Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gen Con 2016 - Day 4

Sunday used to be the day of the gaming dead at Gen Con, with everyone spent from the last three days of activity overload and sleep deprivation, with a side of unhealthy eating and maybe some imbibing tossed in for good measure.  Since Gen Con has added Family Fun Day to Sundays, letting a family of four in for one low price, it has breathed new life into Sundays.

For W! and I, the first order of business was to strike camp and evacuate the hotel room.  I had no games scheduled for the day, it was pretty much bug out of the room then troll the X-Hall until the con closed.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Gen Con 2016 - Day 3

For me there are two major things regarding Saturday at Gen Con.  One is that it is the big day for cosplay.  The other is the annual Saturday Brass & Steel LARP.  I generally kill two birds with one stone by dressing as my LARP character all day.

I had also planned on doing some serious shopping in the X-Hall seeing as I hadn't spent much time in it.  I'm always on the lookout for new costuming bits, and you can never have too many dice.  Lunch was a quick break at the food court outside the hall, which was convenient and not quite highway robbery - the chicken tenders and fries was something like $6.75 (not bad) but the large soda was in the neighborhood of $3.75 (ouch - the price of convenience).  After lunch I continued to shop until N! let me know that she was there with her daughter.

Want to know what is the ultimate cosplay accessory that will get your picture taken a lot?  Kids.  The hierarchy of what is likely to get your picture taken is costume < group in costume < group with kids in costume.  So it was shop, shop, pose.  Rinse and repeat.  We tried to make sure when we were stopped for pictures we got out of traffic as much as possible.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Gen Con 2016 - Day 2

5:45 a.m. my alarm went off.  I didn't so much wake me up as prod me out of the cycle of tossing and turning and glancing at the clock.  Wondering why I hate myself enough to sign up for this event, I pulled myself out of bed for the Orc Stomp 5k.

Even at oh-gods-early, Poke-hunters are about (including W!).  As I understand it, you have to walk to hatch your eggs in Pokemon go and I found myself wondering if there was a market for egg-carriers.  I imagined a Chewbacca-like bandolier full of phones running the app.  Did I mention I was sleep deprived?

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gen Con 2016 - Day 1

A hangover isn't a great way to start Gen Con. Fortunately, it was only what I call a 1-alarm hangover, remedied by hydration, a shower, and breakfast. I had considered hitting the breakfast buffet (or as I call it all-you-can-eat bacon), but kept it simple with pop-tarts and caffeine. In previous years, I hit the buffets most mornings, but they keep jacking up the prices to the point that I don't think I'm eating my money's worth.

I made my way to join the growing horde outside the Exhibition Hall (or as I call it, X-Hall). I decided to wait on the balcony level as there was nothing I was chomping at the bit to get, plus the atmosphere was probably less funky.

Finally, after exhortions not to run/trample/stampede, the doors were thrown open and thousands of chanting gamers marched into the X-Hall. I wonder if the vendors felt like the Spartans being marched on by the Persians? Once the crowds had flowed in, I made me way downstairs for a quick preview of the X-Hall. I only had a little over two hours before the game I was running, and given the enormous size of the X-Hall, I wasn't going to have time to even quickly walk the whole thing. Plus I had to leave myself time to eat.

Blessing the dice in the X-Hall for N!

Speaking of lunch, I figured the fastest way to go would be the food trucks. Here's a tip - the trucks on Georgia Street are going to have longer lines than the ones around the corner on Capitol Street (at least according to my observations). If you go during prime food times, expect a wait (but less than a restaurant), and several of them have good values.

This is the second year I've run games for Pamean Games, the creators of Brass & Steel. The core mechanic is real easy for newcomers to pick up, making it a great con game, while there are more advanced options well-suited for more experienced players. This year I had a full table (including W!), though only one had played before. The vetaran player knew the game better than me but was cool about it, not trying to rules-lawyer like some players in a similar situation might do.

