Friday, August 24, 2012

GenCon 2012 Report Card


I have to say that for the most part, this was the best GenCon I have ever attended. I attribute that to my own level of involvement with things, and gamers just being awesome this year. As usual, I like to do a blow by blow review of each event in which I participated. So without further delay, here goes...


Wednesday Night
Death Angel
Played this in the bar with some guys from Fantasy Flight. They were practicing for demos and needed victims. I had fun. Its a cooperative card game where the players are Space  Marines, clearing out a ship from an alien infestation. I am NOT a fan of WH40K, I find its particular brand of GrimDark(TM) to be uninspiring. This card game was a lot of fun. I would also note that while I call it a card game, it plays out more like a board game, in which the board is made up dynamically using the cards. Check it out.

Thursday -
(RPG1234076) M.O.D.O.K.'s 11 - Marvel Heroic RPG
I ended up filling in as GM on this session for Dave Chalker, who had the unfortunate experience of the airline playing hide and seek with his luggage. Dave did a great job writing this adventure, as I was able to read it and run what I think was a pretty good game on short notice. The players were fantastic, and were all new to the system, but learned quickly and rolled right into the themes and story presented. I had a great time, and I think players did too.
Grade: A-

(SEM1229342) GM Workshop: GM'ing 101
This was my first year doing specific topics for the GMs Workshop. In the past, I have led this workshop as an open discussion, guided through topics by me as a lecturer/moderator. Its always based heavily on questions and comments from the audience. This crowd was great, and eager. Many of them were not first time or new GMs but rather people looking to improve as GMs, by looking with fresh eyes at the basics and fundamentals. A lot of great questions and interactions on this one. I think the attendees had a good time, but I would of course have to defer to them for their own opinions on it.
Grade: A

(SEM1229333) GM Workshop
Another of my seminars, this one open ended. We did spend a good bit of time covering scene editing, and timeline jumping for dramatic effect. Also a great crowd with a lot of good ideas, and interesting problem areas. Attendees were supportive and helpful to each other, with is the whole point of the GMs Worskshop. I would give it a 4/5 from my own perspective. If you attended, I'd love to hear your own feedback on it. Just wasnt quite as engaging as the session before.
Grade: B+ (feedback from an attendee posted at community.gencon.com says it was better than a B+ though, so I guess it did come off OK)

(SEM1229348) GM Workshop: Getting the Players hooked
This final seminar I gave covered specifics on engaging players with NPCs and story lines, and using player feedback and reactions to help shape them. I was a bit tired during this one, and was concerned I had been repeating topics covered in the first two. I think my own performance was a not as good but it seemed like everyone was still enjoying it. (They could have just been being nice to me though).
Grade: C+
Lessons learned: Schedule the seminars further apart next time. Drink moar coffee between sessions.

(RPG1238023) Outbreak Undead: College Campus Scenario
I was looking forward to this one quite a bit. More of an explanation and use of the long term survival component of Outbreak Undead. Unfortunately a work emergency caused me to have to leave about 45 minutes in. That sucked. I missed out on the part I wanted to do most in the game. GM was fun and friendly, players were all pretty cool too.
Grade: Incomplete

Friday -

(Games on Demand - Playing)

In A Wicked Age  (Official site is pretty bare. See review pages here)
This game was the surprise of the con for me. Timo Newton GMed this indie from Vincent Baker. I had never heard of it, but it was the only slot left open at GoD, so I took it. So very glad I did. I doubt I could capture the essence of the game in a short summary, but I will capture the play experience as this: fun, interactive, and creative. Timo is a great GM, and the players kicked ass as well. Check this game out. Fair Warning, I have been told that the book needs serious editing, and is very unclear. I would advise you to push through, because there is a real gem of a game in there.
Grade: A

(Games on Demand - Running)

