Thursday, July 31, 2003

Okay I started taking notes on GenCon the second day. It's a bit laborous to write long documents on the PocketPC but when standing in line (of which there were a great many) it passes the time. Here it is, suitably edited of course.

GenCon 2003 23 - 27 July
(first time in Indianapolis - sp?)

Day 1 (belated):
Well, it was like it always is when I'm supposed to take this trip. Before I leave I don't really want to go. I sort of dread the whole thing (all the hygiene horror stories are "twue"). And I don't know if I've mentioned it but gamers scare me (we're really freaks! notice the possessive, I have no illusions about what I am). But every time I go anyway and I have fun (sometimes more, sometimes a bit less).

Thursday I was signed up to work for WizKids as one of their "Envoys". I've been getting burned out on MechWarrior these days so I was sort of blaise about it. Aaron had signed up too, so we went down to the Sagamond Room to see what they had for us to do. Being the first day, people were still standing in line Big Time (to get event tickets mostly but a lot of badge people - insert Gene Wilder movie references here) so there were more battlemasters than tournament players. So a couple of us got snagged to help unload the truck (they seemed to have two big 18 wheelers). I met one of their new web guys, Chad. Cool guy.

When we got back from that, they (one of the Envoy "Lieutenants" in charge of one of the product lines) were running around warning everyone that the big boss (Jordan Weisman) was walking the room so they didn't want any envoys "congregrating" (a "look busy" thing). You can say "so what, it's not like they're paying us, we're volunteers" but people who volunteered for them for two days got their badges ($55), people who volunteered for all four day got their hotel (I think?) and all of us got a bunch of cool LEs (limited edition figures for their games) so we were sort of getting paid.

The MW "lieutenant" calls us together and I get sent downstairs (well okay, I volunteered because I didn't know if I remember all the tournament rules - I knew well how to play/run MechWarrior but they have a particular style of tournament rules and the players are pretty much all sharpshooters so you have to know your stuff) to help at the booth (Booth Monkey, my true calling). They were apparently desperate for Crimson Skies demoers (is that a word? if not I can get Dubbua to make it one!).

But, of course it's the aces side of the game (the one I glanced at the rules for five minutes) they needed rather than the air action one (the one I know well). So I have to pour the rules back into my head (except that implies I actually knew them!). A quick briefing so the current guy can get lunch and I'm off. I ran two demos before I got ahold of a copy of the rules and discovered I'd been doing (at least) one thing wrong. Oh well, it's only a demo, not a tournament!

A couple of hours later I get 30 minutes to run over to the Subway in the Hyatt's lobby (my hip is starting to bother me by now). When I get back I'm put on HeroClix (which I actually played only once). Another quick brain dump and I'm off again. Fortunately Aaron (who had apparently made the mistake of telling them he knew it, "PLEASE let me run MechWarrior!") was at the next table to save my bacon! Two or four demos later the guy gets back and immediately leaves to learn Creepy Freaks.

I spend the last two hours learning that and Mage Knight before I get put on what I wanted to run in the first place, Crimson Skies! Only one turn later the exhibit hall is closing and we head off to "sign out" and get our goodies.

The shift ends, we get signed out and get our LEs for volunteering. The "Envoy Appreciation Night" is in a half an hour and the room keycard freaks out (this happened about four times to me and several times to several of the other guys in my room, the Westin is a pretty - re: expensive and hoity-toity - hotel but this was starting to bug me). We head over to the Marriot, figuring it would be a pep talk and then food. It was a whole Production (capital P).

They introduced their whole staff, did a PP (power point) presentation, including their "Big News", gave us 'za and a demo kit/t-shirt and we played the new game. So much for the "half an hour and we're outta here" plan. But it was a bunch of fun. I beat Aaron on a technicality and won a pretty rare Mage Knight LE. I wouldn't mention beating him except that the second or third MechWarrior game I ever played was against him and I fielded an Atlas from the basic set. Anyone who knows MechWarrior knows that thing is a tank but it had a pretty poor heat dial. So he stomps my but Big Time and later takes the screen name "Atlas Killer" on one of the message boards. This is my small piece of "neigh-neigh" (how do you spell that?)

Day 2:
Standing in an incredibly long line for MacDonalds! But then they are gamers. Subway has breakfast across the hall (in the lobby of the Hyatt). Good time to write more though. Back to finishing up yesterday's happenings (see above).

