Tuesday, August 21, 2007

GenCon 2007: Friday - Sunday recap

Friday was an interesting day. I was supposed to have been at Arkham Horror at 8am but I just couldn’t make and slept in and blew it off. The previous days driving and excitement caught up to me and I ended up sleeping until about 9:30 in the morning. We learned a lesson that next year I won’t be scheduling events for that early in the morning, especially when the night before I stay up until 3am to watch a zombie horror flick. The best event I did during the whole Con was Friday at 4pm which was the WoW Trading Card game beginners tournament. Entering this event was 15 dollars, but I got a WoW TCG starter set plus two free boosters as I played (the starter set also had 2 boosters). This was my first tournament type event, and it was for starters. I knew that I could never build a deck or be competitive any other way because I am just not that good at card games. Anyway I went 2-1 and had a good time, until I got crushed by an overpowered Warlock deck. Much like the real game, Warlocks need to be nerfed.

Saturday morning I was up and hitting the Tannhauser gaming event that I signed up for. The FFG guys were once again NOT ready for the demo, and along with me were 3 other guys that were confused about where the event was to be held and where our demo event leader was. Once he finally showed up we got our spots and settled in for some Tannhauser.

Tannhauser turned out to be a very cool game, even if slightly unbalanced. Basically, it is a miniatures game on a board but geared toward personal combat, sort of a Confrontation meets Descent board game. You can move about and take cover using the board which has a special segmented movement system printed on it. The range and LOS are already marked on the playing field making your position and tactics very crucial. There are smoke grenades, knives, pistols, whips, large machine guns…the works. It is a very cool game with a a lot of expandability because you could technically add more map add ons and characters very easily. Also each character can have a different load out before the game begins and can drop and pick up gear left by dead comrades. The demo leader was way more competent than our Marvel demonstrator the day before, and I left wanting to buy the game but I knew my lack of opponents would make it a waste of money.

I met the designer of Dungeon Twister, a great board game with tons of variety and we picked that up and got him to autograph our box. The designers name is Christophe Boelinger and he has been at every GenCon each year I have gone, and I have always been intrigued by the game so this year I finally picked it up. I talked with him about 2 hours and played a small game before it was time to head out since the hall was closing. It is always great to meet a designer as passionate about games as Christopher is. During our time in the hall I also played an AT 43 demo and that is a great game, but very expensive to get into. Rackham is really coming out with some great stuff lately.

Later that night I had a Munchkin card game event at 9pm and ended up playing with 4 other people for a total of 6. That game is a blast with a lot of people, and I did my best to be the evil backstabbing jerk at the table and I did so effectively. I am sure I ruined the night of many Munchkin players at the table, but that is what the game is all about! I did not win but it was fun.

Sunday was my typical wrap up day where I just took it easy and scouted the exhibition hall for any deals we may have missed. Being a super hero nerd, this year I finally decided to get into Hero Clix and found starter sets and boosters being reduced for clearance on the last day of the con. I got a starter set for 5 bucks, and many boosters for $1.50. I walked out of there with about 5 bags full of Hero Clix stuff and can’t wait to start playing. I left a bit early to beat the traffic and finally got home around 6pm, another GenCon finished and another year ahead to wait. One thing I do want to do is make the Wizard World Con in Chicago next year. This is usually a week before GenCon and kinda a prelim. That is about it for my recap, over time this week I will get some pictures up as a separate post but for now I just wanted to get my thoughts out before I forgot. I had been planning to do a day by day synopsis but forgot my laptop power cord and ran out of juice Saturday morning.

For additional community pics head over to the site here: http://community.gencon.com/forums/thread/146021.aspx

Thursday, August 16, 2007

GenCon 2007: Day One

So I arrived at Gencon 07 with some different expectations this year since I actually had events and things to do, expecting to keep busy instead of having a 4 day shopping spree. During the past few weeks my fears started to grow that I was part of the group of people that had not gotten their badges even though I signed up and registered in February. Sure enough the day was here today and nothing in the mail, which would mean I had to leave around 5am from the Chicago area to make sure I got to Gencon in time to get in the customer service line and have my badge printed. I had an event at noon and didn't want to be late. Turns out by how crappy the event was it really would not have mattered but more on that later. In fact I got in so early that the area in front of the exhibit hall was dead when the doors had opened. I noticed that this year the badges were being taken in the hallways instead of at the exhibit hall door, leaving you free to enter and roam once you passed the security. This has so far kept the doors clear but the real rush will start tomorrow.

