Gen Con Wrap Up

I wasn’t as ambitious this year as I was last year and didn’t do a daily post for Gen Con. A lot of that was because things were a bit different for Jon and I this year. Not bad, but different, and we wanted to try to minimize things, which meant not taking a computer with us.

Other differences: minimal bag carrying, working part time for AEG, no digi-cam or cosplay photos, different hotel room and travel routes, and no food truck experiments. While generally these could be seen as minor differences, they did give us a slightly different Gen Con experience than in the past.

I’ve decided to break this post down into our Gen Con highlights and lowlights, complete with a few random pictures I was able to take with my phone.

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Highlights:

1. Working for AEG – Fellow gamers might be familiar with AEG or Alderac Entertainment Group. They have a bunch of fun games, including Legend of the Five Rings, Trains, and Doomtown: Reloaded. This year, we had the opportunity to work part time for them. They are a great bunch of people, and it’s hard to go wrong when “work” means “teaching people to play new games.”

2. Playtesting – We made it a point to get in three playtests in the First Exposure Playtest Hall, one of our annual favorites. Basically, you pick a game that’s not yet out on the market, play it, and give the creators feedback. We did a board game, an RPG, and a miniatures game and had a blast trying out all of them. Jon and I could probably take one full day to do nothing more than playtest. Seriously.

Dream Heist was a blast...hope to buy this one when it comes on the market!
Dream Heist was a blast…hope to buy this one when it comes on the market!

3. Swag – Volunteering has its perks, and we ended up bringing home a ton of games. On our last day there, we splurged a bit and bought a few things as well. It’s safe to say we have enough games to last us the rest of the year and beyond, including a new horror RPG for me to scare people with. Mwahahaha.

Game on!
Game on!

4. Culinary finds – For various reasons, we didn’t end up trying any food trucks this year. After our initial annual splurge at The Ram, it was mostly Steak ‘N’ Shake for us, with two tasty exceptions. For breakfast one morning, we discovered a great restaurant called First Watch that served amazing food. We also found the part of the mall that houses Haagen-Dazs. So that was a thing that happened one evening.

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5. Walking – We walked everywhere! We even took walks when we didn’t need to, and breaks were minimal. Instead of making Jon go back to the car if we needed something, I went with him. I’ve come a long way in five conventions, and considering how much better it makes the whole experience, it’s a good reminder to keep up the “training.”

Lowlights:

1. Hotel – Our regular hotel doubled their prices last year, so we booked another one that was more within what we were used to paying. Normally we get lucky with the cheap hotels, but the one we got this year was awful. It smelled funny, had a sad breakfast,  no soundproofing, and even though the staff was friendly, they weren’t super efficient or knowledgeable.

2. Traffic – Gen Con wasn’t the only thing going on last week and weekend. The Indiana State Fair was happening and Saturday brought a Colts pre-season game. Even though we got to the ICC early on Thursday, we stayed gridlocked for about a half hour and then had trouble finding parking, something we’ve never had an issue with before. Leaving the convention center on Saturday brought more gridlocked traffic among the sea of gamers and Colts fans.

3. Con crud – For the first time ever, I got sick after Gen Con. I started feeling it on the drive home on Sunday, and on Monday it was full blown grossness. It’s about four days later and I’m still feeling the effects of it, but I’m recuperating. Washing your hands religiously is a good thing, but sometimes the crud will find a way.

4. The drive – I normally love road trips and I love to drive, but this year the drive felt super long and uncomfortable. Our trip started with a few annoyances, like the gas station not being opened early enough for us to get a drink and Dunkin’ Donuts not having the mix needed for the drink I wanted. Later it got worse with stalled vehicles on the highway and rush hour traffic. I realize none of these are huge and most of them are to be expected, but they seemed more dramatic this year than they should have been.

However, we did stop and see the world’s largest wind chime again, and that was pretty awesome!IMG_20140812_132326[1]

All in all, our fifth year at Gen Con was a success and we’re already looking forward to 2015.

A.

Dallas Comic Con 2014

The weekend before last, Jon and I took a mini road trip to Texas for Dallas Comic Con. My brother-in-law invited us a couple months ago and scored passes for us, so we couldn’t resist. The drive is a longish one…eight hours to Burleson, where we stayed with family, and then another hour to Dallas for the con. It was well worth it!

