Gencon Day One: Lift off!

Day One of Gencon began with me leaping from bed at the crack of 9am!  Which for me is sleeping in; I normally get up between 5:30-6:30 every morning.  But add up the cumulative effects of a 31 hour car ride, an embuggered knee and a pretty busy Day Zero and my brain made the wise decision to ignore room mate distractions and stay in bed.  Since I am going to have to be up at my usual hour for the rest of the weekend, I seconded my brains decision and we ratified it to the enthusiastic sleeping of my body.

First stop on Day One, the Dealer’s Hall!  How to describe the Gencon Dealer’s Hall…  Imagine a gaming store roughly the size of two football fields (I say roughly, because I don’t know if you follow American or Canadian Football.  And if you’re a soccer fan…actually the analogy still works).  Imagine that this ginormous store has split its stock up by company, and each company has sent its own representatives to man these sections.  They make sure anything you want is on-hand, run demos, show you the cool new stuff and so one.  Imagine that this behemoth among gaming stores also featured a full-size gallery of amazing fantasy art.  Imagine an entire section given over to creators of geek product, whether they be webcomics, jewellery, soap, T-shirts, what-have-you.  And this goliath of stores has also put aside a section for fun nerd activities like LARP and videogame demos.  And if that weren’t enough, periodically they bring in nerd celebrities to sign things for you and say hello.

That would be a pretty damn amazing game store, wouldn’t it?  The sort of place you’d wish to have your gamer ashes buried when you die?  That store exists for four days a year my friends, and it is the Gencon Dealer’s Room.  Other dealer rooms dream of growing up to be one tenth as cool.

I’ll talk about demos and such later on, because 1) Wow. ; 2) I only had three hours and I’m not done yet! (re: aforementioned Ginormous); and 3) they deserve a post all their own.  Let me leave it with an understated, “I had fun.” And move on.

My only real shopping for the weekend was done at the Paizo booth, with my sweet, sweet store credit.  As often happens, however, if one does not pay in money one pays in time; the store was busy with a capitol “Buh! How long is the line!?”  I stepped up to what I thought were three marginally long lines at the counter, confident that I might make it out of the booth in under 20 minutes.  Jason Bulmahn, Game Designer and Line Warden extraordinaire graciously corrected my mistake and directed me to the end of the “feeder line” which stretched out and around almost three sides of the 25’-on-a-side booth.  Twenty minutes later I could see the counter again, and ten after that I was back at the front of the feeder line.  And then, 15 minutes later, I had my purchases and my escape into the rest of the hall.

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Gencon Protip:  If you can avoid it, try not to buy anything in the Dealer Room first thing on the Thursday.  Sometimes it can’t be avoided (exclusives, limited copies of new product and so on), but seriously, wait even a few hours if you can.  It could mean the difference between an hour wait in line versus a ten minute wait in line.  And time is not your friend at Gencon!

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That afternoon was the start of my weekend’s GMing servitude in the Pathfinder Organized Play salt-mines.  I arrived a half-hour before my start time because frankly I’m a hero.  Arriving early turned out to be a good choice, because there seemed to be a bit of organizational confusion as to how they wanted to muster us.  But because we are all awesome people things were worked out and my table got underway.

I won’t bore you with a play–by-play, but the table ran well and just about everybody had fun.  I say just about everybody, because one of the guys at my table brought his ten-year-old son along with him to the game and made him play.  Now the boy seemed really smart and I have no doubts that he could rock Pathfinder, if he was at all interested in it.  He was not.  Probably didn’t help that he was given the cleric pre-gen to play (not a good beginner character), but it became clear that no amount of GM-fu on my part was going to bring this kid into the light during the session.  Luckily, before I could kill myself trying the father’s other friend showed up and took over for the son, who was freed to play the DS he always dreamed of.  Things were smoother after that and the table rocked its way to the end of one of my favourite Society scenarios, #3-18 The God’s Market Gamble.

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Gencon Protip:  Hey, parents bringing your kids to Gencon.  I’m super-excited you are exposing your child(ren) to your nerdery.  I can’t think of a better place to do it, because as you know Gencon is pretty damn nerdy.  But there is a right way and a wrong way.  Wrong way: tagging your kid along behind you to events you love that he/she is too young to understand/enjoy, and getting cranky because your child won’t just sit quiet and let you play.  Not to alarm you, but that child is not just an elaborate doll, it is a miniature human.  The right way?  Take in any of the hundred or so age-appropriate events for kids at Gencon, you moron!  If you can’t do that because it will cramp your M:TG draft chances, don’t bring your kid with you.  Because all you are sharing is grief with the rest of us.

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We finished with enough time to allow me a meal between sessions.  Time being what it was, I bought a slice of pizza in the convention centre.  $4 got me a huge slice of mediocre pizza (“Passable and Plenty of it!”) and I waited for the next slot which was another table of the exact same scenario.  Whether it was the warm-up table or the dearth of disaffected pre-teens, my evening slot went really well.  The players were buying what I was selling and there were triumph and tears in equal measure.  Not only that, we finished a bit early, which meant I could head back to my room before midnight.

I know, I know, a hardcore gamer like me, scurrying back to his hotel room like a frightened little mouse.  Look, I have no doubt I could find a game to join at that hour; I passed enough of them on my way out of the ICC.  But the fact is, dorks, I wasn’t there on my time, I was there on Paizo’s.  They trust me to run good tables, and I can’t do that if I am slobbering tired from playing Dawn Patrol until, well, dawn.  If I was there just for me, you bet I’d be gaming.  But I’m not, and it’s called maturity (oh how I hate it so).

Okay, Day One is a wrap!  Games played, merch bought and swag…swagged.  Stay tuned for Day Two, coming to a blog post near you!  Assuming you come here, or subscribe.

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  1. Pingback: Gencon Day Two: Houston, We Have a Problem! | Renaissance Dork

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