Over the weekend, I had the privilege of attending a convention unlike any I have ever been to before. Gen Con 2014, held in Indianapolis, IN August 14-17 definitely lives up to its trademark of being “The Best Four Days in Gaming!”
Gen Con is THE gaming convention in the country. Board games, role playing games, card games, video games, LARPing, there's something there for everyone. Before the convention even began I had to decide what events we would be attending, and purchased tickets for them back in May.
An event ticket confirms your spot to participate in a game or event that is scheduled during the show, and is a separate purchase from the convention badge. On our agenda was Pathfinder Society, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild, True Dungeon, and we bought several Generic Event Tickets for impromptu gaming.
Day 1, my husband and I arrived at the Indiana Convention Center when the Exhibit Hall was preparing to open. After hearing about how Paizo sold out of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Base Set last year within the first few hours of the convention, my husband headed straight to the Paizo booth to make all our necessary Pathfinder purchases.
While I was getting my badge and getting the lay of the land, my husband spent 3 hours in line just to get into the Paizo booth. We toughed it out because we were worried the new Pathfinder products would be sold out on day 1, but they weren't.
The next day, when we stopped by again, getting inside the Paizo booth to make purchases took maybe 30 minutes. And they still had all the items we came there to purchase. They did sell out of some products eventually, but not until a few days into the convention. So in the future, we'll definitely wait for the lines to die down, because all that line time totally cut into precious gaming hours.
Aside from that minor setback, my overall Gen Con experience was pretty incredible. The convention hall was massive, and there was always something to do at the event. The staff members and volunteers were all very patient, helpful, and amazingly passionate about gaming. Every day there were several different food trucks parked right outside the convention center. We never had to go far for a variety of food options.
Our first event was the new Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild which debuted at Gen Con. The Card Guild is the organized play of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. The games run for 2 hours, and I think it's going to be an amazing option for those who love the co-op adventuring and social aspect of Pathfinder Society, but can't commit to the 5 hour time blocks of a regular PFS game.
Players also have character Class Decks for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild that you use to build your character, and “level up” with every scenario you play with that character. If you bought 4 event tickets for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild, you got a free character Class Deck of your choice.
Day 2 of the convention was jam packed with Pathfinder events. We played more of the Adventure Card Guild, played in the huge Pathfinder Society Gen Con special event that lasted until midnight, and I had an interview with Paizo Publisher and Chief Creative Officer, Erik Mona.
Day 3 and 4 were all about new experiences. We played True Dungeon, a live-action D&D style game that takes place in a life-sized dungeon. Players are assigned different character classes, fulfilling the roles of a traditional adventuring party. From start to finish getting through the dungeon took 2 hours, and every single moment was filled with puzzles, combat, and the fear that not all our characters would survive until the end. It was challenging, exciting, and everyone had to work together to complete tasks and move to the next room of the dungeon.
We also played Are You a Werewolf? for a couple of hours. It's a lot like the Resistance but with murder! Most of the players are villagers, and a few of them are werewolves, killing off one villager every night. The werewolves win if at least one of them survives until the end of the game, the villagers win if they can kill off all the werewolves. It's a social game of deduction and deception. It was a lot of fun, but I imagine it would be a lot more fun playing with people you actually know.
Our last gaming experience was at the Mayfair Games exhibit hall. They had a lot of giant versions of their games, and my friends and I tackled a game none of us have ever played before called Alchemist. Alchemist is a strategy game where players create potion recipes, and copy recipes created by other players, all while secretly promoting the ingredient of their school of magic. If their ingredient is used the most by all players at the end of the game, they gain bonus points.
Finally, I couldn't go to Gen Con without playing the Mayfair Games' classic, Settlers of Catan. I feel like anyone who regards themselves as a tabletop gamer, has played, or at least heard of Catan. I'd heard of the game, but never personally played it myself. Gen Con was the perfect place to change that.
Settlers of Catan is a resource management game where each player is trying to trade, build, and settle their own corner of Catan. You're trying to gather goods and build roads, cities, and settlements while earning points. It's an interesting game because it's competitive at its core, but you also have to try and make deals and trade with other players to help meet your goals. I definitely would love to add Catan to our game library at home.
Overall, this was probably my favorite convention I've ever attended. It was intense, exhausting, and there was never a lack of activities going on. But at the same time, I could sit down, enjoy delicious food and chat with friends between various game events, or just wander around the exhibit hall and do a couple of game demos. Everyone can enjoy this convention at their own pace. Gaming has this wonderful way of bringing people together to have a good time, and maybe make some new friends who share your passion for the hobby.
If you're a gamer, it's definitely worth the trip down to Indianapolis next year July 30 - August 2, 2015.