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OK GenCOn ENWorlders, document your experiences here...

Treebore

First Post
GenCon is over and your returning home. Before the memories fade share your stories, who you met, games you played, stuff you bought, etc... Include links to any pics too...
 

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FunkBGR

First Post
This was my first GenCon, and I rocked it hard core.

I showed up with a group of buddies, and we had no idea what to do. Here's some of what I remember in no particular order:

Met a bunch of ENWorld/CM people
- Went to the Ennies
- Worked the Ennies booth

Was almost trampled in the "Running of the Bulls"-style opening of the Exhibit Room on Friday

Watched a 12-player Twilight Imperium game that 3 of my friends were in
- Saw my first game of Twilight completed in 5 hours?!?

Went to the World of Our Own signing
- Told Paul S Kemp at the Paizo booth that I didn't know who he was :(
- Told James Lowder at the Paizo booth that I did know who he was :)
- Was told Greg Stolze was not at the Paizo booth when I showed :(

Played the memorial game to Gygax
- Watched the guy Feedback run a game of this
- Pointed out Keith Baker to my friends
- Pointed out Mike Mearls to my friends, who then ran our game

Played the Dungeon Delve in WotC's place
- 'Beat' a delve "just to beat it"
- Met Dave, the best Delve DM ever
- Waited specifically to get Dave as the DM-guy
- Ended up with 61 tokens
- Doesn't play LFR, so had no use for aforementioned tokens

Enjoyed the screenings
- Second Skin!
- Randomly met the director, and their group

Got lost in GenCon
- I had no idea where anything was!

Got lost in Indianapolis
- They have White Castles everywhere!

Bought:
Black Goat of the Woods - Arkham Horror Expansion
3 discs of Fat Dragon stuff
Dogs in the Vineyard (Finally!)
Shab-Al-Hiri Roach thing
Grimm, after seeing it on the Ennies thing so much
The Esoterrorists, and all things for it
Worlds of Their Own, and the other Gygax book Paizo put out
Pirates Guide to Freeport + Map (now squished!)
Red November
Tomb of Ice - Descent Expansion
 
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Hecatol

First Post
My wife and I had a very nice con experience overall - this was the 11th one we've been to in a row, and I'd rank it highly.

Highlights:
- Happy, happy gamers everywhere. Most of them relatively funk-less
- Nothing revolutionary product-wise, but I love DM tools - magnetic chips, weirdo dice, minis, measuring tools etc - and found a few new (to me) ones this year
- Expeditious Retreat Press' 2nd Edition of A Magical Medieval Society in HARDCOVER. Joe, I would have paid double if I had to!
- Some gorgeous books - will have to fill in titles when my brain is awake
- Playing in the D&D Open and actually finding kind of fun and going onto the semis (I'd sworn I'd never enter again after a few less fun experiences)
- Playing D&D with my wife for the first time ever - she's patiently attended 11 GenCon's with me, finds gamers generally very nice people, but have never picked up a pair of dice before. And she enjoyed playing!
- Comfy low-80s temperatures! Being from Seattle, 90s don't do it for me

Lowlights
- Showing up for the D&D Open semi-final to find 3/5 of my team missing, thus ending up with an unexpected 4 hour break on our hands :)
- (Different game) Another player getting up and leaving in the middle of rather difficult fight. About 15 minutes later he returned with a giant Taco Bell bag and proceeded to devour the contents down to licking the papers. I thought he might end up licking the battlemat too as he had spilled plenty of stuff. The guy then fell asleep 3 times during the remainder of the game.
- Since no-one in our social circle are gamers it was just the two of us. Wonderful to spend time with my wife, but I think she would've liked it even more if we got to socialize a bit more

Other
Kept seeing Scott Rouse around the Westin, and he looked more and more like he was operating on pure willpower as the days wore on. Hopefully he gets to sleep in for a few weeks!
 

TroyXavier

First Post
I had a pretty good time.

Let's see, highlights included co-running two events for Filsinger Games. Running into my old gaming group and us talking about getting together again and playing which would be great. I saw a lot of good costumes this year and only a few tired old ones.;) I ran into several other people I knew and was glad to see. Oh and I also made a new friend which is always good.

Downsides were the utterly ridiculous crowding especially on Thursday and Saturday, my two favorite places to visit being on opposite sides of the room making trips between the two of them a journey, and too much good stuff with only certain amounts of spendable funds.

What I got...well not a huge amount but it was all stuff I wanted
War and XPs along with the free magnet, Robotech and Rifter #43 from Palladium Books, Red Dwarf RPG for the fun of it, Midnight Syndicate's The Dead Matter Cemetary Gates CD, a Modern GM screen and the Song of Fire and Ice test rules from Green Ronin (if only they had had the book I really wanted, but I'll just have to wait), as well as various swag including a free Blue Dragon T-Shirt and my new Poke-em Stick (the yellow sword they were giving out)
 

bh2

First Post
40 hrs of RPGA

Me and a couple of buddies of mine have been trying to get more RPGA in during GenCon, but we haven't had much luck with getting event tickets ahead of time. This year, though, we got all our tickets ahead of time (you can play with generals, but its hit and miss and no guarantees). We played in 9 RPGA events: ALL of the LFR events and the D&D Open. Other than that, we stayed at a house about 30 mins from the con and brought a cooler of food. Overall we were very well prepared.

