Gen Con Report – by Jenn Brady


Last weekend, I went to the best 4 days in gaming – also known as Gen Con – and had a blast with a group of people from the Plainville store (Zoe & Jon Jackson, Matt Dugan, and Morgan Phillips).  We arrived in town early to do a little site seeing and relaxing before the start of the Convention.  First stop, Lucas Oil Stadium, even though none of us were Colts fans.  I’d have to say it was one of the best stadium tours I’ve ever been on.  There was plenty of time to walk on and admire the field as well as a trip to the locker rooms which many of the tours I’ve been on have skipped over.  Then we arrived at the house we had rented for the week.  This was one of our better decisions.  The house was fabulous with 4 bedrooms, a large kitchen (double ovens & double fridges), a deck with a hot tub and grill, and plenty of room for us to try out all the new games we bought and old ones we brought with us.



When we finally made it out of the bed, we travelled 10 minutes to visit the local farmers market where we bought fresh food for the week, had fantastic fresh squeezed lemonade and hot pretzels as we walked through downtown to pick up our badges and tickets at the Indianapolis Convention Center (ICC).  The guys took the time to visit the Soldiers and Sailors Monument & Museum, while Zoe and I enjoyed fresh cups of tea from the South Bend Chocolate Cafe̕ across the street.  Finally we arrived at the Convention Center where it appears that Gen Con has finally figured out how to run a registration/will call line.  Twenty minutes later everyone had all of the tickets they needed.  We went on a quick tour of the ICC to locate our first events on Thursday and then headed back to the house to hang out.



Bright and early, we headed to day one of the con.  First stop was the First Exposure Playtest Hall where I played an interesting game still in development with a working title of Deus.  I really like this game and hope that the developer is successful in his attempts to get this published.  The game involved 4 players each representing one of the magical schools (earth, wind, fire, water) and was supposed to determine the champion for the year.  In order to do this, your wizard must acquire certain tools and visit each of the academies before the other wizards are able to do this.  This is accomplished by placing tiles around the board, both across the board and on top of each other.  The rules were relatively simple, but the game was a lot like playing a complex form of checkers and was very enjoyable.  The 3 people I played with also liked the game and I hope that I will have the opportunity to play again one day.


Afterwards,  I went to the exhibition hall, which had been open for about 45 minutes,  where I found that all copies of Mage Wars for the day had sold out in under 2 minutes, due to a problem with shipping a few of the parts from China in time for the convention.  Luckily, there would be 60 copies for sell every morning and I could try again another day.  Unfortunately, I had really hoped I would be able to read the complete rules before the Mage Wars tournament, but that was not to be.  I watched another demo game of Mage Wars and then moved on.  I spent several hours just wandering the aisles in the hall checking out new games.


I watched a lot of Android: Netrunner demos, but never actually played because the game sold out so quickly (10 minutes after the door opened) that I knew I would have to wait if I wanted to purchase it. I didn’t want to be too excited about a game that I might be able to purchase next month.  Netrunner is the newest Fantasy Flight Games’  Living Card Game.  It is a 2-player game where one person plays the corporation and one person plays the runner.  FFG expects it to be available for full purchase sometime next month.  They plan to support it with full tournament play as they have done with their other LCGs and I plan to purchase it when it finally becomes available.


Luckily Mayfair Games had a lot more copies of Star Trek: Catan than they said there would be and I was easily able to pick up a copy of this game.  I spent a fair amount of time checking out the foil lands that were available in the hall and made a couple large purchases (only 109 more lands to go!).  I also picked up a complete set of John Avon Unhinged Lithographs.  Eventually, I wandered over to the tabletop room and signed up for my first Ascension PvP tournament of the weekend.


While I waited for the event to fire, I headed back into the dealer room with Morgan where we spend a fair amount of time in the Dr. Who booth.  Then we played Fear & Greed: The Stock Market Card Game.  This is a quick multi-player game that strives to simulate the stock market experience.  The game was much too random to give a good simulation.  The stock market changes each “day” by flipping over the top card of the deck and changing the stock prices.  Then, players are forced to either buy or sell by the broker of the day.  This is supposed to simulate the Fear or Greed exhibited by most peoples stock purchases, but wasn’t very exciting.  I’d rather play more Acquire to practice my buying and selling, which is exactly what I did.


I played in my first Ascension PvP tournament of the weekend.  These were 8-player single elimination tournaments.  This tournament was the original block and I won the first round before being eliminated in the semis.  Before this weekend, I didn’t have much experience playing PvP since my games typically involved 3-4 players.  It was a much faster paced game which changed a lot of the strategy that is necessary.


