Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Road to Gencon 2010: Years Gone By

It just occured to me that this is going to be the tenth Gencon TheBro and I have attended together. While I haven't quite spent more years attending than Gencon than not at this point (that'll be my 16th when I'm 31 I believe), I have spent a good chunk of my life now spending the first, second, or (God forbid) the third week of August with my people. You know, my people. I have a ton of great Gencon memories, and leading up to the big 10th, I know the con's start to kind of run together. In a vain attempt to pull out my memories as if I had a penseive, I'm going to recollect a bit on Gencon of yesterday. Now I'm not going to give years, cause I know I'm going to get them wrong, and I'm sure TheBro's still going to catch inconsistencies, but here's some of the best times I can remember at Gencon.

Mage Knight 2.0 is Announced

Mage Knight was our entry drug. It got us into the gaming world like nothing else, and TheBro and I were hooked like nothing else. We followed the game from the original base set, Rebellion, almost all the way through the end, and love it every inch of the way. Some of our earliest Gencon'ing was tied to Mage Knight, and it's the only game we ever played competitively week in and week out. We were even Warlords - the official volunteer force that demo'ed and ran events for Mage Knight.

When Wizkids was still running high, every big convention saw a "Warlords" night which later was expanded to include volunteers for their other game lines. These nights were the most exciting part of Gencon as there was free food and what amounted to a "State of the Company" style address which included never-before-seen previews and other amazing stuff. It was during one of these Warlord nights that we got to hear about the world-exclusive announcement of the new edition of Mage Knight. Wizkids was going to announce it officially the next morning, but even better was that each of was to get a demo set of the new figures, an exclusive new unique (super rare) figure (pictured to the right here) and got to all demo the new rules right there on the spot. It was awesome, and I still remember how ridiculously excited I was when they announced it. I thought it would save the game! Mage Knight 2.0 remains still my favorite set. The game, however, died just a few expansions later. Oops.

Reaper Con-Long Dungeon Crawl

Reaper Miniatures hosts the best mini skirmish game of the con, or at least they did (not sure if they still do). You sign up for 2 hour chunks of time, pick a warband, and pray you find the big gold and the small monsters. The game was based on Reaper's Warlord rule set and was very easy to pick up. It was a small group (six players tops), and you could choose to work with your opponents to take out the big monsters or screw them over and run for the gold. The dungeon was gigantic - at least the size of pool table, and everything from minis to d10's was provided for you. Just take a look at how amazing that Orc warband looks in that purty dungeon to the left here. The best part, aside from the terrain, the great looking mini's was the small group of players that all seemed to be addicted to the event. Because there were several games scheduled each day, you could play throughout the weekend and get to know those who would also come back to it time and again.

It created a little community of people who all spoke the same language - we all knew how best to get the most gold and work as a team (or screw each other over at the right time) by Saturday night. Of course there was one more really neat incentive to sit down for the game - based on the gold you procured you were given "Reaper Bucks." These Monopoly-like dollars were then used as part of a mega-auction of real Reaper items at the end of the con. Everyone got together and were able to bit on miniatures, paint sets, paint brushes, and general hobby supplies. The last year TheBro and I participated we came away with a ton of stuff. Nothing too big (everyone seemed to be saving their Reaper Bucks for the big paint sets and other huge stuff), but we came away with a lot of stuff to use in the Warlord mini game.

Not-So-Dreadful Dread

It's no secret that we here at THG kind of love Dread from The Impossible Dream. It was our first RPG that we dove head-first into, and it's still my favorite horror game out there. Our first priority when planning any trip to Gencon is getting into at least one game of Dread if possible. We've now played at least 5 or 6 games of Dread at the con and although we've had varying degrees of success (Dread's a game that really depends on the other players not being dicks), it's been a great experience that we've always taken something away from for our home games. 

We've gotten a lot of exposure to styles of Jenga games we wouldn't have neccesarily thought of on our own. We've also learned the lesson above - dicks ruin Dread. This isn't a revolutionary idea - that dicky players ruin horror RPG's for everyone - but when combined with a competitive style of Dread, gah, just gross.

But I digress. Dread has produced the most enjoyable role-playing experience of all our Gencon games. It was last year, and the lil' bit, Gamer Wife, TheBro, and myself were all players. We had two other guys also joining in. A couple of factors were leading into this being a great game. First was the other two players - they were both committed to their characters and put a fantastic unique comedic spins on them. Then there was the GM. She definitely had some acting chops and made the main villain absolutely terrifying. Finally it was the scenario itself that was fantastic - we were all newly-hired henchmen working for a supervillain on his secret island hide out. The supervillain, an evil doctor-type, was set to spread a pandemic that would kill the world. Through in the Gamer Wife playing a particularly crazy and completely selfish character that would rather get off the island and risk spreading the virus worldwide rather than stay on the island and get blown up. She played this motive the entire game, and since the group was split up, we couldn't effectively do a thing to stop it. This year we're signed up for another game of Dread, and we can't wait!

Note: I can't seem to locate any of the epic Jenga tower pictures I've taken over the years, so I had to borrow the above image from something called Benway's Life.

That's all I have for now. I know I could write for days and days on good Gencon memories, but then I probably wouldn't be able to make my way towards Gencon, and that'd be down-right self-defeatin'!


  1. Pretty sure I was involved in that last dungeon crawl day. I remember you guys leaving with a lot of booty...hah...booty. I remember that I never had a chance in hell of getting the overall win on either of the ones I was in on. I got to bash some trolls, though.

  2. I really enjoyed the reaper stuff too. It helped that we played the previous year so we had some experience with the crawl.


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