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Before I get into posting my GenCon report, I thought I'd take a little time to talk about Cardhalla. Especially as this year I tried to take a picture of it every time I passed it so as to document its progress. Sadly, due to bad timing we missed the destruction of Cardhalla, so I've only got as late as Saturday afternoon shots.

So, an area of the hall outside the dealer's room is designated as cardhalla. Here anyone can stop by and relax for a few minutes by building some card houses. Apparently, the organizers don't even bring any cards. Various people stop by and donate extra CCG cards they want to get rid of. I presume they're for games that didn't make it or super-common cards that nobody wants a 60th copy of. But the guy I talked to said he didn't even play the games, so he'd have no idea if he was using a $50 super rare card or not.

Anyway, throughout the convention the buildings grow and grow. It's really quite impressive what they create. Then, on Saturday night, they have people bombard the city with spare change until it is reduced to ruins. They collect up all the spare change and donate it to some charity (I don't recall which one.)

Sadly, we tried to go to the destruction but were about 45 minutes early. So we decided to go by the boardgame library and borrow a game to play to kill some time. It worked too well and killed all 45 minutes. We rushed to cardhalla after that, but apparently the crowd was so thick by that time Roly couldn't make it close enough to see anything.

So, that's cardhalla. I present to you now, pictures taken at various intervals throughout the convention so you can witness the incredible growth of the card city.
August 14th, 2006 - 10:58 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

OK folks, prepare yourself. I'm doing this year's GenCon report in one post. I'll try to keep the word count down, but I make no guarantees.

We drove out to Skarps' house and shared a cab with him to Logan. We got on the plane no problem, and the flight was smooth sailing. Only downside was that between the engine noise being so loud and apparently my DVD->PSP encoding losing some volume, we could barely hear the movies I brought.

We checked into the hotel, went down to the convention center to grab our bags and books, and then went out for our traditional itallian dinner. Man that place is good. We returned to the hotel for a quick swim then tried vainly to sleep.

Due to some problems coordinating our RPGA events this year, I ended up with a ticket to an 8am game on Thursday, two tickets to a 6pm game on Friday, and one to a 6pm game on Saturday. I knew for sure that everyone had tickets to the Saturday game and the Friday one we had an extra for. I had intented to skip the Thursday game as only Mr. H. had scored a ticket to that one. However, since a couple games got cancelled on me and we both had the time, we figured why not go? However, Mr. H's flight didn't get in until after 11pm, and Thursday morning I awoke to discover a note from him with his ticket attached saying he was going to sleep.

Well, I was up, so Roly, Skarps, and I all headed down to the con. Roly also decided to skip her first game, and we toured the convention center for an hour. You'll see a bunch of pictures in there of rooms as they're just getting set up from that little tour. We then hung out on the balcony above the dealer's room doors, preferring not to join the massive crowd just before the dealer's room opened. Man, there were a lot of people there.

I spent the rest of the morning roaming the dealer's room. I found some minis to use for the MacGoohens in our upcoming RPGA games, and amazingly I found a yet larger d20. I have this silly tradition going now of buying progressively larger d20s each convention. I have no idea what I'll do next year.

I played BrickQuest at 4, which was neat as I missed playing it last year. It was kind of cute to play a game like that using legos, and the construction of the board and pieces was quite impressive. However, I think I can skip it next year.

I picked up a game called HeroCard in the dealer's room earlier, which I then brought back to the hotel for some evening playing. Gosh, in retrospect it looks like I barely did anything on Thursday, but it certainly felt full to me.

Got up a little later on Friday, and headed down to a seminar on miniature basing at 10. I think of all the things I registered for this was the most enjoyable. I got some good pointers on new techniques, learned of some other products to try, and all in all quite enjoyed it.

I then spent between 12 and 4 roaming the dealer's room again. I'm sure at some point I had lunch. I then met up with Roly for our 4:00 Warlord game. I've been looking for a good skirmish minis game to play -- Mordheim doesn't seem to be catching on and they're certainly not making new stuff for it. Reaper has this game out called Warlord and it's pretty good. We got a 20% off coupon for Warlord stuff for playing the demo, and made good use of that the next day. The game itself was pretty fun, but without really understanding the rules it didn't feel all that different from most other skirmish games. Roly liked it, and nothing about it seemed really lame, and that's all I really needed to push me over into buying into it.

Anyway, the demo ended about a half hour early, which is good as I had an RPGA game at 6. I made sure earlier to buy a sandwhich and cram it in my bag for dinner, as there wasn't time between the games to get anything. The RPGA game was OK, but not great. We played in the "Special", which is apparently special due to it being incredibly difficult. Besides myself, Mr. H and Mr. J, we joined up with this guy and his son and his son's friend. The poor kids sort of got rolled over by the personalities of our characters, but I think they had a good time. The downside was that the GM was of the "Monty Haul" variety, and tried to lead us through by the nose to make sure we got every single bit of what the dungeon had to offer. By rights we should've died a couple times over, so I suppose I am a bit grateful that he helped us out. But it also stripped out a lot of the fun for me.

The game ended at 11, and we stumbled back to the hotel and crashed.