So, highlights from the con:

  • 12-16 hours of 4e D&D for 3 days straight!! While a bit exhausting, it was awesome.
  • Several very good LFR mods, many excellent GMs, and a bunch of fun players to play with!
  • My gold dwarf cleric of Moradin, Glimmer Goldbeard, got laid in WATE1-1 Heirloom :p.
  • For the first time, we actually qualified for the second round of the D&D Championship (our group was called 'We Didn't Die'), though we didn't actually end up playing the 2nd round.
  • Looting the body... Apparently gencon ordered too many bags and were giving them away sunday near closing. We got about 60 bags of stuff and looted it for the good stuff: gencon d6es, random Q-Workshop dice, and several card games.
So yeah, good times, I already can't wait till next year!
 

paradox42

First Post
This was my 14th or 15th time going (I lost count a few years ago actually)- I've been going every single year with only one exception, that being in 2006 when I had severe money troubles. It's always a highlight of my year, and I don't plan to stop going any year soon.

Wednesday night I arrived, after spending a couple of hours at Indiana Beach on the way to delay so as to arrive after my roommate had checked in, to take up residence in the Westin with my friends- one my roommate and the other two a couple who also live in the Kansas City area near him. We're all old college buddies who used to play Magic in the University of Illinois Urbana campus group. Played some games in mine & Mike's hotel room this year because we had a slightly better setup with two beds (could move the table between 'em for play space and seating). I lost Cthulhu Munchkin, but pulled out a win in a Shanghai Rummy game in the last two hands.

Thursday I managed to get up in time to go into the convention hall at the opening, and witnessed the opening ceremony and dice roll after Dave Arneson and Peter Adkinson's speeches. "Running of the Bulls" is an apt description of what happens every day of the Con, if you happen to be waiting in the crowd at the 10 AM opening of the Exhibit Hall, but I enjoy doing it at least once if I can manage to get up early enough just to feel the energy of the crowd.

Once inside the Hall, I hightailed it over to APE Games to snag my copy of War & XPs along with the free magnet, and also stopped by the Ennies booth to check out the rules for booth volunteers since I was set to do that on Friday. A little later on I demoed Monsterpocalypse, the new collectible minis game from Privateer Press, which I found quite fun and seemed to be a fairly bit hit at the Con (I saw people carrying boosters and starters all weekend- and they ran out of starters by Saturday).

Thursday was True Dungeon day for me- the one time-slot our group had managed to get a ticket for was at 2:36. We went through it and won in the end, solving the puzzle in the final room while waiting for the "Combat" team to finish their simultaneous fight. And Greyhawk was saved! Later on we did some trading, and I led my friends to the Gamingetc. booth which had True Dungeon token singles on sale as I'd noticed during my wandering earlier in the day. I managed to assemble the tokens necessary to get a Boots of Sure Footing later that night, which was great.

Thursday was also the day for me to go to the Gaymer Dinner with my roommate Mike, though sadly we couldn't stay long because the Cthulhu For President rally was taking place at the Embassy Suites about a half-hour after the dinner started. We got to touch base with some of the same people we met at last year's dinner at least, and meet some new people as well, such as nerfwright's husband who came along this year for his first Gen Con. :) Always great to see the fun spreading to more!

The rally was next, and was fun, though most onlookers agreed I got robbed in the spelling bee (I spelled "Ghast" perfectly but apparently Randy wanted "Ghasts" though that wasn't clear from the sentence!). The duct-tape-girl look-alike contest was definitely a highlight, with the phrase "and hilarity ensued" leaping inevitably to mind given all the male contestants who were involved (prizes were eventually given to the best of each gender).

That night, back in the hotel room, we played Settlers Cities & Knights with the "Oasis/Caravans" variant from the new set Mayfair had on sale this year, Traders & Barbarians. I thought it added a cool twist on the game myself, but man did it end up lengthening the game! After the other two left, Mike & I played a 2-player game of Cthulhu Munchkin incorporating the Epic rules, which we'd never played with at all before but I had a printout of just begging to be used.

Friday saw me getting up about 11, to make my shift volunteering at the ENnies booth with nerfwright, and I arrived in time to get instructions from Xath before she headed out. The shift went faster than I'd thought it would, with mine & nerfwright's conversation regularly getting interrupted by interested passers-by and others (which was not a bad thing since it gave us plenty of chances to "sell" the ceremony and kept us on our toes the whole time). After the shift, and passing on our instructions and information to C.W. Richardson who arrived to relieve us, went to eat lunch at Champp's Sports Bar in the mall with nerfwright, his husband, and (contact) and his wife. They're all good people.

After lunch headed back to the hotel to meet another couple of friends for a game of Munchkin, using the Epic rules with the original "D&D" set this time, which I ended up winning at the end. Then had a nap and after that headed downstairs for the ENnies. Unfortunately I only got to see the first half, but it was great to see Dave Arneson get his Lifetime Achievement award, and several of the other speeches were entertaining (Piratecat made quite an emcee). I was perhaps a tad underdressed, but there were plenty of others in the audience in jeans & t-shirt sort of clothes so I didn't feel hugely out of place.

Later that night, played more games with my usual gang of four up in our hotel room again, including a non-Epic game of original-set Munchkin.

