat Earth and Black to shade, Basic Skintone and White to highlight, Cavalry Brown for toning the cheeks and bottom lip
He would normally use a combination of brush and airbrush when painting but for the seminars he was just using a brush. He used a Bic pen lid to measure out the right amount of water for thinning the paints, usually four dips into the water rising to seven when he wanted to make a wash. I was fine with the basecoat and shading parts (“perfect” in fact!), but the highlighting was tough. I think I need a smaller brush and probably a magnifying glass to achieve the thin lines it requires. There were still a few steps left to do when the session was due to end, but Angel stayed twenty minutes late to make sure it all got finished.
I then had a four hour gap which I’d left open to explore the trade hall. I raided the Soda Pop stand, picked up the new Gator warcaster from Privateer Press, and found a copy of the new D&D starter box for $15. The final session was 4-10pm for FFG’s Game of Thrones boardgame. The bulk of the gaming events were across several halls that had been opened out into one gigantic gaming area. FFG HQ shared one of the halls with Magic the Gathering. GoT was the disappointment of the weekend. I had heard very good things about the game and our group loves us some big box FFG action, but this was a very dry experience that was neither evocative of the books nor offered much depth. It works perfectly well as a game, but my expectations were higher than that.
This time my body clock decided to wake me up at 4.15am. I didn’t have an event till 10am so after a hearty breakfast I wandered down early to find something to fill the time. The D&D 5th ed stuff was going on behind a castle façade in one of the halls so I popped in to check that out, I located the areas that some of my events were taking place, and I almost got a demo of Krosmaster Arena but they took too long setting up their tournament and I ran out of time. The first event of the day was an apprentice game of Mage Wars stvitusdancern has already scooped me in her article so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I was paired up with deltagamegirl22. There was one person covering two demos so we didn’t get too far into the game, but I was impressed enough to pick up a copy the next day.
My next event was offsite at one of the neighbouring hotels and I was concerned about getting there on time, but thanks to the skywalks connecting the convention centre to the hotels it was quick and easy. This one was a seminar on painting Infinity miniatures by Angel with Bostria providing translations and humorous commentary. Angel previewed his upcoming painting masterclass book during the first half, which looks to be a must-have for anyone who wants to paint in his style, and he covered painting the Operation: Icestorm minis in the second half. There was still a bit to cover on the Nomads when I had to head out for my 12pm event at Gale Force 9 HQ.
Our group already plays the Spartacus and Firefly boardgames and as fans of the Sons of Anarchy TV show, two of us had booked into an introductory game of the upcoming boardgame. We lucked into having one of the co-designers running our game and he was a mine of knowledge and strategy tips as well as an eloquent demo-er. I foolishly exploited a location on the final turn without checking exactly what it did, it wound up costing me $6 and I lost the game by $5. We thoroughly enjoyed it and would have bought it had one of us not already succumbed the day before. He won this game and it meant that between the promo gang board the first run comes with, that gang’s promo dice that we all got for playing, and the gang’s promo minis he got for winning, we’ve got five full gangs to play with. We were also given a promo of the new house in the upcoming Spartacus expansion.
After a break for lunch my next event was All Quiet on the Martian Front at 3pm. The format was four v four and whilst it meant it put a load of minis on the table, there were a lot of people for the demo-er to get round and we only got two turns in. There was also a lot of stuff to kill and masses of minis were wiped out by the time the demo ended. It looked great but I didn’t come away feeling like I had a handle on the game.
The final session of the day was meant to be Dystopian War of the Worlds, which would have been a second Martian invasion game straight after the first, but I discovered that at some point in the day I had lost my ticket. By the time I gave up looking for it the game was well past its start time.
Even if the space hadn’t been filled by then I would have had to go and buy some generic tickets to get in and have missed a chunk of it (assuming they would let me join late). Instead I took in some of the sights, including the auction, city of cards, giant balloon creations, and the arcade game section. I also dropped into the D&D Tyranny of Dragons launch event, which was more of a bizarre LARP disco!
Part 2 coming soon…
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