Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moar Gamz

I acquired two more small games today.  Cthulhu Dice and Gloom.  Thanks very much to @ChronicGeek for recommending Gloom.

Cthulhu dice is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be:  A fast, take anywhere, get some interaction among gamers going, type of game.  What a fantastic ice breaker.  I'll just be carrying this one around with me I think.

Gloom looks pretty much amazing.  In this card game you try to kill off your family in the most humiliating way, reducing their lives to the pit of despair before finally doing them in.  The person with the lowest score in the end wins.  As a goth, I must say that this game grabs and tugs at my dark sense of humor like my dog on anything I don't want her to have.  The cards themselves are pretty cool as well, being clear mostly so you can play by overlaying points and effects.  My only issue so far is that the material can be a bit clingy (sticky card is sticky!).  I get the impression that this tendency to cling together goes away with time though.  I can't wait to sit down and play this one.  Looks good for a lot of socializing and laughs.  I also like that the writers encourage you to tell stories of woe as things happen to your family members.

That's two more small games for Gen Con next year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Old Dog Learns New Tricks

It's been a long time since I actively gamed.  All the systems I know have gone through serious rules changes and edition changes.  I was just scratching the surface of AD&D 2E when I last played that game.  Obviously 4E is a very different animal.  I hadn't heard of Pathfinder or Munchkin prior to Gen Con this year.  Does R. Talsorian games exist anymore (they made the Cyberpunk RPG..oh look, they exist, but apparently there's bad blood with Gen Con)?  Lots of people talk about Settlers of Catan, but I've never seen it played.  Clearly, I need to come up to speed.

I've picked a couple of systems to learn that I think will give me a variety of things to do at Gen Con without breaking the bank.  Here's my thoughts... 

I've picked up the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.  I didn't know it until I started reading it, but clearly this is where the AD&D style play that I am most familiar with has gone.  That's convenient.  I'm reading through it right now because I'm so old school that skills and feats are a new idea to me.  Still, everything looks fairly familiar so far, but with good modifications.  It looks like they've really balanced out some of the things that never seemed correct to me in AD&D.  I haven't gotten to the combat section yet, but peeking ahead makes me confident that the round/turn system now makes sense and is way easier to implement.  I look forward to digging into it more.

I also picked up the 4E Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook.  This looks more like a radical rewrite.  Still, I see the potential and think it will probably be a lot of fun, if in a different way than Pathfinder.  I also consider D&D to be a need-to-know system for Gen Con since there will be so many opportunities for games.  I look forward to diving into this in the coming months.  I'd like to make it to a few D&D Encounters games prior to Gen Con as well.

Roleplaying games are fine, but what about some lighter fare for quick games and cheesy fun.  Gen Con is a 24 hours-a-day event after all.  Munchkin looks like a great start there.  I got the starter set, and reading the rules made it sound like a fun little social game.  When I actually set up a solo game (where I played all the hands just to get a feel for the rules and the flow of play) it became very obvious that the fun lies almost completely in the interaction.  I can see having a blast with this when there's some downtime.  I may even grab a few expansions so I have those on hand.

I'm hoping to also grab Cthulhu Dice and Zombie Dice.  These seem to be really quick, play anywhere games that can be over in minutes.  It's good to have a few of those handy.

I'm open to other suggestions as well.  These are just some games I decided to learn since they give me a good arsenal of games I'm ready to play.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My First Gen Con Experience

I suppose that I should really talk about going to Gen Con this year (2010) and what lead me there to frame why I'm eager to get back next year.  This will go long, but you'll know where I stand if you wade though it.

I started gaming in 1980.  I was relocating to Singapore from New York because my dad's job had transferred him.  We made a stop in San Francisco where I picked up the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons coloring book.  I was 10, and beyond coloring books, but I liked the art and the little story that went with it grabbed my attention while I thumbed through it at the store.  In the middle of this was a little board game that took you through a dungeon where you met such things as a beholder, skeletons, etc.  I played that silly little game over and over.  Our next stop was Hawaii (yeah, it was a very nice vacation) where I met a boy my age.  We hung out, and had a lot of fun.  I told him how cool I thought this book was, and he said something like "If you like that, you'd love the real game."  Real game?  There was more?

The next day I forced my parents to stop at a game store at the little mall we were shopping at (for my mom), and I bought the blue box basic set (Seventh Ed. with chits, not dice).  Yes, there was a game store on the island of Kauai.  This was meant to be.  My friend DM'd me through B2 - Keep on the Borderlands, where I almost died on the first encounter until I started to realize that I could attempt anything that I could imagine.  I'm now 40 years old...I still remember all this clearly.  That's the kind of impression it left.  Couldn't tell you much more about that vacation.  Inside the box was also a little TSR glossy mentioned this thing called Gen Con.

The following year, I saved my allowance for the entire year so I could buy D&D stuff when we went back to the U.S. over the summer.  My parents were astounded.

For the next <insert fairly large number> years I played D&D, and a host of other RPGs and boardgames.  I have no artistic talent, but I taught myself to paint miniatures (and got good at it).  I played, DM'd, was in game clubs, etc.  It was my dream to go to a con one year, and GenCon was the pinnacle of that.

