The best four days of gaming in 2017 has come to an end and it sure was a blast. There was a record number of attendees for Gen Con’s 50th show, which resulted in all badges being sold out for the first time in its history. But this didn’t phase us as we braved the vendor hall every day looking to demo games and add new games to our collection. We also had a good amount of events booked this year like the Dice Tower live show, a panel that had some well-known board game reviewers who write text reviews, and even did a glass etching class. So without further ado, here is our recap of each day.
We hit the ground running with a game of giant Mint Works planned bright and early. We bought the retail version of this game off of Amazon a couple months ago, but only Mandee had played it while on vacation. The event really brought the giant element to life. As the normal game is pocket-sized, the tiny mint tokens from the original game were represented by wooden blocks and the action spots were on license-plate-sized sheets of metal. This was a fun and easy-to-learn worker placement game that plays quickly. We both lost the first game, but Calvin prevailed in the second game.
After two games, we quickly headed to the vendor hall to line up in the mass crowd of people waiting to swarm the hall. It wasn’t too surprising to see that the line was backed all the way up into the hallway. Things weren’t looking too good for us to grab a copy of Ex Libris from the Renegade Games Booth. It was a mad rush to all the big booths and this was where we split up to get the games we wanted.
Mandee headed to the Renegade Games booth where chaos was the name of the game. There wasn’t a clear system in place. People were running around grabbing the games they wanted and then trying to figure out where to pay. It could have been much more organized because that setup made it pretty easy for someone to easily swipe a game. Regardless, Ex Libris sold out in five minutes so no luck there, but we did get Flip Ships, a cooperative dexterity game. The next stop was the KOSMOS booth for Word Slam.
Calvin headed over to the Inside Up Games! Booth to get his most anticipated game: Summit: The Board Game. While there, Calvin spoke with the designer, Conor McGoey, for a little bit before getting a copy and the expansion Yeti that won’t be available until October. The next game on our list was Magic Maze, which Calvin demoed quick before purchasing. The rules were pretty straightforward and we were able to get all the heroes their loot and successfully help them escape!
Codenames: Duet was our next game to purchase before we had our next event planned. We made it in time to get the free promo pack of cards and we got to play a giant version of the game. It came down to one final turn in sudden death to guess one last word, but we fell short. The person running the demo said he’s only ever had one couple win on their first try. This version of the game definitely feels different from the normal game as you try to figure out which words you have in common with each other. The tension of not knowing which one of the three assassins on your card layout isn’t actually an assassin was a fun twist.
Our first panel of the Con, Podcasting 101, was very informative and gave us more confidence to maybe start a podcast. We’ve kind of dabbled with the idea of doing a podcast and this panel made it seem more manageable. So who knows maybe we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.
We hit up the vendor hall one last time before it closed and picked up Custom Heroes from AEG. The artwork and a brief overview of the gameplay sold us on this one. Another big plus is that AEG has one of the best bags of the convention, something Calvin passionately collects in addition to board games. We also impulsively bought Number 9 from Z-Man Games, but we’re pretty excited to give it a try!
Our second to last event of the day was glass etching. It was pretty fun and it wasn’t too complicated of a process, there was a level of precision that can infuriate a perfectionist and the fumes from the etching cream can be a little strong. But the person running the event was very helpful and entertaining. These will make the perfect gifts for some friends at home.
Finally, we were headed to our final event of the day and that was Beginner Level Basing for Miniatures & Models. We were given a handout with some tips and tricks and we were off creating our scenery for our bases. It was interesting to see all the different kinds of materials that you can buy/scavenge from areas in real life. We would have never thought about using cork board for rocks or that tiny miniature leaves are a thing that actually exists. The biggest mystery is how are those tiny, detailed leaves even created? Once we each completed our second base, we decided to call it a night and decided to head back to the hotel.
After rushing into the vendor hall early on Thursday, we decided to take it a bit easier on Friday and arrived after 10 am and walked the vendor hall a bit before getting pre-ordered lunch from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Mini She Said came with us for a few hours to people watch and try to find some buttons in the Gen Con Scavenger hunt.
While in the vendor hall, we played a few rounds of Celestia from Quick Simple Fun Games. Celestia had some awesome components with great artwork, in addition to a very simple game concept. It’s a push-your-luck style game where you all play as captains of the ship and have to decide if you want to go for higher value treasure or jump ship.
We also played a game of Roll for It from Calliope Games, a quick game where you roll dice and match your dice with the cards in the middle. The first person to complete the card gets that card and the victory points.
