Gen Con 2011 Recap

TrollsThe best four days in gaming have come and gone and I can say that this ranks as one of my top Gen Cons ever. I mean, I’ve only been to five, but still, this was right at the top. It wasn’t perfect, I left with some regrets, and yet I enjoyed it so thoroughly that even now as I write this two weeks later, to think of it puts a smile on my face.

Since I started going to Gen Con Indy, each year I have done it as part of something, never as a regular attendee. Last year I went as an Exhibitor to help out Rogue Games. This year I went back to being Press, as I’d done in 2007-08, but not for my own show/blog. This year I went as part of the team putting together This Just In… From Gen Con, along with my friend and co-host Rich Rogers (you can read about how that happened here). I knew it would be a lot of work, but it provided a great new window through which to view this awesome convention. Rather than go day-by-day, I’m doing thematic recaps.


Despite all the time devoted to the podcast, I did manage to find the opportunity to play a few games and do a few demos on the Exhibitor’s Hall. I ran a game of Lady Blackbird for five people, three of which had never played it. It wasn’t a planned game, just something to that came together when all of us found ourselves standing around without a game to join. It was the most interesting Lady Blackbird session I have played as I was able to put into action a few ideas about that game I had been mulling over for a while (skip the boring setup, force the agendas out in the open, get to the Pirate King!). One of my players, Amanda Valentine, wrote about it on her blog, and I am very happy that she and the entire group had a great experience (Steampunk Jane Austen FTW!). I also played in another game of Lady Blackbird on Sunday evening, and in a game of Shelter in Place, an upcoming zombie LARP game which was laugh-out-loud fun. Rounding it out were a few sessions of Martian Dice, which I bought, and two games of unpublished prototypes: Feed the Birds by Tim Rodriguez, which is really done and needs to be published, and Battletech Deckbuilding Mechfighting Game by Thomas Denagh, which needs tweaking but was actually fun and a great idea in the making.

Lastly, I got to do Sagefight, a one-on-one duel with Ryan Macklin which I won. You can see the entire duel below.


I did a lot of this at Gen Con. There’s a lot of people I only get to see once a year and I wanted to make sure that I had a good amount of time with them. My friend Robert came from Puerto Rico and this was fantastic. I also got to see my friend Mick who drove up from Kentucky for two days, as well as JJ Lanza and Rich Rogers and so many others I simply cannot name because it will take way too much space. As always my roommate and friend David Miller. And even my Miami friend Enrique and some other local folk, we ended up meeting over at Gen Con because back home we’re busy with life and stuff. I went to the Diana Jones Awards on Wednesday and was overwhelmed by the amount of industry friends all in one place, went to a social soiree on Thursday and right after did karaoke, had a wonderful Shabbat dinner on Friday, hung around the Gen Con Party on Saturday night before spending some quality time with my Puerto Rican friends, etc. I certainly filled up my social meter during this Gen Con, that’s for sure.


I’m going to do an entire post-mortem on having done This Just In… From Gen Con, but briefly, it was a great experience, even if it was exhausting. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people, be they guests or patrons or audience members, and that alone made it all worthwhile. I was on Press mode every day during Hall hours, and I was sure to spread the word about the show far and wide.


I bought very little this year. I already had some of the things that were hot at the show due to pre-orders or Kickstarter, and some that caught my fancy I did not get either because I forgot to go back to buy them or I was more judicious and ruthless with myself knowing I would not really get to play X or Y, so I could always get it later. I also didn’t get any review copies of any game (and I wasn’t asking either), though since I have already received a card game from Looney Labs (thanks!). There’s a lot of the Exhibitor’s Hall I didn’t get to see properly due to my duties elsewhere, which I guess helped me not to spend too much.

Here’s what I brought back, and if you go here, you can see the notes that say what is what.

The Loot


As I said, I loved this Gen Con. The new Exhibit Hall area meant I couldn’t just use pre-mapped mental routes, which forced me to look at everything anew. I still didn’t get to see everything, and I honestly got lost quite a few times, but it was fantastic to wander through the hall as if for the first time once more. I had a lot of work to do each day, as you can imagine when producing and releasing two podcast episodes a day, but that also allowed me to meet a lot of great people. I got to hang out with dear friends I only get to see once a year, if that. I got to play a couple of games despite it all. And I had the most wonderful Shabbat dinner at Gen Con so far.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to Gen Con 2012!

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