Aug 18, 2011

Gen Con: Aftermath - 3.5 Days of Gaming

This year, for the second year in a row, I got to attend the Mac Daddy of gaming conventions, Gen Con. If you're not familiar with this legendary convention, you certainly owe it to yourself to do some research, and then, hopefully, plan to attend next year's gathering.

This year, due to some real life issues, I wasn't able to head out early for the con. It's typical for folks to start arriving Wed afternoon (or earlier in some cases) even though the convention doesn't start till Thursday. In my case, I didn't arrive until Thur night, having missed most of the first day.

I was lucky enough to get over to the convention with plenty of time to get my badge and walk around the con. The Dealer's Room was closed at that time, but everything else was in full gear. That first night I even ended up playing one of the Dungeon Delve scenarios in the Dungeons and Dragons area of the con.

Personally, I think the Dungeon Delve is a great way to sample 4e at a con. It has a very basic structure wherein you get to chose a pre-gen character and have a basic story which includes a lot of "kill anything that moves". The goal is to get through 2 encounters in the one hour time limit. For my first Delve this year, my team had no problem.

Teams are 5-6 players and it's a fun way to meet people at the con. I met a number of people over the Delve's I've played in, and look forward to seeing them again next year.

Additionally, there's some neat features to the Delve where you earn points each time you play--points you can redeem for items (like bonuses to armor and weapons) that you can use the next time you play the Delve, or non scenario items like limited edition miniatures or Fortune Cards for your home games.

Lastly, there are a number of scenarios that are all part of the Delve, so you can replay multiple times, each time encountering different areas and creatures.

I ended up playing the Delve only twice. I tried several other times, but there seemed to be issues with not enough DMs on hand for all the available people. I had so much fun this year (and previously) that I'm making it a goal to come back to GenCon next year and serve as a DM for the Delve.

The other big part of the convention is the Dealer's Room. To call it a Dealer's Room isn't really doing it justice. Image a huge mall, but instead of stores like Macy's and Lord and Taylor, it's WotC and Paizo, while places like Lids and Williams Sonoma are replaced with Chessex, FFG, and Mayfair Games. Typically, all the major publishers are there, as are a lot of artists, not to mention card dealers, miniature companies, replica weapons, costumers and video dealers to round out the selection.

Visiting the dealers room is always an under taking, and you need a plan. If you just walk around willy-nilly, (and you're like me) you'll quickly loose your bearings and start heading in circles. I typically pick a start point and walk up and down each isle. After I've made a first pass, I then focus on the dealer's I'm most interested in. This year, I was looking to pick up a number of miniatures, and maybe a pre-printed map or two. On top of that, I was also planning to stop at the Dwarven Forge booth and pick up my first set.

One of the other great things about Gen Con is getting to hang out with folks you don't regularly see and bond over a few beers, and a few games. This year some of the folks I was planning on attending the con with couldn't make it, but I was able to reconnect with a few buddies I've seen at past cons. We ended up having some drinks, catching up, and playing the new Wiz Kids game, Quarriors.

Overall it was a great time. The energy of so many people just having pure fun, whether it's playing D&D or MTG, or dressing up in costume, or any one of a hundred different activities at the Con is something to cherish all year long. I can't wait to go back next year!