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We made sure to get there early to try to avoid long lines. We didn’t avoid them entirely, but it was okay. In fact, we waited in three lines. This first line was the one to get into the ticket pick-up area. It wound around and down the convention hallway. It moved fast, though, which was nice.

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I found Waldo!

The second line was just as quick. The convention staff had this down to a science. We picked up our orange bracelets (one of the staff called them “fun shackles,” and yes, we giggled like 12 year old boys) before heading down to our third line, where we ended up having to hang for awhile until they opened the exhibitor hall doors. We stood behind Batman and Catwoman, and the cosplayers were nice enough to let me take a picture.

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The exhibitor hall was huge. Jon and I started by browsing the booths and taking some pictures of the vehicle models they had on the floor. The Winchesters’ Impala (from Supernatural) was the highlight of the vehicles. I made sure to get some pictures for my mom, who’s a huge fan of the show (yes..my mom is a fangirl).

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Weeping Angel…don’t blink!

100_2496 100_2498Sadly, I started tiring out quickly, though I don’t know if it was because I didn’t pace myself or because I didn’t sleep well the night before. The floors of the exhibitor hall were brutal, so it wasn’t long before my legs started hurting. Still, I wasn’t giving up. I stopped by a few vendors I’d wanted to see, then went down to the autograph hall.

One of my favorite movie villains of all time is Freddy Kruger. I was watching the Nightmare on Elm Street films long before I was what most parents would deem age appropriate, but none of the gore and horror struck me as a major thing when I was young. When I found out that Robert Englund and other cast members were going to be there, I was cautiously hopeful about getting to meet him.

The line wasn’t super long when I got in, but it filled up quickly. Not only did I get his autograph and get to meet him, but I also got a selfie with him as well.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that yes, I did pay for both the autograph and the selfie. While I don’t normally spend money for celebrity encounters at fan cons, for me, this was worth it. I’ve heard horror stories of celebs taking your money and giving you a quick autograph with little to no interaction, so I knew I was taking a chance. But Englund didn’t disappoint. He was very nice and we even talked for a bit about the movie and the mythos around it.

As part of the combo, I also got the autograph of Amanda Wyss who played Tina in the movie. Once again, another celebrity who was nice, who chatted, and who seemed genuinely grateful to her fans.

And as a bonus, while I was standing in line, I got to see Brent Spiner, who walked through the curtain to get to his booth and gave us all a wave and a “hello.”

I found Jon and we went and grabbed some lunch before heading to the Q&A panel with Christopher Lloyd. He talked about the Back to the Future movies and some of his other work.  
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Later, we went back to the panel hall for the Nightmare on Elm Street reunion Q&A. It was interesting to hear them talk about the film and their experiences making it. As a bonus, it also got Jon interested in doing a NoES movie marathon with me…which is awesome since he doesn’t normally like horror movies.

100_2509We ended the day playing some board games. DCC had a whole area dedicated to gaming…which is one of our things…so we played a new game called Loonacy, a round of Fluxx, and two rounds of Ticket to Ride.

It was a fun day, but I crashed hard that night. There were a lot of people there. Luckily, my social anxiety stayed down for the most part. It was so worth going, and I’m hoping we can make it again next year!

A.

Tengaicon 2013 – I’m Calling it a Sucess!

It’s just after midnight, so I guess technically I missed my daily blog deadline, but I’m still awake, so it counts. We just got home a little bit ago, and I was tempted to put off yet another post so I could crash. But I wanted to get something out about today, so here goes, with apologies if anything sounds off or wonky…I’m really tired.

I don’t think I’ve talked much about Tengaicon, so here’s some back story. It’s a local, one day gaming convention in MHK that’s been going on for close to a decade. It’s had its ups and downs, and last year it had a streak of bad luck.  In an effort to help get it back on track, I headed the committee for this year’s event. At the time I volunteered, I was in what I like to call “crazy planning mode.”  I figured I’d eventually burn out, but the goal was to make sure everything was ready before that burn out happened.  I wanted the end goal to be a plan of action that could be followed and built upon the following years.

