Friday, August 29, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - Day 2

Last year when I declared that I would do the Orc Stomp 5k, I assumed they would still have a 8 a.m. event. When it came time to register, I discovered they had eliminated the 8 a.m. run and only had a 6 a.m. run. Well, frak. I had already told people I was going to do the run, so I signed up.

Friday I got up at 4:30 to make it downtown and be on site on time. As it was, I cut it close to the wire, despite the fact there was no traffic at o'gods early. My friend @knharter was running it also, but she was actually planning on running it, as opposed to me, which would be more of a power-walk. I wisely moved towards the back of the starting pack to stay out of the way of the speedier folk. This was my first event of this nature. I was surprised by how supportive and encouraging people were. I finished just over 47 minutes, which is what I had done on the treadmill at the gym.

After the Orc Stomp, I went home to shower and change (don't want to live up to the gamer stink) and returned downtown. During event registration, we had only secured 1 ticket for a tabletop Brass & Steel game, so I took some generics and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, someone else had gotten there first with generics, claiming the only no-show spot. Rather than game without me, KNH opted to skip the game and we hit the Exhibition Hall.

We both had mental shopping lists, mostly to do with Steampunk costuming stuff. I didn't much luck - what I was looking for was pretty specific, and the only person I saw wearing it didn't get it from the vendor booth he was working at. He was kind enough to get me a card, so I can get it for next year. After KNH left, I also managed to do my annual blessing of the dice. I know KNH appreciates me sharing my luck.

Scotty's was chosen as the dinner venue and I went there with a couple of friends. Despite the farther walk, we thought it would be worth it as Scotty's was most assuredly better prepared than the Ram. It was funny seeing muggles show up with no clue what was going on. A bridal party showed up only to find a geek invasion under way. Some sulked, others were good sports, taking pictures with the 501 (the stormtrooper group) and so forth.

I tried the Dogslicer Ale. It reminded me of Heineken. My second beer was a Klingon Warnog.

After dinner, I checked into my hotel. We did some walking around downtown and visited the WotC Tyranny of Dragons release party. I was underwhelmed. My friends took off, so I hung around the beer garden a bit, running into various people I knew. I got to try the Sun King Gen Con beer, but that was it. They ran out, so I settled for a Wee Mac and found more people I knew. A friend led me over to Tiki Bob's where some Gen Con folks were having a get togther, but the 4:30 a.m. soon caught up to me, so I called it an early night.

Read the rest!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - Day 1

Every year I tell my self I will get downtown bright and early despite staying up late on Wednesday. Normally this is to beat the parking situation. My actually success in this in the past years has been hit or miss. Since I knew my parking situation was dealt with, there was less pressure, but I felt like I was making decent time, even stopping to grab breakfast I figured to be on site about 9. As long as I could get there around the time the Exhibitor Hall opened, it was all good.

My parking was taken care of, the traffic was a different story. It was as congested downtown as it would be by the X Hall. The traffic issue wasn't even Gen Con traffic, it was probably people being stupid. I ended up arriving just as they began the pre-opening speeches.

Speaking of which, if they are going to do that and want people to hear them, a few suggestions. First, stop the hall musicians during this time. There were a few thousand impatient gamers and one of the roving acts. Second, use a better sound system or turn up the volume. Finally, keep it short. As the crowd's attention wandered, their conversations rose.

When it comes to the actual opening of the X Hall, I don't try to go in with the tide of gamers. I'll wait until the crowds disappate. Then again, my sister found me to be infuriatingly patient on Christmas morning - she wanted to wake our parents at the crack of dawn, I was content to wait and avoid raising their ire before we could open our presents.

I met with a friend and we ventured into the hall, hoping to get a little shopping/sight-seeing before our game. We normally start at aisle 100 and work our way across. Evidently it was a popular idea. The crowd was significant, leading me to predict that Gen Con would break 60k. (Surprisingly, it was "only" 56k).

Our game of the day was a Pathfinder adventure. I picked the less-than-bright dwarf fighter so I could chew scenery with my quasi-Gaelic brogue. The GM was a bit less than prepared, and pacing suffered. My d20 betrayed me right out of the gate.