Saturday was a quiet day for me, mostly spent shopping in the Exhibit Hall and wandering around it doing a really thorough once-over (which I didn't give it Thursday due to not having enough time). Picked up The Gamers: Dorkness Rising DVD at Paizo, and got a copy of Where the Deep Ones Are at the Atlas Games booth for my baby nephew- and managed to get it signed by both the author and the artist to boot!

Saturday night was Cassander's YMCA Dread game, which was my first time playing Dread. While I can't say it made me scared, I definitely felt the tension with every pull made after the first couple of hours, because the tower just kept getting more and more unstable and yet players kept managing to keep it from falling! It only fell with the very last pull of the game, when the Cowboy tried to swing out over the audience and knock Elton John off the crocodile so he'd stop upstaging us (yeah, you really had to be there I think ;) ). My big moment was in killing the GI after he transformed into a werewolf and started ripping into that same crocodile; sorry Xath, but I really did think you'd be starting on the audience after the reptile was dead...

After Dread, I went back to the hotel and was treated to watching the Catan game my friend were playing drag out for an hour as they clawed at each other for victory. After Catan we played a brief game of original Munchkin using the Epic rules, and for the first time the Demented Dungeons set (Munchkin 6, which was sold out on Sunday- glad I got my copy months ago).

Sunday was the day of leaving, always a downer after a Con full of fun, though I'm very glad I only had a three-hour drive home instead of an eleven-hour drive like my Kansas City friends!
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
Gencon 2008 Dealer Hall

Overall, my impression of the Dealer’s Hall for this Gencon was, frankly, not a very positive one in terms of the health of the RPG hobby. In a phrase folks – there were not many new products on sale – and not a whole lot of interesting OLD D20 products for sale either. My hoped for bounty of cheapie 3.5 WotC books at $5 a piece did not come to pass – at all. Hell, there were not even that many dealers selling old D20 3.x stock either. Very slim pickings, for the most part. The “industry”, such as it is, appears to be a very troubled one.

Picked up Dragons of Spring from the Marg Weis Productions booth for $5. I was under the impression they were not even supposed to be selling these books anymore. It was the only 3.5 D20 DL book I did not have – so it completed my collection. In contrast to previous years, M Weis’ staff did not seem that enthused about this show and it was a subdued sales pitch there. Not a happy vibe. But I’ll give em a break – because it wasn’t just them.

In fact, that was the vibe repeated time and time again at nearly every RPG sales booth in the dealer hall ( and there were less of those, too). The one exception out of this depressing 2008 dealer hall (well, depressing in terms of Core RPG sales) was Paizo. Because the story at Paizo was a very different one. And I have little doubt that experience was not lost upon others there.

Paizo, you see, had new stuff to sell. And racks of fairly new stuff too. Pathfinder this, that, and the other thing gleamed - and flew- off the shelves. Line-ups of attendees were queued to have their Dorkness Rising DVDs signed – and more than a few customers were queued up to buy Pathfinder Beta and the new Setting campaign book – together with all sorts of other odds and ends and new and older accessories. Paizo rolled the dice – and on the first round of combat at any rate - they’ve rolled a 20.

By Saturday, I watched Jason Bulhman relocate the last of the Pathfinder Beta books from one wall to the main shelf. They sold out quickly thereafter. That’s right: SOLD OUT. For the RPG sellers in the dealer hall – that was a pretty damned unique event. (The 4E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Book also sold out at WotC's booth).

Speaking of WotC...WotC’s booth seemed to be smaller this year and the overall impression was that they didn’t have much that was new to sell there, either. The Forgotten Realms campaign books was reportedly flying off the shelf there – but that was about it. I’m not sure if my discomfort with WotC’s booth this year was attributable to a new layout or if it was something else. The impression I got from their booth was one of their declined interest in the show. Not saying they, in fact, HAD a declined sense of interest - simply that that was the impression conveyed by their booth.

Apart from Paizo, there were some positives in the Dealer Hall though...just not in RPG land. Fantasy Flight Games was hopping and seemed to be bigger this year with tons of demos and new product fairly dripping off the shelves. Their booth was just plain mobbed and they did a brisk business throughout the entire show. Their new Battlestar Galactica boardgame was being played all over the convention hall. Their new WoW Adventure Boardgame and Red November mini boardgame was similarly getting play in the ballroom and all over hotel lobbies around the Con. FFG knows how to make money in the hobby games trade – and their Gencon 2008 booth was a clinic on just how to do it.

Days of Wonder was showing off some new expansion products for Memoir ’44 but their new similarly themed "monster game" expansion product for Battlelore was not for sale. It did not seem to trouble them much. By Sunday morning, Days of Wonder had sold out of almost all of their stock. Ticket to Ride in just about ever flavour, in every expansion – even the card game - was just plain sold out. All the new the new Memoir ’44 product was sold out -0 and almost all of the old products too. 6 expansion packs s for Battlelore remained on Sunday monring. They had sold out their booth of essentially everything they had brought to Gencon except for 4 Memoir ‘44 Duffel Bag carriers. And by the time I left the booth – they only had three of those. Making good products counts; having your booth as the first significant booth inside the east doors to the Dealer Hall probably didn’t hurt sales either.

Upper Deck was demonstrating the forthcoming WoW Collectible Miniatures Game to a lot of gamers. Interest appeared to be high and frustration that the product was not yet for sale was pretty clear. The price on the booster packs and core starter set appears to be in line with similar offerings from other companies – until you realize that there are only 4 minis in the starter and 3 in a booster. To be fair, the WoW minis are significantly larger in size than WotC’s minis line and the look great, but still – it seems a very steep price to pay for a CMG. I expect they will sell very well just the same. It’s WoW; and the WoW brand makes money – whether that’s at Blizzard, Upper Deck, or Fantasy Flight Games.

