Monday, May 6, 2013

The GaryCon V Recap Post- Part II: Friday

[This is a continuation of the belated recap of GaryCon V that took place in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin last month. This recap also features my brother Michael as a guest blogger.

Also, I need to get this done so I can move on and blog about other things.]


One of the things I told myself I was going to do Thursday was to get everything together for the Shootout. That didn't happen, so for the second year in a row I was scrambling to get building models assembled and paper minis cut out. The glue sticks I purchased for the models didn't work at all, so I had to run back to Wal-Mart to buy tape. As for the minis, it turns out that I didn't have them with me when I left upstate New York. And my attempts to print out copies from the hotel's printer failed spectacularly as they didn't have any PDF viewers on their office computer. I decided to make do with the fantasy minis I used the day before and continued on. My only interruption being when Michael came back from his 9am game earlier than expected. I'll let him explain.

So 10 comes around and I have six buildings done and no minis. I head downstairs to my table and sure enough, it's full. Really full. I would say at least a dozen players lined up to start shooting. I explain the miniature situation to everyone, and was blessed with a player that offered his own minis to use for the game. The only thing was, he didn't have western minis. He had Star Wars HeroClix. So the old western town is now populated by stormtroopers, rebel soldiers and Wookiees.

In other words, classic DIY old-school gaming. The game went well. Though I noticed people stayed to the outskirts of the map and would 're-spawn' in the same locations over and over again to avenge their slain players. Three and a half hours later there were four survivors (despite the title of the game), and I began making plans for a 'sequel' that would involve a few more things that would encourage people to interact with the environment. Michael seemed to have fun playing as well, which was good seeing as this was essentially a replacement for the game he was going to play.

After the game Michael and I headed for the bar to grab some lunch. We ended up sitting in on yet another seminar as Rob Kuntz spoke about his thoughts on the gaming industry and where he thought it should go. Long story short, he's a big fan of "rules-light' gaming and thinks things went downhill the moment skill systems came into play. Can't say that I completely agree or disagree. I love rules-light games for the freedom they give to players and GMs, but it's also nice to have certain rules in place to make sure things are adjudicated fairly.

That evening I was supposed to play in my VIP game with Frank Mentzer. But having played in a game of his last year and gine to his seminar the day before, I felt like I pretty much got the whole story from him. So instead I headed for the Kenzer booth to play some HackMaster. Steven Johansson was our GM, and he was challenging to say the least. It was one of those games where if you didn't think fast, you were dead. And I was. The rest of the D-Team showed up later and joined in and that was when things began to shift.

Now, I love the guys from Kenzer. David Kenzer once responded to a letter I wrote him back in 2001 when I seriously considered starting my own game store (I chose to get my engineering degree instead), and Brian Jelke forwarded my resume onto some of the higher ups at the company he works for when I was out of work. And of course Jolly and Barbara Blackburn are sweethearts. But here's the thing, most of the Kenzer crew have known each other since high school. So when the entire gang was there, I felt like I was intruding on someone else's game. I think Michael felt the same way when he joined in, but in his defense, he had his second game of the day fall through not more than five minutes prior. It was not his day.

The rest of Friday is a blur for me. I didn't get into a Werewolf game as I had planned. fatigue was starting to set in and had a full day of playing ahead of me for Saturday. So I called it a night and went to bed.

Hopefully I will have the next (and final) installment of this series up a lot quicker than this one took.


And that's where I come in. The next installment is of course Saturday and Sunday's gaming, but while Saturday was Dave's big day of events, mine was Friday. Three games, my one VIP, everything set up to be my BIG day at the con. So how do things go?

Well, I get up early as usual for a day off (6, 7am maybe?) and already we're in the point where Dave's got to get ready for the shootout. I know my brother loves craft work, but honestly I don't. And to be honest, I was kinda glad I wouldn't be sticking around too much to help out in construction. Oh, I'll do it. And I did do it, but it's not like I enjoy it. (BTW, Dave? No more Exacto knives. Next time, we get a pair of strong craft scissors and use them instead. Maybe a bit wide of a cut, but would be MUCH better for the long cuts.)