It was time to play Acquire.  This is something I look forward to every year, the opportunity to play a game I’ve played all my life.  Acquire is a game that was originally published in 1962 by 3M (yes the tape makers used to publish games) and has since be republished in various forms.  In my opinion it is the best stock purchasing game ever made.  The game involves a simple tile board.  Players are allowed to place a tile every turn forming or expanding hotels.  Each turn a player may purchase up to 3 stocks in the existing hotels until the stocks run out or you have no more money.  Hotels can merge with each other by becoming connected.  There are then bonuses to be earned for having the first or second most stock.  Afterwards a player must decide whether to sell the stock, hold the stock (if they think the hotel could form again) or trade the stock 2-for-1 for the hotel that bought them out.  The game ends when one company has become the largest and after cashing out the person with the most money wins.  About an hour and a half later, I walked away with my one and only Rogue Judge Tournament ribbon, winning the game by a slim $3,000 margin.


I met up with the gang and everyone but Matt played in the first Gen Con Mage Wars tournament.  Mage Wars is a game that was just released at Gen Con and should be available for sale in stores by Sept. 15th (preorders are available now).  This is the game that I was most looking forward to and I made everyone play by signing them up for the event last spring.  Mage Wars combines the best elements of different games into one game.  Your Mage has an actual spell book and gets to select 2 spells to use every turn.  This eliminates the “luck” element that is inherent in most card games.  There is a board which is divided into 8 squares.  These squares are used for movement and determining range – eliminating my least favorite element of miniature play – measuring.  Mages channel energy every turn which is used to cast spells or conjure various creatures/equipment – no mana issues here.  Players battle it out attempting to kill their opponents’ mage.  Yes, you do get to roll tons of dice to determine hit points for various creatures and mages.  This is a two player game, but adding a second or third board allows for multi-player variants.  Zoe and I were paired in the first round of the single elimination tournament.  Unfortunately, being unfamiliar with all the rules it was a long, slow game in which we failed to do any damage to our mages.  Instead, it came down to a tie-breaker which Zoe won.  This happened to be fortunate, because Zoe took down the tournament with her Beastmaster deck!



Friday, I only had one event scheduled – the Penny Arcade: Gamers vs Evil tournament, where I hoped to pick up some cool promos.  I once again failed in my efforts to acquire Mage Wars.  Entering the hall at 10:02, I was not among the first 60 people to make it to the line.  Wandering through the hall again, I did discover that Star Trek: The Original Series DBG should be available for pre-orders and doing so would get me some cool new promos.  I also discovered that there is a Star Trek: Enterprise playmat which I hope to get in the near future.


I picked up a copy of Quills. Quills is an interesting card spelling game where players use their cards to spell out words and attempt to make melds.  It’s like a combination of Scrabble and Gin. I purchased this game for my 9-year old nephew who both enjoys games and showing off how smart he is.


I played in another PvP Ascension tournament while waiting for the PA tournament time.  This time I got into a Storm of Souls block event which allowed me the opportunity to play with the newly released Immortal Heroes expansion.  This expansion adds new cards and events to the Storm of Souls deck.  Additionally, it adds a new game element in the form of Soul Gems.  Soul Gems are an additional deck and are acquired through the purchase of a card from the main deck which gives players the ability to gain a Soul Gem.  Soul Gems are one time use cards which must be used the turn they are gained and mainly reflect cards from the original block.  Initially I was not impressed with the added element as I have begun to feel like there are too many items to track when not playing the game electronically.  However, over the course of the weekend I have been persuaded that the addition is good for the game.  I went onto win this event & finally got the Ascension Playmat and Ender of Days Promo card.


From here I proceeded to the PA tournament.  Nothing new or exciting to report from this event.  We played with the original set.  The event had twice as many people as Cryptozoic was expecting and so it got off to a somewhat late start.  Scout Master is pretty broken in 4-player play.  Most of the games were won by the individual who was lucky enough to get him because drawing 4-6 extra cards late game is pretty great.  The tournament was a lot of fun and I got the Mega Fan Promo Card which I did have yet, plus another copy of Fruit Fucker end boss promo.



I arrived at ICC at 8 am because Ryan and Matt both had early events.  This allowed me time to wander around and get some breakfast as well as to exchange my Ascension World Championship ticket for more Generics.  Since I was in the top 8 currently for the heads-up championship, I figured there was no need to spend the morning playing more Ascension.  Instead, I planned to be one of the first 60 people in line to buy Mage Wars and to get my Catan Uhura card signed by Nichelle Nichols.  After waiting in line for 45 minutes (not my specialty), I was the second person into the hall on my side of the room and made it to the Arcane Wonders (Mage Wars) booth where I was number 31 in line to get my copy of the game.  I got my number (good for purchase anytime that day) and wondered back to wait in the autograph line.  Here I got to briefly meet Nichelle Nichols and get my Star Trek: Catan items signed. Afterwards, I made a bunch more purchases (Dominion, Dominion: Dark Ages, Mage Wars: Core Spell Tome, Dominion Base Card, Dominion Promos, 3M Bookshelf games from the Consignment shop).