The electronic exhibits were noticeably fewer this year and space seemed available for electronic exhibitors who ultimately chose not to attend. Noticeably absent was Blizzard; no Wrath of the Lich King to try; no Starcraft II or Diablo3 trailers or demos to drool over. Nada. A big no show.

I expect that Leipzig’s big show later this week and PAX the following week forced a lot of electronic exhibitors to pick and choose. And some of them clearly chose to skip Gencon entirely.

On the plus side, Cryptic’s Champions Online was being aggressively demod with about a dozen hands-on displays that fairly hummed the whole show. TBH, I’m still a little iffy about the game; it’s no WoW Killer. But if City of Villains and City of Heroes is their target competition – they’ll do well enough.

Warhammer Online was being demoed as well and impressions were very favourable. I think this one will make some serious noise if the timing is right...except of course, with WoLK imminent and Warhammer Online delayed again, the timing ISN’T right. These guys may well have missed their chance to slay the WoW dragon. It looks like a strong game and is pitching to the WoW crowd with expanded PvP options. Art direction is about what you would expect from a Warhammer product so that will sit well with WoW players. We'll see. I still think these guys will be six months too late to market though.

Lastly, I do have to comment very positively about Dragon Age. BioWare’s booth was filled for nearly every session, with lengthy line-ups to see the closed door, rated “M” gameplay demo (/me roll eyes). Put bluntly, this is the best traditional non-mmo CRPG I have ever seen. This thing is going to sell – and sell very, very well. Keep an eye on this one.

CCG wise, it was all WoW CCG in terms of hype. Gamers of all ages and sizes appeared to be playing it and buying it too at card dealer booth. Magic:TG is still the schoolyard bully and I doubt that will ever change – but WoW CCG is, for the moment at least, stealing the spotlight in the CCG hobby.

Oh yes - Privateer Press was also humming most of the show. Their booth was large and very well attended. Given the nature of the products they sell, it was difficult to see them in use around the Con in the usual spots by the usual suspects - but that is a function of their product niche as much as anything else.

Favorite Dealer Hall Purchase: The aforementioned Memoir ’44 Duffel Bag.

Dealer Hall Steal of the Con: A carton of 96 unopened boosters of “DC Icons” for Hero Clix CMG, in the shrink. $20. My ten year old was bouncing up and down to get these when I got home this evening. The only reason he did not get more of them was a function of space in the car and my ability to cart same from the Dealer Hall to the car back at the Sheraton on Sunday afternoon.

Bone-Headed GenCon Retailer of the Year: Subway Sandwiches in the lobby of the Hyatt, who had to close at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night because they ran out of bread with which to make any sandwhiches. Not sure how much money they left on the table due to this mismanagment, but the owner of this shop needs to get his crap together. It's happened before in past years too - it's not like Gencon sneaks up on em as a surprise event.
 
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Shemeska

Adventurer
Bunch of random impressions and recollections:

Managed to snag a copy of both full-color Cthulhutech books from the Catalyst booth (they limited it to 25 books of each for sale per day). And Jesus are these books amazing pieces of work. Dripping with flavor, and top notch production values. I'm a little curious as to what's up with who they're currently being released by, since I know that Mongoose was selling a black and white version of the core book, but Catalyst is branded on the color one and the new release book as well. Either way, they're 2009 Ennies material.

Bucco di Beppo is a piece of heaven on earth. Why did I not discover them till last year?

The Paizo seminars I attended were pretty damn cool. The crowd was honestly buzzed and asking questions, and the Paizo guys were a bunch of class acts. Real engaging and played the audience well. Got to sit down and chat with Wesley and James after one of them, which was really cool. The cute chick in the Desnite costume was also a secondary high point of that event.

Passable crossdressers in chainmail bikinis are not fair. Ever. Ten levels of wrong.

For the first time in my life, I had someone ask me to sign a book (the Pathfinder campaign setting). Also was the first book I've had my name in. I was grinning like a fool the rest of that afternoon. Made my day. :)

Attended Wolfgang Baur's KQ seminar, and enjoyed it. Magic 8 ball says that a subscription and some queries are very likely in the near future.

Hunter: The Vigil is awesome. And courtesy of Amazon Prime, my copy should be here to read as of this afternoon. The developer chatter about magical bees was amusing during their seminar on the line.

WotC's booth in the dealer hall was smaller this year, and it seemed like a tomb in terms of buzz, crowd, and the general sense of apathy I got from the whole thing. Looked like they reused many of the same props and setup from last year (including bangs and marks from shipping). Not sure what was going on there, but it wasn't a positive sign. No buzz to speak of regarding the DDI either. Maybe I was missing something major, but it was like they wanted to pull a jedi mind trick about that whole thing.

ENnies were classy as always, and this year the big winners (Paizo and White Wolf) were well deserving for their wins. WotC picked up some equally well won ENnies for Star Wars saga edition as well, but they get major props from me for asking the authors of Expedition to Castle Greyhawk (all now with Paizo) up on stage when it picked up an award.

Being dubbed "That Orange Bastard" by one of the artists in the Art Show for a particularly off-key commission that required the full story behind it being told. That was amusing, and hopefully his hands down fall off after drawing that much citrus fruit in the background to a character portrait.
 

