From a gamer geek stand point, 2009 has been a great year. February marked Templecon, my first gaming convention and that show set the bar for the rest of the year. Fifty-six hours of Warmachine (not that I played that much) and my first opportunity to meet up with folks like CptCaine and Devilsquid and a host of memorable characters. Then came the Invitational in May, where I got to hang out with CptCaine and Devilsquid yet again and add another chapter to our zany adventures.
This time last week, I was recovering from my first full day at Gencon, billed as the Best Four Days in Gaming. I have to admit, for sheer size and scope, it’s hard to disagree. The Indiana Convention Center and surrounding hotels were like a giant LGS, which is a good thing and a bad thing. The good — 24-hour gaming, awesome booths and merchandise and a chance to hang out with old friends and make new ones. The bad — gamer funk, people wearing things they shouldn’t and stuff that frightened me enough where I don’t want to unearth those repressed memories.
I headed to Gencon with a very short to-do list — demo some games for the LGS, work for Privateer Press and hang out with friends. I’m happy to report I was able to complete all of those tasks. Most of my time was spent in the Event Hall assisting PPS_Kevin with tournament ops — as the guy in charge of organized play, he gets to be head judge and adjudicate whatever tournaments are running. I stepped in to help early Friday morning, the day of two Total War tourneys (2000 points), two Steamroller tourneys (750 points) and Day 2 of Masters. Oh, there were two Tour of Duty sessions running, but Polar Bear had those under control.
Anyway, we had five events to juggle. It took a bit, but we worked out a system and eventually got things running smoothly. It was stressful, but the tourney management software we were testing was a huge help (thanks Ben!) and made keeping track of results a lot easier. Once we got the events down to a dull roar, it was time for the PG party, which was great fun, at least until we bought the bar out of Woodchuck (bastards!). When we were done with the party, it was back to the Event Hall to help Tamwulf get ready for Saturday’s Hardcore tourney. He had the crazy ideea of running The Retribution for Hardcore — which he did. My small part in the operation was painting up six Dawnguard Sentinels, which I managed to finish in the wee hours of Saturday. I think we got back to the hotel around 3:30 a.m. I passed out around 4 a.m. and was up just before 7 a.m. to be at the Event Hall by 8.
We had 66 players for Hardcore. And learning from Friday, Kevin got a system in place that helped the day go smoothly. Things were going well until right before the final round, when the fire alarm went off. At the time, we thought some dumbass had pulled it. Later, we found out there was a fire in a kitchen on the second floor. But since the alarm went off, we were forced to evacuate. I had the laptop we were running Hardcore on and we all waited for the all-clear in the muggy Indiana night. Some folks started a game of Red Rover — from the convention center to the hotel across the street — and that provided a bit of entertainment. We got back in and started the final round. I think we got out of there by around 11, I don’t really remember other than that it was a very long day.
Sunday was a light day for me. The morning involved doing a demo for Arcane Legions and finishing up some ninja shopping and getting some stuff for myself. Things were OK at the booth and I worked in the Event Hall for Kevin one more time for the Masters and Total War finals. Once those were done, it was time to pack up terrain and tear down the booth. The worst thing about the whole experience was that they turned off the A/C, I guess in the hopes we’d work faster. We got things broken down and packed up with enough time to get cleaned up for dinner.
Dinner was a lot of fun because it was all about the people aspect of these events that I’ve come to enjoy. It was nice to relax with some adult beverages and great food, swapping stories and giving each other shit. It was really one of the more memorable parts of the whole trip.
Initially, I wasn’t keen on going to Gencon. I didn’t think there would be enough that I would be interested in. It would have been easy to spend more time wandering the Exhibit Hall and maybe getting in on a D&D session or something like that. But honestly, it was worth the trip to visit with my Press Gang brethern and talk to folks like Doug Seacat, Chris Walton and Ron Kruzie. I’m still amazed at the access we’re afforded to the people who make this “silly little game” we all love. I love that I can talk to Chris about The Retribution or get pointers from Ron on painting. And for the record Doug, the story is great. 🙂 I love the fact that Warmachine and the Press Gang are responsible for enduring friendships, amazing firsts and great memories. I feel priviledged to be part of this group and I’m thankful for the love and support I’ve gotten through some of my darker days.
So will I be there for Gencon 2010? Wallet willing, you bet. The challenge of topping 2009 will make it worth the trip. 🙂