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.



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.



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.”


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.


Gen Con 2013: Costumes

I decided to do a bonus post to show all the costume pictures I took at this year’s Gen Con. I don’t have the patience to cosplay, but I love that so many other people do. It’s one of the best parts of the show, and I made it a point to get more pics this year. At the end of this post, I’ve posted the costume parade again, in case you missed it in a previous post, or in case you just feel like seeing more costumes.

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Gen Con 2013 Day 4: So Long and Thanks for All the Fun

This marked the first year we attended Gen Con on Sunday. We’re usually so tired by Day 3 that we just go home after hotel checkout. This year, though, we came back to buy the games we’d decided on from the day before.  We also talked to the convention manager at AEG,  and we might be helping out with a con in KC in November. I’m kind of excited about that.
We got on the road a little after 11 and had a nice drive. As we neared St. Louis, we decided to drive right through the city so Terry could see the arch. It was so close that we threw caution to the wind and decided just to go visit it. I love impromptu trip stops!  The arch was cool…definitely bigger in person.  The only one of us who’d visited there was Erica, so it was a cool treat.
It was a little bit of a walk, but it was a nice stretch. I hadn’t realized there was a museum underneath the arch either.
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I debated going to the top in the tram, but decided against it due to time constraints. That, and the fact that the trams are tiny, and I wasn’t sure if I was mentally prepared for the claustrophobia or the height. However, I think Jon and I are going to go up when we visit St. Louis in November.  That’s the plan, though I think we’re both a little apprehensive about that.
The rest of the drive was uneventful other than a few stops and some good conversation. Our trip mates were fabulous to road trip with and the drive didn’t feel too long at all. We crashed shortly after getting home, happy with our experiences and just a little sad that they were over.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Holding Strong

It’s the second day of the con and I’m still holding in there. There is definitely a level of tiredness happening, but it’s tolerable and may be helped with some coffee at some point.

Tonight I don’t think we’ll be getting back to the hotel until after midnight, and I will be crashing pretty immediately. More shenanigans tomorrow!


Successful Second Day…Still Having Connection Issues

Just a quick one to keep this on the daily, but still planning to post the big posts next week. I will say that my fear that I would be too tired to get around today was unfounded. Sure, I was a little tired, and I lost some steam this evening, but overall, I kicked butt and logged over 10,000 steps for the second day in a row.  

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to Tweet or FB or Instagram throughout the day, which is kind of a bummer. But I will have lots of pics to post and show later for anyone who wants to see them.  Also, I think I had issues last year too. I just had the deja vu typing that paragraph. 

Sleep, then onward to day 2. 


Overwhelmed and No Internet

As I figured, I think the Gen Con posts are going to have to wait. It’s not late, but internet is spotty, I have a ton of pics to go through, and I really need to collect and organize my thoughts. The day was full and overwhelming, but in the best way possible.

So I’m thinking next week will bring some extra posts amidst the daily grinds. I’ve been trying to Tweet throughout the day, so if you’re on the edge of your seat, give @lifewithfelber a follow.

Now to rest and recover for another long one tomorrow.