Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gencon 2010, Where Dreams Come True, Provided You Dream Of The Circus

Gencon is, without a doubt, the "best four days of gaming" as it is advertised. The thing that they never seem to advertise, though, is that is also the best four days of people watching. It truly is the ultimate place to see shit that you simply cannot explain; shit that simply defies reason or sanity. In fact, I am truly convinced that the concept of the Wandering Monster was developed by someone sitting in a chair at Gencon, watching the freaks walk by in various states of decrepitude or cosplay madness.

The terrible cosplaying is only the beginning, too, as there is also the smell of the gamer funk to contend with. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Gencon smells like a torrent of unwiped asshole and dirty feet. The smell isn't unbearable, but this year I was unlucky enough to sit directly next to a guy who, to quote Slick Rick, "Don't know the meanin' of water nor soap." This guy was foul, and I don't mean slightly uncouth, but rather totally and irrevocably vile to a degree I have only once experienced, and that was when I had to help a friend drag a three day old dead Labrador out of a basement where he died. Holy Christ above, this guy was absolutely repugnant in every conceivable way.

 In short, Gencon is to many people a venue for drawing attention to themselves where to others it is simply a gamer's heaven. I'll never understand the former, but for the latter, I proudly claim that Gencon is as close to a gamer's paradise as one can envision.

I left on Saturday morning at 7:00A and got to Indianapolis at about 8:30A, having determined that my Eclipse GT Turbo really can do 130 on the ground, and I parked at the Circle Center Mall parking garage for the enviable rate of 15$ a day. After a short, yet brisk, jaunt to the Convention center while sucking down several Camel Turkish Royals, I saw an old buddy waiting outside puffing on a Cowboy Killer and chatted him up until about 9:00A, at which point I went to the Will Call line to get my badge and event ticket.

Luckily there was no line and I walked right up to a gentleman who had more metal all up in his grill than my wife's Cadillac to get my stuff. Ironically, he radioed to a buddy that "This guy in the white shirt here is causing trouble", to which I retorted, "Dude, do you know me or something?" It was all gravy from that point on; within one minute I was awash in a sea of gamer funk and obese cosplay chicks wearing crop-topped shirts that not only provided a shot of their muffin top, you could see the whole fucking pan.

Then there's the girls wearing short Daisy Dukes and Sailor Moon skirts; these chicks really need to rethink their wardrobes. I mean, if you're a hottie, that's all good, but if you're two hundred fifty pounds and five feet tall, please, don't do it. Nobody thinks it's hot; we're thinking that the craters in the back of your legs may actually be both where Waldo is and what Willis was talking about.

I've decided that I am having a T-shirt made for Gencon next year that will include a photo of an overweight Cosplay chick superimposed over the Nike Swoosh with the phrase "Don't Do It". Please don't read this to mean that I have anything against overweight people, this isn't the case. Many of my best friends, male and female, are big folks. All I'm saying is that if you are a big person, it's not a good idea to wear what amounts to a technicolor bikini while walking around at a venue with more than 25,000 people. Just not a good idea.

Anyhow, aside from the incredibly poor wardrobe decisions and basic lack of hygiene, the con was a great time again this year. I played very poorly in a couple of Heroscape tournaments and dropped out of both early, allowing me the opportunity to walk the show, meet friends, demo games, and talk shop. For the record, I want to point out that if you ever wanted to get involved in an event, Heroscape is the one to get involved in.

Unlike the other Wizards of the Coast games that are run ridiculously poorly by Pastimes, Heroscape is a fan-based, fan-run event series. A guy named Mark Pruitt, one of the most selfless and genuinely good people I have ever met, was the main guy who was organizing this year's event, and not surprisingly, it was run better and more efficiently than Pastimes' sorry bitch asses could've ever hoped or dreamed of doing. That being said, right next door was another event run by yet another incredibly good dude, Jerry Hawthorne.

The event was for Summoner Wars, which I didn't even know had a tournament scene, but apparently does indeed as there were a great many players there, decks ready to, as another friend put it, "Summon Stabbity Death". There were all kinds of events going on in Hall F, where I was at this point, such as Star Wars Miniatures, Classic Battletech, Axis and Allies: War at Sea, and a million other games. Thankfully, Heroscapers are, by and large, very clean and well groomed folks so there really was no funk going on while I was there.  Unfortunately, we Heroscapers were not alone.

