(Speaking of Primeval Thule… you still have one last chance to get in on the Kickstarter if you haven’t already. We can take pledges at sasquatchgamestudio.com, and we’ll count those with the support we raised during the actual Kickstarter campaign. Your “late backer” pledge gets you the same books, packages, or PDFs that similar pledges during the actual campaign received.)Anyway, for today’s blog, I thought I’d say a few words about things I saw at Gen Con. I didn’t go in 2012 or 2011, so it’s been a few years for me.
No Big Software OutfitsThroughout the late ‘90s and the early ‘00s, GenCon’s exhibit hall was increasingly taken over by big PC game and console game outfits. They brought in gigantic booths, deafening soundtracks, and huge screens showing off their games. This year, I didn’t see those guys in the dealer hall. I understand there were a couple who had rooms of their own elsewhere in the convention center. My guess is that most of these companies have decided to focus on other shows, like PAX. I’ll be honest: I don’t really miss them in the Gen Con exhibitor’s hall. I spent a lot of Gen Cons past shouting to make myself heard over super-loud digital games located in booths near the WotC or TSR booth where I was working.
RPGsWith Wizards of the Coast holding off on D&D Next, it was a relatively quiet year for RPGs at the show. Paizo had a great show with a whole slew of great new Pathfinder material and a gigantic ballroom dedicated to Pathfinder gaming; pretty clearly Pathfinder is THE game people are playing these days. The new Shadowrun Fifth Edition book looks FANTASTIC, and I really can’t wait to roll up a gunslinger adept or a street samurai and play. Pelgrane was sporting their excellent new 13th Age book. Finally, Monte Cook brought his new game Numenera to the show, and that is also a fine-looking book. I haven’t had a chance to play yet, but I look forward to trying it out.
While WotC didn’t bother with a big booth in the exhibitor’s hall this year, they did draw plenty of people to their D&D Next Q&A sessions and special events like their Thursday night Forgotten Realms celebration in the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom. I think a lot of RPG fans are waiting to see what Wizards is going to do with D&D Next, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do a huge relaunch of D&D at next year’s show.
Dave, Steve, and I ran game sessions of Primeval Thule at the show, so I had a chance to GM some Pathfinder Thule on Friday. I managed to kill one of our big-shot backers by tearing his ranger to pieces with a saber-tooth tiger. That's Sasquatch, service with a smile!
BoardgamesIf I didn’t know better, I would say that Gen Con is a boardgame show these days, with RPGs something of an afterthought. The sprawling booths for Mayfair, Fantasy Flight, Asmodee, and Catalyst were really the most prominent landmarks in the dealers’ hall. I had a chance to demo Flying Frog’s Fortune and Glory boardgame, checked out the Cthulhu Wars demo (boy, those game pieces are awesomely cool), played Monolith and Dungeon Roll, and bought the new Spyrium game from Asmodee. Asmodee is quickly becoming my favorite board game publisher, by the way; a few years ago I bought the excellent Mission: Red Planet game at Gen Con, and it’s one of my favorites.
Other Gen Con ObservationsCosplay is bigger than ever at Gen Con; I guess it’s just part of the con-going experience these days. The coolest outfits I saw belonged to a group of folks dressed as Steampunk-era Ghostbusters, complete with a colossal StayPuft Marshmallow Man. An important safety tip to Future Rich: Wear better shoes next year, dummy. I walked out my shoes on the first day of the show, blistered my feet badly, and had to spend the next three days limping around in severe pain. Finally, I was reminded that Gen Con is the place to be if you’re in the gaming biz; I saw and talked to scores of old friends, professional colleagues, and other interesting people during the show. My fellow Sasquatches and I are already talking about what we’re going to do for next year’s show.
Finally, I got a chance to play some Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures on Friday night, when I dropped in on the Battle for the Mediterranean tournament. I failed to bring tournament-legal fleets (that's what I get for not reading the whole event description), but I did have a chance to play a side game with longtime Forumini personality Weeds. My air-heavy Italian fleet was not particularly effective thanks to a twilight scenario, but my cleverly placed heavy shore battery caused Weeds no end of trouble, and late in the game I managed to vital the Nelson with a point-blank attack from the battleship Roma. Weeds defeated me in a real squeaker that came down to my last gunnery attack from the shore battery--it was a ton of fun!
That’s all for this time—I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!