The Dice Hate Me GenCon 2013 Pictorial Wrap-Up
Hello dear readers! The summer’s biggest North American show just wrapped up in Indianapolis and it was, in many ways, better than the previous year. Many pundits were grumbling about the lack of “showcase” releases at the show, but I ended up nabbing three times as many games this year as last, and have – so far – been disappointed with none. Of course, there were a slew of titles only available for demo at the con – their releases are slated for that even bigger show in Essen, Germany – but even those demos made the price of admission worth every penny.
Without further ado, here are a few pics of the people, games and talking points from my experience at the con. Enjoy!
Thursday, 9:50 a.m. The masses converge on the Exhibit Hall, chomping at the bit to nab their favorite titles before many of them inevitably sold out. I love social media at GenCon – I posted this pic on Twitter minutes before the gates opened up and game designer Grant Rodiek noticed the location, turned around and I was right behind him!
You can’t navigate the Exhibit Hall at GenCon on the first day without a plan, and I certainly had one. I mapped out the optimal route from the first stall I figured might sell out (Gale Force Nine with Firefly), all the way over to the other side of the hall where I could grab up some Game Salute titles I knew would be available. After 50 minutes of the best dash and grab of my con-going career, this was my haul (I also picked up a few other titles over the course of the con – probably spending way too much in the process!)
With my must-have titles secured, I began a much more leisurely stroll through the Exhibit Hall to check out demos. Here you can see a prototype of the buzz-worthy Sentinels Tactics game from Greater Than Games.
Ships ahoy! Ares Games had a great demo area for Sails of Glory, and everyone seemed to be having an awesome time. I’m really looking forward to trying out this game since the Wings of Glory system is so good.
It’s The Duke – biggified!
Stay on target… stay on target… The Fantasy Flight Games sales area and demo booths were slammed for the duration of the con, and for good reason: This X-Wing trench run demo table was absolutely stunning!
After making a few rounds in the Exhibit Hall, I had a couple of meetings to attend to, then it was off to Hall D and the purple tables – home to the Grand Gaming Academy’s demo area. This was to be the central base station for the Dice Hate Me crew during the con. We ran several demos of Compounded, VivaJava, Brew Crafters and, seen here, Belle of the Ball with Brian Frahm, Fred MacKenzie and The Great Heartland Hauling co. designer Jason Kotarski and his wife Lisa!
Speaking of VivaJava, here’s a full eight-player demo being supervised by TC Petty III. Everyone had a great time, but as you can see some were slightly more enthusiastic – and, probably, a bit more caffeinated – than others.
Stand back – I’m going to try science! Designer Darrell Louder ran several demos of Compounded during GenCon, either converting players to the joys of chemistry or fueling their deeply-rooted love of science.
More Dice Hate Me Games love in Hall D! Here, John Bowker puts the hammer down in one of many games of The Great Heartland Hauling Co. played during GenCon.
More trucking in The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
The upcoming Dice Hate Me Games title Belle of the Ball also got a lot of demo love at GenCon. Everyone seemed to love calling out the somewhat-crazy but always-amusing guest names while inviting people to their parties. Even the manliest of contestanst couldn’t resist getting into character while shouting “Announcing Underpants Underdaria!”
I opened Friday with one more pass through the Exhibit Hall before a few meetings later in the day. The number one demo on my list was the upcoming Rampage by Asmodee. This demo was probably the most-packed of all in the hall, so I never got a chance to try my hand at the game – but from watching others I know that this is going to be a huge hit when it’s released this fall.
Kaiju Big Battle! Here, two monsters in Rampage face off with fisticuffs amongst the growing rubble in the city. This version of Rampage was oversized, which made observing the carnage much easier. In the game, players control a monster with variable powers and can try to knock over buildings with cars, their claws/tails/heads, by jumping and stomping, and even by blowing on the buildings! After buildings are damaged, meeples scatter from the wreckage – only to be later gobbled up for points!
My second-most anticipated demo of the con was for Fantasy Flight Games’ Eldritch Horror. This, too, was packed with gamers waiting to try it out so I never got a chance to get in there. But from the look of it – and from Darrell Louder’s demo experience (shared in the latest episode of The State of Games), I know I’m going to love every mythos-battling minute of it.
Traveling the globe to stop the machinations of the Great Old Ones in Eldritch Horror.
This is Corey Young’s Gravwell, at the Cryptozoic booth. Remember that name because you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the next few months. I got in a quick demo of this unique, quick-playing and fun title and immediately bought it. It was, hands down, the surprise of the show, and, quite possibly, my favorite game of the con.
Back to Hall D to try out Gamelyn Games’ Fantasy Frontier. This tile-laying, resource-management game of battling Zeppelins was a ton of fun, and will be hitting Kickstarter on Sept. 2. I highly recommend you all check it out.
More Zeppelin madness in Fantasy Frontier! Here you can see the world grow as the Zeppelins fan out and explore the world.
