Guslado Goes to Gen Con 2016: Final Wrap Up

Posted: August 14, 2016 in Gen Con 2016
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It’s been about a week since Gen Con 2016 wrapped up, which means that I should probably get around to doing this wrap-up post. 


This year Gen Con was bigger than ever before, expanding into Lucas Oil Stadium and making the already huge vendor hall truly massive; it literally took 15-20 minutes to walk from one end of the Vendor Hall to the far end of the Events Hall if you managed to make it without stopping at all (which is a feat unto itself).

As this was my fourth year in a row going to Gen Con, I have developed a bit of a routine for how I do things. This ended up getting changed up a fair amount as my in-laws retired and moved away from Indy; this meant that for the first time I actually had to stay in a hotel during the convention. My in-laws no longer living in the area meant that if I flew up I would also have to rent a car to get around; this led to me deciding that driving up to Indianapolis from Houston would be the most economical option. Because I was driving up, I was able to get some of my Houston gamer friends who haven’t been to Gen Con before to accompany me for the drive and convention. My hotel was also much closer to the convention center than my lodgings previous years, a development which turned out to be far more convenient that I had originally anticipated; I will definitely be looking at staying there again next year.

It’s always tons of fun to bring people to Gen Con who haven’t been there before; as one of my friend who drove up with me put it: you can hear about Gen Con a lot, but you don’t really get an idea of the sheer scope up it until you’re there yourself. Our hotel room also played host to the man, the myth, the legend: Mario from Mats by Mars! Not only is he an awesome guy, but him and Alex make the best gaming mats I’ve had the pleasure to play on (go check them out, I wouldn’t be telling you about them if I didn’t like them for real). Equally awesome, my younger brother was also able to drive down to join us for his first trip to Gen Con! I must say that one of the high points of the convention for me was demoing Mistborn: House War with my brother, who was the one who originally recommended the series of books on which game is based.

During the past year or so I’ve also been getting gradually more involved with the online communities that support our tabletop gaming habits. As an admin in A Wyrd Place and taking part in numerous other online groups (such as Hobby Hangout and various WGC groups), I have made some great gear friends all across the country and world and Gen Con allowed me to finally meet several of them face to face!

As always, I was able to try out lots of new games. With my companions being big into miniatures games, I ended up focusing more on those that I have in some Gen Cons in the past.  I have been waiting for years to give Arena Rex a try (I heard about it the day after the Kickstarter closed!) and had been hearing really cool things about Guild Ball. It turns out that Arena Rex is as awesome as I had heard that models are as amazing as I hoped they would be; I can’t wait to paint them! Guild Ball is tons of fun, it’s basically what me and my friends had always wanted Blood Bowl to be–a quick, fun sports miniatures game, but without the random, pointless silliness of Blood Bowl or its clunky grid system. I had also mean to give the Alien vs. Predator miniatures game a try at Gen Con last year, but never got around to it. I was able to give it a go this year and picked up a copy for myself and for a good friend who loves that movie franchise even more than I do.

As Malifaux is the miniatures game I spend the majority of my miniatures gaming time on, Wyrd miniatures was a major part of my trip. This year they knocked it out of the park with their booth–watching over their booth they had a gigantic Teddy which tons of people where stopping to take photos with. That Teddy is exactly the kind of thing that goes a long way towards attracting new people to check out what they have. Wyrd also released the latest book for Malifaux: Ripples of Fate. This book brought us a new leader for each faction and tons of new models that pair well not only with the new, but also brings new options to the old. I am still digesting everything the book brings to us, but what I have seen so far has me really excited.

I also played in one of the Malifaux Masters tournaments and while I didn’t do so great in the tourney, I still had a blast. The tournament gave me a chance to face of with a fellow A Wyrd Place admin coming all the way from Australia (who I lost a tightly fought game to), get my face stomped in a game where everything that could go wrong for me did and everything that could go right for my opponent did, and finally faced off against one of the other visitors from down under. It was good times being playing against people who I don’t play against on a regular basis and seeing how the meta of the game varies around the world.

Speaking of miniatures, I also took a few classes on painting and sculpting miniatures while I was at Gen Con. While the class space at Gen Con was not entirely conducive to more advanced level courses, I still came away from most of the classes with some solid new skills I look forward to using on my minis. I took two classes conducted by CK Studios and taught by Caleb Wissenback; the classes were on freehand and on blending and both were fantastic (I’m fairly certain the techniques we learned for blending are some kind of black magic voodoo). Kat and Caleb from CK Studios take their classes on the road and do more intensive weekend long classes around the country, so if you see that they are doing one near you sign up immediately! Hopefully I’ll be able to get them do teach one near me sometime in the near future. I also took a class with Joe Orteza on sculpting. I previously took his beginning class on beginner greenstuff sculpting and learned a lot; this class was his advanced class and showed us how to begin sculpting miniatures entirely from scratch. I wish the class could have gone on longer, but I did learns lot of great techniques I’ll be able to bring to future miniatures I want to do. The one class that I was disappointed with was the non-metallic metals class I took. I honestly think that at the point I took that class I was too tired for anything to really stick in my brain and the classroom conditions I hand mentioned before just didn’t do the teacher any favors.

Throughout Gen Con I also tried out dozens of great new games, many of which I brought home with me. Over the next several weeks I’ll be posting some reviews of these games, so keep your eyes peeled for those! One random observation of trends in gaming that I noticed–game companies seem to be loving tarot sized cards for their games now. I picked up four separate games (Mystic Vale, Love Letter Premium Edition, Lost in R’lyeh, and Dastardly Dirigibles) which all use tarot sized cards in the game. This does allow them to no only include great art on the cards, but also to have more real estate on the cards for rules and effects without the cards being too hard to read.

As I said above, I will be reviewing several new games in the coming weeks, so check back regularly (or follow me!) to see those as I post them. I also have tons of new miniatures to paint up, so hopefully I’ll have lots of those to show of soon!

And with that I conclude my coverage of Gen Con 2016 and what a convention it was. If you found this blog for the first time because of this coverage, stick around to see all the stuff I do throughout the rest of the year. You can all rest assured that I will cover Gen Con 2017–it’s the 50th anniversary of Gen Con and it’s going to be big!

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