For the last year, our committee has been organizing and getting things in place. There were several meetings at the beginning of the planning period, but eventually, as things came together, they tapered off. By the time we were a week away from the con, I felt that everything was on track. Sure, I let the ball drop a little bit. We could have done more marketing and PR, and there were a few details regarding food that missed the mark. But that was really all in hindsight, and I was cautiously optimistic that we’d have a good convention (and by cautiously optimistic, I was worried and stressed that no one would show up).

For our crew, the con stuff started last night when we met at the hall to set up.  Set up was quick, as we had a good volunteer crew. This morning we were back at 8 to put the finishing touches on the hall and to pick up some last minute things at the grocery store.  From the time the doors opened at 9:30 to sometime in the afternoon, we seemed to have a steady stream of people.

The day was fun! We had several local gaming groups attend, and they each brought in a good number of players. We also had casual gamers show up who found something that interested them. We had Tab Creations, a local game maker/company, come and demo a new game that’s going to be a Kickstarter project. We had our dice table, our silent auction to raise money for Child’s Play, paint and take, local artists, and concessions.  Everyone I talked to seemed to be having a good time. We got a lot of positive feedback and everyone was really nice.

Besides the demo, I didn’t do any gaming since I was trying to make sure everything was going well. I wanted to make sure all my volunteers had breaks, that all of our vendors and GMs  were thanked, and that the gamers were having a positive experience. I’m not sure if I was able to really talk to everyone, and I think I accidentally let a few people go a little long without a break, but I think things were okay and nobody seemed burned out by the end of the day (I did have a few flashbacks of my days as lead cashier at Glens, though).

Jon and I made it out by 11, sticking around to make sure the last few groups made it out okay and doing last minute hall cleaning. I’m grateful to everyone who helped and played. In the final counts, we ended up making a profit and I believe we had over 100 attendees. For a small convention, this was pretty awesome.

We still have a few things to do, like contact the silent auction winners who weren’t there to pick up their stuff when it ended, and set up a post-con meeting to recap and make a plan for moving forward. I also want to email everyone with thanks and put some notes and schedules down on paper to pass on to whoever my successor is going to be.  Because seriously, I’m so happy with how this turned out, and I want any future convention to continue to improve on what we accomplished today.

But those things can wait for tomorrow. I’m falling asleep typing this, so I think it’s time for much needed rest. I don’t think our double day of working out is going to happen tomorrow, as my back is killing me tonight. But we’ll see. And while I realize I’ve failed on pictures for this post, I think I’ve persuaded Terry to give me some of the pictures he got today in hopes of putting together a special Tengaicon picture post.

A.

 

Hiking, Climbing, and Dungeon Crawling

It’s been a long day, but for the most part, it was good. I usually like having Sundays to just chill, but we’re getting into a time of year when that’s not always going to be the case. I should clarify that my idea of “chill” could include walking, hiking, and anything that doesn’t include sitting around the house. But…it could also mean just that.

We were up early at the in-laws this morning, wanting to grab a few more geocaches before our weekend there ended.  The first three were “did not finds.” We were feeling pretty bummed. To be fair, we didn’t stay for long at any of them, partially due to muggles, partially due to just wanting to do some more exploring. After we couldn’t find the third one, I wasn’t sure if we should try to find a nano in a high muggle area, but Jon wanted to  check it out, so we did. He found it in a few minutes.

The next two were out in the country, which involved a bit of a drive and a turtle rescue.

It's okay, little turtle. At least you won't be a turtle pancake in the middle of the road!
It’s okay, little turtle. At least you won’t be a turtle pancake in the middle of the road!

The first “country” cache was a hike through some tall grass on the side of the road, and the other was a cemetery cache.  It was starting to get hot by that time, and Dad F was bringing us breakfast, so we headed back to house, ate, and watched some TV before heading back to MHK. I couldn’t resist, though, and found one more in Andover, a large that ended up being a hike across a field and an obstacle course through some trees.

We were on a time table to get back to MHK for a game, but we decided to take one last geocache detour (I know, it’s always “one last” with us). This one was about ten minutes off the beaten path, so we were definitely bumping up against our time. Once we finally found it, we weren’t sure if we were up for the challenge.  It was on what could be considered a hill but struck me more as a plateau, with the sides going almost straight up. The climb honestly looked like more of a challenge than I was up for. Jon managed to get to the top while I looked for a lower part to climb with no luck. I was going to let him find it on his own, but when I got back to where we parked, I figured all I needed was a little bit of courage.

Using the grass to help pull myself up and paying attention to my footing, I managed to get up the hill.  Out of breath and sweaty and gross, all I could think at that moment was “Holy cow, I just rocked my own world.” This was seriously another moment of pride for me.  The view was gorgeous and worth the climb, and shortly after I got up there, Jon made the find. Getting down the hill was a little less graceful. I literally had to sit on the ground and slide down because my knees and balance were not going to let me walk down that slope. Still, it was worth the dirt and the grass cuts I ended up with.

On the drive back to the highway, we came up on some uprooted trees that I thought were kind of haunting.

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We made it back to town, and even being dirty and gross, we got to our game on time.

I’m easing back into RPG games after kind of losing my mojo for it. Jon and I were invited to play in a Pathfinder game, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m playing a human fighter and our first encounters were level one dungeon crawly type things where we killed a bunch of rats and skeletons. It was fun! I’m not used to Pathfinder, so I’ll probably have more questions as this progresses. I’m excited to see where the story goes and getting to know the other players who all seem like cool people.

After the game, we headed to the campus library to distribute con flyers at a movies on the grass event. Unfortunately, shortly after we got there, Jon started shaking and feeling sick. I think it was probably a mix of not eating and dehydration, but it freaked me out. We ended up leaving before it started, but they let me hand out some flyers and put some on a table for people to grab.  I had a touch of guilt, but  I wasn’t taking any chances.  Everything is okay now. Jon’s feeling better, though a little run down.

We decided to stay in MHK one last night since my friend offered the extra night to stay at her house. Once I got here, I took a shower and sat down to handle some emails and other projects. Jon has a test tomorrow night, so I’m going to be doing some con updates and correspondence at Hastings.

It was a good weekend overall. We didn’t get as much activity as we’d wanted, but what we did get was fun.  The goal this week is to get back into our routine. We made our gym goal this past week, but not our walking goal. Which is okay. Now we just try again for the coming week.

A.

Wasted Days and Running from Zombies

This whole day felt wasted. That probably isn’t fair to say, since things did get accomplished, but I’ve been spoiled with having weekends where Jon and I can go do stuff together and have a good time, and today wasn’t really like that.

We slept in a bit and had breakfast at home for once. We bought some sausage and gravy Banquet pot pies and each had one. They were really good and really filling.  On the way into town, however, Paradise Donuts caught our eye, and we decided to treat ourselves. I’m not usually a donut person, but I was feeling off this morning and kind of grumpy, so I decided to soothe the angst with a cocoa krispies donut and a frappuccino.

We started the day trying to geocache, but it was not a good day for us. We either couldn’t find the places we were supposed to be, couldn’t find a way to get to the place we needed, or just didn’t want to take the chance of being seen by muggles. We weren’t really up to much hiking today and had been hoping for some quicker grabs, but it just wasn’t happening. We did find one, but the other one we could get to we couldn’t find. The description said that no one had gotten it without help.  We’re going back before we claim defeat, but not until it cools down a bit, because I’m going to say the heat today had a little bit to do with my grumpiness.

We had a meeting for the gaming convention that went fairly well, other than the fact that I found out my updates to the site have not been posting.  I’ll have to re-update the schedule and then check with others to see if it’s working now. I suppose maybe this is my ball drop, at least the one I currently know of. However, if this is the worst that happens, we’ll be good. A couple people have had to cancel, but I’m keeping positive. We’re doing what we can do, and I think we’re doing it with relatively low stress.

After that we went to Game Hounds so Jon could meet with one of our friends to do some trading of sorts. We chatted with some people, walked to Dara’s to get some water, then headed across town to Manhattan Running Company where we finally got armbands to carry our phones in for our walks. The main goal was to not have to hand carry when we started doing the Zombies Run game, but the bands will come in handy for our regular walks too. They were a little pricey, but we’re trying to look at the long term investment. Now we just have to make sure to use them.