Next on the agenda was Tory Niemann’s Pay Dirt from Crash Games. Tory is best known for the amazingly awesome Alien Frontiers. Pay Dirt was a big departure from AF, but it was still a lot of fun. There was some confusion about how to place your workers on the dirt processing line, but Crash Games’ owner Patrick Nickell is working hard to make sure the final design flows smoothly.
Belle of the Ball gets some more love from game enthusiast Annisa Jones and her husband Mike. They both loved the two-player experience!
Friday night was busy, busy busy. I ventured over to the ticketed AEG Board Game Night to grab my swag box and demo some games. The area was packed to the brim with enthusiastic gamers and loads of AEG volunteers.
Here, Dan Patriss of The Geek All-Stars, designer Fred MacKenzie, Craig Vollman and I are taught Trains by demo master Ken Grazier. This heavily tweaked deckbuilder drew a lot of buzz before the con and I really enjoyed the game – and I’m not saying that just because I won both games we all played!
Some of you may not know it yet, but that’s a nice hand. The design of Trains is super clean and the gameplay is very easy to pick up. Overall, Trains was the perfect title to release at GenCon, and many attendees got a chance to throw some cards and lay some track during the show.
Ah, run – it’s Great Balloon Cthulhu!
No con – at least from this point forward – would be complete without a little Angry Dice action. We all gathered at Loughmiller’s after hours for an Angry Dice throwdown… fueled, of course, by cocktails!
Saturday was slammed, but I got a chance to stop by the Indie Boards & Cards demo room to check out the swanky painted firemen miniatures for Flashpoint.
I got a chance to try out Rite of Passage by Matt Loomis. This is a fast-playing and unique economic/bluffing game with a fair bit of social play. Naturally, I loved it. Matt is currently seeking a publisher and I don’t think he’ll have much trouble. However, if anyone out there is interested in checking it out, I highly recommend it!
Joe Pinchback gets set to school all of us while designer Matt Loomis looks on in Rite of Passage.
Hey, look – it’s Gravwell again! Dan Patriss and I got a chance to play Gravwell with JP and Colin of Snakes & Lattes at the Dice Tower Dinner on Saturday night. They loved it, of course, and we got to meet two of the coolest cats at the con.
After the Dice Tower dinner, I ran back to Hall D to get in on a demo of one of my favorite games of all time – Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge from Clever Mojo Games. I settled in to school Clever Mojo Games’ founder David MacKenzie, Adam O’Brien, David Sanhueza and Tiffany Bahn on the finer art of being hip and totally awesome (I won). Man, I love this game.
Saturday night was rounded out with a late-night play of Spyrium. This was one of the most talked-about games of the show and with good reason. Although I was nodding off a bit during the first part of the game, I rallied about halfway through to come in a very close second with Ben Rosset. I didn’t end up buying a copy of this during the con, but I’m almost wishing I had now.
I really don’t know how to caption this photo – I’m just so proud I captured the moment on camera.
DOOOOOM! The Cryptozoic team had their newly-acquired title The Doom That Came to Atlantic City on display in the booth. There were no demos, but it was cool to see the game getting some love after all the Kickstarter controversy.
This was Sunday in the Exhibit Hall. It was just as packed as any of the other days. GenCon is pretty amazing like that.
Cthulhu Wars! All the minis were on display and they looked fantastic. I didn’t back this game – and it’s likely that I can’t afford the price point even after it’s released – but the sheer size and amazing detail had the mini gamer in me shrieking with delight.
More delightful madness at the Cthulhu Wars table.
If there was one unicorn at GenCon that had been eluding me for a couple of years, it was Cryptozoic’s Hot Rod Creeps. I saw it last year and wanted to demo it more than almost any other game. Well, this year I got my chance – and it was everything I hoped that it would be.
Hot Rod Creeps is crazy, chaotic, plays fast and is a ton of fun. It really captures the essence of the 60s and 70s Rat Fink culture both in art and game play. I managed to snag a copy just before the Exhibit Hall closed on Sunday for a great deal. Now to find some more weirdos to race against me!
Unbeknownst to many, Cryptozoic had managed to print out a version of the DC Deckbuilding Game expansion and we got a sneak peek at some of the new art and hero cards. People were swarming the table for a closer look and from what I saw, I’m excited for the release!
GenCon is often filled with a cast of characters, and Tasty Minstrel Games’ founder Michael Mindes is certainly one of them. TMG sold a truckload of Dungeon Roll at GenCon this year, partly because of the buzz TMG built before the con and partly because of Mindes walking around with a giant treasure chest on his head.
And speaking of Mindes, if any of you were on the fence about Angry Dice, this guy’s expression should say it all. He was enthralled. You will be, too. Look for me at GenCon 2014 and bring your Angry Dice – I expect an Angry Dice throwdown challenge every second of the con!
See you all next year!
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- The State of Games, Episode 34 – The One About GenCon, DC and The WBC
- Prezcon Pictorial Wrap-up