Thursday, August 28, 2014

Corvus's GenCon 2014 in Review

Hey all, I'm back, a week after the conclusion of the best four days in gaming, that's right: GenCon. I'm way late on this, as Trooper beat me to the punch, but we did have some different experiences, given that we went for different games. And to add to that, I took pictures! So, hit the break and follow me through the only thing that excites me more than Christmas.

Leading into the con, I was pretty high on the hype train. I had room in the budget, and had worked the six consecutive days prior to get all four days off. Plus, it's always a chance to catch up with some of my friends from the Indy area who I don't get to see as much since graduating. Not only that, but I had just the few days prior picked up a lot of very very gently used Lizardmen and kick started my army above and beyond what savings the Con could have offered me, so I had only a token few kits left to get. So, to summarize, meeting vendors, fishing for rumors, soaking in all the new releases, and getting to demo all kids of everything, what's not to love.

Sorry for shaky cam, they're all gorgeous!
My first meaningful stop (after a cursory sweep for steals and deals, 30%+ off is too good to pass up!) was at Forgeworld and GW. This was a bit of an awkward visit, as last year they had no new releases, yet rolled out a massive display board, along with some hanging signs that really called out their booth. This year, they had the Space Wolf releases, along with a few early FW goodies (Vulkan and other Salamanders), but gone was the big display and the hanging sign calling out their booth. In fact, it looked fairly plain other than the GW "dumbed down" demos they were running and the massive Space Marine statue. That said, the Salamanders were gorgeous and the FW staff was more than willing to check their stock and show off models to prospective buyers. Likewise, both halves of the staff (GW and FW) were exceptionally friendly and more than a little willing to chat up some of what they believed to be in the wings. The biggest subject was Sisters, who are reportedly slotted for the first release after the paperbacks finish out.

While I was there, I picked up the event only Navigator model, as well as a Lucius pattern drop pod, and the "War machines of the Adeptus Astartes" book. With the acceptance of FW on the rise (and the pod being rebalanced considerably), it felt logical to make the purchases, but unfortunately the didn't have my transfers in, so those had to be ordered.

And then there's FFG. For as long as I can remember, these guys have had the largest chunk of floor space in their name in the main hall. And this year, they rolled out big as far as I could tell. Early purchase opportunities for X-Wing, previews of the new Scum faction, playable demos of Armada (which Havoc should be giving us a write up on), and Dark Heresy 2nd Edition. Holy cow! And the devs were the ones running the demos, so they could give us a lot more insight as to what was coming than the GW folks could. Just like GW though, they were friendly and professional (and addicted to cough drops from all the demos!). On the whole, the Con saw me walking out with two more Z95s (taking my total to 4), one of each huge Rebel ship, and a set of Rebel Aces (having preordered a second set of such and a YT-2400 with steep discount online). To finish off all of that, I picked up some battlefoam for my X-Wing, as they were running a convention special, and had rebel-only trays on the shelf.

Moving along, there were a few different demos that I couldn't leave without running. The local game group has been wonderfully enthralled by Dropzone Commander, so that was somewhere I had to head. This 10mm scale game has been drawing in a lot of folks, and I could see why, but there was something about it that couldn't quite get me to part with my cash, even with there being plastic starter boxes. Next came Dust Battlefield, a happy medium between Tactics and Warfare. Godfrey should be giving that demo a further breakdown, but the long and the short of it for me boiled down that the Imperial Japanese won't be included for another year or two, so I've got plenty of time ahead of me before pulling that trigger. Winding down brought me to Catalyst Game Labs' booth, where theyw ere showing off their new plastic model range and "BattleTech Alpha Strike" rule set. I wanted to like it, but the models weren't special (or even multi-part) and you had to buy two rulebooks to get the full game experience. It just launched this year, but that didn't strike me the right way.

Last, but by no means least in my demos was Wild West Exodus, a game I've heard chatted up a lot locally. The models drew me in (the first time a steampunk aesthetic has done so for me), and so Godfrey and I snuck in a heads up demo against one another. Wanna know how it ended? Look forward to a forthcoming "Out of our Element" from me on the system!

And just like that, the Con was over. No more Froth of Khan (Sun King's exceptional coffee beer brewed only for this Con!), no more demos, no more bustle and pulse of crowds, and I was back to the daily grind. This was the best Con yet in my opinion, as the event space exploded with over 50k unique attendees, and filled the hall bigger than ever before. Add in the release for D&D 5e jazzing up the atmosphere, and I couldn't have asked for more. So too as part of this is a sword that cuts both ways: Kickstarter. So many games are popping up out of nowhere through the site, and so many are advertising and doing pseudo launch parties at GenCon that it's starting to be a problem. Even established companies, like the makers of the Red Dragon Inn game series, have found themselves heading that way. It's worrisome that nobody is willing to front a product and give it a proper tactile demo experience at the Con, and that Kickstarter is feeling like the only way to get some things done.

Nevertheless, I couldn't complain about the Con. And in the wake of it, my knife and glue have been quite busy, as has my brain, having just returned from a "sideboard-style" tournament at Bloomington, so stay tuned for that writeup as well! Until then, hit the comments (and drink in the rest of the photos!) and I'll keep powering through my workload.


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