The fight before the "boss" encounter was a dragon that should have tore us up. Instead it was an hour of it playing apple-bobbing with our swimming cleric while our weapons bounced off and our wizard whittled it down. Time ran out for the session, so the GM declared that the dragon had killed the boss and taken the relics we were after, wrapping everything up. All in all, we still had some fun and I got out a few dwarf quotes on twitter:

"Kiss my axe!"
"I always keep my word... even if I can't spell it."

We went for an early dinner at the Ram (Oz tip - never plan to eat at 6 p.m., that's when everyone else will be leaving the hall.) We got a table in the bar right away, which seemed to bode well. However, service was slow and my medium burger ended up being closer to well and it seemed like our food had sat around a bit before being brought to us.

I called it an early night since I had to be up at 4:30 a.m. for the 5k Orc Stomp.

Read the rest!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - Day 0

Day 0 - Wednesday

I arrived early Wednesday afternoon and had an hour or so to kill before I started taking care of swag business for the Stink. I swung through the old part of the ICC to check out how crowded the registration area was. There were a lot of people and a substantial line, but the line looked to be moving pretty quickly. Still, I was glad that I ponied up to have my badge and tickets sent to me.

I noticed another short line at the coupon book pick-up. While I almost never use the coupons and wasn't going to bother even getting one this year, I noticed they were giving away some sort of bag. I hopped in line and soon walked away with one of the messenger-style bags they were giving away. Sure, they were cheap, but they were free and so much more useful and durable than the plastic swag bags from years past. Over the next five days it would serve me well, keeping my hands free and freeing me from worrying whether the plastic bag would give out under the weight of one more purchase. Kudos to whoever at Gen Con decided to give these out.

Veteran attendees probably all experience this phenomena - there are people you see every Gen Con, year after year, that you recognize but have no clue who they are. It took me five minutes to spot my first one.

One of the perks of collecting the Stink swag donations is that it lets me peek inside the Exhibition Hall during set up while I am making pick-ups from exhibitors. I've previously likened it to getting to peek under the Christmas tree. This year the Christmas tree was bigger than ever, with the X Hall totaling 30 aisles.

Something about Gen Con makes me a little less introverted than normal. Maybe it's being surrounded by thousands of people that get the same things I am passionate about. Plus we have a common topic to use to start up conversations - the convention. One conversation might lead to a job opportunity (no, not in the gaming industry) - nothing may come of it, but if so it will be another example of gaming leading to great things in my life.

The Stink set-up went off smooth. I was forced to miss the last Mavens (the group that puts on the Stink) meeting, but everyone else already knew what they were doing and had several years of practice. The generosity of Gen Con and the exhibitor donors made my job easy.

Ultra PRO
Fireside Games

The only hitch we ran into with the swag lines was people stopping to decide what color of a certain item they wanted, forgetting there was over a hundred people waiting behind them. Occasionally I would have to prod someone along, but all in all it went really well.

In addition to meeting a few friends I see every Gen Con, a gaming friend from high school came to visit so we were able to catch up. I think one of the best things that could be said about our hobby is that it forges friendships, especially for people that might otherwise find a hard time meeting people and making friends.

Every year my friend @Knharter plays host to some out-of-town friends and Wednesday night has a get together that has been dubbed N-Con. So after the Stink I bee-line it there. There's always an opportunity to game, especially since some of the folks are game designers, or like this year I just socialized. But after a couple of hours I headed some so I could be up bright and early for Day 1.

Read the rest!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - Day -1

Yup, that's Day -1, as in Tuesday (since I consider Wednesday Day 0). I was downtown on an errand and parked across from the ICC, so I decided to pop in and check things out. I walked by a reporter from a local news channel setting up to do a spot and joked that he was a day or two too early. We started talking about Gen Con and Wednesday events like the Beer Tapping and the Stink and he asked to interview me. A whole 5 seconds actually made the broadcast!

I saw that @nellybellexox had put out an open invitation to lunch at Scotty's via Facebook. Since I was already downtown, I decided to take the opportunity to hang out with gamers pre-Gen Con. I chatted with the manager of Scotty's while I waited for people to arrive and we talked about how Tuesday had become the new Wednesday as folks were arriving earlier and now events were happening on Wednesday.

This turned out to be kind of a gamer's UN as there were gamers from Ireland, Australia and Canada in addition to various parts of the country.

The pic was blurry because I snapped in in a hurry trying to hold the camera as much in the corner of the room as possible. Now it's time to make sure all of most costume stuff is laundered and ready, which may require some archeology.

Read the rest!