Gen Con 2016 Recap
Update: I forgot to add Dingo’s Dreams to the list of demoed games. Added at 3pm 8/8/2016.
As soon as Gen Con 2015 finished I started looking forward to Gen Con 2016. It’s become an annual tradition to attend and we’ve had at least four of us go every year.This year we were looking to do things a little differently with mostly non-Gen Con activities on Saturday. Let’s get to the recap.
This was the first year that we decided to go Wednesday night rather than Thursday morning. In the past we would leave Wisconsin around 4am on Thursday, which would get us to Indy around 11. Then we would have lunch at Yats. Then we would finally get to the exhibit hall around 1 or 2 and only have a few hours in the hall that first day.
So we decided to go Wednesday night. When we got to the Marriott we learned that for the 5 of us we had a room with one king bed. Uh oh. Thankfully I had brought my airpad and sleeping bag. But they would only allow one roll-away bed so one of us was on the bare floor. It was about 1am when we hit the sack.
Our plan was to rush to the Plaid Hat booth and get SeaFall since we wanted to play it during the convention. We purposefully did not pre-order it since we wouldn’t have it at Gen Con. This completely backfired as Plaid Hat sold ALL their copies to the VIGs who got to enter the hall an hour before the peasants. The worst part was knowing that while waiting to enter the hall the game was sold out.
I waited at a different entrance so I could head to the Tasty Minstrel Games booth and grab a copy of Guilds of London. This game by Tony Boydell looks really good and I was so happy to get a copy. Special thanks to those VIGs for not buying all of them.
So we got one of the games we were hoping to snag right away. We would learn later that other games we were interested in also sold out relatively quickly, like Covert from Renegade Game Studios and Terraforming Mars and The Dragon & Flagon from Stronghold Games. It happens every year. More conversation about game debuts and how they are sold later this week.
After the initial rush we basically spent the day tooling around in the hall. We demoed some games, bought some games, and just enjoyed the fact that traffic in the hall all day Thursday was lighter than we knew it would be on Friday and Saturday.
One of the highlights for me was seeing Scoville and Scoville: Labs for sale at a major convention for the first time. Tasty Minstrel had a few copies but the Cool Stuff Inc. booth had a bunch!
Throughout the convention it seemed like copies were being sold! Thanks to everyone who has been enjoying Scoville!
Thursday evening we enjoyed some quality beer at The Yard House, a place with 130 beers on draft!
We had planned on Friday being a demo day. We had bought tickets for a bunch of demos and enjoyed the quieter pace of the open gaming hall.
Friday night we continued our tradition of walking to the Rathskellar, enjoying big German lagers, smoking a cigar, listening to live music, and having platters of German sausage, brat balls, jalapeno poppers, hush puppies, chicken cordon bleu rollups, and pretzels!
The Rathskellar is a fantastic escape from the rush of Gen Con.
We had a non-Gen Con schedule set up for Saturday that included Duckpin bowling and a AAA Baseball Game.
But Saturday got started for me by hanging out with the awesome Grant Rodiek of Hyperbole Games and designer of Cry Havoc from Portal Games. He and I hung out, chatted about life, showed each other some prototypes, and had a good time.
After that I went to pitch a game. This was a great experience for me as it was my first real “pitch.” I’ll keep you all posted if anything comes from it.
After the pitch it was time for Duckpin bowling. We drove over to Fountain Square and had a good time despite our terrible scores. In 100 total frames we had 5 spares and 0 strikes. Our scores averaged about 70.
When we got back to our hotel we sat down in the lobby and played Scythe. It was the first play for me and Ben and the second play for the other three guys. Ben and I took 4th and 5th place. It’s a great game that I think I’ll enjoy more on the second play now that I know and sort of understand the system.
After Scythe we went to the Indianapolis Indians game. I had been looking forward to it because they were giving away a Pop Bobbleheads Flash Bobblehead as a promo. I really wanted one to give to my 4yo son. They were giving them to the first 2500 fans. I’m pretty sure we were fans #2501, 2502, 2503, 2504, and 2505 (well maybe not quite that close). We just missed out on getting one and I was pretty bummed. But it was fun to watch the game, especially since the Indians pitcher had 8 strikeouts in the first four innings. Also, it was Superhero night and The Flash was there and the Indians were wearing special Flash uniforms.