Well I ran into Mark Metzner at MacD's with his crowd. He's hooked up with XXX (okay I put that in because I couldn't remember the name of the company he was working with and I never found them again) who do minis. Cool. We went over to the dealer room and I'm in line to buy 3 boosters of Liao Incursion. Aaron says they are giving away Creepy Freaks freebies too, so I can get some more of those.

Well I finally found some of the gang after wandering around the exhibitor hall alone all morning. I gave them fair chance to ditch me when I asked if they were nearly finished with lunch. So I joined them at PF Chang's. Pretty good Kung Pao chicken. Now they're downstairs (I went back to the room to stash swag) playing "Mystery of the Abbey".

I finally found the Fantasy Flight booth and said hi to Greg & Tod. I met Rob but we'll leave that alone until after I read "Crown of Shadows". (turns out after talking to Jeff later on that Rob's biggest mistake was not letting Jeff read the book after final edit but before going to the printers - a faux pas since the writer then feels left out of the loop and snubbed and may not want to write for them again) I met a guy Wil Upchurch works with on a site that scales adventures. Lose a player? Want to change it from a 4th level one to 10th level? They tailor it. Interesting idea. Talked with Shane Hensley for a minute. Being a wingman without his flight leader here is confusing, I can't allow Jeff to opt out if I go next year!

I got back downstairs and the guys (playing Mystery) have to ask their questions (think Clue) in "plainsong" (chanting). Were is the digital camcorder when we need it?

Dinner was a MacD's. Not my first choice but what the heck. Matt Calloway, Kevin Maschler and I went out looking for happy hour first. We ended up at a sports bar called Champions. The bartender looked at us like we were high when we asked to watch soccer or cycle racing. Three rounds later Brand, John & Tom joined us. I found out Calloway is a linux security guru. Cool. He and his gamer group had written a program (in perl) to create, track and edit story elements. They called it GEAS. If he tells me I can release it, I'll post the earl.

After dinner we went over to the board game room to play something. I played "Rage", a cardgame, and we played the "Game of Thrones" with Jay, Tom, Matt Mark K & ?? (who else, I can't remember now!). Two hours later we finally got the rules down. Kudas swore off Diplomacy and games like this (more on that later). The rest of us had a blast. Some of them played the Abbey game afterwards but I went to bed.

Day 3:
Well someone came knocking on the door at o'dark thirty. I ignored it but a bit later I got up to go pee and discovered it was 1030!! We went to a brewpub called Rams for lunch. The have a gaming room with a replica of a illithud. The lunch menu has an LotR theme (I had a grog and goblin - a wrap w/ popcorn chicken). The waiter told us the owner was a gamer but it was pretty obvious he didn't talk the talk so he couldn't tell us what kind (or how serious) he was. Still they had good beer and good food, a win-win situation for lunch!

Then we came back to the boardgame room and they played GoTs again. Sarah, Heidi (some on that later too!) and I roamed around the dealers room. She (Sarah) met Ranier Kinzer and I bought too many games. That was funny, Sarah mentioned wanting to meet him and noticing that he was supposed to be at the Out-of-the-Box booth. We ended up back there so Heidi could buy a game or two and I walked up behind them. "Did you meet Ranier?" I asked her when I noticed him standing just out of arm's reach. She did the whole fangirl thing, kind of bouncy and stuff, it was fun to watch!

That night Calloway declared we were all going out drinking. We started with the hotel bar (called the "No Name Lounge" after Don Shula's football team). I had some very smooth 18 year old scotch and discovered Kristin Philbrick was a scotch girl. I started Calloway on it as well. That closed at 12:30 so we went in search of another place. The group decided on a martini bar (the drink several of them prefer). A three dollar cover deterred them and we continued our search. The next likely place had a five dollar cover. Eventually we ended up in an Irish pub (yea, Guinness) that was PDC (pretty damn cool). 3 am saw us on our way home. Several of them apparently went to pack and then fly out. Chris Maier left at 4:30 and Kristin at 6. Ugh!

Day 4:
Was a big "buy things before you leave" day just like always. I was searching for a booth that sold polos and lad coats that had a log of what they called the "Mad Scientist Union, Local 42". Never found it but I did get a copy of "TransAmerica" from Rio Grande. I forgot to stop by the FFG booth and get their "Steam and Sorcery" book but Aaron got one so we're covered for now for our Iron Kingdoms game. I also got a birthday gift for Jeff of one of the original prints from one of the IK books. He really liked it.

Over all a good con.


Post a Comment

<< Home