GenCon 2019 was an overall great experience. 2018 was the first year we went and it’s really a time for me and Gabe to game and just do father and son stuff. Because I haven’t been traveling as much and we are going to Disney in about 2 weeks, I didn’t have enough points to fly. The 10 hour drive was a bit long on my tailbone and sanity but yay for audiobooks. Having the truck afforded us some freedom and more space for returning with spoils. Trying to fit books and other gaming things into a suitcase for an overhead… is a no go. More on purchases later.
Thanks to Bill and Andrea for allowing us to stay and the hospitality.
Pathfinder (not quite): Looking for Group
This was listed as a Pathfinder game and was in the loosest sense using the SRD content, but not much more than Pathfinder than the SRD. The description had us start at level 5 characters, but we didn’t realize it was going to be pre-gens. Gabe and I built level 5 characters and came with them in-hand. It was a disappointment we couldn’t use the characters we built but we still had fun. I will probably go into a longer post specifically about this game. We stopped caring the minute we couldn’t play our characters so we went weird with it.
This was based off the web and print comic LFG for which none of the players were familiar nor ever head of before… so none of us had investment in the characters. We had fun and it concluded in the weirdest ending for this module ever.
Legends of Barsaive 107: Heavy Metal Queen
For me, Earthdawn is like putting on your favorite pair of shoes. It’s familiar, comfortable and fits you just right. It was my first RPG I ever played and I played it exclusively for years. We played it in the regular rotation for probably a decade. I owned the first edition and the second (enhanced) editions so I wanted to see how fourth edition changed. Sharing this opportunity with my son was something I’ve been wanting to do for years.
I’m playing my favorite RPG, with my son and the GM is an author with the company creating content; what could go wrong? 4 hour session with several combat focused characters and not 1 combat is the problem. Gabe was playing a Troll Warrior at 1st circle. He isn’t very skilled. The setting revolved around us getting smuggled into a city outside of Bloodwood, the most famous Elvin city in Barsave. We had multiple players who literally did nothing the whole game and the GM simply didn’t engage with them. Gabe tried one or two things but the GM didn’t really do anything with his actions.
I love this game but I worry the execution may have turned Gabe off to a great game. I talked with him about it several times and he would be willing to let me run a game for him, but he’s hesitant. I also don’t like that they split the rulebooks from 1 book to 2. I priced them at the booth and they want $50 each ($40 each con price). I passed. I got about 5 D&D books for the price at the con in the last couple of hours.
D&D: Death House
Hands down one of the best 8-hour gaming sessions I ever played in. There were about 9 players locked in and engaged in a ‘Curse of Strahd’ adventure into Death House. We had a great balance of exploration, role playing and combat. Super well done and the GM was totally awesome!
Nyctophobia Learn to Play
The concept of the game is that you and some friends are lost in the woods with an ax murder changing you. You need to find your car and call for help. If any one dies, the players loose. Super cool, right? To capture the suspense of running from an ax murder in the dark woods, the players are given black out glasses. They can communicate with each other but they can’t see their piece or anything. You must use restrictive rules to feel where you can go and move there blindly. You know the bad guy is moving and he taunts you (in the rules) but you don’t know if what he is saying is true or false. It’s a game about feel (pun intended).
This board game has the BEST concept, but the execution was clunky and sorry to say boring. Not being able to see the board but having to manipulate things on it is extremely challenging. Trying not to cheat, still leads to you cheating by accident. The way we were position the board was almost of a 45 degree angle to me, but not quite. Meaning I kept feeling spaces I wasn’t suppose to feel. I kept missing lines of trees that were next to me.
Finally, when with 4 players and an hunter, the hunter gets to take a turn after every 2 people. Meaning you have to wait for 5 turns before you can do anything… blind folded. If you hide, and action in the game to prevent the hunter from finding you, you can’t speak until it’s your turn again. This means I was sitting with my eyes closed for minutes before I got my turn to fumble and struggle with the board. The game took about an hour. Great idea on paper, but it was unfortunately boring.
Cthulhu: The Horror in Dunwich – A deck building game
This game is a stand-alone expansion. Meaning that you can choose to play this alone or combine it with Cthulhu: A deck building game. We played it stand-alone. There were 6 players.
