Gencon 2019 AAR

Rob Dean

It has taken me longer than I like to get this report written, but here we are at last.

After the usual months of planning, Team Dean started arriving in Indianapolis for Gencon this year on Tuesday, 30 July.  I wondered whether the airport would have welcome mats out by then, since they didn’t last year, but they did, on the individual jetways instead of a big one at the bottom of the escalator as they’ve had in some years.
My brother, a resident of nearby Bloomington, Indiana, picked Irene and me up from the airport, and we spent the night at his house.  He found himself up against the deadline with things still needing doing for his convention games, so he spent the evening painting.

The airport had the welcome mats out in the jetways this year
Wednesday remains the unofficial and trade day at Gencon.  Attendance is light, at least in the morning, but we were dealing with the consequences of a poor draw in the room lottery this year.  We had a hotel out by the airport and my brother wanted to park early, so that we could haul a handcart load of miniatures from the parking space to our assigned game table.  We arrived, therefore, around 9:00AM and had some breakfast.  We were signed up to run two Wednesday games, one being the Burrows and Badgers game at 3:00 requiring the hand cart, and the other being a warmup session of the Carcassonne board game.  We had none of the ticket holders for the Carcassonne game, but a wandering gamer from Sweden stopped by, so we recruited him and played a quick four-player round.  
The city was welcoming too
The Burrows and Badgers game was more successful.  We had five of the six pre-registered players show up, and could have filled the sixth seat as well, but the walk-in player also had a friend, and we couldn’t take them both this time.  We dodged the question of how to play this game in a multi-player mode this year by setting up three one-on-one games, so six seats was a hard limit.  My brother ended up playing the sixth position.  For convention purposes, I went away with a few minor lessons learned specifically for this game, about information I could have included on each players’ order of battle sheet, so a next effort will be better yet.  All of the players were actively engaged and required little referee intervention, both of which count as strong recommendations for this game.  I suppose I should post a full review one of these days…
   
Burrows and Badgers in progress

Two of my war bands clash in B&B
The B&B game took us up to supper time, so we deposited the packed up miniatures gear back at the car and headed out for a nice dinner.  William had arrived by car in time for dinner. We noted that the convention had basically come to life in the five hours we’d spent in the basement of Union Station.  After dinner we headed out to check in to the hotel and to await Norman’s arrival by air.
We got an early start on Thursday.  My brother and I were running a Chaos Wars demo at 9:00, for people who didn’t want to be part of the initial crush in the exhibition hall.  Four players showed up for this, and it was also a good game.  We had a brief break, enough to grab some lunch and plunge into the exhibition hall for a couple of booths’ worth of time, and then it was time to run B&B again.  I got so busy running that I didn’t take any pictures of the second session.
My brother sets up a Chaos Wars game

I wasn’t signed up to run anything on Friday.  Irene and I did two dance classes by Counts to Nine.  These ladies do historical dance (English Country, Renaissance, etc.) for fun and professionally, and we had tried and enjoyed their classes last year.  This was a pleasantly physical interlude between all of the mentally challenging gaming, and I am looking forward to seeing what they have on offer again next year.  We also wandered out to Lucas Oil Stadium to see how the gaming was getting on there.  It’s an interesting space.  This year they had the field lights turned on, so it was well lit, and the enormous volume dampens the sound, so it wasn’t too noisy.  Apart from being a dedicated walk from the rest of the convention it’s not a bad space.

Overview of the Lucas Oil Stadium floor converted for gaming
Since my second year at Gencon (and this year is the sixth consecutive), I have been signing up for speed painting (45 minutes, limited color selection).  You usually get a miniature and a brush for $2.00, so what’s not to like.  This year, I managed to get two sessions into my schedule, back-to-back on Friday afternoon.  One was a Reaper Miniatures round, and the second was a Wyrd Miniatures round.  As painters go, I’m a decent wargame painter, and couldn’t even begin to compete in the Gencon artistic painting event, but speed painting is pretty much what I do all the time, so I usually can hold my own.  In fact, I’ve been in a final round every year before this that I have entered, so I was hoping that I might be able to pull that off again.  For the Reaper event, we got a Chronoscope modern figure instead of a fantasy wizard, which was a pleasant surprise. I was first in my heat (of 16) for this, and once again had a seat in the finals on Sunday, and an extra miniature as a prize.
Reaper speed painting preliminary round figure

I don’t play any of Wyrd Miniature’s games, so I was curious to see what they might throw at us.

You have to love magnification

 Our figure ended up being this reasonably straightforward steampunk lady with a big axe(?).  I ended up second, which didn’t have a prize but did come with a seat in the Wyrd finals on Sunday.

Wyrd Miniatures speed painting preliminary round figure

With that out of the way, we could go out to the stadium for a meet-up for cooperative games with the host of Nelly’s Nerdy Adventures.  If you’re curious, we show up at time 18:00 in the linked video.  From there, we picked up the kids and had the traditional all hands dinner, and then called it a night.  The kids and I played a little Keyforge back at the hotel, before I crashed for the night.

There was more dancing on Saturday, and my brother and I ran the fifth (and last) of our games on offer, another round of Chaos Wars at 6:00PM.  The timing of this, perhaps, was not good, since we only had two players.

Chaos Wars second game

On Sunday we finished up shopping, and I sat down for my two speed paint finals at 11:30 and 2:00.  The Wyrd event was first.  We got this inexplicable figure of an old man perched on top of a demonic clock.  At least we had 60 minutes instead of the 45 of the first round.  I ended up third, so I got a prize in addition to the miniature.  The Reaper round was less successful.  We had a mechanical wizard of some sort, and my use of the metallic colors didn’t quite work.  I’ll get around to touching him up sometime soon.

The Wyrd Miniaturees speed painting final round figure

 Between rounds, the kids had to head out, so we gathered for a final group shot in front of the speed paint tables.

Team Dean on Sunday

Following the painting, the convention closing was rapidly approaching, so we decided that we were done and headed out for one final dinner.
Irene and I had extended out stay through Sunday night, so we were able to pick up a hotel shuttle back to the airport on Monday morning.  I was pleased to see that the gaming space was set up again this year, and the departing Gencon crowd was making good use of it.  Our plane was probably more than half Gencon returnees, so we were in good company on the trip home.  We finally walked in the door around 3:00PM on Monday; another Gencon for the books.
The airport’s dedicated gaming space

Everyone has a different Gencon experience.  This year, I ended up not actually playing any games except the co-op game with Nelly, and my shopping was quite limited.  (I came home with one indy roleplaying game, Companions’ Tale, and a solo dungeon crawl game, Four Against Darkness, from Ganesha), plus a shirt and a new dice bag.) While not unsatisfactory, it was quite different from previous years.  We shall see how next year’s planning evolves, but I am considering whether there would be an audience for some sort of historical miniatures game, and perhaps a seminar on how to get into that branch of the greater hobby realm.

via The Sharp End of the Brush http://sharpbrush.blogspot.com/2019/08/gencon-2019-aar.html
from Tumblr https://harfordhawks.tumblr.com/post/187102834663
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