GenCon 2012, Part One

Yesterday I returned from my first trip to GenCon. I’ve wanted to attend to this epic convention for the last 20 years and finally made it happen. I was joined by a good friend of mine, Alchemist. I thoroughly enjoyed myself but both Alchemist and I agreed that had we attended 15 years ago, it would have been exponentially more awesome. Considering we are both much more mature and responsible with our money than in those days of frivolity, not to mention less starstruck when seeing or meeting celebrities and such, there was slightly less magic to the trip.
We got to play a lot of different games, attend several events, and usually remembered to take pictures. Below are some photos and highlights from the trip.

Last Night on Earth
Although there were many many amazing moments during my trip, my time spent at the Flying Frog Productions booth was easily the most memorable. So I’m going to talk about it first and delve into it a bit more than the other highlights.
Flying Frog has been expanding from their initial offering of Last Night on Earth for several years now and somehow the games keep getting even better with each release! I’ve always liked their unique visual styling, which incorporates photos of real life props as well as human models/actors for many of the components. I heard a while back that some of the actors attend conventions and hang out at the Flying Frog booth in full costume, so I was excited to see that it was the same for GenCon 2012. I think there were six cast members in all but only two of them were from Last Night on Earth. The last release for the game is a standalone expansion called Timber Peak, that advances the story a bit to introduce new characters as well as ‘upgrade’ some existing characters who reappear. The two actors who were in attendance were Sally (a character from the original) and Alice (a new character). I chatted with both of them and they were a lot of fun to talk to – good humored, friendly, and genuinely appreciative of the attention they were getting. I got a picture of each, and they were kind enough to sign my copies of their character cards (signed with both character name and real name), they also signed a few promotional photos that were free on one of the tables.

I was also fortunate enough to get my Timber Peak box signed by the game designer himself, Jason C. Hill. He was sort of busy with some other people so I didn’t bother asking for a photo but he assured me that signing was okay and I wasn’t interrupting anything. Really nice guy. Alchemist and I also played through a quick demo of Timber Peak, which Alice watched while entertaining passers by. There are few new rules features and many new components (including completely new board tiles). The changes complement previous material very well and add a lot of depth to the series. If you haven’t played Last Night on Earth, I highly recommend trying it. It’s by far the best zombie game I’ve played. It’s got rich atmosphere, huge replay and it’s also a very slick and easy to understand game system that gamers and non-gamers can learn and enjoy quickly. I’ll have to give it a proper review some time in the future.
Having a signed copy of the game along with signed components and photos has made it a lot more special than I would have guessed. I started off just asking for a photo because the opportunity was there but it definitely turned into a very special moment and something that I’ll try to do more in the future.

Warhammer: Invasion – North American Championship

You can read about how I did in the tournament on my Warhammer: Invasion North American Championship at GenCon 2012 post.

Relic
Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) was demoing a prototype of the new Relic game. It’s basically a 40k version of Talisman. I was only able to get a few turns of a demo game in but it was apparent that there are a few differences between the two and having played Talisman a few times with a friend of mine, I could tell that I already liked Relic better. Talisman is a game for every now and then because it’s somewhat frustrating to play and requires the right mood. Given that Relic is set in the 40k universe gives it the benefit of thematic familiarity that surpasses that of generic-fanstasy-setting (I think Talisman actually uses the Runebound setting… but it certainly doesn’t feel like it when you play).

Descent: Journeys in the Dark, 2nd Edition
We played through a demo game of the new edition of FFG’s Descent. For anyone familiar with the first edition, the new rules have been streamlined immensely and are way easier to learn (Alchemist had no exposure to the series and pick up on it right away). It’s a huge improvement that I’m really looking forward to exploring.

One thing I was surprised to discover though involves the conversion kit. In addition to the second edition boxed game, there is a small conversion kit box available. I purchased the conversion kit from Sentry Box when it was released but haven’t really looked at it yet. I was under the impression that the kit would allow you to use first edition scenarios and components with the new rules by providing updated character cards and such. However, what it actually does is allow you to use first edition heroes and monsters with the second edition content. So you still have to buy a full copy of second edition. While this isn’t a big deal to me given the improved component quality of the new box, it certainly wasn’t clear until I chanced upon an explanation of it by one of the FFG sales staff. Maybe I just interpreted the marketing incorrectly but hopefully my saying it here saves someone the confusion.

Queen Games – Kingdom Builder and Edo
I’d never heard of Queen Games before but they’re now on my list of publishers to follow. We played a demo game of Edo, a resource management game along the lines of Puerto Rico that manages to provide replay with more variety than similar style games. We also played through two games of Kingdom Builder, the new game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, of Dominion fame. This was a unique board-domination game with heavy ‘eurogame’ influence. Alchemist and I thoroughly enjoyed both games and will likely pick them up in the near future.

Various Costumes and Statues
At least 1/3 of the people attending GenCon were in costume to some degree. I tried to take photos of as many as I could but it was often too crowded to bother. Here are the ones that turned out okay.

End of Part One… Well, apparently I have to split this into two posts because I’m running out of time. Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!

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