Despite the fact that no one in my group had anything scheduled until after lunch, we still arrived at the convention center around 8am on Saturday to start day three of Gen Con.
We started the day off by hitting up the Mayfair Games library and playing a quick game of Pompeii, which is always a good time. I didn’t win, but I got to throw a lot of people into a volcano, which is always fun.
My brother-in-law used Gen Con as an excuse to try out role playing games for the first time. While I was building my fleet in Conquest of the StarLords the previous night, he was busy pulling a death-from-above style maneuver on a dungeon dwelling monster just before blasting it in the face with a fireball in his first game of Pathfinder. So, after we finished up our game of Pompeii we made the short walk over to the Dungeons & Dragons area of the gaming hall to try out some D&D 5th Edition in an event called “Intro to D&D”.
This was by far the most disappointing event of the entire con for me. To start with, we were led to believe that the game would take up a full two hour slot, so we were a little surprised when 40 minutes in our DM said “well, that’s it, you’ve completed the module”. Before we began I made it clear to the DM that I had played plenty of D&D in the past, and was really interested in seeing how 5th Edition compared to what I was used to. I could have learned more about 5th Edition from a Google search than I did from playing in this game.
The entire scenario was pretty lame and ended when our group decided to be beet farmers for a day. That’s right, we helped to farm beets. Not slay a dragon, not narrowly escape dungeon full of goblins, we rolled a die and were told we succeeded in helping out on the beet farm. The end. The thing that makes this worse is that my day job is actually working on a farm.
After a quick bite to eat I played in the official Boss Monster Gen Con tournament. All the participants in the tournament walked away with a really cool, high quality playmat that will be on sale soon. And, because I made it pretty deep in the tournament, I also walked away with some other really cool prizes including a copy of the deluxe edition of the recently released Boss Monster 2, and an out of print 15 card expansion called Paper & Pixels.
After Boss Monster, my brother-in-law and I decided to try out the Alpha Strike version of BattleTech. Alpha Strike is a stripped down version of classic BattleTech. According to the Catalyst Demo folks we talked to, a game that would usually take four or five hours in regular BattleTech, can be finished in about an hour in Alpha Strike. The GMs and players were nice enough to let us jump into the event halfway through as reinforcements.
The folks at Catalyst explained to us that Alpha Strike was designed to attract modern miniatures gamers who are accustomed to much faster gameplay, minimal dice rolling, and movement that doesn’t utilize hexmaps. The game is definitely faster and simpler than regular BattleTech. Destroying an enemy mech in one turn is pretty rare in the regular game, but pretty commonplace in Alpha Strike. I thought Alpha Strike was pretty fun and all, but it was way less satisfying than regular BattleTech. All the things that Alpha Strike strips out are the things that I really like about BattleTech, so I was eager to jump back into regular BattleTech after our short hour long Alpha Strike session.
So, after the Alpha Strike event wrapped up we hopped right into a Grinder game. This session of The Grinder was some of my best gaming at Gen Con. There were something like 10 players at our table most of the time, all of whom were really great to play with. Several hours into our stay at the table, one of the Catalyst volunteers asked us to stop playing for a second so that he could make an important announcement. The announcement was that Catalyst wanted to show their appreciation to the BattleTech fan base by buying pizza for everyone. From what I’m seeing online, it seems they did the same thing in the Shadowrun area as well. Thanks a ton Catalyst!
Day Four of Gen Con was really short for me, and pretty much consisted of cashing in coupons from my coupon book that I hadn’t had time to use yet.
Overall, Gen Con was fantastic again this year. I really regret not leaving myself enough time to demo more games that I hadn’t played before. Oh well, there’s always next year!