Four days of constant gaming spread throughout the Indianapolis Convention Center left me with a wealth of positive experiences. This was my first time attending the convention, and we only made it to three days of the event so we missed out on Thursday completely. However over the course of those days we packed in as much gaming and wandering as humanly possible. I thought I’d share a few of my highlights of the convention.
Meting Sam Logan, the creator of the Sam & Fuzzy webcomic, and getting the chance to talk to him for a few minutes was an amazing experience. First off he was incredibly nice and he really seemed to enjoy talking to everyone who approached his booth. We talked about the comic for a little bit and I asked him a few stereotypical questions like “Whose your favorite character?” He said Gertrude is his favorite character in the series, but he likes drawing Mr. Sin the best. I bought a copy of the Sam & Fuzzy RPG in which he obligingly drew a sketch of a grrrbil because I said I liked them.
While I was waiting for the Iron GM Competition to get started I got the chance to talk with Jen Page for a few minutes. For those who aren’t familiar with her work she’s a very talented actress whose appeared in a number of productions including: The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, The Gamers: Hands of Fate, and Journeyquest. She was talking with a few of the event coordinators and I happened to be among the GMs who were standing nearby during the conversation.
The chief reason that I attended Gencon this year was to take part in the Iron GM competition. It was a wonderful experience, and although I didn’t win or finish in the top three I enjoyed it immensely. I got to meet a ton of my fellow GMs before the event got started and it made me feel like I was standing at the pinnacle of my craft for the first time in my life. The three random story elements we were asked to incorporate into our campaign were: kraken, kamikaze, and kingdom of the dead. My players chose to play using Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, and I got really lucky because it was a fantastic group. The campaign revolved around a region called the coast of bone that had been overridden by the undead. Ships carrying adventurers tasked with eliminating the undead patrolled the coast, and one such ship carried the player’s characters. They squared off against crawling claws, skeletons, evil shadows, primitive inhabitants of a city of the dead, and a very unfriendly illusionist.
Most of my time at Gencon was spent wandering the main floor and taking part in the Iron GM competition. As a result I didn’t get a chance to play in very many games, but one that I did really stuck out as a fantastic game. Pocket Imperium features up to four armadas of spaceships working to expand their respective galactic empires. Each round players have three cards with distinctive actions that they must place in the order they wish to take them. Expand, explore, and exterminate allow players to add ships to their fleets, enter new sectors of space, or initiate attacks on other fleets. I happened by a table that was demoing the game and they offered to run a quick game for me and a few other attendees. It’s extremely fun and simple, but their is a deep strategy element that drew me into the game very quickly. As the game takes place on tiles every game differs greatly.
There are some amazing displays at Gencon, companies and designers go to great lengths in order to draw people to their booths. There are breathtaking displays, towering robots, people in costume, and celebrities all meant to pull your attention away from the row upon row of other worthwhile booths so that you’ll stop and spend your time at theirs. One of my favorite displays was set up by Antimatter Games featuring miniatures from their game Deepwars. The game features various factions battling for supremacy in a unique undersea setting. I love the originality of the setting, and the miniatures themselves look great.
While Jade was taking part in a card tournament I waited outside in the hall, and I happened to see Brian Lewis and Christian Doyle walk past. Both of them have appeared in a number of movies and series based around tabletop gaming including: Journeyquest, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, The Gamers: Hand of Fate. It was really late and I didn’t want to stop them as I figured they would be making their way to bed or to grab a late dinner. Seeing two of my favorite actors walking side by side was like seeing a stegosaurus and a triceratops rollerskating down the hallway.
While I was wandering the halls I spotted Patrick Rothfuss, the author and master bard of Acquisitions Incorporated. I couldn’t work up the nerve to stop him in the hallway and bother him by asking for an autograph or pestering him with questions. Still, being able to say that I saw him in person was one of my favorite things about the convention.
Gencon was a great event, honestly my favorite part was spending three days with Jade and getting the chance to rub elbows with so many of my fellow gamers. I also loved getting to eat from the food trucks, although I only ate from one truck that served soba noodles that I’m pretty sure were the food of the gods.