This past weekend I had a great time at Gen Con in Indianapolis. I have been looking forward to attending this event for years, and that anticipation has been building ever since I made my reservations with Geek Nation Tours (GNT) back in March. And I have to say, the trip did not disappoint! So, here is a quick day by day break-down of my experiences.
Day 1: Wednesday, 3 August
I joined the group at Scotty’s Brew House the morning of the 3rd. Most of the rest of the group had arrived the day before, but I had not gotten in until late the night before and so decided to wait until the next day to meet up with everyone. We were playing the new Mantic game Dungeon Saga at the tables in the bar. This gaming session was hosted by Mantic and the Kentucky Fried Gamers. Dungeon Saga was a very interesting game, and was in keeping with the tour’s theme of dungeon crawling I was lucky enough to get to play with the set that had been custom-painted by the tour director, Alex. After we got done playing, I headed back to the hotel we were staying at, the JW Marriott, and checked in. Thanks to Alex standing in line and grabbing badges for the whole group (another perk of the GNT package) I had some time before the group met for dinner, so I headed over to the local theater and caught a matinee of Star Trek Beyond. It was a great movie! I’ll probably make a separate post on that sometime. I got out of the movie just in time to meet the group at High Velocity, one of the restaurants in the JW Marriott. There, we were joined by the hosts of the Nerd Herders and D6 Generation podcasts for a Dungeons and Dragons session. This was the first time I’d ever tried D&D, and I have to admit I really enjoyed myself. We ended up playing until 1 AM, the first of a series of late nights!
Day 2: Thursday, 4 August
This marked the first day of Gen Con proper. I and a few other intrepid souls from the tour group joined Alex at 8 AM to head over to the main convention hall to await the opening ceremony and the opening of the vendor hall. It was impressive watching the crowd steadily grow between 8:30 and 10:00, when the doors were finally opened as the crowd chanted, “HERE WE COME!” to the vendors
manning their booths inside. My first stop once I got into the vendor hall was the Spartan Games booth, where I got to meet Neil Fawcett, the founder of the company, and have a nice conversation with him. Also on my list of places to see was the War Store booth to scope out the new Halo Ground Combat game, Hawk Wargames to see Dropfleet Commander, and the Asmodee booth to pick up copies of Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails and Captain Sonar. After spending 5 hours in the vendor hall, I was feeling pretty hungry. So, I headed over to the Gale Force 9 booth to pick up the two copies of Star Trek Ascendancy that I and a friend had pre-ordered, then headed back to the hotel to drop off my load of goodies and grab a bite.
I then took a short nap before meeting the group for dinner at a local Brazilian steakhouse. After dinner, I attended the annual D6 Generation Play by Mob event which was a huge load of fun! If you listen to that episode of their show, you might hear me in a couple spots. After the play by mob ended, I headed off to bed.
Day 3: Friday, 5 August
On Friday, I had Gwen come down and join me for lunch. While I was waiting for her, I browsed the vendor hall for a while and then took a look at the old Indianapolis Union Station, which was also hosting a few Gencon events. After having lunch at Scotty’s, we headed over to the convention center for a few hours. Gwen was nice enough to wait while I sat through the Fantasy Flight Games In-Flight report, where I got to find out about some cool new stuff that is coming for X-Wing and Star Wars Armada. I ended up buying her a badge of her own, so that she could come and see some of the neat stuff in the vendor and gaming halls with me. While she was with me, I went over to the Axis & Allies HQ in the gaming area and checked in for the sealed booster league. After playing a couple
of games, I walked Gwen out and then met the tour group at Osteria Pronto, the other restaurant in the JW Marriott. There, I had a family-style Italian dinner with the group, hung out with the guys from Osprey publishing (which GNT had arranged to come to the dinner), and played their cool fantasy game Frost Grave. I not only won the game I played in, but I won a copy of the rule book! We wound up hanging out in the room where we had dinner until almost 2 AM, when the manager politely asked us to leave so she could go home.
Day 4: Saturday, 6 August
On Saturday, I started off playing a few more games of Axis & Allies War At Sea over at the A&A HQ. I then headed back over to Scotty’s for lunch, this time with Gwen, our boys, my sister Sarah, and Chris. After lunch, we all headed back over to the show and did a little people watching. This was very clearly the day of Peak Gen Con. The crowds were noticeably heavier than on Thursday, Friday, or Sunday, and there seemed to be a lot more folks in costume. After a bit, Sarah and Chris headed back, while Gwen and I rolled our huge twin stroller around the convention hall crowds to look at some of the goodies in the vendor hall. Before we headed in, I joked that I needed to start painting kill markings on the side for all the ankles I took out. As it turns out though, I managed to avoid taking anyone out. After a bit, we decided the crowds were just too thick, and retreated to the gaming hall. There, we fed the boys and I played a few more games of War at Sea. I ended up with a 4-3 record in the league, which wasn’t too bad for me! After that, I walked Gwen out, and then returned to the gaming hall to play in the War at Sea league tournament. I ended up losing in the first round (rats!), which set me up to make it to dinner with the group at Osteria Pronto just in time. There, we had the designers of the board game Descent and card game Warhammer Quest as our guests, played a couple of games, and then enjoyed some good scotch and better conversation until well after 1 AM.
Day 5: Sunday, 7 August
After sleeping in a bit, I had breakfast with my room mate Tom and played in the Gen Con arcade for a bit until the vendor hall opened. I then made my last run through the exhibit hall and picked up the few things I wanted to buy but hadn’t purchased yet (including some huge D6’s from the Chessex booth!), before meeting Gwen and the boys for the prize raffle at the Axis & Allies HQ. I didn’t win anything, but it was neat seeing so much stuff get handed out! Gwen and I then took the boys over to High Velocity for lunch, and headed back to the vendor hall to shop until it closed at 4 PM. We then retreated to the room to rest for a while, before meeting the rest of the tour group at the High Velocity sky box (a private group room) for dinner at 6 PM. There, we were joined by the team from Steamforged Games, makers of the hit Guildball. The original plan had been to play games after we ate, but by that point most of the group seemed interested in just hanging out and trading tales of the weekend. Gwen and I hung out with the group until about 10 PM, at which point the boys were starting to get a might fussy. Rather than sleep at the hotel and then have someone come pick me up in the morning, I elected to leave with Gwen and head home. Whew!
This trip was everything I hoped it would be. I got to meet old friends, make some new ones, and rub elbows with game designers for pretty much all of my favorite games. I was able to get my hands on all kinds of gaming goodies, in many cases before they have been released to the wider market. And, ultimately I just had a plain, old-fashioned good time! In that, I want to take a moment to offer my appreciation to Alex of GNT. It was clear to all of us how hard he was working to take care of all the mundane logistical details so that all of us on the tour could put our minds at ease and just enjoy the con. GNT has consistently excelled at providing this service on the previous tours of theirs I have been on, and Gen Con 2016 continued the streak.
Even after spending 5 days at the show, there was a ton of things I didn’t get to see or do. The show is just that large! I’m already planning and scheming for a trip to Gen Con 2017!
Oh, and if you enjoyed this post, check out the one I put up on Man Battelstations that focused on the cool naval game things I saw:
Until next time…