I walked around the room some more with Matt.  We watched the DC Comics Deck Building Game demo.  It seemed like a pretty straight forward version of a deck building game.  The only interesting thing is that you get to be a superhero – which as a fan of DBGs and Superheroes is enough for me to purchase the game. Expected release date is sometime next month.  Matt also took the opportunity to buy a copy of Cards Against Humanity and have some special cards made up by the designers – who were hanging out across the aisle from the demo.   Then I did one of my favorite things at Gen Con.  I went to the CCG auction.  I bought several booster boxes for $80 each, watched a bunch of bulk lots get auctioned off.  Picked up a complete set of Judgment ($40). Watched some people bid over some promotional items like banners and posters.  Then I picked up 2 partial sets of The Dark – one English and one Italian ($42) knowing that there was a NM English Maze of Ith inside.  Auctioneer said that there wasn’t an Italian one so I was pleasantly surprised to find both an English and Italian copy inside.  I ended this portion of the auction by watching the start of the Toys and Oddities auction where I picked up pictures of the cast of  Voyager, Next Gen, and DS9 as well as a box of old Star Trek books.  I also bought an unopened box of Desert Storm Trading Cards ($3), for unknown reasons.


I played another round of Ascension, losing again in the semis and then went to the Charity Auction which is typically my favorite thing about Gen Con.  The auctioneers are very entertaining and some really nice items go up for auction.  Unfortunately, the entire auction was running behind because they attempted to have two back to back charity auctions.  The first being a special donation of TSR archived items for the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund.  This auction was supposed to last for about 1 hr, but ended up lasting for 2.5 hours.  This meant that we missed the most fun portion of the auction, the artist donations because they occurred while we were playing Artemis: Green and Gold.  They shifted items around and lost most of the audience due to the late hour (the auction didn’t end until nearly 1 am), which I believe was a disservice to the STARS youth foundation they were supposed to be raising money for.


In the middle of the charity auction, Ryan and I played Artemis: Green and Gold.  Artemis is a multi-player, multi-computer, spaceship bridge simulator.  This game was a blast to play.  Ryan and I played with 4 other people on their simulated bridge complete with a red alert button.  Ryan was the Captain and I was the Engineer.  The game involves each individual running a station as our ship attempts to defend the docking stations located in our sector of space.  I shifted energy around the ship determining which systems could operate at a higher rate (shields, weapons, engines, etc) while balancing the cooling to them so that they didn’t over heat while operating above 100%.  The company intends for people to get together for old school network parties and play the game, but play is possible on various network platforms.  The game doesn’t have fantastic graphics as it is produced by one person, but the simulation is quite good.



I played in a final Ascension PvP to ensure I stayed in the top 8, and qualified for the championship.  This time I won a Chronicles of the Godslayer pod getting the same promos and playmat I won before and ensuring a prize for all my effort.  Then I wondered around in the hall for the last time as I waited for the Ascension PvP Championship to start.  Matt and I demoed Tsuro of the Seas, which I did not like.  I thought that the addition of the daikaiju (sea monsters) added too much randomness.  The original version of the game, Tsuro, is more skill intensive and you are not likely to die due to a random roll of the die.


The Ascension Heads-Up Championship started and I was paired against David Williams (Poker & Magic Pro) playing Storm of Souls block.  This game was a bit of a nail biter.  For most of the game I was winning significantly, having ~40 honor gems to David’s  ~7 gems.  Then things changed.  I was pretty well on the power plan while David was on the rune plan.  There were no monsters in play for several turns and I could not end the game.  Aaron the Godslayer flipped over.  David snatched him up.  Still no monsters in play.  Passed a few turns with not much happening.  Then David bought a hero, flipped over a new monster which he was able to kill with Aaron gaining him 6 honor and 3 trophy monsters from the Void.  This brought him back into the game and allowed him to win several turns later when he drew Aaron again and was able to use it on another larger monster as well as simply having a great last turn.  I lost by 8 or 9 honor.


Finally, made a last tour of the dealer hall picking up a few new dice and missing an opportunity at a small retail dice booth who was the first person all weekend to tell me they were only taking cash, when I had no more cash.