August 20, 2014 by stvitusdancern
We have just returned from four days in Indianapolis, Indiana to attend Gen Con. This has to be the largest gaming convention in the world. We went there with the intention of filming as much as we could to bring back to all of you who were unfortunate enough not able to attend the experience that is Gen Con. Let me begin by saying and we were told this ourselves, you cannot and will not see everything it is just impossible.
The amount of floor space made available for this convention was incredible. This convention takes up the entire convention centre and it still seemed cramped with all the people who were there. There was literately hundreds of thousands of square footage occupied by gaming booths, tables or other vendors. What space that was not taken by the aforementioned was taken by people in attendance. So, here are a few tips to help make you visit an enjoyable one.
Survival Check List
1. Be prepared to stand in lines or wait for a while to get to do a demo.
2. Have a plan, and have a backup plan in case your first plan goes horribly wrong.
3. Have good shoes, there is a lot of walking.
4. Plan your purchases so you are not carrying your packages the entire day. There is no storage options on site.
5. Plan your meals accordingly, the food trucks get crazy busy during typical lunch and dinner times.
6. Find a way to make peace with the crowds, there are a lot of people and not much room to move about especially in the vendors’ hall.
7. Be flexible in your gaming schedule. There is gaming 24 hours a day from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon. Our very own RedBen played a game of Zomibicide at midnight till 4 am on Saturday.
8. If you drive in, park in one the parking garages at least one block away from the convention centre, it will save you money.
9. If you are able to make sure to get a room in a hotel near the convention centre. This is recommended so you always have a place to retreat to if you need a break from the crowd or to dump off your purchases (let’s admit it, you will be buying things, a lot of things)
10. If you flew in there is a UPS shipping station that you can ship your purchases home.
11. Last but not least enjoy the people watching as you will view the gambit from really weird to the really awesome. At this convention you will see a lot of cosplay.
So Much To See!
So now you are wondering what we saw. Well, we saw and Dawn got to demo the brand new just announced Star Wars Armada. Can I just say this was one awesome looking game and I think it will be bigger than X-Wing. The different levels of playability in the game give a nice depth to it. You not only fight capital ships versus capital ships, but fighter squadrons versus capital ships and fighter squadrons versus fighter squadrons. Now, some of you are asking will we see the Death Star? Well, we knew you would want to know so we asked the designer of the game who was running our demo and he kind of just gave us a sly smile and shrugged his shoulders. Fantasy Flight Games and their tight lips, damn! Dawn really enjoyed the game and she has never played X-Wing before, which she was told was an advantage since they play differently. Watch the demo video coming soon.
We also got to speak to Mike McVey about his new project, the upcoming game “The Others: 7 Sins”. It was a very interesting conversation and the sculpts are very well done and definitely fit the horror genre. Watch for our upcoming video coverage of Gen Con.
Knowing that there were a lot of Kickstarter backers out there for the Robotech RPG Tactics who would like to know what was going on there, well we talked to Kevin, and unfortunately we did not get too much information. When we first talked to him he asked us to set up a time to sit and do an interview. However, during setting up the interview it was obvious he was more interested in promoting his new game Deus Machina, a robot (looked like Battletech-ish miniatures) gladiator game. We went back a couple of time and could never get a moment with him. In his defense he was very busy with people showing off his products. I did shoot a snippet of video and got some pictures.
One of the hottest games at the convention outside of the FFG booth was a game called Golem Arcana from Harebrained Schemes. This is a crossover game where you have miniatures on a tabletop board that uses a stylus and a tablet or larger phone to assist in the movement and combat. The miniatures come pre-assembled and pre-painted. They look ok and I know several of you would make them more to your liking. The game demo was extremely successful and they sold out of their products on Friday and the resupply by Sunday morning. This has a very unique game mechanic and I know some you have expressed that the XCOM game from FFG does it better. Honestly I am not sure if you can compare one to the other. While I was unable to get a game of XCOM in I did get to watch and both games approach the electronic portion from a different angle. Hopefully we can do an unboxing and a small game for you in the near future so you can decide for yourself.
We also got to meet with Carlos from Corvus Belli and he was extremely gracious and said he would try and make the meet-up Saturday night. Unfortunately he was unable to make it. I think between the Jet lag and the craziness of the weekend he was spent. The great thing was that Operation: Icestorm sold out by Friday evening. The two demo tables were amazing and having Tabitha Lyons there definitely helped with the crowd.
Meandering through the sea of people, we stopped and talked to Dave from Hawk Wargames and he convinced me to buy a Resistance starter set. I think his exact words were, “This is the last few boxes we have left and then they are all gone.” To which I said, “this one is mine!” which was ok until I realized I did not have the game yet so I ended up buying the two player starter set also.
We went by the Mantic booth and met with one of our favorite people in the gaming industry, Ronnie Renton! He must have been on 10 cups of coffee as he was going a mile a minute and it was hard to get him to stand still for a second. Since his visit to Beasts of War Studio 1 there wasn’t much news. I did learn from him that there will more than likely be a Deadzone II Kickstarter going out sometime over the winter and that it doesn’t look like we will be seeing any dungeon or castle battlezone terrain anytime soon. Let’s keep hoping because I for one would love to see that terrain. He had some of the Dungeon Saga miniatures in his display case and in person I think they are really sharp!
Dawn also got to do a demo game of Mage Wars being that her forte is card games i.e. MTG and low and behold who does she get paired up with? Only our very own RedBen! They both liked the game and Dawn bought a copy and I believe RedBen did also. The mechanic of this game was different to MTG in that you get a spell book to choose your cards to play from during the game. It makes the game a little more interactive and there is definitely more strategy in play when choosing which cards to play from your hand and put into play.
I also got to play a game of Blackwater Gulch as I am such a big fan of western genre games. I have several 28mm western figures I picked up at Adepticon that I have not had a game system to use it with. I do have a copy of GW Legends of the Old West but I figured I would try this while I was here and it was a lot of fun. Our demo ran a little slow because I was playing with a family of four that had two younger children playing along so it took a little more time to help them through. But, I actually thought that was really cool to see a whole family, Dad, Mom and the kids playing a game like this together. Even nicer seeing kids that young getting into gaming. The other player that was part of my faction was from Toronto Canada. That was another nice thing about Gen Con, you get to meet people from all over the world. I truly believe that gaming is the international language.
So in our quest to bring you the Gen Con experience and not the typical video reports of game manufacturers we tried to capture the experience of attending Gen Con, but don’t worry our new good friend Allen, aka Wildchevy, got video from the bigger game companies.
We came across a small booth tucked in the back corner staffed by three really nice young men. The booth’s sign said “Iron & Ale” and I vaguely remembered that name, but could not place it. When we started talking to them and told them we were from Beasts of War, they got really excited and we did a quick interview with them. Then I remembered how I knew that name, our very own in-house dwarf aficionado Ben (Brennon) wrote up about this game and was very excited about it. Well, Ben your copy is on its way to you. For those who don’t know this game read Ben’s write-up and you will see it’s a grand ol’ time. One thing however; Ben you are being challenged to a game of Iron & Ale when we come over for Salute next spring! (Challenge accepted! – BoW Ben)
Dawn also got to speak with the designer of Cross Hares from 1A Games who also took over the license for Tides of Iron from FFG. This is a board game where you follow a path on the game board, but there are event cards and a final card to determine the action once you reach the end of the board. It has some really nice artwork and the game looks really interesting. To me it is one of those games you can play with anyone from you and your kids to a group of friends looking for something different to do on a game night.
As I have mentioned before Cosplay is very big at GenCon and there were quite a few people walking around in costume and they have a parade on Saturday afternoon followed by a contest. What an amazing array of costumes and the amount of time that people put into them is mind-blowing. So, as you will see in the video Dawn has put out the challenge to Warren for next year’s Gen Con for them to have costumes! Dawn’s only stipulation is that he can’t be prettier than her.
We also attended the launch party for Tyranny of Dragons for Dungeons & Dragons on Friday evening. It was very crowded and they did have a big production of sounds and some lighting along with “dragon relics” in cases. People ate it up and they were also handing out posters and dragon facemasks. Speaking of D&D there was a large area in one of the gaming halls sectioned off for people to play and they were sold out from day 1.
Here is another hint. Even if an event is sold out and you really want to try and get in a game, go to the desk for that gaming area and ask if they have openings. If they do you can use generic tickets to get a seat to play. Which leads me into the use of tickets. All of the scheduled games have a seat cost. You can either purchase tickets for that game when you reserve your Gen Con badge or you can use generic tickets. The only games that do not cost tickets are demo games in the Exhibitors’ hall. This was explained to me as how they account for seats and insure (for the most part) that people will show up to play the game.
We’ll Be Back!
So to sum it up what did we learn about Gen Con and how can we make it easier to attend next year? Well for starters, definitely have a plan and a backup plan. Accept the fact that you will not see everything, trust me we tried, and it is not possible. Set a budget for your purchases and stick to it, we got caught up in the excitement and probably spent more than we should. Remember there are no Gen Con deals for the most part. It is expensive for the companies to have a booth there. Find the ratio of gaming to looking at products that works for you. Book early, I mean really early as it fills up quickly. As the numbers from this year show, there were 187,000 people who came through the doors for the entire weekend and 56,000 who attended for unique events so get those tickets.
Another important thing to note and this is especially for our BoW readers, miniatures is a small slice of the pie here at Gen Con. Don’t get me wrong it was well represented but there is so much more here than miniature gaming. Lastly, have fun. Soak in the experience and find really cool people to talk to and you will have an experience of a lifetime.
How was your Gen Con experience?