We arrived Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Hampton Inn. Very nice hotel and right across the street from the convention center. We went into the convention center and got our badges without any issues. No lines and the volunteers were very friendly.
That night we had our first event, an RPG. We play a scenario using the Dark Heresy rule system. Now I'm a fan of the 40k universe and I know a little about it due to various games and books that my son reads. I also like somewhat 'crunchy' RPG systems and this has a good feel to it. The guys we played with were pretty good and so was the GM. We used pre-made characters and I got stuck with one I really didn't enjoy nor could get into to gameplay. Tony, didn't know much about this universe nor was crazy about the system so I think I enjoyed it more than him.
The next day we checked out the exhibit hall. While a nice size it's a fraction of what's a GenCon which is good and bad. Bad in that there is less to see, good in that it isn't as overwhelming nor as crowded. We could demo and talk to any vendor with ease.
We signed up for a World of Warcraft TCG beginners tournament and ended up being the only two. So we ended up demoing a couple games with the Cryptozoic people instead. We played the Penny Arcade Deck Building Game (which we've played before) and Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullfyre. The game play of Penny Arcade is fun but the theme is rather dull. We asked about their new WoW deck building game and they said it uses some of the same mechanics so I'm looking forward to checking that out. The other game was really unique in its game play and we really liked it. It moved quick and was fun. But it is not family friendly. Very course language in the rulebook and the they go for the shock factor on the cards in title and art. It's something that would be fun with a group of guys and I hope they use that mechanic in other games.
We had our three hour painting class that afternoon. The focus of the class was to get your model ready for the table as quick as possible. It was somewhat of a speed painting type class. It's exactly what I was looking for and every useful. In the span of three hours we took one model from priming to finish. Knowing the techniques and doing it on my own, I could do it in way less time now. The instructor said he can usually finish one in 30 minutes. We went over color choices, basecoating, washing, highlighting and brush techniques. What I was so impressed with is that this guy's job is a commissioned miniatures painter and he's all about cheap and easy. Buy a decent red sable brush, use decent paint (Citadel, Reaper, P3, etc) and you're off. No fancy palettes needed, no expensive washes or additives. In fact we never watered down our paint. We took it straight out of the pot and used Reaper wash right out of the bottle for washing. For thinning paint he said use the good ole Future floor polish. Anything else is a waste of money. He said if you just want painted models to play the game, there's no need to spend so many hours painting for that. If you are painting for competition, well that's a different story. Next year he said he was going to do an intermediate class and I'll want to take it. He gave us his contact info, and we ran into him several time during the show and he was happy to answer our follow up questions.
That night Tony and I discovered the CABs Board Room. CABs is a local gaming club that sponsors a very large hall for checking out and playing games. For $20, anytime during the show you can check out one of their 1200 games. That $20 also includes a free game that is determined randomly, but no game is less than $20. I ended up with Pantheon and Tony got Sylla. Also, several times during the day, if you have a game checked out, you get entered for a drawing for another game and from that Tony won Nitro Dice.
The great thing about the board room is being able to try so many games and talk with other gamers about their likes and dislikes. I had as much fun socializing with the people in there as I did playing. In fact, Friday night we ran across a couple guys that wanted to play 7 Wonders and we ended up chatting and play other games (Eminent Domain) until 3am. It was a lot fun.
On Friday, we had our Achievement Unlocked Warmachine/Tournament. There were 10/12 players and it was very laid back. It wasn't about winning or losing but about grabbing achievement points. I learned so much during those games. In fact, I played one guy who is mainly a Menite player and during our game, every move he told me how I should use my guys. This guy knew what he was talking about because he went on to win 3 tournaments that weekend. He was a genius. In the 35pt tourny he was finishing guys off in two rounds. There were no slouch players (ok, there was Tony and I). I did learn, I'll leave the big tournys to the big boys. The casual and achievement tournaments are more my speed.
Saturday we went to a game design class led the guy who designed Britannia. It was pretty interesting but he did more to discourage designing games than really charge you up. He says it requires a lot of work and a lot luck.
During the day we kept checking on the Warmachine tournaments. Tony and I made a couple friends and we enjoyed talking with them about the game. The highlight of all the demos I did was that afternoon.
We got to try Catalyst Labs new game, Leviathans. This game is set in an alternate universe where Tesla invented a device that could remove mass from materials. In the early 1900s, these devices were put aboard ships and now you have ships that fly. The models use a hex based system on a board and games are played through scenarios. It is a very tactical game where movement and positioning is critical. Players take alternating turns moving and shooting which means very little downtime. Combat is done through rolling 12 sided die, but the die are designed to have varying probabilities. For example, a 4 sided die is done by the 12 sided die have 1-4 printed 3 times over the twelves sides, a d6 is done by 1-6 being on the die twice, etc. When you do combat short range gives you higher valued dice, having crew members to help aim adds another die, etc. As you take damage you lose things like steering, movement, your crew, etc. While it sounds confusing, everything you need to know is on the ships card and the rules are pretty straight forward. It was on sale at the show for the first time and they only had 50 copies. They sold out in under 45 minutes. The production run starts in August and it's one I'll keep an eye on. Here are some pics of the core set and some of the ships (link)
Saturday night, it was back to the board room. And we got a nice surprise at 9pm. They had tons of games left over from the giveaway so they went around the room giving out more games so Tony and I each got another. As a result of that room, I got two free games and Tony got three. Well worth the price.
Sunday, we did a little shopping and we got on the road.
Well so much for not being wordy, but I can treat this as a diary entry and look back on it in the future. :-)
I had loads of fun and plan on taking the whole family next year.