Ok so I get in and get my badge, the guy behind the customer service desk was actually helpful and got me out of there fast. I headed over to Grand Ballroom 500 and found my Fantasy Flight games table where the Marvel Super Heroes board game event leader was waiting. Now me being a nerd I really get into my gaming at Gencon, I usually don't hold back too much when it comes to meeting other nerds since we are all here with the same interests and to game and have fun. I knew immediately though as soon as I sat down that I was in trouble and had gotten one of those guys that just didn't know the game that well. He was a volunteer and he did his best, but he messed up on a lot of rules and eventually a kabitzer (or a game observer that butts in and tells people how to play) had to correct the demo guy on things he was teaching us wrong. This makes the game demo agonizing to sit through and very hard to understand. The couple we were playing with were losing interest fast, so fast that I had to crack really bad jokes like "I'm playing Colin Farrell" when I played Bullseye or "I wonder if he was drunk" when Iron Man was defeated in combat. Of course only true comic book or movie fans will catch that stuff, but I had to try. Despite all my efforts I never managed to make the very bland couple across from us crack a smile.

This happens year after year to me and I know that the people that demo games are volunteers, but damn FFG needs to make an effort to match these volunteers up with people that actually KNOW the game and can teach it well. In the end my wife destroyed all 3 of us with her Spider Man team and the game ended two hours early. While it was ok, it left us with a negative attitude for the days event. I could have taught it better and ended up having to clarify a lot of rules that I had skimmed over in the book. I never cut off or corrected our demo runner though, unlike the rude fella that was supposed to be watching and couldn't keep his mouth shut.

Well after that I decided to go to the exhibit hall to catch what vendors and booths were setup for this years spending spree. I managed to run into Steve Kramer, a game designer with Sony Online and he gave us a great demo of the Rise of Kunark expansion. Turns out Steve did most of the work for Darklight Woods and the Sarnak starting area so he had a great wealth of stories to tell. Also I got a confirmation that Karnors Castle will be built exaclty off an old map of the zone, so old school EQ1 players will not be let down. In fact that zone is Steve's zone and he is really quite proud that he gets to bring it alive. I told Steve that every Sarnak should start with a Sarnak Courier note in their backpack as a little practical joke on EQ1 players that may be famaliar with that annoying loot drop. He wrote it down, I hope he uses it but Steve that will be $10,000 for rights to my practical joke :)

Elsewhere we ran into the NC Soft booth where they were displaying Tabula Rasa, Guild Wars and its new expansion as well as some City of Villains games. Another hugely crowded display was the Warhammer Online booth, which around 3:30 pm did a beta giveaway raffle. About 15 names were called and no I did not win, but tomorrow more will be given out. I managed to get a glimpse of Warhammer Online in action and holy cow the interface looked exactly like WoW, it was almost scary, right down to the radar and health bars. The graphics were pretty sharp but without playing it I cannot really say how the game played and felt. Of course the HUGE draw was the new World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard has about 12 kiosks here, loaded with Starcraft 2 films and the oppurtunity to play a few zones of the new WoW expansion. It looks fantastic, the graphics have had a slight overhaul and the buildings and new mobs look gorgeous. I was not able to get in and play but watched for several minutes various games of people at different areas in the new zones. Blizzard was allowing people to create level 70 characters, spend talent points and go exploring.

Well that is about it for my day one report, I will see plenty more tomorrow and I have to give a huge thumbs up to the Gencon 07 schwag bag this year. It came with a brand spanking new WoW Trading Card game starter set (Burning Crusade expansion) and a free booster box of Axis and Allies miniatures. NOW that is schwag that a geek can learn to love. Until later, this is the Private signing off and going to get some sleep!