Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gencon, Part 1: Highlights and Cardhalla

Okay, so I've been a little behind on this. Between the drive up and back, and some sinus problems resulting from the convention, Gencon kind of kicked my ass in a few ways. Also, I had some freelance writing time to make up and this just got away from me.

But because I don't know how long it'll take me to do write-ups of games, I'll break this down into two posts: One of highlights and this year's Cardhalla, and then I'll do one with the game write-ups. (Two Monster of the Week games I ran, and a Chill game in which I played.)

-Holy crap a couple of the big items for this year's convention sold out in a hurry. I'd initially planned to get copies of the Legend of the Five Rings LCG and Starfinder for myself and friends, and that... went off the rails quickly. My roommate Sean and I were at the opening of the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, planning to get into line as early as possible to get hopefully the first of multiple copies of L5R. The doors opened at 10, and between the crowd and just finding the end of the line it was almost 20 minutes before we found out the line was so long that it had been closed to keep the fire marshal off the company's back. So we wandered the room for a bit, and I think we got a quick bite to eat (I'm blanking now), and circled back about noon or so, where we each managed to get one of the last dozen or so copies. (What I didn't know at the time was that that was going to be the supply for the whole convention. I'd been under the impression that FFG was going to ration out the copies a little better after what happened with Netrunner, but I was apparently wrong.)

Part of the scenery from the line

-BTW, speaking of which, over the course of the convention, I found myself spotting a few familiar faces around the Fantasy Flight Games booth from the old days of L5R. Rusty Priske from the Story Team, for instance, and some acquaintances from the Mantis boards. Sean and I also went to a Mantis/Scorpion dinner that evening, reconnecting with a couple of people and just enjoying the company of fellow players.

-Starfinder also sold out a lot quicker than expected. I held off on that because I didn't feel like waiting in multiple massive lines in one day, and next thing I know it's about 4pm -- six hours after the exhibit hall opened -- and Paizo had sold out of their whole weekend's supply as well (aside from copies set aside for subscribers like myself). When I got my subscription copy, they joked about being careful not to flaunt that given how quickly it sold out, and mentioned that they'd brought more copies of Starfinder to the con than they'd ever brought of any book and still had no clue they'd go so fast. (I remember when the Pathfinder core rulebook came out some years back, and despite that being the 'hot item' of the con, there were still copies left on the last day because that's when I got mine.) But unlike L5R, which is going to have a street date of either the end of September or first week of October, Starfinder is also appearing in stores simultaneously so that's not too bad.

-Sean and I kept running into my old friend John Kennedy (aka Mythdude, the Incarna of Silly Things) over the course of the weekend, either just out and about or by the Onyx Path/White Wolf booth or at one point swinging by the Modiphius booth to take a look at the Star Trek game (where he proceeded to show us the Borg Cube). Sadly, however, I was just too worn out/congested to hang out the last day of the con, but it was still good seeing him!

-Also, one day, I managed to run into the tail end of what I later found out was a City of Heroes fans meetup out by the food trucks (sadly, I was running a game through most of the time slot, and I'd either missed or forgotten that it was happening). There wasn't anyone there I knew, but I did get this picture:

-Because there's always someone who asks about what I got at the convention, I'll give a quick list here. Aside from a copy of L5R and all of the Starfinder stuff Paizo had (obtained via subscription pick-up, which makes it work sort of like a pre-order in this case), I also got the Cities in Ruin expansion for Eldritch Horror, packs 4-6 of the Red Sands Cycle for Netrunner, a couple of pleather dice trays for the gaming table, and -- oh, shit. I just now, as I typed this, realized I meant to fill in some of the gaps in my Doctor Who RPG books and forgot to go back to the Cubicle 7 booth. Shit. Ah well. Anyhow, I also picked up my Kickstarter copy of Monsters for Chill from Growling Door Games, picked up my subscription copies of a couple of Pathfinder books (Elemental Master's Handbook and the first volume of the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path, The Lost Outpost) and the Magus class deck for the Pathfinder card game, Crystal Caste's special Gencon set for this year (pictured below), and I think that basically covers it, aside from one or two things I got for other people.

-Also, for the curious, the drive up and back was actually pretty smooth. Sean and I had a supply of Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays to listen to for much of the way up and back. We listened to, in no particular order: The Last Adventure; Classic Doctors, New Monsters Vol. 2; The Haunting (featuring Jago & Litefoot & Strax); and a bit of Doom Coalition Vol. 1(we're still working our way through that last one). The weather was amenable and traffic wasn't too bad outside of some road work on the way back.

And now, the Cardhalla stuff, behind a cut because it's image-heavy. My next post, with my game write-ups, will go up as soon as I can manage.

I usually post this in its own thing earlier but stuff just got moved around and... well, y'know how it goes. I've already spelled that out.

So for those of you who don't know, Cardhalla is a charity event where people built massive structures out of cards. On the last night of the convention, Saturday, they have a big ceremony where everyone throws coins to knock the structures down after the first throws get auctioned off, and everything goes to charity. This year's charity was Child Advocates, which works with protecting abused and neglected children and making sure they get put in safe homes.

(For the curious, I posted pictures of last year's and the previous year's pictures at the respective Google Plus links.)

So as I've tried to do the last couple of years, the first day of the convention I'd drop off a big ol' box of cards -- this year, a bunch of leftover L5R, Netrunner, Pokemon, and I think a few Magic cards. The box was about 10 pounds or so. And then I pick two spots, and try to get a picture at least once a day from each of those spots to sort of show the rise of Cardhalla. The last two years I was able to be on-hand for the throwing, but I wasn't able to this year but I did manage to get a picture of the cleanup afterwards. And speaking of pictures:

Day 0 (Wednesday):

Day 1:

Day 2:

DAY 3:



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