The Dresden Files
I ran a Dresden one shot for a group of 6, all of whom were new to the game except 1. That player was a great help. All of the players save 1 were also Dresden novel fans. That always helps too. I think I could have done better, but everyone did seem to have a good time. It is a very cool game, very much equal parts inspired by the world of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, and the players own imaginations as they shape their own world and city into the Dresden Mythos. I do need to work on pacing for a 2hr slot of Dresden though. There is a certain amount of player input needed at the beginning of a session to make it as good as it can be. Maybe completely pregenerated characters would work better for a 2hr slot.
Grade: B+

Leverage
This is the best 2hr convention game ever. None of the players had ever played, but all were fans of the show. The rules are easy to learn, and these guys were scamming and grifting like a BOSS in no time. I enjoyed their schemes as much as they did making them up I think. On a happy industry note, the MWP booth completely sold out of Leverage RPG books, and I think that was it from their storage. Time to order a reprint!
Grade: A

Fiasco
I facilitated a game of Fiasco for 5 players using the Operation Zebra playset. Started off a little rocjy as the players, mostly new to Fiasco were still finding their feet. The one player who seemed at first the most lost really came into his own in the second act, and just KILLED it (the killing it thats a good thing). His cultist sad sack was just epic in the end.
Grade: A

(In the restaurant later on...)
Fiasco
Played in a fantastic game of Fiasco at the sportsbar/restaurant in the JW lobby with a few others I met at GoD (jim pinto, David Margowsky, and a few others) who were looking for a late game. Epic Fiasco'ing was then had. jim's portrayal of the Moosfasa, the old college friend of a meth cook, was absolutely inspired.
Grade: A

Saturday -

(EGM1236341) Artemis Space combat Simulator
If you have friends who are on the internet, and you even remotely enjoyed ever a single episode of any version of Star Trek, you must go buy this game NOW. That is all.
Grade: A+

(RPG1233849) curse the darkness
I had such a good time playing this, I can't even start to explain it. The creator, Matt McFarland ran the game, and as  kickstarter backer, I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I think this game could turn off a lot of people, as it is very non traditional in that it uses decks of cards instead of dice, and character deal while very common, is far from comic. Its a dark game, for mature players. I certainly wouldnt play this with the kids. I really did love it though. Having such emotional attachment to characters who have only been around for an hour or two is a rare thing. The game really faciliates this. Its a great experience.
Grade: A+

(RPGA1235379) D&D Next Playtest
Seemingly continuing my curse of bad GMs with "RPGA" events at GenCon, I did not last long here. The guy running was rude, pushy, and unprofessional. I chose to leave rather than continue after 15 minutes of character generation. I gave my ticket to a kid who was out of luck with a generic. Hopefully he had a good time. Grade: F (Please note, I don't really hold Baldmangames responsible for this. They just have too much to do and too little to do it with, and still provide great quality control on the volunteers).
Grade: incomplete


(Games on Demand - Playing)
Dungeon World
Been looking forward to playing DW for a log time. GM Matt Boersma did not dissapoint. Really dug the game, and the players and GM. Great time.
Grade: A


(Games on Demand - Running)
Fiasco
I facilitated two games of Fiasco simultaneously. They were all first timers, and all of them surprised me with their creativity and depravity. These were two of the darkest sessions of Fiasco I've ever witnessed. In Fiasco, this is actually a good thing.
Grade: A for both...and they all need to seek counselling afterwords :)

Sunday -

Dealer hall and wandering
Dealer hall got less of my money this year. Thats a good thing. Not sure if its that there was less stuff to have or me just being more discriminating. Always fun to wander and buy things though.

Purchases:
Dice - a new set of translucent green for my Marvel Doom Pool, and a new box of 3 sets of Fudge Dice, and a new set of cool purple marble dice for my wife.
RPGs: Microscope, Curse the Darkness, Our Last Best Hope, Dread, Hollowpoint, Shadows of Esteren
Other Stuff: Battlefoam tray for Zombicide, Expansions for Last Night on Earth and Smallworld, art prints from Emily Figenschuh for my kids

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