Though we were supposed to do our C25K today, we decided to just go ahead and try the Zombies Run. The program we started with is kind of boring, and our curiosity was getting the better of us. So instead of hitting the mall, we headed home early, figuring we’d go out later when it cooled off to walk the rec path. On the way home, we stopped at Ramblers for a later lunch. My craving for vegetables persists, so I ordered a side of steamed veggies, conveniently forgetting that I don’t really like veggies. The BBQ brisket sandwich was good, but I made the mistake of trying one of Jon’s fries. Man, there were regrets. On a good note, even though I don’t like green beans and broccoli, I did manage to eat about a quarter of the cup, so that’s progress on my part.

At home, I made playlists and laid down for a little while, procrastinating checking my website and doing updates. It’ll happen, but the day had already kind of worn on me. Finally the day got dim enough that we went out to the rec trail to take a crack at Zombies Run. Unfortunately, when we got there we realized we actually had to download the missions, which we hadn’t done at home. That was annoying, and a good way to make me feel like a moron. So we drove home to jump on our wifi, downloaded the first mission and went back.

Get ready for this drama.

It started out okay. The story was good, and I was really digging the immersive nature of it.  Every time it said I picked up something, I felt pretty cool. I got almost all the way around the track before feeling the need to rest, which is definitely an improvement. When I got to the end of the track, I was originally going to go across the parking lot to the beginning, but instead I turned around, figuring I’d just walk the loop the opposite way.  It was about that time when the first RUN happened.  My original plan of walking fast didn’t seem to cut it, as I could hear the zombie voices in the app. So I ran. Not fast. It was more of a jog, but it kicked my butt. I figured I’d be okay, and I told myself to just walk fast next time. But guess what? I ran again. The thing is, I know it’s a game, and it doesn’t feel real real, but it fuels the imagination enough that I really wanted to run and get away from the zombies.

When I got to the bench, I finally realized I needed to stop, not just because I was so tired, but because I’d pushed my lung capacity and couldn’t breathe right. I pulled the earbuds off, sat down, and then listened to what sounded like people rustling around in the woods behind me. That break didn’t last long at all. The noise could have been animals or birds, but I was already uneasy, so I booked it. I was so glad when the Mission Complete message came on. Instead of trying to make it around the track, I walked across the field, which wasn’t much easier.

Jon met me part way, and I just fell down in the grass. I didn’t faint or anything, but I was worried I was going to, so I just laid down in the grass. That was pretty major, because my knees don’t allow me to get up from ground position very easily. But it was a necessary action at that time.  I finally got up with Jon’s help and had one of those intense post exercise breakdowns where I cried. In reality, this was my best walk and considering I did run, I was kind of awesome. But in that moment, all I could focus on was that I’d failed because I couldn’t make it to the car without feeling like throwing up or passing out.

We stopped to get gas and something to drink and we talked about our future Zombie Run plans. I think we’re going to put in a little more time with the regular C25K we were doing as well as more gym time This was fun for the most part, and I know it’ll get easier in time, but I’m just not sure if we’re ready for it.

I will say, though, that for a wasted day, the walk did the trick of making me feel like I accomplished something. Now to shower and to bed. Tomorrow is an early day because….that’s right…we’re going on an adventure!

A.

Gen Con Day 3: Plan Changes and Becoming a Zombie

After the super late night on Friday, it was tough getting out of bed on Saturday, so we ended up getting a late start. After discussing some options, we decided to change up our plans. We returned some game tickets and took the opportunity to spend more time in the dealer’s room. This time, however, we made a plan. So instead of walking around wherever, we actually mapped where we were going.

We headed back to the computer game demo room so Jon could finish his punch card and enter a drawing for an iPad. Once it opened, we headed to the dealers room. Our organized plan worked well. We demoed some games early and kind of inventoried the things we wanted to buy on Sunday, comparing our wants to our budget. It was kind of a sad comparison.
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Dungeon Roll
Dungeon Roll
 One stop we made was at the Albino Dragon Games booth. I like their art and kickstarted one of their alt art decks. We learned a game and bought a coin and the gave us a free carrying bag. Such nice guys!
Lunch was a good opportunity to rest, and I needed it. Day 3 was definitely kicking my butt. Once we ate, I sent Jon back into the craziness and I rested a little bit longer.  I finally let some other con-goers have my seat, and we did one more demo at the AEG booth before finding a place to sit and discuss our plans. The truth was that we were exhausted and the evening events we’d been looking forward to, like our morning events, just didn’t sound worth the wait. So we turned the rest of our tickets in for system credit (head start on next year) and hung around the center long enough to get some more cosplay pictures and see the costume parade.
While I was turning in tickets, Jon got mobbed and turned into a zombie. I was turned shortly after. We ended the day as zombies and managed to tag a few humans before we left the convention center. We knew that was the end of our playing that game, so we found some little zombies (a group of kids between five and maybe ten) to pass our darts off to. They were thrilled! I hope they leveled up before the con was over.
We did get to see the whole costume parade this year, and it was well worth hanging around for. The batteries in my camera lasted long enough for me to get a video from a pretty decent vantage point.

