Saturday, August 1, 2015


Sixty thousand geeks and nerds descend upon a hapless town in the midwest.  And there was much rejoicing.

Has not been a lot of EVE-ing this weekend as Mrs. Durden and I traveled to GenCon in downtown Indianapolis this weekend.  I'm trying to write this summary post before we dash off to a GenCon dinner-party with college friends that are also in the same zipcode as us.

We attended last year for the first time and quickly marked our calendars for 2015.  Last year we were lured in to see my very favorite author (Jim Butcher) and completely underestimated the size, depth, and scope of the event.

We've been to Blizzcon -- this blew it away in terms of scale and size and ... scale.  The Indy convention center is huge.  Like huge even on Las Vegas casino scales.  GenCon takes up all of it.  Fills it completely, and there is spillover to the surrounding businesses, malls, and bars.

Nerds.... everywhere.  Nerdvana.

For those that are unaware, GenCon is a gamer convention with its roots deep in pen-and-paper RPGs but has since branched out.  The pen-and-paper roots are still represented, but the convention is now mostly consumed by a) board games of all shapes and sizes, and b) tabletop miniatures (Warhammer, Warmachine, and the like) and c) Collectible trading card games like Magic: The Gathering.

The next 3 pictures are from Thursday, shooting randomly around the exhibitors' hall.  This is one large room and maybe 25% of the total square footage of the venue.  The next room over is a hall the size of a couple of football fields set up with banquet tables where thousands (thousands!!) of board/card/action games are being played, and another football-field sized area for competitive tournaments.

Last year ~54,000 people attended and there were rumors of breaking 60,000 this year.  

Last year we were first timers, and frankly were intimidated by the size and depth of the event.  We felt out of place and conspicuous, somewhat freaked out by all the people who seemed to know exactly wtf was going on when I had no clue.  

And while I have been in/around the RPG scene through friends for a few decades now, but did not call myself a fan, and didn't know the genre well enough to really appreciate what I was seeing.  

But I left with the mandate to get more educated and find a game to call my own.

This year we returned triumphantly as one of the herd.  Most of that is just mind-set.  Some of that was knowing our way around Indy's downtown and the convention center itself.  And little things like how to get our badges, and now not to kill half a day in line for your event tickets.  

But a big chunk was coming back to really dive into a couple of titles and learn more, demo some games, and let our inner nerd flags fly.

Last year I left inspired to get into some tabletop miniature combat.  I spewed earlier this year about X-Wing.  I've continued to play sporadically, but at GenCon I signed up for a Large Ship Battle that was set up for 10 players.    

This event was outrageously fun.  The X-wing rules are set up for small ships (about 2" long) but we had 4 of the huge subcaps on the table (3 Corellian Corvettes and 1 Imperial Raider -- which was released the day prior at the show(!!)).  I manned one of the Corvettes and drew first blood on the Raider.  The guy piloting it jumped at the chance to run it, then realized he was the target EVERYONE wanted a piece of.  The match was pretty evenly set by points costs, but the Rebels got a couple of very lucky rolls during combat and emerged victorious.  It was 4 hours of dice rolling, and laughing, during which I made several new friends and a very cool crew from Wisconsin.

Large Fleet X-Wing Battle - My ship is the Corvette in the lower left, intent on pounding the Imperial Raider in the lower right. :)

Serenaded by Minstrels as we waited in line this morning. 

The game that I'd love to play but don't have the $$ or the ability to assemble and paint miniatures is Warmachine.  These dioramas makes my wallet vibrate audibly, but I was successful in removing myself from the area multiple times without spending the mortgage on little mechanical men.

Diorama at the Privateer Press booth. Makes me want to play Warmachine very badly. 
Another Diorama Shot

But I did buy some things.  There were a couple of board games that I'd been reading about on Amazon and boardgamegeek, and was able to sit down with a company rep and demo the games.  I ended up buying Descent, 2nd Edition after a play-through with one of the Fantasy Flight guys.  

I grabbed a game called Cave Troll on an impulse; with a name like that, how could it suck?

Also, based on the recommendation from the Wisconsin X-Wing crew, I watched demos over the shoulder (could never find an empty table despite 4-5 games going on at once) and chatted up a company rep in the store, resulting in an impulse purchase of Shadows of Brimstone.  Both of these games are board-game-dungeon-crawlers with movement, stats, and strategy.  Both should be reasonably do-able as a 2-player co-op campaign for me and Mrs. Durden once the cold months hit.  I probably didn't need both, but the boxes were so pretty.
I took this picture because I kept forgetting the name.
Mrs. Durden even got me to do some light cosplay on Friday.  I'll ignore requests for pics (hah), but if you were there and saw a daffy guy in bow tie and a stove-pipe hat, it might have been me.  Her costume got comments from the crowd and requests to pose for pictures, I was just there as arm candy, I guess.

This is the first of 3 conventions we're hitting in late summer and fall of 2015.  The other two, of course, are EVE Vegas and Blizzcon.  Each are unique enough for me to look forward to them individually, and for different reasons.  GenCon was a great experience this year, and we're already talking about next year.

More info:
- The RPG/gaming industry and GenCon coverage in general, try TGN

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