So, of course I'm getting ready because my game started early. My ticket read 8, but I knew it was a 12 person game with scheduled times at 8am and 10am so I knew something was up. I got ready to head down early, getting to the table with plenty of time to wait and be ready... to find nobody there, and that the game was officially scheduled to start at 9. Fun. So I went back to the room to help cut more buildings and get a drink. Just a bit of time killing, I headed back early anyway just to make sure I got a seat. No problem, right?

By which point someone from the con staff (I'm sorry sir, I don't remember your name but you were a very kind person) had come by to tell those of us already waiting that the game about the news. Apparently the GM for it (Frank Mentzer, huh. Same as Dave's) had wanted to schedule his game for 12 people at 9am. But to work in the system, they split it into two blocks of six, and had times scheduled at 8 and 10, but a correction in the book telling everyone the game started at 9. Apparently that was not enough for Mr. Mentzer, who canceled the event. According to him, he'd canceled it three days before. (Which wouldn't have helped those of us who'd scheduled it far in advance.) The people of the Con staff, they just found out about it that morning.

Now, the staff of GaryCon? Awesome people, every last one. We were asked (those of us who came in at that point) if we wanted to have help finding another game, but as it was the Mnetzer game was the one thing that was going to keep me busy and away from part of the shootout. So instead, I went to head back to the room to help Dave get things set up so we could head down prepared and on time.

I don't need to say much about the shootout of course. Dave's game went about as he said, aside from the typical 'we've gotta print out this extra thing' that always goes with any game these days. Still, I did my best to survive, and we had a large pile of corpses at the end, along with quite a few people more than happy over the event. Always good to make friends over dead bodies. And yes, we all died on the outskirts of town, was a right pain in the arse to get inside. Plus, the session might have taken about four hours, but in the game's time? I think the shootout itself lasted about 3 minutes. At best.

Of course after that was lunch, which went kinda well, and the overheard event about game design. Gotta agree with Dave on this. Rules light SOUNDS nice, until you realize that you're entirely at the mercy of your gm. Heck, even rules-heavy you're at the GM's mercy too many times, but the more rules you have, the less you have to wonder at your defaults.

I'll get back to that.

So. Last game of the day was yet again, another system I haven't tried before. I've heard a lot of people playing Pathfinder, even Dave got to try it one year. (Last year to be exact- Dave) Wanted to make my own break into the system with something that might be easy, and let's be honest. Pre-gens are supposed to be available at a con, right?

Except by the time I got there someone else who was brand new was already at the table, being told he had to read a printout from the website. And there was apparently some huge reading he'd have to do just to get the setting. Everyone else already at the table was watching the guy try and just figure out the campaign setting, there was nothing mentioned about the basics. After waiting around for a few minutes too long holding on to my ticket and waiting, Iunno, to be noticed there at the table I wrote the Pathfinder game off and went back to the room to relax a bit.

Soooo... Yeah. that wasn't even the capper to the night. Dave had eventually decided to play with the D-team, and I got bored of laying around the room. So I went out just to look around, but I was fool enough to bring my dice with me. Dave dragooned me into playing the game with everyone, they needed a warrior and had a stack of pre-gens. I grabbed a dwarf, started along on front of the party. Apparently we were in a sewer or something, very watery area, but we came out into a dry spot above the water line. Two kobolds attack us, I advance to engage... And apparently without warning there's a water pit in my path. Asked what my swimming is at, can't find it on the sheet. Well, that's apparently not a default skill and five seconds into the thing to happen after I sit down, I apparently drown instantly falling into a puddle. Completely gone from view, lost forever to time. I waited there long enough to watch another person instantly drown by stepping into the same spot, then went back to the room and watched Real Genius.

My Friday, ladies and gents.

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