.On the way to the car, Jon noticed that several of the Pathfinder posters had been “vandaleyes-ed.”

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 Back at the hotel, I had to adult for a bit to pay bills and verify that we’d have enough money to buy the games we’d decided on. With the extra swag coming home between us and our trip mates, we also needed to do some creative packing for the ride home. The evening was spent uploading pics and recharging from all the craziness.
A.

Gen Con Day 2 – New Games and Big Game Night

I was amazed at how well I was holding up by the second day of the con. I felt well enough in fact to be able to walk around the convention center and snap some display and costume pictures.

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While waiting for our first event of the day, we stopped in to demo an MMO called Duel of Champions. I’m not a PC gamer (not for want of trying) so I waited while Jon got his game on. The area had comfy seats and I was down to my last Cards vs. Zombies dart, so I hung out in the safe haven.

Our first event was another playtest, this one an RPG. It was fun and fired up my lost RPG mojo.

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The group we played with was a lot of fun. One of the best things about Gen Con is that you get to meet and game with strangers, but because you’re sharing a common interest, you feel like old friends.

We spent some more time in the dealers room browsing the booths and artist alley. We went back to the Blind Ferret booth so I could get sketches. I also picked up the 3rd QC book and got it autographed by Jeph.  At the CritSuccess booth, Jon and I found the wedding bands we hadn’t already bought, since we’d been waiting to find something that suited us.  Our rings spin in place of rolling a d20 for RPG purposes. Not sure if we’ll use them for that, but they definitely reflect our personalities.

Yes, those are rings that you can spin in place of rolling a d20. I think we've secured our nerd labels.
Yes, those are rings that you can spin in place of rolling a d20. I think we’ve secured our nerd labels.
 We made it to the booth to get more darts before we were turned into zombies, walked around some more (yes, Gen Con is much like the journey to Mordor),  then rested before our next event. While we were walking around, I snapped one of the best cosplays ever.
Happy little trees
Happy little trees
 The next event was in the Games on Demand hall. When we got there, we realized that everyone else had gotten there early and picked up boarding cards to determine order of picking the games. Had we known this, we could have gotten in early but we didn’t, so we ended up with limited picks. We opted for a Savage Worlds Avengers RPG.

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I wasn’t familiar with the mechanics but I just did what the GM and the other players told me to do. I played Beast and I punched Captain America, but it was all good. Dude was crazy.

Dinner was another round of Steak and Shake for the cheap and tasty factor. It was busy but we had a couple hours to kill before the Big Game Night. It was about there that I crashed mentally and emotionally. A few tears, a couple of prayers, and a cup of coffee later and I was (mostly) back and ready to roll.

AEG Big Game Night was amazing!  Jon and I were volunteers, so we got there early to check in, pick up our t-shirt, and get our assignments. We already knew which games we were running, but as volunteers we got to also work crowd control. I was a little unsure of what I was doing at first, but I eventually got my groove and talked to some great people, including both fellow volunteers and players. I helped teach people a game called Trains, which is a really cool deck building game. My players were awesome and laid back, and didn’t seem to even mind when I made a mistake on the rules.
At the end of the night, we both said we’d volunteer again next year. It was just a good feeling. The staff at AEG were all nice and fellow gamers are so much fun to interact with. We got our swag boxes for helping and now have some games to play at home, plus we know which games we want to buy. I had a scary moment when we couldn’t find my purse, but come to find out, the guy who stashed it just hid it really well. The walk to the car carrying the boxes was long and tiring, but we finally made it. We passed a lot of cheering in the Pathfinder hall, and a quick stop showed that someone had just proposed in front of all the gamers. By the looks of it, she said yes.
It was after midnight by the time we got back to the hotel room, which meant it was close to eight hours since we’d had dinner, and I was starving. Luckily, there was a Taco Bell just down the road, so we grabbed some fourth meal and went back to chill in the hotel room. A shot of tea gave me a caffeine boost, but it didn’t last long and I crashed hard, with the agreement with Jon that if we were too tired in the morning, we’d sacrifice our first event of Saturday.
A.

