Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gen Con: The best 4 days in gaming...Exceeds expectations!

Paizo Beginner Box Iconic Minis - WizKid Booth

My family and I attended our first Gen Con this year in Indianapolis. It was nothing short of amazing. To those readers who have never gone to Gen Con or any gaming convention before, I have one word of advice -- GO! However, I must warn you, once you go, you will be hooked. Below are my impressions of the best 4 days in gaming.

Day one was so overwhelming, I could barely breathe. Between role playing events, game demos, and cool gaming loot on sale, the number of choices was daunting. How could we possibly fit everything in to just four days? Our first of four scheduled Pathfinder Society (PFS) Events during the convention started at 8 am, Thursday. Even this early morning, first day event was packed. This was the theme for the room for the entire weekend. Almost every PFS game was sold out for every slot for the entire four days. The only drawback to the room was the noise. 240+ players all role playing simultaneously can be quite loud, and it was difficult to hear the GM describe the scene. By midnight on day one, our characters had made it to level three and we were ready for the convention special, Blood Under Absalom the following night.

Erik Mona interrupts Blood Under Absalom to announce Paizo's ENnie Sweep.
By the second day, our convention routine began to round into focus. Scheduled events in the morning and evening with heavy time spent in the dealer room in between. Every board game, role playing game, miniature, and Renaissance accessory you can think of was being sold by somebody in the dealer room. At first we tried to be methodical and start at the right and go row by row but that fell by the way side very quickly as new shiny items popped up every other booth. It didn't take long until the lure of the Paizo booth was too overwhelming to resist. All kinds of goodies were available at the booth in addition to the newly released material. I was able to pick up a copy of the Book of Drakes by fellow FAWTL member Mike Welham, a deck of GameMastery Condition Cards featuring the lovable Paizo goblins, and another set of combat tiers to handle of all the flying PCs in my Rise of the Runelord game group. Speaking of which, Paizo announced a special 5 year anniversary edition of the adventure that launched the entire Adventure Path series, entirely updated to the PFRPG rule set will be released in mid 2012.

Near the end of the second day, we discovered the Mayfair Games booth. Mayfair is best known for the award winning Settlers of Catan series of games, but as we soon discovered, they make a whole host of different and interesting games. Mayfair runs a terrific promotion every year where each time you demo one of their games, you collect a resource: Sheep, Clay, Wood, Grain or Ore. Once all five, are collected, you become a Knight of Catan and are eligible for 50% off one of their in stock games at their booth. We were able to try several games that we would never have tried otherwise including, Steam, The Dutch Golden Age, Sutter's Mill, and, Witch of Salem. Of the group, we liked Steam and Witch of Salem (think scaled down version of Arkham Horror) the best and ended up buying both.

Gen Con is also a time to meet fellow online gamers in person. Unfortunately, I was not able to catch up to fellow blogger Droz or Paizo board member BluePigeon, but I did meet Paizo board member and fellow player in my Ravenloft play by post (PBP) game, Rev Rosey. She and her family traveled all the way from England for a once in a lifetime trip to Gen Con. It turns out the Dungeon and Dragon Troll was the best place to meet. We had a great evening Saturday night discussing everything from D&D to politics to foreign currency to Magic: The Gathering. Also, it was a chance to meet and thank the great people at Paizo who put out such wonderful products. Jason Bulmahn signed my copy of Ultimate Combat, I thanked Liz Courts for the virtual cookies she gave me when I first posted on the Paizo boards and I was able to snag a picture with Supreme Customer Service manager Cosmo and his equally famous mustache.

Gen Con is truly a family affair. We saw countless parents with their kids sharing the joy of gaming at the convention. The next generation is already following in their parents footsteps which bodes well for the future of gaming. Gen Con just reported record attendance at this year's event with over 36,000 unique registrants. The camaraderie shown by all gamers was wonderful to see. We felt completely comfortable where ever we went at the convention.

Finally, gamers are a generous bunch. Over $18,000 was raised for a local charity, School on Wheels. My favorite fund raiser was Cardhalla. Over 180,000 Magic: The Gathering cards were donated so that convention goers could build all variety of card houses. What took 3 days to build was destroyed in a matter of minutes as people threw spare change at the card houses to bring them all down. Including the auction of the first throw, over $3,000 was raised from this single event.

The aftermath of Cardhalla

If I can only go to one convention in a year, it will be Gen Con. The variety of vendors, games, and activities ensures that everyone can find something they like to do. The opportunity to try so many games before buying is unparalleled. My only regret is that there is only 24 hours in a day, because that is just not enough time to experience all the great games available in the market today.

Thank you to Theodric the Obscure for the opportunity to share my Gen Con experience with everyone.


  1. Very cool, Trin. Who knew Droz was going to be so uppity?

    Is it true Cosmo's mustache has detached and his now roaming the world free of his control?

  2. I have heard rumors to that effect. I think my photo could become a collectors item if it is the last known photograph of the mustache.