Longshadow

First Post
I attended only the Saturday session this year.

The Good:
Introduced my kids to Gencon. They thoroughly enjoyed it and have already started saving their allowances for next year’s show, as they went through the money their parents gave them rather quickly. The look on their faces as they finally grasped the size of the Dealer’s Room was priceless. My son, a Star Wars fanatic, snagged pictures of himself with pretty much every even halfway decent costumed attendee sporting Star Wars paraphernalia (all of whom were very gracious).

Got to see people I liked and who I only get to see at Gencon. I actually remembered to bring the camera this year so I could get pictures of said people to throw on the computer when I returned home.

Got some desired swag, and hopefully arranged for some more writing work.

The temperature -- I actually walked the few blocks from where we parked and wasn’t drenched in sweat as I have been in previous years. It was actually a pleasant little stroll.


The Bad:
Crowds. My god was it crowded. This had to have been the most crowded I have ever seen a Gencon, and I have made it to every one this century. Sheesh. Hope people’s sales reflected it.


The Ugly:
I had the single worst customer service experience that I have ever had in all the years I’ve been attending cons. Wizards of the Coast booth. Early Saturday afternoon, about 2 PM-ish. I strolled up to the counter ->

------

Me: “Excuse me…”

Booth Guy: <Looks through me, doesn’t respond>

Me: “Sir?”

Booth Guy: “Sigh” (No, he literally sighed. Seriously)

Booth Guy: “Can I help you?” (spoken in a tone of voice more appropriate for saying “Bite me and die screaming, maggot fan boy.”)

Me: “Can I get a copy of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and the DM’s Screen, please?” (trying to stay polite but inwardly taken aback)

Booth Guy: “Read my lips – SOLD. OUT. FOR. THE. CON. Got it? Next.” (spoken in loud and clipped tones, and if anything, managing even more hostility than his prior sentence)

Me: “…” (a little stunned at the level of rudeness)

Booth Guy: (noticing I’m still there) “Was I unclear, sir?”

Me: “No. Not at all. Good day.” (cold, but still polite as I walk off)

--------

I try to be a polite person and teach my children to be the same. I have a very low tolerance for direct and intentional rudeness (I'll tend to overlook the obviously unintentional rudeness...we're talking gamers, after all) . Maybe I’m just a little old-fashioned, but this was an astonishing display as the face of a company interacting with the public, at least in my opinion. Okay, the booth staff may have caught some grief during the Con from various rude attendees (such as all those people wearing those incredibly tacky “4th Edition Killed Gary” T-Shirts), but still, on what level was this at all professional or even excusable? If I hadn’t been so angry at the time, I would have had the presence of mind to get the name of the jackass, but sadly I didn’t. I’ll sure as hell remember his face and voice, though. I’ll continue to support my local FLGS and buy WOTC products through them, but I will NOT be giving my money directly to WOTC again. Period. Oh, I was pissed.


Regardless, the good outweighed the bad enough that the ’08 Gencon gets a thumbs upfrom me. The looks on my children’s faces as they saw the life-sized remote controlled R2-D2 moving around in the hall was enough to push Mr. “Too Damn Cool To Be Working A Booth” down the tally sheet far enough for a positive outcome. :)
 
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Grazzt

Demon Lord
WotC's booth in the dealer hall was smaller this year, and it seemed like a tomb in terms of buzz, crowd, and the general sense of apathy I got from the whole thing. Looked like they reused many of the same props and setup from last year (including bangs and marks from shipping). Not sure what was going on there, but it wasn't a positive sign. No buzz to speak of regarding the DDI either. Maybe I was missing something major, but it was like they wanted to pull a jedi mind trick about that whole thing.
I noticed this too. Couple that with the fact that they were jammed in the far back corner, and also the fact that I didn't see any 4e adverts really anywhere. Seemed odd considering that this is the year of the new edition.

Now- Champions Online...jeez...those guys advertised the hell outta that game (the stairs, the columns, the floors,the walls, etc)
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
As has become usual for me, I spent all of about 2 hours in the dealer hall (although those two hours were quite pleasant, having been spent in the company of Bretbo and Piratecat respectively and I picked up a couple products that I think I'll enjoy). The balance of my time was spent in the Hyatt and Embassy playing and running games that were universally awesome.

And of course there were all the normal social gatherings where I got to hang with my buds from ENW and CM and considerable quantities of alcohol got consumed. Then there was the TBR of course where, as usual, NOTHING HAPPENED.
 

Noumenon

First Post
This con was all about exposing myself to the 4E experience. First we went to Wizards' booth and played their four-round delve to get a free mini. It was okay, but it would be a lot cooler if they would work a cross-promotion deal with one of the companies that sells realistic dungeon kits with plastic water and walls, instead of drawing little arrows on dungeon tiles to show where the water was.

Later we found the RPGA D&D Delve (totally by accident; I just asked a bored DM sitting near the fence and he explained it all to me) and went through it like five times. It was great! Figuring out all the pregens on the fly was a blast. At home you'd never generate five characters and fit them into a campaign in less than a month. Now I've played a paladin, a cleric, a warlord, and figured out how I would play a ranger and a rogue.

