I am writing this in that post-con haze, so if it seems jumbled, it probably is. This was a Gen Con to remember. It was the first time that I brought along a true sidekick, my nine year old grandson Trenton. I’ll talk about Gen Con for kids a little bit at the end of this blog, so read on. Also, as a proviso, I am a freelance writer in the industry, pretty much writing only for Catalyst Game Labs right now on BattleTech. So there is going to be a lot of BattleTech in this post. No apologies…
This year there were more exhibitors than ever. The exhibit hall is becoming massive which is fantastic. Some notables were not there. Reaper Miniatures once again did not show. I love their product and they contribute to paint-and-take, but no booth. Wizards of the Coast may have been there, but I never found them.
My first stop was Catalyst Game Labs. One word: Wow. An awesome (pun intended) seven foot tall BattleMech loomed over a demo game with massive twelve inch tall miniatures on a map you had to walk on to play! My novella (combined with Phil Lee’s outstanding work) sold out half-way through the first day. Awesome sauce! I saw a lot of fathers and grandfathers scoring copies of the Beginner’s Box Set for their kids. The boxed sets sold out day one. Saturday they released Catalyst energy drinks – Coolant Flush and Dragon Piss. I thought it was a whacked idea – until I saw people purchasing them by the case. Then I saw my son buying some. Sometimes I am just totally wrong. It’s rare, but it happens.
I played some demo games – which is one of the reasons I go to Gen Con. I purchased the Game of Thrones minis game from CMON but hadn’t played it yet. So I got into a demo of it. Great game. A lot of the mechanics relies on the NPC figures and their powers as well as the character cards. Here’s a tip, don’t ride your cavalry into the Mountain and his men. Wow, I devastated a full-on House Stark cavalry charge…panicking them into a rout. I enjoyed it, but have come to the realization that you have to understand and really think through your cards for a round in order to be victorious.
A Lannister Always Pays His Debts
Steamforged Games really has a strong following. I watched a round of Guild Ball and was very tempted to pick it up – but I am behind on my miniatures painting as it is.
Modiphius Entertainment had the new Star Trek RPG supplements, one of which I picked up (The Beta Quadrant). Yes, there will be a separate review of this and all the neat stuff I bought. They had a coupon deal where if you spent 30 dollars, you got a miniature. Mine was Khan. Could this mean we are finally going to get a Star Trek II set of miniatures, the ones with the cool red and white uniforms? Fingers are crossed on the part of this fan.
Fantasy Flight Games released the conversion kit for X-Wing and the thing few out the doors. I was skeptical when they announced a new set of rules for X-Wing. I spoke with some fans during a demo though and they assured me that FFG handled this perfectly with the conversion kit. Lots of praise from the die-hards on this one. As it was, I picked up the Rebel Commandos and Han Solo for Star Wars Legion. The legion demo tables were outstanding.
I played the new Warhammer Kill Team. I went in pretty open-minded. To be honest, I REALLY liked it. The miniatures and terrain quality were top-notch and the play level is perfect, squads against squads, man-against-man (as opposed to full-on unit actions). They sold out on Friday because they have a winner.
Paizo sold out of Starfinder Armory too. I saw a copy of it and was impressed enough to add it to my wish list on Amazon. One of the guys at Paizo complimented me on my blog which was a pleasant surprise. Hey, Paizo, I would review more of your stuff if you sent it to me.
I got to watch a demo of Battlestar Galactica from Ares games. Love the concept – love the mini’s. I can almost feel the drain on my wallet that is going to come from this. I’m a big fan of Ares Games.
One thing that really stood out was Miniteman Miniatures over at Lucas Oil Stadium. They scan your head to render a 3D image that you can get put on a miniature ranging from 28mm to 60mm. My son, grandson, and I all did this and when they get their site up, we’re ordering minis of ourselves. I was told it would run about a $1 per mm. Totally worth it.
I always take shots of the terrain when I am wandering around. Some of it is outstanding. I always think the guys that do good terrain get overlooked at events like this by the fans of the miniatures themselves. I loved this Privateer Press fortress assault game board, as an example.
I played in the ‘Mech Pods, as always. I even got in a round with my son and grandson, which was a blast. You want to hook a kid on gaming, start them with the experience of gaming.
I saw one game coming I must have. Aliens. This is right from the movie. You play the Marines fighting off wave after wave of aliens. Cooperative play, death is assured. I am SO onboard with this game concept. Gale Force Nine released a Firefly tactical game at the convention that looked great (I watched a demo of this one.) But this is Aliens. Ripley and Hudson and Hicks. All before they mucked up the Aliens universe. Oh yes, this will be mine!
I heckled the Catalyst Games Lab forum from the front row. We got a commitment from my editor, John Helfers, that yes, my novel, Forever Faithful is coming, “soon.” BattleTech is back. One person told me, “Brent (Evans) promised us fiction, a boxed set, and movement on the timeline last year. He totally delivered!” Next year is the 35th Anniversary, so plan on a LOT of stuff. My running joke was I was going to get a red hat that said, “Make Wolf’s Dragoons Great Again,” but I didn’t want the political backlash. Snicker…
Funny side story. Outside of the lecture before it started I was talking to some fans. My name badge was flipped. One guy railed about Betrayal of Ideals (which I wrote). “The politics were good but the action scenes were horrible. The author really doesn’t know much about BattleTech or how military actions go.” Another fan, who knew who I was, pointed out that I was the author of that book. Debate ended.
I capped off the con with Masters and Minions. Ray Arrastia got stuck with me against four players. This year I had my ‘Mechs painted as Batman and Superman (a Gallowglas and Atlas (old school) accordingly.) I would love to tell you that we devastated the enemy, but lying is not good. On round one, my Gallowglas was downed and Ray’s Warhammer took two shots to the head from a light ‘Mech that turned his pilot in a scorched pile of goo.
I have come to hate the partial cover rules. I had a gauss rifle and large laser hits on the enemy that ended up tearing up a level one hillside. Robbed…robbed I say!
I avenged Ray’s headshot death by unleashing the same rage and fury on that tiny little Firefly that killed ray. I got him with headshots as well. Seyla!
I had a hard stop at 10:45pm, and when I left, Ray’s ‘Mech had toilet paper for armor and my Atlas was going to get hammered from two sides. I am sure Ray gave the good fight…but in the end, the odds were not in our favor, nor was our skills against these guys! Well fought!
Taking a Kid to Gen Con
I was unsure how my nine year old grandson would respond to Gen Con or how it would affect my own experience. Trenton was great and the crowds were very cautious of kids. Gen Con is VERY kid friendly. We signed him up for his first RPG at the Kid Zone at Lucas Oil Stadium and he is now hooked! Watching BattleTech demos, he went and purchased his first ‘Mech, “just like the one on Pop-Pop’s book.”
Trenton picked up Teen Titans from Cryptozoic and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure from Steve Jackson Games. He really wanted to meet Steve Jackson just to say he liked his games. I introduced him to Mike Stackpole, and scored some great brownie points there. “He’s famous Pop-Pop.” “I know, he’s a New York Times Bestselling author. So I am and your mother.” “Yeah, but he writes Star Wars.” I swear, I can’t win.
Lucas Oil Stadium’s kid zone was perfect for younger gamers. I took Trenton over to build a TARDIS too – and he enjoyed it. He loved doing the paint-and-take too, as did I. He loved looking at the demos of Star Wars Legion. It took some pre-planning to make sure he was prepared for the con, but he came away a true gamer and fan.
And that’s a wrap. Another successful Gen Con under our belts. Now we can begin planning next years anniversary celebration!