I didn't have anything until 1pm, so I slept as late as I could, but still ended up getting up before 9. We got some breakfast and headed down to the dealer's room. I spent a lot of time this year in there, and it all sort of blurs together. I think next year I will try harder to sign up for more stuff, and maybe even GM a game or two to fill some time. Not that I didn't enjoy myself every minute this year, but my wallet is a bit sad at how much time we spent roaming the dealer's room.

I played a lot of demos. I also did this thing called "This Item Starts a Quest". This guy gave me a bunch of treasure maps, each of which had a half dozen or so booth names on it. I had to go to each one and have them stamp my map. If I got a map completely stamped, I could put my name on it and drop it in a box for a chance to win something. I don't know, the whole thing was pretty much a very clever marketing scheme. Each booth I went to made me sit through a demo or listen to their spiel before stamping my map. One of the places made me sing "I'm a Little Teapot" to get the stamp. The last one I did was a CCG place that wanted me to sit through an hour long demo. I pleaded with them that I had no interest in CCGs and only needed this one last stamp to finish the map, and they had pity on me and just gave me the stamp.

At 1pm I entered speed painting. I've tried to do this one in the past as well but never seemed to have the time. This time I finally did it, and it was really fun. Nerve wracking, but fun. We only had 45 minutes to paint an incredibly complicated fig. I won third place in my group, and got to move on to the finals, but sadly they were on Sunday at 2, and we had to go to the airport before then. Next year I hope to try and make sure I have time for the finals, in case I can make it.

We had another RPGA game that night at 6, and this one was much better. It was more laid back, and the GM I think was much better. We ended up playing with the exact same group, which was pretty cool. The adventure featured a lot of traps which really allowed Mr. H's rogue to shine, and only one big fight. We had a good time, and still ended the thing pretty early. It was supposed to go to 11, but we were done around 9:30.

Roly wanted to go to the destruction of Cardhalla at 10:30, so we had some time to kill. We ended up checking out a game from the board game library (Metro) that was a lot of fun. Sadly, it was too much fun and filled all the time, such that we were too late getting to Cardhalla. The crowd was too huge to get through and see the destruction, never mind get to toss some coins at it. Roly was very disappointed.

On Sunday we didn't have anything planned. We woke up late, strolled through teh dealer's room a bit more, and finally returned to the hotel. We had lunch with Mr. H and Mr. J, and then decided to make Skarps come back and go to the airport earlier than planned. Apparently something happened while we were gone to make them beaf up airport security. We had heard reports of it on Friday, so we were prepared for the worst. It wasn't so bad though -- we weren't allowed any liquids or gels in our carry-on luggage, and had to walk through this weird ionic testing thing in addition to the standard metal detector.

Ok, here's the wrap up on my loot:
Giant d20

I really hope next year I don't find a bigger one. This tradition has got to die. I did get some free painted dwarf minis as a bonus for spending money at their booth though, which came in pretty handy for the RPGA events


A tile laying game by Fantasy Flight. This one is really fun, and I'm glad I picked it up. It only plays 2-6, but it's pretty fast and I hope to bring it in for some Thursday gaming at work


A series of games where each player has a custom "character" deck that uses a standard fighting mechanic, and then each game has custom board/pieces/etc. I bought the super hero variety, with two extra character decks to allow up to 4 people to play. I love the concept, but the specific game I bought I think is only so-so. I'm looking forward though to the Shogun one coming out -- I hear it's really good. Kind of funny though to play a Shogun flavored game with super hero decks.

A fantasy genre skirmish level miniatures game. I really enjoyed it, and I'm hopeful that Roly will follow through on this one and play it with me. The downside is that I'm not sure where I'll find other folks to play with unless I can push it on some of my friends.

Mongoose d20 Player's Handbook

Using the Open Gaming License, Mongoose has published an alternate PHB that's $10 less than Wizard's. It's missing some things, but is a pretty good resource. I bought it to use in the RPGA events, as they're all 3.5 and my books are all 3.0. It's good enough for that, and if this year we really do follow through on playing RPGA stuff between conventions I'm sure I'll be glad I got it.

Gale Force 9 Modeling Stuff

I bought some 2-part epoxy and some plasticard for doing some mini modelling. My basing seminar teacher told me about this stuff, and I'm really looking forward to playing with it. Judgement reserved until I get a chance to do that.


A Warhammer-like wargame that uses cards instead of minis. Great concept, but I'm doubtful I'll ever really play the thing. I tried it once before with Mr. K, and it was OK. Frankly, the fact is that I really enjoy the modelling part of the hobby, and removing that so it's just a wargame isn't all that attractive to me. I blame that stupid map quest scheme for this purchase.

That's it. Sorry it was so long, but I had to get it all out before I lost it. I'm sure there's a ton of stuff I forgot to comment on. All in all, it was a kind of laid back convention this year, but still highly enjoyable. I'm really looking forward to the next Helga's meeting to play some new stuff (oh yeah, forgot to mention that Roly got her hands on the Order of the Stick game!) Also looking forward to doing some more mini painting/modelling.

Only 360 more days until next GenCon. Woot!
August 14th, 2006 - 11:29 am | Comments (1) | PERMALINK

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