I noticed that the Delve is more fun when the DM stresses how fast you have to go and how much time you have left, and when he calls you by your character name instead of player name (much easier to tell who's hurt, who you go after, etc). Did anyone manage to get through the Delve? We never got out of the second room and in one case didn't even get into the second room, being bottled up in the staircase the entire time. This was due to someone's bright idea that we all delay our initiative so that we could go around the table in order. Meaning the DM moved first and we couldn't maneuver or escape the staircase.

The delve really made me wish it were possible to have professional DM services. When one DM runs one adventure twenty times for different people, they just do great at running it fast and well. It also becomes worth the investment to have appropriate minis if you are charging for it and running it multiple times.

I just wish the Delve (which someone described as "video game D&D") had gone the full video game route and allowed you to "buy back in" at the end of the 45 minutes so you could actually see the final room. Did anyone manage to finish? Even with six vets I think it would be hard to move that fast.

I also did the Paint and Take. What a great charitable event. I only wanted to paint my one mini to represent my very first D&D character, and I got to do it without buying ten different paints and having to read a bunch of internet sites to find out how to make bright colors (paint it white underneath first) and make eyes (splotch on the white, then outline over it with the skin color).

The P&T definitely could have used more signs, however. Signs like "The wait is two hours and we close at 6 PM," instead of making the poor guy at the table repeat that to 100 people over the last two hours. Also a little "how to paint" handout would be nice. Like "to correct errors, either a) get a plain wet brush and soak the paint back up or b) paint over it." Or "to make a good mouth, blend chestnut color into your flesh color."

Anyway, this Con was all about cheap or free events provided by awesome volunteers, so thanks to the RPGA and the Paint & Take people!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I had the single worst customer service experience that I have ever had in all the years I’ve been attending cons. Wizards of the Coast booth. Early Saturday afternoon, about 2 PM-ish. I strolled up to the counter ->

------

Me: “Excuse me…”

Booth Guy: <Looks through me, doesn’t respond>

Me: “Sir?”

Booth Guy: “Sigh” (No, he literally sighed. Seriously)

Booth Guy: “Can I help you?” (spoken in a tone of voice more appropriate for saying “Bite me and die screaming, maggot fan boy.”)

Me: “Can I get a copy of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and the DM’s Screen, please?” (trying to stay polite but inwardly taken aback)

Booth Guy: “Read my lips – SOLD. OUT. FOR. THE. CON. Got it? Next.” (spoken in loud and clipped tones, and if anything, managing even more hostility than his prior sentence)

Me: “…” (a little stunned at the level of rudeness)

Booth Guy: (noticing I’m still there) “Was I unclear, sir?”

Me: “No. Not at all. Good day.” (cold, but still polite as I walk off)
Wow. That's appalling. I would've gone nuts there and then, right in his face. Did you get his name? Was he wearing a namebadge? Failing that, hopefully someone at WotC will read this and knows who was working the booth at 2pm Saturday.

[Edit - ah, reading the remainder of your post, I see you didn't get his name. That's a shame.]
 

Eridanis

Bard 7/Mod (ret) 10/Mgr 3
My GenCon experience this year was colored enhanced by the fact that I didn’t know I was going until a week beforehand. A change of employer this spring meant I had no vacation days available to use, so I was resigned to not going for the first time since 1999. But when I found out my brother had just happened to take Friday and Monday off, and my daughter was set to spend part of the weekend with my parents, and I started thinking that maybe I could leave work mid-afternoon Friday, drive the 12 hours to Indy, spend Saturday there, and come back Sunday. A few hours of planning and one thumb’s-up from the missus, and I was ready to roll!

The drive out Friday night was fun. I love to drive, and it was good to spend some one-on-one time with my brother. Unfortunately, the car he rented did not have an Aux jack, so instead of listening to an iPod full of Gamers with Jobs podcasts, we enjoyed picking up eight different baseball games on AM radio as we sped through the night in Pennsylvania and Ohio. We got in at 2:30am, sacked out for a few hours, and got down to the convention center around 8:15am to get our badges… only to find not a trace of a long line. We were in and out in five minutes. I think most people didn’t know that the registration opened at 7am, not 9am, so we were the lucky beneficiaries. Thank you, GenCon, for making it easy!

What to do with nearly two hours to kill before the dealer room opened? Well, we walked back to our car to drop off the book I didn’t need for a long line wait, and then we walked over to the new football stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, that was having its opening ceremony that morning. A sea of blue and white, the Colts’ team colors, spilled down the steps from the camera-packed podium. I’m happy for the city of Indianapolis, but the exterior of the stadium didn’t strike me as very interesting. It led me to think about the place of public architecture in American life in the early 21st century, and how we don’t seem to make Great Buildings any more; you’d not see an impressive building like the Empire State Building any more, but you still see expressions of greatness in our public coliseums, like Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, PNC Park, and the like. I tend to think of these places as exciting-looking, someplace that you know interesting things happen. I recall, as a boy, driving through Indianapolis on my way home from visiting my grandparents in St. Louis. I could see the RCA Dome on the Indy skyline, and say to myself, “Cool! Football games take place there!” The new stadium does not cry out as a place where interesting things happen; it mumbles something about being a converted warehouse, nothing special, and it’s just trying to blend in. Very sad for a brand new building that cost hundreds of millions of dollars! I’m sure it will be beautiful inside, with its retractable roof and side windows, but I was severely underwhelmed. Perhaps it will age well. We’ll certainly enjoy the extra space given by the demolished Dome if GenCon stays in Indy after 2010!