Gen Con 2013: Day 1 – Into the Exhibitor’s Hall

There was no geocaching to kick off the first official day of Gen Con because getting out of bed wasn’t as easy the second morning and  we had things scheduled for 10am that we didn’t want to be late to.

We were just two gamers in a sea of excitement.
We were just two gamers in a sea of excitement.

 

We got to the convention center early, grabbed some caffeine at one of the convention food areas, and waited for the Exhibitor’s Hall to open. There was already a huge crowd outside the doors waiting for the kick off, but we opted to sit to the side and wait until closer to the opening. We might have waited longer, but since we were chosen as volunteers for AEG’s Big Game Night, I was scheduled to do the run through on my game right away. My friend, J, was there, and we got to learn the game together during the demo. It was so much fun, and playing it beforehand made me feel a lot better about showing it to others.
"Trains" quickly became one of my favorite games ever.
“Trains” quickly became one of my favorite games ever.
Jon took off to do his own thing, so when I was done with my game, I ended up wandering about the hall for about a half hour just looking at things and trying to find the Blind Ferret booth so I could get some art from Randy Milholland and Jeph Jacques.  I picked up a few prints from Randy and met Jeph with the promise to both of them to come back with cash so I could tip for sketches and buy some QC merchandise.
Jon and I finally met up again and went and picked up our green bands for the Cards vs. Zombies game. With our down time, we went and did a swag dump in the car then went to find our Wyrd game demo location. We ended up playing a miniature board game called Puppet Wars. It was so fun! It’s pricey for a game, but you can use the figures as proxies for another miniatures game that Wyrd puts out, and it’s a game that really interested me.  After playing it, we debated long and hard about picking it up. Unfortunately, we opted out at this time, but I’m really hoping to pick it up in the future.
Puppet Wars
Puppet Wars
For lunch, we decided to try one of the food trucks outside the convention center. We opted for the BBQ truck. The pulled pork sandwich was so good!
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Our next stop was the playtest hall, where we played a game called Champions of Olympus, which involved moving around Olympus and doing quests for the gods.
Champions of Olympus
Champions of Olympus
I really enjoyed it and ended up winning, though I always get into deep thought mode with new games because I’m both trying to figure out how to play and trying to strategize. It wasn’t so far over my head that it was an issue, but I was still in concentrate mode. This was about the time that I also ran out of steam and started feeling tired.
When the game was done, I walked with Jon to his AEG training, then I wandered around by myself for about an hour and a half. I grabbed an iced tea, read for awhile, checked out the auction, and did another lap before finding a sitting and waiting in a spot closer to the parking garage. I had to perch somewhere since my phone was dead by that time, and I wanted to give Jon a location of where to find me when his game was done.
We had tickets for a concert that night, but we decided to give it a pass. We weren’t out any money and we would have had to wait for two more hours for a concert that wouldn’t be done until midnight. As fun as it sounded, I wanted to rest and be ready for the rest of the con, part of the whole “healthiness” of vacation. No so healthy…we got back to the room and ordered pizza and wings, but I had no guilt and the food was delicious.
It was so nice being able to walk around with no back pain. My only issues involved a little bit of soreness in the feet and knees, but that was from standing in one place on the few occasions we had to.  The other issue was that after we’d been sitting for a period of time, I was stiff and limpy for the first few steps. But once I got going, I was fine and didn’t need to stop. No rests for back pain this year!  I’m still walking at a snail’s pace, but you know what? I’m completely okay with that.
We finished day 1 of GC feeling good and happy!
A.

Gen Con 2013: Day 0 – Will Call and Exploration

I always call the Wednesday of Gen Con week Day 0, because there are still things going on, but the convention doesn’t technically start until Thursday.  Day 0 is the day we use to pick up our badges, have our annual lunch at The Ram, and get our rest in before the walk-a-thon that the next few days brings. At least that’s how it’s been in the past. This year was a bit different in that we didn’t use it as our day of rest. Instead, we kicked the walk-a-thon off early and then hoped that it didn’t haunt us the rest of the weekend.

