Tuesday, August 20, 2013

GenCon Day 4 and 5

Oi.... so, my netbook is pretty horrible, so I waited to do this until I got home. My laundry is in progress, and I'm trying to decide if I've got enough ConCrud to take off the two days I actually have to work this week. Probably not, but I'm seriously considering it.

Day 4, as we all know, was Sunday, that magical half-day. I had a bit of shopping to get done (leading to buying a ChooChooBear from Randy Milholland, and cursing the lack of Wonder Woman costume t-shirts in ladies sizes). I DID play a couple demos, of Gangsters by Mayfair Games, and Pentago by Mindtwister USA. Gangsters is a pretty straightforward competitive board game. You move your car and drop off your thugs, trying to control territory. You gain points for your control of territory, but, sometimes, it's worthwhile to be in 2nd or 3rd place, as not being the capo of an area is worth more points. It's niggling at the back of my mind that there's another game with a similar mechanic that I've played, but I cannot recall what. Part of Gangsters, however, is The Pier. You see, you can pick up other people's gangsters, and drop them off in another territory (shifting the balance of power), or drop them off the pier (removing them from the game). Whenever you go out to the pier, though, you also pick up a car upgrade, which allows you to pick up more opposing thugs, drop off more of your own, move farther, or whatever. It was a fun game, though not terribly to my taste.

I also played Pentago, first in the convention hall, and then with some of my friends later that day. Pentago is a game of getting 5 pieces in a row on a 6*6 board (when two people are playing). However, the four 3*3 quadrants of the board rotate, meaning you have to get them in a row, and your opponent will try to rotate the boards out of alignment, and into an alignment more favorable to them. I really, really, suck at this game, but it was quite a bit of fun, nonetheless. There's some great strategy involved, but it would take a lot of practice for me to beat the gorram engineers and math majors I surround myself with.

Lunch was after Pentago, and I more or less decided, at that point, that I'd had more than enough GenCon. I was tired, there were too many people around, and I was just grumpy. So, I decamped to my room to eat the PB&J and chips I had brilliantly purchased earlier in the week. After some good down time, I was ready to play games with my friends, and we sat in the hotel lobby and had some fun before dinner.

We started with The Duke by Catalyst Games. The Duke is a chess-like game, where you have tiles containing directions for how each piece moves... but each piece ALSO flips when you move it, revealing another set of moves they will do when you next move them. Furthermore, you don't start with all your pieces on the board; instead, you begin with your Duke and two Footmen. Each turn, you can either move a piece or set out a new one... but new pieces must begin adjacent to the Duke. New pieces? Chosen at random from a blind bag. It makes the game somewhat swingy, but also very tactical... you can build strategy, but a lot comes down to what you have on hand, right now.

We also played Touch of Evil, by Flying Frog. Touch of evil is a 17th century horror-themed Adventure games, similar to Fortune and Glory or The Fury of Dracula. You have a character, who has certain attributes, and those attributes shape how you adventure through the map, gathering tidbits. In this case, you're gearing up for a showdown with some horrible monster; we played a relatively quick game against a Werewolf, and a long, dragging game against the Spectral Horseman. Don't get me wrong, it was quite a bit of fun, but I found it telling that victory went both times to Katarina, who hits on a 4,5, or 6, instead of just on a 5 or 6. In many ways, these wind up as DMless RPGs, or perhaps akin to the old adventure games from Sierra, in that you have a pregen'd character and a set goal, but how you achieve that goal is entirely up to you, within the rules of the scenario.

We had dinner at Bucca di Beppos, which was pleasant despite them being out of food and us starting with a VERY loud and obnoxious party right nearby. Since we were all tired, we took a cab there... and finding out that a cab for the four of us was only $5, we took a cab back, played a few more games, then went to our mutual exhaustion.

Day 5: The Voyage Home
With check-out at 11, we packed and ate breakfast, but also ensured that they didn't care if we hung out in the lobby until closer to time to leave. We mostly talked and chilled, playing smaller games, and picked up lunch from Tavern on South, because no one had found it objectionable and it was like, right there. In fact, this would be a good time to mention it... I really liked our Holiday Inn Express. The rooms were nice, their breakfast is more or less designed for me, and they're very conveniently located, next to the Tavern on South and a Speedyway convenience store a block away. They're about 4 blocks from the convention hall (counting it as 2 blocks across the Lucas Oil stadium, then 2 more to the convention hall proper), so you walk a bit, but it's not an insurmountable distance.

We eventually went to the airport to hang out before flights, playing Bohnanza from Rio Grande Games, which was fun, but had some frustrating and annoying rules about what you could and could not discard. "Look, I'm heavily invested in Wax beans. Why do I have to plow them under, when I have practically nothing in Green beans?" Frustrating.

Then I flew home, which sounds simple, but I'm 6'5" and 350#. Airplanes, especially the little ones, are designed for people 7 or more inches shorter and half my weight. My connection was in Cleveland, necessitating me and several others to SPRINT across the Cleveland airport, after having to wait for bags they insisted had to be checked on our almost empty flight. So, I'm really glad for my day off today.

I had fun at GenCon. I do wish I'd signed up for more event-type stuff, but even wandering around the exhibit hall was exhausting for a semi-introvert. I'm wondering how many people attended, because I got constant reports of both "This is bigger than before" and "Everyone is so nice."

Maybe next year!

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