Half of the entire hall was made up of M:TG folks which, as usual, were hands-down the smelliest section in the hall. I walked the aisles and saw that while there were only a few people there clearly wearing 3-day old clothes, cosplay, or Goth gear, the vast majority of rows smelled of body mold and well-used flip flops.

It never ceases to amaze me how gamers truly stand firm by their stereotypes more than any other stereotyped group. That being said, there were a shitload of normal looking, well adjusted, clean folks but as in all things, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the casual observer would only be able to ask one question: "What the fuck were they thinking???"

Moving on, I should tell you about some of the cool new stuff out there in the Gaming world. First, FFG/AEG has started selling their new City of Thieves, and it looks incredibly good. The minis are superb, and if you were lucky enough to buy it at Gencon, you would've gotten the full monty package including expertly painted miniatures.

The word is that they are going to sell the game en masse with unpainted minis with a separate package available with the painted minis. C'mon, Alderac, don't make the same mistake as last year with The Adventurers; charge 20$ more and sell the game with the painted stuff. Anyhow, their booth was loaded with folks demoing a variety of games and I got to sit and play some Rush N' Crush, which is still one of my favorites. Anyone foolish enough to take a pass on AEG as a company is making a foolish, foolish mistake. They fucking rock, and even with the faux pas of selling games with unpainted miniatures and then selling them separately, the company makes exceptionally fun and engaging games and it would be a pinnacle error to discount them as a good company, because they truly kick ass.

Next, I went over to Eagle games to thank Keith Blume for the review copy of Defenders of the Realm (review to be written this week), but he was so busy talking to people and selling games I didn't want to interrupt. He was wearing a suit and tie, being arguably the best dressed man at the Con. Just so you know, Defenders of the Realm is fucking awesome. It is a mix of Pandemic, Castle Panic, and Runebound in equal bits, in my opinion. If you read this before heading to the Con, or even while waiting for an event, get over there and buy it. It's one of the best games of 2010, without a doubt.

I then cruised over to the Plaid Hat games booth to hook up with my buddy Chad who was working the booth for Colby as well as to pay my respects to the man himself, Mr. Plaid Hat. The booth was small and when I went there, there was a line waiting to demo it.

In fact, Colby sold 4 full-monty sets of Summoner Wars right there while I was standing and watching. The man's a phenom; he went from a simple freelance designer working for Hasbro to a veritable Goliath of the gaming industry overnight. What an American Dream story. As I'm tired of my kid beating my ass at Summoner Wars, I picked up the Elf/Goblin starter set as well as the new battle board and the two new Expansions, Vanguards and the Fallen Kingdom. The art is outstanding on the expansions, but the hard on was really caused by the battle board. What a masterpiece! This thing easily surpasses most of the huge game companies in both layout and quality, and it is well worth the fifteen bones he's asking for it. If you're a fan of Summoner Wars, I suggest you pick one up as it's far superior to the paper mat and is actually quite portable, surprisingly. It folds down to an area that's just larger than the starter box sizes, meaning that in its totality the board and a starter are roughly the size of a child's shoebox. Epic Win, Colby and Company.

I then got a text from a buddy from Louisville, Adam, who was at the Fantasy Flight Games booth playing the Game Of Thrones with some random douchebag. As I walked up, the guy shot me a shitty look and said something nasty like, "Excuse me, we're playing here" at which point my first thought was to smash the jizzguzzler hard in the face, but seeing as Adam is such a nice guy and I really didn't want to pay a bail, I figured I'd just ignore the cockswiller. Knowing that the guy hasn't seen a vagina since he looked up and saw his mother's at birth was consolation enough; if I spent every night in my parent's basement fucking my fist while watching "furries" I'd be cranky too, I suppose. Anyhow, A Game of Thrones looked to be a very interesting game, but as I didn't want Adam to have to bear the brunt of this fuktard if I kept talking to him, I said my goodbyes and trotted off.