Time passed, I grew older, I played fewer games (switching mostly to video games), and I forgot....

When Gen Con relocated to Indianapolis, I'd been living there a while.  Oh yeah..Gen Con.  I remembered that.  Not important to me any more though.

In 2009, I thought I'd go see what Gen Con was about because some of the people I played MMO's with were going.  I figured "what the heck."  I preregistered and paid, then I had to switch jobs and could not go after all.

In late July 2010 my coworker mentioned that he was going to be on vacation the week of Gen Con, and a little quick browsing led me to the discovery that Felicia Day, other Guild cast members, and Wil Wheaton were going to be the media guests at the con.  I love The Guild, and didn't want to miss this opportunity.  I figured I could take a few hours off on Friday and I would be sure to be able to hit the signing area and meet some of them.  On Monday I took a walk down to the convention center and saw all the signs welcoming gamers to town.  How big was this thing that Indianapolis would roll out the red carpet for a group of geeks (like me)?.  This is a jock/sports city.  That night, I registered (still had my RUBI account from 2009), and bought a day badge for Friday.

Wednesday, I headed to the Convention Center to pick up my badge.  WOW!  I felt like I was strangely home.  There was an odd sort of kinship with the multitude of gamers walking around the convention center.  I chatted with the people in front of and behind me while waiting to get my badge from Will Call.  It was like I'd never left the gaming culture.  I couldn't place my finger on it, but I was happy and I felt like I'd come home.  I spent that lunch hour in line, then touring the convention center.  I couldn't believe what the Con guide book and my eyes were telling me...this thing had taken over the nearest hotels completely, as well as the Convention Center.  I was eager to return as soon as possible.

Thursday I spent my lunch hour exploring Gen Con without being able to get into anything.  I decided I'd spend most of my precious Friday time on the exhibitor's hall floor since the signing area was there, and I could browse the incredible number of game vendors.

I pulled some overtime and after hours work that was available that week, and had 3 hours saved up for Friday.  Plan was to skip lunch and leave at 1 pm.  That gave me 4 hours until I had to leave...plenty of time.  I should mention here that my roommate is not a geek like me.  She has strong feelings about gaming that come from her religious views, and I was sneaking around to do this without having problems at home.  Thursday night, she announced that since I had hours, she would like to go look at all the cosplay costumes (she does enjoy those) since I would be getting off early.  This meant no time for me, since I could not be seen with a badge without getting into a big money and morals argument.  I thought my day was sunk.  In the end, I pulled out an hour of time to walk the hall floor before I had to head back home to pick her up.

Walking into the exhibitor's hall I was flooded with happiness.  Wil Wheaton was signing, but I knew I no longer had time to get through the line if I wanted to see anything.  I didn't know why I was so happy until it hit me half way into the area:  This was the realization of a childhood dream I'd completely forgotten I had.  We are very lucky if we get one real dream that comes true in our lifetime, and here it was...unexpected but very real.  Looking at all the vendors, demos, and games I realized that had I been here when I was in high school I probably would have passed out due to joy overload :).  I wandered the floor for an hour, then headed home and picked up my roommate.  We journeyed back, and hung out downtown for a few hours walking around and taking in the cosplayers.  We were there for the zombie walk.  She really enjoyed it, but I knew from comments that I was still not free to participate in the gaming.

So, that's where I am now.  I plan to go back, and at some point I will have to have a big confrontation about going to Gen Con in 2011 to game.  I'm hoping I can set the correct circumstances and pick the right time so that it will be a productive discussion and not a fight.  

I do plan to be there though....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I Plan to Cover Here

I'm hoping to make this more than just my musings on getting to Gen Con 2011.  Hopefully this will be a useful resource to those planning on attending next year as well.

I'd like to do some posts covering the rooms and services offered by the major hotels downtown and have these all done prior to pre-registration time.  This might provide some additional info and help everyone chose where they want to stay.  I know I'll give the reasons for my pick.  I'd also like to take every opportunity I have to get some pics of the convention center as the new construction progresses, and of the new J.W. Marriott hotel as they complete it.  If I get the opportunity, I'll also try to cover some of the nearby eateries and bars.

Since I've been out of gaming for so long I'm going to be picking up a few games and getting to know the rules.  At minimum I'm going to have to learn the newest editions of those games I might have known at one time, but now have to relearn due to changes.  I'll talk about these, and what I think of them.

....And as with any blog, I'll have random musings that are at least minimally related to Gen Con as well.

Hope I can make it an interesting ride for everyone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Journey Begins with the First Steps

For me, the first step was simple...attend a day at Gen Con for the first time.  I've been a gamer for 30 years, lived in Indianapolis longer than Gen Con has been here, yet I never involved myself at all.  This year that changed, and now I'm on a quest to prep myself to have the time of my life next year.  I've been out of tabletop gaming for 10 years, and even threw a lot of my stuff out.  I've had problems with being overly obsessed with MMO's I've had to overcome.  I've got a roommate that doesn't approve of my geeky ways at all.  Still, I plan on being at Gen Con 2011 for the full event, and I'm going to take this year to slowly plan my time and learn/relearn enough games to have a lot of fun.

That journey will be chronicled here :).