We left about midway through and went to our hotel room to play a few games. We played Order of the Gilded Compass and Paperback. I thought Paperback was a fun version of a deckbuilding game. In it you buy cards that have letters on them and then on your turn you use the cards in your hand to build words. It was fun, but the end of the game meant that our Gen Con 2016 was coming to an end. Sunday morning we packed up early and hit the road.
One of the highlights was in the First Exposure playtest hall where I had a chance to see a new capability of The Game Crafter. They recently announced that you can order custom cut components. Here is an example of what you could possibly do:
Another highlight is seeing the “Big” versions of games. This year they had a big version of King of Tokyo, which I knew my son would like to see.
Seeing the huge Pickachu was cool too…
But one of my favorite highlights is simply reconnecting with people that I only get to see once or twice a year. There are so many awesome people in the board game world and it’s always a pleasure hanging out and seeing what’s new in their lives. My next con is Grand Con in September and I’m looking forward to meeting new people there as well!
The games we demoed during the convention included (I’m positive I missed some):
- Beyond Baker Street – This is a Hanabi-esque clue-giving and deduction game with excellent artwork. The gameplay was a little too similar to Hanabi to make us want to buy it but if you don’t already own Hanabi I recommend checking this out.
- Order of the Gilded Compass – We really enjoyed this remake of Alea Iacta Est enough to buy a copy. There is a lot of replayability in the game. Unfortunately there are a few issues with the production includind copy/paste problems with the rulebook, and color issues with the red and orange dice looking too similar.
- Oceanos – The artwork is awesome and the gameplay familiar. We only demoed the first round but I can imagine that the second and third rounds are just as fun. I would have bought this if they still had copies left.
- The Grizzled – We randomly sat down for a demo of this and almost beat it! But we lost. It’s a tough game.
- World’s Fair 1893 – I really liked this game. The design is elegant and the gameplay is simple. But getting what you want is tough to do. The artwork on this one is really appealing as well.
- Quartz – I was really hoping this would be great because the artwork really drew me in. Unfortunately the thrust of the game is not the collecting of gems but the messing with other people’s gems. My gaming group isn’t much of a “take that” or “screw your neighbor” group so I was a little disappointed with this one.
- Mythe – I hadn’t even heard of this one (which released in 2012?) but Scott Morris in the Passport Booth was happy to demo it for us. In the game you are pressing your luck to move your mouse toward the dragon to defeat him and take back the cheese. You draw cards from other people and decide whether to stop and move or keep going and risk gaining nothing. It had this pretty neat pop-up folding board.
- Covert – Kane Klenko is the designer and a friend of mine. It was awesome to see the final version of the game and I was happy for him that Renegade sold out of all their advanced copies. One of my favorite parts in the game is that you can set up awesome combinations of moves to complete missions. Go check this one out or pre-order it today!
- Stockpile – Despite this being from local designers my group was finally able to demo this stock game. We enjoyed it since you have limited knowledge of what the market is going to do. The game worked well and I’d like to try the advanced version and the expansion.
- Boomtown Bandits – This game was disappointing. One of the players lost almost all the battles and only had one card after four rounds. We didn’t enjoy the gameplay very much.
- Klask – In each of the previous Gen Cons we attended we would do a little Weykick tournament in the exhibit hall. Weykick is no longer available so this year we went in for a Klask demo and used that for our tournament. Klask was fun and had more strategy than Weykick. I was glad I could snag a copy since they only had 50 per day.
- Mystic Vale – I didn’t get to demo this but the other guys did. The consensus was that the mechanic is really neat but the gameplay was too much solitaire. We are looking forward to seeing what AEG does in future games with the mechanic.
- Captain Sonar – This was fun chaos! Players are on a team that is controlling a submarine trying to hunt down the opponents submarine. We had a big crowd around us while demoing and we almost had the opponents. There was a lot of shouting and listening and general craziness. It was pretty fun.
- Dingo’s Dreams – I originally forgot about this demo. It is a Bingo style game where you play your animals onto your 5×5 grid to try and match the reference card that was drawn randomly. First player to match the pattern wins a point. Play to a pre-determined number of points. A friend said it was quite “zen.”
Gen Con 2017
One of the things I think I’d like to do next Gen Con is to pitch more games. I enjoyed that experience and that there is potential from it. Participating in the Publisher Speed Dating would be a fun option.
Another thing that I didn’t really do this year was stay up late in the open gaming hall with all the game designer folks. I just didn’t feel like it this year but I regret that decision. I’ll definitely do more of that next year.
No matter what, I’m already looking forward to Gen Con 2017!