It was at this point that I had found my prey: Flamboyant Hat Guy. I should explain: at very event I attend, I try to seek out the most obnoxious, ridiculous hat that I can find to make the guy famous. Unfortunately, this year had so many choices it was tough to decide, but this one stood out as the most outlandish shit I have ever seen at an event. The man was dressed in a nice-ish suit, with his face painted Heinz ketchup red, and was wearing a two foot tall french fry hat. Epic is the only word that came to mind. I tried to get a frontal photo but I was laughing so hard I couldn't keep the camera still so I only managed to get a photo from 45 degrees behind him. To the man with the French Fry Hat, I commend you. Well played, sir. Well played.

I cruised over to the Wizkids booth to check out their Star Trek Clix game, which I found wasn't even there, but I did find one of the most bad-ass playmaps in the history of mankind. This map was set up with a multitude of heroes and villains struggling for supremacy, and it was awesome. I'm not a Wiz Kids fan, and although I do very much like their miniatures, I just don't like the games they produce. I was, at one point, a fan of Star Wars Pocketmodels, but that wore thin very quickly and luckily I only dumped forty or fifty smackerels on it, so it wasn't a terrible loss. As you can see from the image, they are quite a creative lot, so I'll be watching to see how the Star Trek game plays out.

After patrolling the gaming areas, I decided to ring a friend from the Eye of the Vortex website, a site I syndicate articles on and was dubbed a "Staff Writer and Editor". The man is Shea Reinke, VP of Marketing for the website, and he responded that he was out front of the convention center by the Hot Dog stand. I snuck up on him as he was smoking a roll-your-own Bugler and took a photo of him standing there looking as if he was lost. We met up, talked some shop, and then walked around looking for some trouble to get into. I decided that it was now time to find the Epic Fail Costume of the con, and again, there were so many choices that it was nigh impossible to decide.

I eventually settled upon Epic Fail Wonder Woman because while the costume was actually pretty good, the person wearing it was not. She looked more like "Wonder Why The Hell I Wore This Woman" or maybe even "Lynda Carter After 20 Years Of Binge Drinking". Certain characters are to be held to a higher standard, and Wonder Woman is one of them. In fact, my wife was Wonder Woman for Hallow'een some years ago and she is amazingly hot, so with that image of her burned eternally into my subconscious masturbational fantasies, I simply could not allow this to stand unrequited. Here, my friends, is Epic Fail Costume of Gencon 2010, Wonder Woman.

Shea and I then went into a random gaming room as the dealer hall had been closed, and we found ourselves at the Mayday Games room. There were about fifty Crokinole boards sitting around and when Shea asked me what the hell it was about, a random guy turned around and invited us to join he and his buddy for a game. I'd never played before, so after a short explanation we got right into it. It's a cross between Carrom and Billiards with a touch of Pitchcar, and I have to say that when I ever get a hundred dollars again, I'm buying one of these. They are expertly crafted pieces of wooden gaming goodness and I would highly, highly recommend it to anyone who likes dexterity games. It's phenomenal.

(Editor's Note: Please see THIS before purchasing a Mayday Crokinole board:
Mayday Crokinole Board Review (TLDR: Piece of shit)
How I found out they shipped me a defective board from another buyer )

As we walked past the overpriced food court, we saw a city built of old CCG cards as well as a variety of other cards such as baseball cards and whatnot. It was really neat, to be honest, and at 10:30P on Saturday people can throw change at the city to Godzilla it to oblivion. Not surprisingly, all the chicks were sitting on the floor doing the building and architecture. I've always thought that women were better suited to creation than men, and not only because of the fact that women bear a uterus, but because they're far less prone to a destructive nature than men. Well, most of them, anyhow.

After running through one more time, we strolled to Stake and Shake for some grub. I have often joked that Steak and Shake was named such because after you eat the steak, you're on the shitter shaking your head and wondering what possessed you to defile your body with such horrible food. I had not eaten anything all day, so at this point anything would do. Shanae Gaye was our server, and for the second year in a row I was impressed with her ability to keep your glass full and stomach happy.

There were cops all over the place, eating dinner presumably, and I noticed that they all carried Glock forty caliber pistols. While I am not a huge Glock fan, I am a huge fan of the forty caliber round, so I was happy to know that if Indianapolis' finest actually manage to hit an absconder of the law, they will absolutely bust the target's shit loose in no uncertain terms. Indianapolis Police 1, Lawbreakers 0.

