Gen Con 2011, part 3 – the games
by Dan Repperger
I mentioned in the previous post that I saw a declining number of RPGs — with an increasing number of board and card games — in the dealer hall. However, that wasn’t necessarily the case in regard to what people were playing. Sure, it’s easier to do a pick-up game of Spin the Issues (one of the fan favorites this year) than throw together a deep RP session. But there was no shortage of character sheets spread out across the tables of the gaming areas. As a side note, this furthers my belief that the change in the dealer hall has more to do with market conditions than degree of consumption or play of RPGs.
Something else I observed is that while the dealer hall seemed to be a little bit smaller than in previous years, the gaming halls had grown larger. If you come to this con and find yourself bored, you’re either really bad at simple tasks (like sitting down at tables) or just not a gamer.
Among the booter crowd, I saw the aforementioned Spin the Issues, along with Nuts, Paranoia, Star Trek, Battletech, and other games being enjoyed. I personally played in several those, including a great Battletech scenario run by Chris Ings in which disgruntled Solaris fighters, Word of Blake zealots, and Lyran troops tangled in a three-way clash with a local militia caught between. I’m proud of how my team (the Solaris fighters) performed, though ultimately I had to concede that the Lyrans had better map position in regard to the communication tower, which was the stated objective of the game.
I also ran a classic FASA Star Trek game, with a 50/50 mix of new and veteran players. I decided to recreate the initial battle from The Wrath of Khan, with the Enterprise starting off unprepared and the Reliant losing its shields six turns in. (16309? What level of crappy encryption is that?) Keith Curtis and Ed Sawyer ran the respective ships, and they both did an awesome job of roleplaying Kirk and Khan. I noted some setup mistakes I made as the Game Master, but everyone had a great time. I think I’ll be running this one again at Fear the Con 5. And for anyone that’s curious, the Enterprise won.
If you’re into organized play, there was plenty of that going on as well. Wizards of the Coast was running a con-wide game in which three forces clashed over the city of Neverwinter. I also saw the Paizo/Pathfinder folks there in force. And there were demo teams from just about every company you can imagine.
If you need something really different to do, there’s the live-action, puzzle-solving, monster-fighting, special-effects-bonanza known as True Dungeon. We ran through that again this year. It was enjoyable, though I’m not a fan of the increased group size. Eight people were hard enough to organize, and ten is just a mob. I wish I had some pictures or video of the various rooms and animatronic monsters, some of which were breathtaking. Unfortunately, they don’t allow cameras back there. The only tidbit I can give is that I wasn’t expecting the gargoyle to jump off its pedestal. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about.