The night before we decided that if we got up earlier we’d try to find a couple of local geocaches.  I was awake an hour before the alarm, and I woke Jon up too (poor guy). We grabbed breakfast, an event which showcased my first time ever using a waffle iron at a continental breakfast. It was kind of cool and tasted okay. Unfortunately, it fell short of protein, but it was also early and my stomach wasn’t up for a big meal.
Over the next hour, we found five geocaches. They were all park and grabs, but it was fun finding them! We were able to give our trackable a new home, and we found the tiniest cache yet on our adventures.
So tiny...only a small slip of paper fit in there.
So tiny…only a small slip of paper fit in there.
Writing on the tiny paper in there was a challenge, but I did it!
After the fifth one, we decided to head to the convention center. One-way streets in downtown Indy make me nervous, but we finally found parking. The walk from the parking garage to the convention center seemed much shorter this year, probably due to the distinct lack of rest stops I had to take. We hung out and met up with Terry and Erica (our trip mates who gave me permission to use their names in the blog…the mystery is solved). We got in line a little before 11 for will call with the hope that it might open early. It did, but only by about 10 minutes. The line was fast though. I think we only waited for about 15 minutes from the time the line opened to the time we got our badges.
From there, we walked to The Ram for our annual lunch. We were seated right away, and service was super fast. As we were sitting down,  Jon said, “Hey, turn around and look at the booth behind you.” I figured he was showing me a cool decoration or someone in costume. Turns out, Wil Wheaton was sitting in one of the booths behind us. I managed to keep the fan-girling to a minimum. The guy was eating lunch and I don’t want to be one of those people who hound and bother cool, well-known people in the wrong setting. So I just basked in the excitement of being near a celebrity and did nothing more than send a casual Tweet about it.
The food was delicious. Sticking with my goals of keeping it healthy this week, I got a side salad and a cup of fruit to go with my burger.
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The vinaigrette on that salad was so good. I didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to eat the healthy stuff either. I was actually craving a salad and I always love fruit, so this wasn’t a hardship at all.
Jon and I got some down time while Terry and Erica were in the VIG orientation, so we people-watched and found a good 3G spot to check the internet on our phone. Once they were done, we headed toward their hotel room. The original plan at that point was to head to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. After talking about it though, we decided it would be a pain to pay parking and then pay again to come back to the area for some evening stuff. We talked about taking a cab, but by the time we got there, we would have only had a couple hours to walk through the museum.
Instead, we opted to stay in the area and walk to the Indiana State Museum which was close to their hotel. We dropped some stuff at their room and headed over.  Jon and I got to make use of our Flint Hills Discovery Center membership perks. We talked about doing the Star Wars exhibit but decided against the 20 dollar per person cost. Instead, we walked around the regular exhibits and took a ton of pictures. I will note that it was about this time that I started losing steam. However, this was about 3 in the afternoon. That was a long period of sustained steam.
Erica got a game in her VIG swag bag, so we decided to go back to their hotel and play. We ended up sitting in the lounge area of the JW Marriott for a few hours. We met another con-goer who we invited to play. Since the game was only for four players, I sat out and just enjoyed the ambience of the area. The staff was super friendly, I got to people-watch and check the internet again, and later I had some really tasty coffee while sitting in a chair that was more like a comfy throne.
Jon and I eventually headed out to find some food and hit a MtG party at one of the local bars. We were going to check out some food trucks but ended up getting Steak and Shake. It was cheap, we didn’t have to wait long, and I love their food. Not so healthy this time…I had the fries and enjoyed every minute of them. Still managed to avoid soda, though I was craving a coke. I might have had one too, but I didn’t feel like dealing with the side effects.
We didn’t stay at the bar party long. We were both tired and bars aren’t really my thing. I did have a little bit of social anxiety, but I think it was due to the claustrophobia. There were a lot of people, and at one point, I didn’t have a way out. However, we both got hand drawn tokens from Eric Klug.
From there, it was back to the parking garage and back to the hotel room.
So much walking, but so much fun, and that was all before the convention even started…a successful kick-off.
A.