Finally, Shea and I went to a hotel to the most well-guarded secret of Gencon, the xxxxxx room. This room is a Babylon of game designers, gameheads, and hardcore game enthusiasts, and more than a few game ideas have spawned from this, with some even becoming exceptional products. A great many of my dearest friends all get a very lush, very expensive couple of adjacent rooms and completely take it over, with up to 20 people sharing the rooms and sleeping wherever floor space exists.

The result is that they have their own gaming hall and it reduces the price of the entire week's lodging cost to under two hundred dollars. I met up with a couple of very good friends, and it was at this point that the chaos ensued. I'm not entirely sure that Shea was prepared, but when you're with me, what the hell could you expect?

I should go ahead and tell you the backstory to this so that it has the full effect. Last year I stayed in this fabled room for the first time, and in a rush to leave due to drama at home I had forgotten my single most favorite article of clothing, my "Keep Austin Wierd" shirt. One of my dearest friends was kind enough to find and keep it safe for me. Over this last year since Gencon '09 he has jokingly used it to ransom and blackmail me, and even though I'd been in his town several times and met with him, he kept "forgetting" to return it to me.

He had indicated that he used it as a "masturbational soup catcher", to wipe his soiled ass with it, and as all manner of rag to wipe up vomit and other vile substances. About two months ago he sent my group of friends a series of photos of him wearing it, and I should point out that I wear a men's large and he wears a men's 5XL. It may be the single funniest thing I have ever seen, and only this guy could possibly pull off the gag with such precision. We all laughed about it for the past few months and he even managed to start a faux auction to get people to bid on it since the shirt has such a history.

He was the first person I saw when I got to the room, and after giving him a great big hug he went back to his own room and brought the shirt up to me, but not in his hand. He was fucking WEARING IT. Colossal win, buddy. In the process of posing with me for a photo he managed to knock over and potentially destroy a lamp as well as pour a just opened beer on another guy in the room. What an amazing end to the story of the fabled Gencon Ransom Shirt. After the laughter in the room died down we managed to talk for a while and I got caught up with many of my friends. It was an amazing night, and to top it off his son managed to impress me enough to start an entire new category for my future Gencon reports: Most Disturbing Item Purchased At Gencon. As you can see below, it's a baby weilding a bloody knife and a mutilated teddy bear. It really just doesn't get any better than that!

In the end, Gencon is not the best four days of gaming because of the games alone, it's because of the friends, the freakshow, and the awesome memories that are made there. If you ever have a hankering to get out of town and spend an ungodly amount of money doing something that you will absolutely remember until the last moment of your life, get the fuck to Gencon. Don't wait, don't hesitate, don't hem and haw. Just do it. Please, though, if you're that person that walks out of the house in a costume that's clearly 10 sizes too small so that your enormous stomach sags over the front of the skirt so that you look like you're wearing a Sailor Moon halter top and a flesh-colored skirt, don't fucking do it. If you do, you may end up here, on my blog, for 10,000 people to laugh at you forever.

What Makes Gencon The Ultimate Gaming Mecca:
- Get to see friends you rarely get to
- Meet new people that may end up as lifelong friendships
- See and play the best new games on the market
- Laugh at people who really should've known better

Why Gencon Pisses Me Off, Year After Year:
- $52.00 for a one-day ticket is some fucking bullshit
- The ventilation is such that you can actually smell both shit and BO from 600 feet away
- While sneaking a flask of bourbon is totally simple to do, they do not sell beer or spirits

Just go. If you don't, you're missing out.

5/5 Stars

More of the Photos Of Gencon 2010...

Look in the center of the image; there's the runner up for Flamboyant Hat Guy. He was apparently cosplaying as Pope Tosser Notlaidus I.

Herein lies the City of Theives, at the Fantasy Flight game room.

This dude definately fits the bill for Darth Maul.  This was easily the best costume I saw.

This guy was BLOWING OUT an electric fiddle.  Great Irishy folk music.

Looks like Mario was heading for the Astroglide booth to stock up; with a threesome with Peach and Daisy slated for later, he's probably going to need some. Show them bitches some Mushroom power, bro!