The scenario basically consisted of two factions (Russian and British) working together even though their motives started out at odds. The set up was intended to produce some rivalry between the two "captains", but the Brit pretty much rolled over for the Russian. Though to give the Brit captain (a new player) credit, he came up with a use for his arcane powers that pretty much saved everyone's bacon during a sniper ambush.

W!, N!, G! and I went to Thai Paradise for dinner, heading there before the X-Hall closed and a ravenous gamer horde was ejected into the city. It was close enough for an easy walk (on Market St.), but enough off the beaten path to not be besieged. I kept things simple and safe with medium spicy Thai fried rice, which was pretty good even for a picky eater like me.

Afterwards, W! and I went to the Georgia St. beer garden to hang out, crowd watch, try the new Gen Con beer, 20-Sided Rye by Sun King (not bad, but I like Wee Mac better), and for W! to catch Pokemon. We called it any early night as we had the Orc Stomp 5k at 6 a.m. the next morning, and of course like an idiot I stayed up and watched John Carter on television (not that I would end up sleeping anyways, but that is a lament for Day 2).

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

GEN CON 2016 – Day 0

Persona Dramatis (for all my Gen Con blogs)
Oz – Me. Hopefully I won’t write about myself in the third person, but accidents and beer happens
W! – Long time friend, one of my players, and my roommate at GC 2016
N! – A friend I met at Gen Con 2004, frequent partner-in-game
G! – N!’s brother, a total noob. Wait, I shouldn’t have said that, I play in his game.

Wednesday, the unofficial start of Gen Con

My focus on Wednesday is the Stink. I collect swag donations from Gen Con and exhibitors and transport the Nordic Distance Dice to the Union Station Grand Ballroom, so I try to be onsite early. In recent years I’ve started staying downtown for the duration of the con. Yes, it’s expensive, yes, I only live 30 minutes away, but it lets me spend a lot more time at the convention, frees me from worrying if I have a beer or three at the end of the evening, and gives me somewhere quiet to retreat. I found out at the last minute W!, who was splitting the room with me, was riding with me, so we played Tetris in my little car, stuffed with luggage, provisions, and brand new cooler for the surprise room party, and my 2-wheeler for lugging stuff around like monster-huge dice.

We got there early enough that there was plenty of parking under the Marriott, where we were staying. As an added bonus, there was a room ready so we could unload and be done with it.

After we finished establishing our base camp, W! went to get in the will call line, which stretched all the way from registration to Hall A in the convention center.

W! ended up being in line for about an hour and several Pokemon. He swears that going forward he’s having his badge and tickets mailed (which is what I always do). While W! was stuck in line, I roamed the convention center, checked out the program guide, and watched the crowd. I would say the crowd was surprisingly large for Wednesday, but in truth it has been getting bigger and bigger. There is more for early birds to do every year.

Eventually I got my annual “Christmas Eve peak”, where I go into the Exhibit Hall on Wednesday to pick up swag donations from exhibitors. I was on a mission, so I didn’t have time to look around, but it’s still neat to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Set up for the Stink went like clockwork. Almost all (if not all) of the Mavens have done this for several years, so everyone knows their job. Fifteen minutes before go time, we were ready, even with some last minute rearranging and swag packing.

The first hour and a half was linetastic. Despite our best efforts, people at conventions see a line, they get in it. We managed to keep the swag line moving with some cat-herding, and if anyone complained it was their own fault for staying in a line after the swag even though they could go ahead and sit down.

After the Stink, which had about 400 people, I grabbed a slice of Dragon’s Breath pizza from Hot Box Pizza (no line, reasonable price, tasty pizza) on Georgia St., then headed back to my room for the room party, where I expected something like 4 people.

The count was closer to 15ish. Granted, they weren’t all there at once, and some just stopped by to say hello, but we had up to a dozen in the room at once – which gets really loud in a hotel room, especially after copious amounts of beer, wine and whiskey. Fortunately no one pounded on the door telling us to pipe down.

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