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Gen Con 2011 Wrap Up

It got here a bit late (we’ll blame con crud, real life, tech hiccups, and anything else we can), but it’s finally here: foreign correspondent KK has passed us his last installment of what happened in Gencon a few weeks ago. And this time, we have pictures!

Day 4, Sunday, marks the end of the wonder that is the Gencon weekend. Unfortunately, this means that the day ends at 4pm to give the vendors and exhibitors enough time to pack up their booths and fly home.

I was a little sad to see everything wrapping up. I knew from the first day that I wouldn’t get a chance to see everything at the convention. I almost completely missed the anime and roleplaying sections of the con, but I’m still quite satisfied by my convention experience.

I had heard tales of vendors giving last-day-of-con everything-must-go deals (usually because they don’t want to bring any of the stuff back), but it seemed like this year only one or two stalls were following this tradition, so my shopping went quite empty handed. However, I did buy a Battlefoam PACK Air with the convention discount to temporarily double as a *second* suitcase to lug back all the shiny goodies I gorged my wallet on for the past three days. They also had a sale on the last of the olive green HORDES bags, because future bags will be switching to black to match its WARMACHINE counterpart, and also because of a production error with the underside zipper.

With that taken care of, I made my way back to the Privateer Press gaming area to cash in on my Iron Area points. Over the course of four days, both casual and competitive games would net you points that could go towards buying exclusive or rare goodies such as hand-made terrain pieces, PP tape-measures, Battlefoam bags with special “Primus” patch, Faction Patches, Monpoc shadow or glass figures, concept art signed by Chris Walton, and plenty more. With my 40-some tickets, I managed to snag an exclusive 13in-by-19in p-Doomshaper art print by Andrea Uderzo. I didn’t have much choice, today being the last day, but still my favorite of the 12 newly-done Primal Warlocks. With the spare change, I also picked up exclusive Privateer Press gaming tokens.

Speaking of Privateer Press, I had the luck to meet GRiPT Games, who are a local Indianapolis gaming club, and their Warmachine/Hordes event was called “The Wall.” Not surprisingly, this homebrew scenario featured a beautiful handmade wall piece using Hirstarts blocks and a matching board. What *was* surprising was that they had created not one, but four walls, and four beautifully painted armies to defend/attack them. They had each of the four main Warmachine factions covered. I had the luxury of playing on their Cryx-themed board with the giant wall.

For those who are interested, the scenario itself plays simply. 35 points, pick attack or defense, and one of the GRiPT crew will take the other. 7 minute turns and one 5 minute extension, and 60 minutes total. Defender can deploy on top of the ramparts or at the base, and the wall is completely impassable including against flight and other associated tricks. Attackers job is to deal as much damage as possible to the Wall and gate (DEF 5, ARM 18, 120 health). At the 60 minute time limit, the damage done will earn either the attacker or defender a gold, silver, or bronze victory, depending on the extent of the damage.

My Amon’s Tier 4 theme list defended the Cryx fortress against Warwitch Deneghra, whose forces attempted to re-capture it. Because every model in my army but two had Pathfinder, I elected to deploy everything on the bottom to take advantage of the difficult terrain. In the end, I had a lot of trouble with the Incorporeal models, but still barely stole away the Silver star at 79 damage accrued on the Wall. 80 points would have meant a Bronze.

For my efforts, I was given a Silver star that can be pinned on to my army bag, a custom dog-tag with GRiPT’s name and the event info, and a raffle ticket for the chance to win a selection of the Heavy Warjack kits or a box of Dawnguard Destors. Despite the fact that GRiPT is a relatively small gaming club, I was surprised at how well the entire event was done. They certain left a very good first impression with the beautiful terrain and miniatures, and that impression lasted all the way through due to the groups professionalism and friendliness. The scenario itself had clearly gone through heavy playtesting; this was their second or third year doing the event, and they hope to be back every year.

Another event that has sort of become a tradition is True Dungeon, now in it’s 8th year. In True Dungeon, you pick a character class just like you would in DnD, and you group up with nine other party members to go through seven encounters and a final boss in one hour. Through each room you face an encounter, either a combat or non-combat encounter, again just like the RPG. But that’s where the similarities end. The entire adventure strives to be immersive as possible, and this includes everything from beautifully done sets with complete light and sound displays, costumed actors, animatronic octopi and dragons, and more. In the non-combat encounters there are puzzles to solve, such as based on cryptic arrows written on the walls or the names of certain wines, or operating a convoluted contraption with your party. In the combat encounters you’ll be doing different things based on class, like aiming your weapon at a creature’s head, reciting prayer beads and leaves as a cleric or druid, or operating a “lockpick” as a rogue.

The best part is, the narrative has been continuing for three years now, centered around Smoak the evil Red Draco-lich. This years three adventures: “Lair of the Sea-Lich” (offered in combat-focused and puzzle-focused varieties) and “Dragon’s Redoubt” are the third in the series. The conclusion will come in 2012. At the event, however, the President of True Dungeon organizers announced that they would be leaving Gencon next year and setting up their own event due to their past popularity and extra funds generated from using 10-player parties instead of 8. In his words, they hope to become “more like a destination, rather than an event.” The full details of it haven’t been announced yet, but it is something I look forward to hearing about. With their huge successes in the past, and such a loyal fanbase I can certainly see True Dungeon growing in to a far larger phenomenon. There is sooo much more I can say about the hour-long roleplaying simulation, but so much of it is really indescribable. It’s a two-hour Disneyland for anyone who loves games or fantasy.

Anyone who was able to pick up a goodie bag would have gotten a free item to use in their True Dungeon adventure, but other cool giveaways were from Wizards of the Coast and the lesser-known Trion Worlds. Wizards gave out free Magic:The Gathering decks of a random color in every goodie bag. They also had demos of their latest videogame Duels of the Planeswalkers available on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, or PlayStation Network for 10 USD. I was actually very impressed with this digital M:TG due to its storyline mode, smart AI (at least from what I’ve seen), and fairly intuitive controls. At the price of two booster packs, it’s far cheaper than most electronic games, and in fact less than a constructed Starter. They did away with the “real money, real cards” mechanic of M:TG Online, and instead offer additional additional DLC at small cost (currently 99 cents) in the form of extra constructed decks for those not wanting to obtain them through in-game means.

Miniature gaming legend Mike McVey also flew over from the UK to showcase his new game Sedition Wars under Studio McVey. This is the first time Sedition Wars has been seen by the public outside of sneak previews on the website. The rules demoed at the convention were actually the pre-alpha rules, but miniatures are already in full production, and the demo pieces all featured paintjobs by the hand of McVey himself. (Note the first wave of miniature actually just got released, and you can get your hands on them from the Studio McVey website.) I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to get a demo of the game, but Mr. McVey’s excitement and dedication to the game was tangible. I spoke to one of the other people working at their booth, and apparently Mr. McVey’s average demo lasted for about forty-five minutes! I plan on keeping a close eye this game as more and more of its miniatures and final rules near release.

And just like that, Gencon Indy 2011 is over.

But from the way KK talks about it… I think he’ll be returning to Gencon come 2012…. 😉

kakita

Singapore’s resident Press Ganger, that is, the man to go to for Privateer Press’ WARMACHINE, and HORDES. Kakita also dabbles in Games Workshop’s WARHAMMER FANTASY and WARHAMMER 40K lines.

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