My first GenCon experience is in the books and I already can’t wait for next year! My boys and I had the time of our lives. I was in total awe the first time I stepped into the exhibitor hall. I have never seen so many awesome board games in one place. It was slightly overwhelming. I got some sweat deals and some really awesome new board games. New Bedford by DiceHateMe and Greater Than Games was my absolute prize of the show. My main focus, really my youngest son’s Aidan main focus, was demoing the Dark Souls board game by Steamforged Games followed by demoing Zephyr: Winds of Change. Besides those two goals it was searching for games we thought we wanted and games we didn’t know we wanted.
We arrived at the exhibit hall about 15 minutes before the doors opened. This was only about 15 minutes later than I wanted to arrive. I didn’t think that was too bad since we had to make about a 2 and half hour trek from Northwest Ohio. Well, it was really a three and a half hour trip when you factor in potty breaks and a good sit down breakfast just outside of Indy. But we made with time to spare. The line to get in wasn’t long at all and that 15 minute wait seemed like an hour. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. So much anticipation and excitement!
I soon realized we were on the opposite end of the Dark Souls demo but I didn’t want to risk getting out of line to venture to a closer exhibit hall door. So the plan was just to make our way across the hall once inside. So the doors and we make our way in like an old west cattle drive. This is where the awe struck me. It was so hard to focus on getting to the SteamForged games booth. So many exhibits. So many games. But we made it and with only two people in front of us waiting to demo Dark Souls. As I watched the people in front of me demo Dark Souls the realization I was at Gen Con hit!
We waited about a half hour then it was our turn to play Dark Souls. The main reason we wanted to come to GenCon was about to happen. Aidan and I demoed the game together. He was the Herald and I was the Warrior. My demo didn’t last long. As with the Video Game, I am not a great Dark Souls player. OK, I am not even a decent Dark Souls gamer but I love to play and the demo did not disappoint. I managed about 10 minutes of play time and did about 4 damage on the Dancer. Aidan lasted another 20 minutes and came within 2 damage of beating the boss himself. Needless to say, we both can’t wait for this game! After the demo was over a SteamForged Game member talked to us about Dark Souls, both the video and board game, as well as other board games for about 30 minutes. It was so cool talking to somebody that loved the game with as much passion as we do. He was so nice. We were complete strangers to him yet we talked like best friends. It was an amazing experience and one neither my boy nor I will forget. Thanks SteamForged Games!
After hitting the SteamForged Game booth, and my oldest son Austin falling in love with SteamForged Games’ Guild Ball, Aidan and I went exploring the exhibit hall. Austin stayed back and kept playing Guild Ball. I think he spent most of GenCon playing Guild Ball. I wanted to stop at Gamelyn Games booth and see if I could get a glimpse of their upcoming game Tiny Epic Quests. While I didn’t get to see anything about TEQ, I did snag a deluxe edition of Tiny Epic Galaxies. Now I am ready to back the expansion when it hits KickStarter in October. My first GenCon purchase was made! Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games will always hold a special place in my board gamer heart.
After Gamelyn Games we worked our way to the middle of exhibit hall checking out Portal Games, Red Raven Games, and Stronghold games among others on the way. Unfortunately all those publishers were out of the games I had been eyeing. Although with Red Raven Games I regret not picking up Isle Bound. I was looking for Above and Below but after seeing more about Isle Bound I am bummed I didn’t buy it. Lesson learned. After resisting so many purchases along comes Academy Games. Mare Nostrum Empires was on my list of “must check out games.” They were running a deal to get the base game, the expansion, and bonus content for a great price. I couldn’t pass it up and in fact it is out on my dining room table right now with the Greeks and Romans on the brink of war. Mare Nostrum is one amazing game that will be played by us boys for a long time.
Austin finally hooked up with Aidan and me again at the Academy Games booth. He was pretty stoked about Mare Nostrum. We spent the next few hours looking at more board games as we worked our way through the rest of the exhibitors. Once we got to the end Austin wanted Aidan and I to try Guild Ball so we made our way back to the SteamForged Games booth. On the way back I picked up some Kittens, Puppies, and Adventure Time 2 Dungeon Crawl packs for our Munchkin games, a King of New York and King of Tokyo bundle, and New Bedford. The King of Tokyo I had actually played the night before for the first time ever and liked it. A quick light cut throat game that can be played by anyone. I picked up the Munchkin cards because those can be a pain to find around Northwest Ohio and New Bedford was a complete impulse buy based off of the beautiful cover art and theme. I will be reviewing that game so look for that in the near future.
Back at the SteamForged Game booth to play Guild Ball until it was time to demo Zephyr. Aidan and Austin decided to face each other as I watched. I am not a fan of games that require a tape measure to play but now I wish I would have bought the starter kit deal and made a one inch grid field. I think a grid would speed up the game to my liking while still keeping the feel of the game. Oh well, that is what is so cool about GenCon. You get to see and play games that you would never even consider looking at normally.
After Guild Ball it was a quick stop at the concession stand and off to demo Zephyr: Winds of Change. Zephyr is a game we backed on KickStarter earlier this year and have been so excited about it since. It took us forever to find the table where the game was being demoed at. The game hall was huge and everything looked alike. We finally found Zephyr and met Aaron, one of the creators. He was such a cool guy. While one game of Zephyr was finishing up he stood there and talked to us not only about Zephyr but about other games and GenCon. We compared our GenCon hauls and discussed some games we each backed on KickStarter. It was just an amazing experience. After about 20 minutes Aidan, Austin, and myself finally were able to play Zephyr. It is an amazing game. A cooperative game set in a steampunk world where you are the captain of your own airship. We all loved it and we all talked about it the whole way home, well, when they weren’t sleeping that is.
After playing the Zephyr demo we stopped at a few more booths and we were ready to go. As ready as you can be to leave GenCon that is. Being our first experience I know we missed a lot of stuff. Even in the exhibit hall which we were in all day. I see tweets from vendors and exhibitors and I am like, “well I didn’t see that” or “I didn’t see them.” But even seeing everything I missed it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I can’t wait to go back. I am hoping to spend two days there next year. I would like to play more games and take my time wandering the exhibit hall. One day was amazing but I felt rushed because I wasn’t sure how much of every game the vendors and publishers stock. The answer is plenty unless it is an early release super popular game like SeaFall or Cry Havoc.
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.