Another successful Gen Con has just wrapped up and I have lived to tell the tale.
I hit the road with my brother-in-law first thing in the morning, and managed to narrowly avoid a huge disaster right off the bat. I jokingly asked him if he had remembered his badge, only for him to realize that he in fact had left his badge sitting on his kitchen counter. Luckily we hadn’t even made it out of his neighborhood yet at this point, so it didn’t put us off schedule at all. Full disclosure: the reason I asked was because I was about to tell him the story of how I almost forgot to bring my badge. So . . . not off to the best start.
We rolled into Indy at around noon, and frantically drove around trying to find a place to park. After circling downtown for what felt like forever, we managed to find a spot not too far from the convention center. We headed straight for the exhibitor hall and I headed straight for the Catalyst Game Labs booth. At the time that I showed up there was a line wrapping around their booth of folks wanting to get a look at what was for sale. From the end of that line I could see it, sitting there on the shelf, calling out to me: Interstellar Operations Beta. The line inched closer and closer and I was convinced someone was going to grab the last copy at any moment. Eventually the line made it far enough that me and a few others were able to chat a bit with the Catalyst folks that were working the booth and we mentioned that we were focused on getting Interstellar Operations. The person we were talking to just kind of shrugged, said “oh, okay” and went and grabbed the last 4 copies off the shelf and handed them to the people in line who wanted it. So, out of the 96 physical copies of Interstellar Operations Beta that exist, I was lucky enough to come home with one! The PDF copy was distributed on a small USB Drive/Shadow Run bracelet (you can read more about that in my previous post). I also picked up a pair of House Kurita dice, and a mouse pad (because apparently I still live in 1994).
After a quick break to pick up the third member of our group at the airport, grab some lunch, and check into the hotel, we hit the exhibitor hall again and I picked up most of the other items that were on my Gen Con wish list. While wandering, we were drawn in by huge Street Fighter and Mega Man posters to the booth for CCG called Universal Fighting System, which we decided to demo (more on that in a later post).
From there I was off to my first event of the convention which was part three of the first BattleTech feature event. This is the largest BattleTech event at the convention, it runs for a total of 12 hours (broken into three different four hour chunks), where 20 players make up two armies facing off on one huge map. And, while the big battle rages, there are also several smaller games going on that can effect the forces in the larger game. The scenario I played in had the ComGuards attempting to prevent Clan Steel Viper from escaping the map.
I jumped into the third and final four hour block, and right off the bat, I could tell that the event wasn’t going to run very smoothly. It took about 25 minutes for the GMs to get everyone setup and told what they were supposed to be doing. Once we eventually started, the GMs had a lot of trouble keeping the game moving and communicating with players about when to take their turns and whatnot. The GMs weren’t helped by the fact that a couple of the players were being pretty hostile and argumentative towards them and other players for a good portion of the game.
Despite it’s problems though, the game was very fun. And even though I wish there was less downtime, it did give me a great opportunity to chat with the other players on my side about BattleTech and other general nerd stuff. The fun I had definitely outweighed the frustration with how things were run, and really, all it would take to solve the problems would be a couple more GMs. I probably wouldn’t seek out this event next year though.
By the time we finished up at BattleTech, it was well past midnight. So we found a place to eat dinner, and hit the hotel room to get rested up for the next day.