This game reminds me of Arkham Horror and Dominion. They are drastically different, but it really feels like those two games had a baby and it was this one. If that idea appeals to you, this game is for you. I used to be a fan of Arkham Horror. You choose 2 elder gods you are combating the whole game and they hurt you and summon monsters. I like the Lovecraft setting, even though I feel like it’s a bit over done in recent years, but I have so little time to play games I don’t want to dedicate 2 hours to a game where I feel like I’m struggling to keep my head above water the whole game. I’d rather play something else. At least I’d be losing to a person and not the game itself. Like in Dominion you build your deck of cards as you go. You buy things so you can put them in your deck to draw them later.
We played 3 games. The first game we literally lost on the first turn of the game. We didn’t not complete the first turn. The second game we lost badly, but we were able to progress for a few turns and start to get a feel for the game. The final game we played we won, but we all decided to be a little loose with the rules and we had 2 fairly weak elder gods. It was a fun experience but you always feel like you are behind the 8-ball and fighting for everything you do.
We did this last year and I have an extensive collection for this game, so playing with other people can be fun. The first game was ok. We had a mix of first timers and veterans. I got to play a quad-mech for the first time. That was fun.
The second game we got teamed up with 3 kids and their dad. They played non-sense. We had 2 other players join in more than half way though the game, but neither of them were deeply engaged either. Overall, Gabe and I might not do it again next year.
We had scheduled to do a Shadowrun game on Sunday. We didn’t know what would be required so we decided to have a guiding hand teach us to make the game. They had an interesting idea where we fill out a questionnaire that helps guide us though character creation. You choose what you want for skills and such but it helps limit the scope and focus to things that will get used in common modules. I like the overall process, but we had to transcribe it afterwards to a real Shadowrun sheet.
I built a Street Mage and Gabe made a newer archetype called an Aspect Mage. My character was modeled and inspired by Harry Dresden. I’ve read a few of the books and thought he could be fun and useful. Gabe was building a mage, but he was limited to one school of magic, in his case combat. It’s a neat idea, but in practices he wasn’t quite as good as either a Mage or Street Samurai. We were also given, we learned on Sunday, bum advice for our characters.
Last year Gabe was a huge fan of this game and we almost bought it. It’s kinda like Werewolf or Mofia, but more deterministic. It’s a good game and this year I got super into it. Gabe wasn’t and by that time he was really tired from the days events.
Shadownrun: One Stone: Two Birds
Finally, the last game on the last day. This was the only game we had on Sunday. Overall, the GM started learning the rules about 3 weeks ago and the module 4 days before. Needless to say it didn’t go well. He didn’t know the rules. Our magic focused character were basically useless in this heavy technology focused module. The GM tried to include us but he didn’t know magic and how it worked so he stuck more with decker and the gun people. A lack luster end to an otherwise great weekend.
We actually didn’t buy any board games this year, despite having the truck. We could have bought some bigger stuff and I asked Gabe if wanted too but he didn’t. We did purchase some RPG books and accessories. I’m super happy with our take home this year. Here are a few items we got in no particular order. Images to come later if you want to seem them.
Gabe and I both got dice trays. His is a larger version of the leather ones I have, but it’s felt on the inside. Mine is a Wyrmwood wooden dice trey. I love it. It looks gorgeous and my dice roll nice in it. I purchased metal dice, copper I believe. I can’t remember if it was copper or bronze. They have a nice weight to them, more than I would like to roll on my dining room table so getting a nice dice tray was important to me. I purchased some D&D books at half price. Find the book deal with 10 bookcases of RPG books on the last day. Each book case has to be really heavy and expensive to move, they will start cutting deals to make them lighter. I picked up another Players Handbook, Xanathar guide to everything, Dragon Heist, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage. I also got buy 1 get 2 free on a Tales from the Crypt RPG with Crypt Keepers Companion book. Finally I picked up a paper copy of the D6 System. It’s a generic system to for running any type of game, like GURPS but for a D6 only system.
I picked up a dice set for the little girls. I got the same colour for both of them, so they won’t fight over who’s whos. I got Samara a Sirius Black t-shirt. It’s nice.
In closing, it may have seem like I was negative on some of the games I played. That’s largely meaning I wouldn’t buy them. There was only 1 that I didn’t have that much fun with and that was mentioned above. We both had a great time and it’s rare that we get this much Father and Son time. I cherish it.