Gen Con 2015 Battle Damage Assessment

Masters and Minions - with real Minions!
Masters and Minions – with real Minions!

It is that time again; time to recap Gen Con 2015 for the folks that attended and those that didn’t.  Overall, I had more fun at this Gen Con than any other, (with the exception of one in 2010 when there was an “incident” around my Clan Wolverine interpretations during a BattleTech seminar).

Here’s my take on what I saw and my twisted interpretations:

Thursday was madness.  The crowd was massive and the lines in the exhibit hall were, well, whacked.  It was kind of odd because the majority of companies weren’t really releasing new products.  There were some notable exceptions, but for the most part, there was no big “must have” for everyone.  That’s good, it spreads the wealth around with the game companies there.  Many of the big vendors had massive lines just to see what products they had.  On Saturday the crowds were so big to get into the hall that the Fire Marshal made people stand up out of fear of being trampled.  This was a pretty weak excuse.  Most gamers are not the trample-others kind of people.  It’s far too much effort.  Besides, who knows how many hit points the victims might have.

And while we’re on that subject, WizKids was not there.  No booth at all at the Con.  Not only that, they didn’t even have another vendor there with their current products.  I wanted a freaking USS Prometheus for Star Trek Attack Wing, released a month ago, and none were available at the convention.  Just when you thought they couldn’t find a new way to irritate and disregard their fan base; WizKids managed to come up with a new way to tinkle all over their fan base.

The rumor mill was cranking about the Games Workshop “booth,” which was really just a display case with Age of Sigmar minis in it.  There was one person working that booth.  If the rumors were true, the GW staff arrived and at customs said, “We’re going to work at Gen Con.”  The Customs folks, always flexible, asked, “So where are your Visas?”  Apparently they shipped them back to the UK.  Then again, such rumors are commonplace at Gen Con.

The crowd had more females and children than I have ever seen.  I’m curious how this impacted male shopping habits, if any.

Infinity released a boxed army set.  Last year they released a boxed set and sold out.  Not so much this year, at least not by Saturday evening.  Still, it is amazing to watch their painter at the booth painting up the minis.

Hawk Games, the Dropship Commander folks had a fantastic display of minis, very eye-catching.  Mantic Games had a great Martian diorama, with walkers ripping the roof off the White House.  Catalyst Games had some new releases too, which disappeared quickly.  I really wanted to pick up a copy of their new dragon game but they were gone by day two.

Another trend I saw was companies pitching Kickstarters.  Some of these, like Delta Green, promised a Kickstarter last year, and were saying the same line this year.  That makes me nervous – it would have been better to say nothing.

Some booths had started a weird trend of subletting their space for other vendors.  It was sometimes an awkward combination of products.  I’m not so sure this is a good idea – and I’m pretty sure the Gen Con police were not pleased either.

Palladium Games were discounting RoboTech Tactics by $30 which was as pretty good deal.  It’s good to see them making some effort to recover from last year’s debacle.  That – or they just have a lot of those games in the warehouse and are suffering under carrying costs.

I got to meet Jolly Blackburn of Knights of the Dinner Table fame.  I write for the comic now and then and it was good to associate a face with the name (at least on my part).

I played a lot of demos.  One I liked the mechanics of was Heavy Steam from Greenbriar.  I didn’t like the tactical board fighting (little tactics there) but the whole routing of steam through the big robots was a fun thing.  I was shocked at their level of discount…and they were tossing in (alleged) Kickstarter exclusives too; which would have really irritated me if I had backed the product.  This has become the norm with the companies that do Kickstarters now.  There is no such thing as an “exclusive.”

Heavy Steam Demo
Heavy Steam Demo

I played the prototype of the GhostBusters Board Game.  My take – ugh!  First, it’s based on the cartoon/comic books.  Second, the mechanics are not fun, at least not in this prototype.  And one more thing game companies, how about getting the scale of the minis right?  Proportionately this mutated form of Zombicide was more clumsy than entertaining.

Ares Games had their prototype WWI bombers from their successful Kickstarter at the show.  I got some photos of them – and let me say, I’m glad I bought into that crowd-funding offering.  They were awesome.  Ares did a great job of running demos too.

IMG_0757 IMG_0759 IMG_0760

In terms of BattleTech – this was an awesome convention.  The Battletech Interstellar Operations, Beta release, it was neat to get your hands on a copy of the book in Beta.  Every Mechhead wanted one…or two.  I made my annual pilgrimage to the MechPods and maintained a sense of honor in battle.  I met a lot of fans too.  Folks I only knew through Facebook showed up and we had some great conversations.

Oh, I also met with the editor to talk about three ideas for BattleTech novels.  I thought I’d made his head explode with one of the ideas.  There was evil laughter on both sides of the table.  When you are a writer, that is a good thing.  I will do a whole blog post on my return to writing BattleTech novels – so follow this blog if that’s your thing.

I capped off the convention Saturday with two other traditions.  One, playing D&D 5.0.  My buddies and I played and it was a lot of fun.  We had a good time, despite the pits, arson, attempted arson, bombing, and the soothing of a crazed maniac.

The second thing that capped off the con was BattleTech Minions vs. Masters.  I was one of the Masters (which was a stretch).  I had them paint my ‘Mechs as…drum roll…Captain America.  Loren had his UrbanMechs painted as Minions.  We did okay, much better than I did last year.  I was about to drop on one of the minions with my 100 ton Pillager, my victim laying face down immobile before me.  It was going to be glorious, until my Gauss Rifle blew up and turned my ‘Mech into confetti.  It didn’t matter, I had a lot of fun and played with some great guys.

You have to admit, that BattleMaster rocks!
You have to admit, that BattleMaster rocks!

So there you go, another Gen Con in the memory vault.  Next blog post – BattleTech…I’M BACK!!!


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