After mulling around, we headed back to the Con. After waiting on line to enter the dealer hall, and listening to the speech about “don’t run to the WotC booth or we’ll take away your badge,” I was disappointed to see many people running into the hall. I wish security has stood by their threat. I suggest that they have a tripwire installed for next time, so those not following directions will find themselves flat on their fac. Gamers don’t tend to have ranks in Find Traps. Hee hee.

We wandered the hall for two hours, and decamped to Steak n Shake for lunch (just in the nick of time; after sat down, the line to get in quickly grew). After lunch was Rel’s Sky Galleons of Mars game. Don’t let anyone fool you; Rel is an excellent game master and a very creative man. We had a lot of fun searching for the survivors of the RMS Titanic, lost in the polar region of Mars. I got to meet Pielorinho in person for the very first time, and saw that he’s a great gamer as well as a great guy. I was very happy to game with Kid Charlemagne again, as we’d played together in Wulf Ratbane’s Lazy Days D&D 3.5 campaign when I lived in Chicagoland. Piratecat is always a wonderful player, choosing a distinctive character voice to set the mood. Hypersmurf was in fine form, and knowing that he may not make it back to these shores again for a few years was a deciding factor in my going to this year’s GenCon. His battle cries filled the third floor of the Hyatt, and there was no denying the Gamers Were In The House. And it was good to game with my brother for the first time in years. Lots of fun all around.

The break before out next game was largely spent waiting on line at the Hyatt McDonalds. The Subway there was closed (“back in a hour – we ran out of bread.” !!!!!), so we had to make do with Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets. Meh.

The evening game was Piratecat running a Mutants and Masterminds game he’d outlined on the plane flight to Indy. As one would expect, it was fun, interesting, and full of action, comedy and drama. We spent the evening trying to figure out if the dastardly Professor Peril has truly had a change of heart, and was trying to become a Good Guy (Doctor Benjamin Factor – a.k.a. Benny Factor) or if it was just a Twisted Plot. Never having played MnM before, I had no fear, as PC is the undisputed master of making game rules transparent and letting everyone concentrate on having fun in the game. I got to meet Quartermoon, who is delightful and a great gamer. Coyote6 did a great job as Valiant, and Wizardru was a pleasure to meet and game with. I had met keryn (aka Sandie Law) before but had never had a chance to spend any time with her; for someone who was obviously tired and had to keep track of her young son (who could not have been better behaved), she more than held her own in the game, and was a lot of fun. My brother did a fine job as my character’s sidekick, with silly voice and all, and even got to be the McGuffin that drove the end of the plot. Hypersmurf stole the show though, and stunned Piratecat to silence with his plot-changing speech to the bad guy at the end of the game. Not something I’ve ever seen before, or expect to see again any time soon!

After that game wrapped up at 12:30am, it was back to our hotel room to page through new swag for a few minutes before our bodies turned off of their own volition. Sunday morning found me very groggy, but breakfast at Denny’s (alas, no Bob Evans nearby) helped perk me up a bit. We spent two more hours in the dealer hall, and would have spent more, but we had a twelve hour drive ahead of us; into the car and off on I-70 East to return to our ordinary lives. Got home around 12:45am, and now I’m at work, wondering what my name is and why I can’t go back to sleep.

I had a lot of fun, and I hope we can go again next year (all of us: wife and three kids). Time will tell!
 

Stormtower

First Post
GenCon was a marvelous experience for me. It was my first time DMing at GenCon (3rd GenCon overall) and I ran 7 slots of LFR (Core 1-3 Sense of Wonder in slot 1, 3, 5, and 7, plus Core 1-1 Inheritance in slot 9, 11, 13). I'm a little hoarse but otherwise it couldn't have gone any better. The LFR launch overall was extremely well received (at least, it seemed so to me) and the players were delighted to hear about player-driven guilds and adventuring companies, which is the new RPGA experiment to help change the culture from competitive into a more cooperative, shared experience. Thumbs up all around, and thanks to all my awesome players, fellow GMs and RPGA organizers.

My scanned/laminated dungeon tile maps received rave reviews by players, marshals and fellow DMs, and my status tracking system (cubes and rhinestones) was also well received by my tables. I got a really nice complement from Bruce Cordell of WotC on Sunday morning on my DM style, which really made my year. *blush* That made all the prep worth it, and then some.

Special thanks to the "Ice Pirate Lords" in Slot 13 on Sunday morning... if any of you are ENWorlders, that table rocked the house. Great RP, great tactics, just one of those totally in-the-zone experiences where all 6 players and myself were completely sucked into the narrative and the combats.

I agree with others who said the dealers' hall was somewhat lacklustre this year. Paizo was kickin' it with long lines and strong sales, smiles all around. The mood at the WotC booth was a bit somber, too... but that is understandable.

I will be coming back next year to run 7 or 8 more slots. Viva la GenCon!
 