Once done with Roll for It, we sought out another demo and found the game Glux by Queen Games. This was family game where players compete to place their light tokens around the board. We thought this was fairly entertaining, but didn’t think we’d want to add it to our collection right now.
After a round of exhibit hall shuffle, it was time for the Dice Tower Live Show which was absolutely packed. The show was great with the highlights being the interactive song by Dave Luza from Board Game Blender about a woman from the audience. Another awesome part of the show was when Alan Moon (designer of Ticket to Ride) decided to do a standup routine instead of promoting the new France map for the game.
The highlight of the convention for Calvin actually happened right before the show as we were trying to figure out where the entrance to the ballroom was. As we were talking to a Gen Con event person, we heard a familiar sounding voice behind us saying he was heading that way and could walk us there. Low and behold it was Jamie from the Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast! It was a short walk over to the banquet hall, but it was an awesome experience being able to actually meet someone that you listen to on a normal basis.
We also got to play through a full game of The Palace of Mad King Ludwig, which comes out in October 2017. Mandee was super excited to play this game, as Castles of Mad King Ludwig is one of her favorite games. We spotted an open spot quickly and didn’t have to wait at all. We loved this game a lot. Essentially, players are all building out Mad King Ludwig’s giant palace, but players have to act quickly because every time a room completes, the moat will close in on the palace, signaling the end of the game. The theme ties perfectly into the game play and we liked that it has a built-in game timer with the moats. We were pleasantly surprised to be able to play an entire game, but it just built our hype for this game. We’ll definitely pre-order this one!
While in the vendor hall, we bought Mini She Said two new games: Where’s Bear? and Go Cuckoo! She already LOVES Where’s Bear? by Peaceable Kingdom and thinks it is hilarious to knock over the tower. We’ll have to give Go Cuckoo! by Haba a few plays very soon. Other than game demos, we also went to a panel of written reviewers and learned a few tips and tricks on how we can grow our blog. The panel ran a little bit over and came to an abrupt end as an anxious pirate opened the door to get their panel setup.
Finally, we ended the night by attending the AEG Big Game Night. We played through a game of Custom Heroes, a game we had picked up the previous day. This is a trick-taking game where you can, as the name implies, customize heroes and cards to play better cards. We were a bit on the fence with this game. It’s a great game, but there are some elements that we feel need to be house ruled, like only being able to play singles when the round starts with singles. It seems like you should be able to play doubles of a number to beat a single, but that’s not how it works. Regardless, this was still a pretty fun game and we ended up playing with some very animated people. After that game, we gathered our event gifts and headed back to the hotel. This year’s gift included four games: The Oath of the Brotherhood, Cat Lady, Mad Science Expo, 60 Seconds to Save the World. We’ll see how we like these games!
This day was a pretty relaxed day for us. We arrived at the convention center with Mini She Said in tow. We walked around with Mini She Said to collect all the buttons for the Gen Con scavenger hunt. This is a really fun element to the con that we’ve never gotten to experience before. It got us to go around to many areas of the convention center that we normally wouldn’t have gone to. We loved the setup in the Lucas Oil Stadium the most. It was really cool to be out on the field where Calvin’s favorite player (Peyton Manning) used to play. Mini She Said also really liked the giant games by Mayfair Games.
We did one last walk through of the vendor hall and bought Roll Player from the Cool Stuff Inc. booth and Century Spice Road from Plan B Games. While Mini She Said napped in the stroller, we demoed and purchased Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs by Flying Meeple, a game for ages 3+ that we think our daughter will love – once she stops eating cards :-).
We also got some Gen Con 50 dice and a random mug o’ dice, which is by far one of the most satisfying feelings to see all the cool dice you got at random. Pro tip: grab a random mugful when someone has been meticulously picking their dice. You may make some enemies, but you get some pretty great dice.
With a 10 hour drive in our future, we stopped at the convention center for a few hours to walk through the vendor hall. We demoed Asking for Trobils by Breaking Games, a fast-paced worker placement game where players compete to shoot the most trobils into the sun to make happy towns. We bought a plush D20 dice, grabbed some lunch from the food trucks, and hit the road for home in Minnesota.
Our second Gen Con adventure is in the books and we had a great time! It’s always exciting to see all the people who are just as passionate about board games as we are. And there were so. many. people. Despite this, we had a great time trying out new games, learning things at the seminars, and, of course, getting some new games. This trip was extra interesting because we decided to bring out 15 month old daughter (and grandma as a babysitter). It was really fun to take her in the vendor hall to watch all the people and even try out some games. The best part was her reaction to people in costumes – she was not a fan.
Overall, a good time was had by all and we’re glad we went!