I actually made it to the Con this year, family in tow just off a weekend+ of strep throat for me and the missus as well as my car getting totaled in a t-bone on the way to work. We were crossing our fingers up to the last minute that the one uninfected shorty in the family would stay healthy and she did: in her body at least. After 5-6 hours at Gencon, I will never be sure if she’ll be right again. As any attendee is well aware, some of the things viewed there can never, ever be unseen. There was one moment of almost-regret when, while being dragged through the morass in the dealer hall by her and her cousin, we essayed into a dank waft a malodor the likes of which neither of their young, unblanched olfactory organs had experienced before. While I winced and imagined the sort of lifestyle choices that accompanied such a reek, they just pushed on, dragging me to whatever corner of the dealer hall their fancy took them.
Saturday I was free from the burdens of unprotected sex and I while I missed the Shadowfist world championship by 23 minutes, it gave me ample time to wander around and get some demos and shop. Here are some of the results I can remember.
Ventura: new game by Fantasy Flight dealing with the Condotierre period in Italy. Interesting take on the whole ‘hexes make up the board’ mechanic that Nexus Ops, Kings and Things and Twilight Imperium use. You draw and lay the tiles nearest your own controlled area, so the board builds out form a conflicted center. All and all, an easy, fairly elegant area control game that I would have picked up immediately had the price point not been… drum roll please: 80$ ! That’s what I would expect to pay for a big box hobby game like Descent or Ikusa. While it seemed like a good game, the price point is going to crush it.
Blood Bowl League Manager: An insta-buy when it comes out, this was the belle of the ball for me. I was highly skeptical they would be able to pull this off, and they did! It’s a little deck building a bit of bluffing, some luck and the most important part: they integrated the block dice really well into the whole game mechanic. Essentially, you have a deck of your players and you play them on different games that make up a season. It’s abstracted but essentially represents you pulling out all the stops for a game with a player position for whatever effect in that game. If you have more strength than the opponent for each game, you win and get whatever benefits the game provides. This could be more player cards, some team special abilities or special coaches (or just fan factor). Whoever has the most fan factor at the end of the league wins. Looks like it can scale with players and really easy to play a short game or a really long campaign. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one. FF ran out of their 300 copies on Friday morning, or so I heard. Damn.
Rune Age: Another new one from Fantasy Flight. I half-heartedly tried to get into a demo of this but after looking over someone’s shoulder and seeing how Dominion-esque it was, I took a pass. Some will like this a lot. Unless someone says it’s not like Dominion at all, I’ll take a pass on this one.
Talisman Dragons: it was there, but after the 10 hours worth of games a few weeks back, I was just not ready to pick this up yet. Definite purchase, just later in the Fall.
Shopping. I was tentatively looking for some Dreamblade stuff and it was found only at one booth and fairly expensive. I missed last year’s con, but there was plenty around in 2009 to be had, mostly for a song. It’s a solid area-control miniatures game and with the figures super cheap, no reason not to pick up a bunch. As they ramp up in price; not so much.
AT-43 was also on my list, and I found one booth with a couple of very cheap items I needed, and another booth with a bunch that was half off retail, but still expensive for my tastes. Again in 2009 there was a ton to be had (mostly due to Fantasy Flight’s liquidation) but that well has very much dried up. AT-43 is an excellent game and I’m quite close to having a Therian and Red Block army of some size to meddle with. Along with AT-43 is the old 3.5 Confrontation stuff– amazing minatures for the most part and one booth had a bunch, but they just didn’t have anything I really needed. I may be kicking myself someday for not breaking the bank picking some of it up. The main issue is, I paint so slowly the stuff will sit in boxes for a decade before a brush hits it at all.
Warhammer: I found a booth that had TONS of bits and I will be hitting that every year that they make it. I would literally spend the whole con going through their shit. They didn’t have anything exceptionally old, but had a mess of stuff for any and all of the big box GW games (Necromunda, Blood Bowl, BFG, Man O War, etc).
Sadly, I didn’t buy a single ‘new’ game to say, like most years, “a ha! I got this at Gencon, we must play!” This is due to blood bowl league manager being sold out and Ventura– well 80$ was just too much to spend.
Shadowfist. Though I missed the nationals Saturday morning, I did make it to the invite-only tournament for past tournament winners, which started right after the morning tournament final concluded after a 4 hour final! I was able to pull out the win after getting a tie in my first game, winning my second game after a long slough (thank you petroglyphs!) and winning in short order the three man final. In the final against ascended and architects (least that’s what I saw), I started strong and got a High Noon face off using a foundation character (thank you Yellow Senshi Chamber!) and a ring of gates out (protecting from stuff going back into my hand which my deck hates). The Ascended player laid out bull market (5 power to all players) as a response to the end of my turn, allowing me the power to lay out a site and be at play and take for my next turn. Then he announced that he had gotten all Feng Shui in his draw. Now, getting all Feng Shui at a time like that really sucks, but to announce it in the final of a tournament–it basically said to both myself and the other player that he was pretty much out of denial cards and we needed to go for the win. The Architect player to my right brought out some little stuff, but couldn’t take a site (thank you Final Brawl!) and after gaining 4 power in addition to the 5 from the Bull Market, I was able to lay out a foundation character, a Big Brusier and have a power left for a confucian stability to stop the inevitable zzzzzap (which came in the form of an Op Killdeer). Going for the win, the brusier got redirected onto a 9 body site (he’s only 8 fighting) , but my foundation character’s damage was redirected onto that 9-body site via the yellow senshi chamber, reducing it to a feastable number for the big brusier, for which the table had no answer. All in all, I got real lucky with my draws and was able to capitalize on both the bad luck of the other players as well as some mistakes on their part.
My MVP cards:
Character: Big Bruiser
Event: Blue Meditation
Edge: Shield of Pure Soul
Feng Shui: Petroglyphs
State: none in deck
After winning this and the Wisconsin state championship this year after many years of tournaments of just barely not making it into the finals, I’m looking at a long decade or so of getting my ass handed to me in competitive play as I well deserve. Bring it!