I got to:

  • Try to conquer the galaxy and fail (Twilight Imperium)
  • Shoot down a plane and in turn have mine shot out from under me by having the front half of the plane chewed away (Crimson Skies)
  • defeat Darth Lucas and help create Chewthreepio, Wookiee/Cyborg with a Dewback body and light-saber horn. (SWSE)
  • Return to a forgotten Earth and get caught between two warring post-apoc factions only to die in a firefight at the last second (Dread)
  • Help other Hanna Barberra characters thwart a cross-dimensional attack by Elmer Fudd (Feng Shui)
  • Escape from a luxury spaceliner that had become infested with borg-like creatures (d20 Modern)
  • watch as my lovely and misunderstood Winter Wtich was defeated once again (4e)
  • Get blown up by dynamite while taking out zombie banditos (AFMBE)
  • Be a Lara Croft-esque adventurer fighting Nazi's on Jupiter (Spirit of the Century)
  • Fight the evil Clown Martians and rescue the survivors of the skyship RMS Titanic. (Sky Galleons of Mars -- d20 Modern)
  • Sit behind the curtain at the ENnies and run the slideshow
  • Attend the annual opening night CM/ENW party as well as SammichCon '08.
  • Average 4 hours of sleep a day.
  • Hang out with a heck of a lot of wonderful friends I get to see all too seldom.
 

Noumenon

First Post
My customer service experience at the WotC booth was that I told them "You should tell people who enjoyed your delve about the Delve upstairs, yours really whets the appetite for more" and he said, "Okay, I'll pass that on" and made it sound like it might be a good idea. So it was fine.
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
GenCon 2008 Auction Hall

One of the centrepiece events of any Gencon is the world’s largest game auction hall. The importance of this event to Gencon has arguably declined over the past ten years with the rise of eBay. At the same time, however, as the price level in the dealer room for new product has climbed, the real bargains at Gencon can only be found in the auction hall. I tend to spend a fair bit of time in the auction hall as a consequence.

This year, I spent more time in the auction hall than I do normally due to the conflicting schedules of most of the people I attended Gencon with. The end result is that I can give a pretty coherent report on what sold and for how much concerning several thousand items that went this year.

The entertainment value of the Auction, especially when Frank Mentzer is the auctioneer, is hard to beat if you are a hardcore gamer. Frank was entertaining as always, though he was a little subdued on his first night up when he started to mention Gary’s death. For gamers, EGG was an icon of our youth and the death of the Father of the Game that saddened us all. For Frank, Gary was much more: a close friend of 40+ years. He choked up and had to wipe away the tears. It was a bittersweet start to the collectible auction.

Generally speaking...

Original and 1st ed Collectible RPG Products: Prices remain stable to climbing for early D&D rpg products in “excellent” or better shape. Prices for 70’s and early 80s era products still in the shrink are insanely high, even with respect to fairly trivial TSR products. That said, a copy of the First edition Original D&D Brown box version, third printing, with an incomplete and heavily damaged box with books in, at best, “good to very good” shape went for $850 this year. If the product had been in excellent shape – it would easily have gone for five to ten times that amount.

Products signed by Gary are climbing in value, for obvious reasons. ‘Nuff said.

2E products: Prices are still relatively low here, except for a few gems. Overall, I thought the 2E era games were fewer in number for sale, and the prices were, if anything down.

3E products: There is no auction market for 3E era items yet. Wait another ten years please :)

Collectible Auction Highlights: Most of the serious money was extracted on Friday night. An excellent to near mint copy of Quest for the Fazzlewood went for only $750. It was in impressively good shape, and the price was light in view of previous sales. Lost Caverns of Tsojconth (not a typo) went for a lot more as I recall $1300 I think. I missed the sale price on Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first ever D&D module) which sold on Saturday night around 1:00 a.m..

An excellent B3 went for $1100. A “little light” to borrow a phrase from Frank Mentzer.

The stuff that absolutely blew me away was the price for 1st edition Dungeon Geomorphs, in the shrink. I remember buying and opening the products from these lines. If I had known that I could have picked up a second copy of each and stored ‘em for 27 years or so to get $350-$450 each for them...well...I would have bought a few more!

A copy of Bladerunner – the Boardgame in mint condition went for $850. In light of the rarity of the product (100 made, given as a promo at premiere of movie), I think that one was the steal of the auction. The game really did look like it had been stored in a suitcase full of pillows for 25 years. It was the heart and soul of “mint condition”. I can easily see how 25 years from now, that item could go for $20,000.00+ if it is stored in the same manner it has been for the past 25 years.

Other auction notes: The high water mark for Talisman was evidently set last year. With the release of the 4th edition by Black Industries last Gencon and the forthcoming re-release (a “5th Ed”) by FFG (with plastic figures) set for later this year, it’s time to sell your GW Talisman stuff on eBay while you can. Prices were down significantly from last year. Don’t get me wrong – they are still expensive as hell – but the downright nutty prices of $300 plus were nowhere in sight. A player’s copy of Talisman 3rd Ed in fair to good shape went for $80. Last year? That went for $225.

Auction Gripe: The length of the charity auction on Saturday night pushed my limits of patience. Two hours is one thing - four is another entirely. This format of the charity auction needs to be rethought.

My steal of the Auction: I got a copy of Eagle Games’ Age of Mythololgy, in the shrink, for $38. I was happy. I have not opened it yet – but yes, I plan to open it and play it. I prefer to play my games, thanks.
 
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Jack99

Adventurer
Wow. That's appalling. I would've gone nuts there and then, right in his face. Did you get his name? Was he wearing a namebadge? Failing that, hopefully someone at WotC will read this and knows who was working the booth at 2pm Saturday.

[Edit - ah, reading the remainder of your post, I see you didn't get his name. That's a shame.]
Three words that works with people like that: "Your superior, now!"
 

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