My Belated GenCon Report

Well, I’m clearly failing in my attempts to tell GenCon anecdotes, so I guess I’ll paint with broad strokes. Overall, the con was great. It was just the sort of psychic boost I had hoped for my staff and me. When the hall opened at 10 am Thursday you could see the human wave approaching. A whole crowd of people descended on our booth for Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition. We had a line down the aisle and around the corner for an hour and a half. The frenzy was just incredible. The only downside was that man of the hour Steve Kenson couldn’t be there to enjoy the launch of his own game, as he was running a demo at the time. This is what happens when you have to submit your events six months in advance. I ended up signing several dozen games for eager fans, but I felt weird about it. I am the publisher and all, but M&M; is Steve’s baby and I wish he could have been there.

Lynn Abbey came to GenCon to help us promote the new Thieves’ World line that also launched there. She did signings in our booth, participated in our TW seminar, and even played in an after hours TW game that Rob ran. While we’ve spoken on the phone and e-mailed many times over the past year, this was the first time we’ve met. While other licensors we’ve had haven’t exactly brimmed over with friendliness or helpfulness, Lynn was a delight. It was pretty darn cool to be in a Thieves’ World game with her in which she played a S’Danzo fortune teller too. It’s not often you get the chance to play with the person who created the archetype.

Friday night was the ENnie Awards and man, have they come far in five years. The first awards ceremony was done in an internet chat room and hosted by Gary Gygax. This year they were in a big ballroom and definitely an affair to be remembered. Kevin “Piratecat” Kulp did a fine job as MC and his patter was accompanied by a nice power point presentation on an above head screen. They had medals and certificates for all the winners, and special trophies for winners of the four “big” awards. We took home two of these (Best Game and Best Publisher) and won a bunch of other gold and silver awards as well. I was delighted when WFRP won Best Game, since the game literally has consumed the last 20 months of my life. I really didn’t think we’d win Best Publisher again. No one has won it twice in the history of the awards and certainly not back to back. I was surprised but very pleased when it was announced. All in all, a memorable evening.

I didn’t get much of a chance to check out the con outside the GR booth, sad to say. With Steve, Nik, and Rob all running games daily, I wanted to spend as much time at the booth as possible. I only got out for maybe two hours over the course of the show, so didn’t see much. I picked up the new Confrontation minis rules, the Italian army book for Flames of War, and some cop and gangster minis from Copplestone Casting. Then Sunday was trade-o-rama, so much so I ended up shipping home a big box of rpg stuff because I couldn’t fit it into my luggage. The new Mage looks cool and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy boxed set is probably the ultimately expression of 1st edition design philosophy. I was hoping to trade for an Axis & Allies miniatures game starter, but since it was a pre-release it didn’t happen.

I did make time to see many old friends and had some nice dinners after hours. In addition to the aforementioned Thieves’ World game I played, I also got-together on Saturday night to try the Shadows Over Camelot boardgame with Bill, Crazy Todd, and Jeff Tidball. It’s a cooperative game akin to the Knizia Lord of the Ring’s game, so all the players are trying to beat the game (though one player may be a traitor). We played twice and it was quite fun. With my love of Arthurian stuff, I really ought to pick up a copy.

By the end of the show we had sold out of Mutants & Masterminds, Thieves’ World, and most of the WFRP stuff. We sent back far fewer books than we shipped in and that’s always a good sign. All in all, it was a great show. I wish they could all be like GenCon.

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