Catalyst is rocking Gencon with a seven foot tall Mech! WIN!

Zev at Z-Man games was too busy at the booth so I didn't stop to talk like I otherwise would've liked to, but I have to say...watching him for five minutes while he was peddling his wares was a spectacle to behold.  The man is a true hustler and he busted his ass all show long.  Long Live Z-Man!

I'm considering suing these guys for infringement on my life....

This is a replica, complete with minis, of the Millenium Falcon's board game. Definately let the Wookiee win.

Tell me this isn't a CLASSIC photo.  This guy was clearly, and quite obviously, staring at this chick's tits.  That's not the funny part. The funny part is that he has his hands in the perfect configuration to creep her out and indicate to all that he may well be a stalker! By the way, this is one hell of a gaming table!

Here's the Game of Thrones match that had Adam laughing.  I'm sure those flip flops smell like a bed of roses, eh....

The Summoner Wars tournament was awesome.  It was great to see Plaid Hat getting some love.

No bullshit, no photoshop; this vending machine in the lobby of the Circle Center Mall, just outside of the elevators, was having a moment.  It literally had the Blue Screen of Death.  Yeah, Windows RAWKS!

At first I though this might be the best cosplay pick-up line at the con, but then I realized that this guy is actually likely a serial killer looking to lure young elves into the basement of....

...the Elf Park!

Thanks for reading!


Wargamer204 said...

The french fry hat guy was going as Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force on Cartoon Network. What no photos of the historical miniatures games in rooms 201 to 204?!?

=+=SuperflyTNT=+= said...

Sorry bro, I had 1 day to hit it all and had 4 people to meet for 'business'...

I do have some other photos that I will append to the article. There were some truly bad-ass historical wargames there, though. Righteous stuff, brother.

StephenAvery said...

I agree- just go. GrnCon is incredibly interesting with lots to see and do. But...

Gencon is the best four days in gaming BUSINESS
There are more meetings, sales, private parties, protoype pitching, and smoozing than actual gaming.
The board gaming at Origins was better. Other areas like minis and CCGS were stronger at Gencon though.

-Clear rum in water bottles is easier than discretely sipping burbon. Plus you feel more Pirate-y

-Cadwallion City of Theives ROCKS. It is a very simple game that will see lots of gameplay.

-Zman is an amazing individual and he has surrounded himself with awesome people. He is such a positive and fresh force in gaming. If you've not checked out Magical Athelete GET IT IMMEDIATELY. His knack for finding great games is uncanny.

-Kieth and Sean from Eagle games Eagle Games are two of my favorite people to visit. Therefore I make it prority to harass them whenever I can. The've endured a shitstorm of bad press and have weathered it with grace.

-Those loosers at plaid hat didn't hang with me at all choosing instead to go to a private party.
...But I'm not bitter.
not even a little.
not me.
Despite this grevious smudge to my personal honor, I think they rock and am delighted to hear that popularity for summoner wars is stonger than ever.

That being said, It astonishes me that we were apparently at the same places at the same times.

Steve"Slightly out of Phase"Avery

Greyweather said...

"... at the Fantasy Flight Games booth playing the Game Of Thrones with some random douchebag. As I walked up, the guy shot me a shitty look and said something nasty like, "Excuse me, we're playing here""

Sounds like a Lannister to me.

=+=SuperflyTNT=+= said...

Mr. Avery, it is indeed odd. If I knew what you looked like I might have recognized you and bothered you. For future reference, I'm the guy getting hugged by the big guy in the third to last picture in the review (the Guinness hat) as well as in the second photo from the top, on the bottom left, getting MERC'ED at Heroscape, as usual. I so wish I was better at it, but I'm not.

I must be the weirdest guy on the planet...I'm incredibly competitive, ex footballer, ex rugger...but when it comes to boardgames I don't really mind losing. Weird.

StephenAvery said...

I'm 6'2" 240lbs and look lke Dan Marino on a good day and Vince Gill on a bad day.

Pix of me with FFG loot:

Pic of me getting buzzy at Frank's Swamp

Of course you could be standing next to your twin and never see them. There are times when the crowds got pretty tight.