Gen Con 2013 is over! I say that with a heavy heart because this is one of the best Gen Cons I attended. I played a multitude of games, did battle at Iron GM and haunted the vendor area looking for ways to spend my hard earned money. This is my first report of what I did at Gen Con and the various items are presented in no particular order.
Arriving from Phoenix into Indianapolis three hours late thanks to an airline issue prevented me from doing much except getting settled in and setting up the infrastructure in our room for Artemis, a starship battle simulator. We hooked up an Apple TV to the HDMI port that the JW Marriot thoughtfully provided and drove each bridge station from laptop. We got in a few games over several days as a time killer before sleep took us. A fun game, far from perfect but it is a great time with 5 players.
Rising slowly from the clutches of jet lag on Thursday I hit a game of “Metamorphosis Alpha.” Yes, the original version from the late 1970s that was an intellectual precursor to Gamma World. Our intrepid party of humans and mutants sought guidance from our Gods (the various computers in the space ship) and flew the “chariot of the gods” (shuttle) outside our world to destroy an incoming asteroid. We had a great table and there was some great role-playing. I took the opportunity to found a new religion based on the things my primitive mind witnessed. I was going to spread the gospel of “Baydoor” a large, metal portal that lead to heaven where I did battle with the rock of evil. Always fun to start a new religion.
I always try new games at Gen Con so I went into this game with no preconceptions. I had heard the name “13th Age” and signed up out of curiosity. Strictly speaking I played “Midgard” using the 13th Age rule set, but it was enough to glean some useful information about the game. The Midgard setting was fun, but it was not different enough of other fantasy worlds to really spark any excitement. Nothing horrible, just nothing memorable either.
The 13th Age rules set did leave an impression.
13th Age is a modified (for the better), but still recognizable version of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Of course the terminology is different due to copyright reasons, but the basic mechanics are the same. This is not surprising given the 13th Age designer worked on 4E. There is just one tiny issue with this fact.
I loathe 4th Edition. I hate it with the burning fire of a thousand suns. The reason are too numerous to mention, but suffice it so to say I would rather stay home and watch season two of “Seaquest DSV” when it truly sucked than play any variation of 4E.
This was my first and last game using the 13th Age rule set.
Monte Cook is a legend in the RPG industry so I had high hopes for his recent kickstarter effort “Numenera.” There is a full review pending in the very near future, but simply put this is one of the best RPGs I have ever played. Ever. The game mechanics are simple, but encompass enough depth to give the game a slightly “crunchy” rules feel. The book, setting and and art are very well done. That is all I will say for now, but it does make me wonder how much of Numenera sprang from rejected ideas that WOTC did not want in “D&D Next.” Pure speculation on my part, of course, but it is an interesting thought.
Numenera was the highlight for me of Gen Con 2013.
Nearly dead from exhaustion, we crashed and arose Friday morning for some “Dresden Files.”
I am an unrepentant Dresden geek that would follow Harry Dresden to the Outer Gates and beyond. Dresden books are high pulp, but they are really fun, so I had high hopes for this game. The story and the GM were great as the party tracked down an evil wizard framing some senators in a sex scandal using black magic and summoned demons. Since the PCs were knowledgeable about the magical world I got to whip out some Dresden knowledge like creating a circle with a drop of blood to hedge demons or setting off a fire sprinkler to mess with an enemy caster (water dispels magic in the Dresdenverse).
Sadly, I had never played the “FATE” rules set before and found it not to my liking. It is a personal bias that I prefer a bit more crunch in my systems. Not 3.5 OGL crunch, but a bit more than FATE had to offer. Still it was a fun game and I may pick up this book just for the source material.
A several hour interlude lead to to the exhibitor hall for a bit of shopping. I was thrifty this year and only bought a souvenir t-shirt, a copy of the Void RPG from Wildfire and Numenera. The vendor area was packed and generally indicated a level of economic health I had not seen in years from the gaming industry. I would give Paizo or Fantasy Flight the award for the busiest booth. Fantasy Flight especially had lines you would not believe. The new wave of ships for X-Wing disappeared like a force ghost as soon as they hit the racks.
Friday night Haaldaar and I participated in the the 922 person, world record breaking game of “Settlers of Catan” run by Mayfair Games. While the setup for the event was a chore with lots of waiting around and moving through lines, we did finally start the game. I give Mayfair credit for getting 900+ game board setup and it was a fun event overall. After that, we stayed up too late playing Artemis again.
Saturday brought one of my favorite events and a yearly staple.
Lots of miniature planes, lots of people and far too many 4 point damage cards always make this game fun. Take a look at this picture.
We were the Allied planes and were in perfect position to slay those kraut eaters…until all our guns jammed. Arg! Such are the fortunes of war. Though the game was fun, it was poorly attended compared to last year, perhaps 50% fewer competitors. My best guess was it started at the same time as the X-Wing national championship tournament and there is a lot of players that do both, since they are very similar games. With the decreased attendance the “wow” factor on this event faded a bit. I may skip it next year.
I competed in the Iron GM competition this year and lost. This event requires a substantial report which will appear later in the week.
Finally got a chance at the new Star Wars game and had a good time. We had to hunt down a spice stealing bounty hunter for a rival criminal gang. High action, high pulp, some interesting role-playing made for a fun game, but the dice mechanics I felt were just “ok.” Fantasy Flight went with dice pools for conflict resolution but chose custom dice with different symbols to determine success/failure or whether you get some advantage or setback (a “threat” in game terminology). The game mechanics make for quick combat resolutions, but it left me feeling a bit flat. I will play Edge of the Empire at a convention as a one-off to fill a slot, but there was not enough there to really interest me enough to buy into the game.
By this time it was Sunday and the convention was over. In fact, for some it was a fatal experience. Here is the first gamer death I witnessed as I left the convention center. Note his peaceful repose as his spirit left his worn-out body.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer