Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My GenCon Report

Hard to believe it's already been almost two weeks since GenCon. In case you missed my previous post on the subject, I had a chance to once again take in one of the largest, best-attended gaming conventions in the world on August 5-7. It was an amazing three days (I had to skip Sunday due to other commitments). My wife and I demoed a bunch of new games, played in two different roleplaying adventures, attended lots of different seminars, and hung out with a lot of great people. Here are the highlights:
  1. Although my wife and I attended lots of great seminars put on by the GenCon Writer's Symposium, my two favorite seminars were a fantasy cooking class and one on mental health. In the fantasy cooking class, the presenter took us through an exercise designed to allow you to create a custom cuisine for any setting, based on the climate, the technology, the fauna and flora, and other cultural considerations. In the mental health seminar, we heard from several prominent authors who have struggled with mental illnesses, including best-selling author Patrick Rothfuss. The panel was very transparent about their own struggles and discussed some unique challenges associated with mental illness and the art of writing.
  2. As I mentioned above, my wife and I played in two different RPG sessions. The first was a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Adventure's League session, where we came to the aid of a city besieged by modrons and helped reestablish order in the city. We both played 1st level characters in a party with mostly 3rd and 4th level characters, so we spent far too much time hiding in the back and getting 'one-shotted' by the monsters, but it was still quite fun. The other session we played in was the Planet Mercenary RPG, where we joined a crack team of mercenaries to locate and bag a weapons-dealer who, as it turns out, had put out a major bounty of her own head hoping to fake her own death with a gigantic explosion. We managed to beat the other teams to the punch, ambush the weapons dealer, and collect the bounty without causing massive destruction in the process. Needless to say, that was also very fun.
  3. I also demoed lots of different games, including Tyrants of the Underdark, Mistborn House War, and Isle of Skye. Tyrants was a cool combination of Risk and Dominion, with some very interesting and thematic elements associated with dark elves. Mistborn was an absolute gem, with all sorts of conniving and bargaining between the players as well as the opportunity to try and totally change the win condition of the game and hose the rest of the players. Isle of Skye is a relatively simple tile-placement game, with lots of replay value thanks to the sheer number of tiles and the changing win conditions. All three are excellent games, and expect me to write fuller reviews of each once I get my hands on them.
  4. My wife and I also had the opportunity to hangout with Dan Wells and Howard Taylor, two of the four hosts of the Writing Excuses podcast, and we even got to go to dinner later with Dan and talk books, games, pop culture, and all sorts of hilarity. Once these episodes of Writing Excuses goes live, anyone with a discerning ear could easily pick out the sound of my wife laughing during some of the more funny bits. 
There is so much more to write about, so much more that I saw and experienced, but this post is already long enough. It was an amazing experience, and I can't wait to go back next year!

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