Gen Con 2018

What is the hookful opening to make everyone want to read about our Gen Con experience?

Let’s talk about food.  Bavarian food.

Maybe you know The Rathskeller chain.  Maybe you have had the traditional Bavarian Gulf Shrimp (North or Baltic) or the traditional Bavarian Southwest Cornbread (Black Forest baby) or the traditional vegetation Greek pasta or the traditional Bavarian Cajun Poppers or the traditional Bavarian Snickers Ice Cream Pie.

We chose to forego such native delicacies and shared a hot wurst platte while I got grilled pork tenderloin with potato pancake and spaetzle noodles and authentic teriyaki BBQ sauce.  The others got other stuff.

It occurred to me after we ate much of the bockwurst, bratwurst, and kielbasse that I could have taken a picture for work and, uh, this blog.  As I said a couple of times, strikes me as a tad odd that you would cook tenderloin to make it not tender, but everything is better with Bavarian teriyaki BBQ sauce, so it was good even in its chewiness.  Pancake was the best thing.

We could have gone back for Snickers Ice Cream Pie, but we didn’t actually have time.

For, you see, in what is a brilliant writing stylistic flourish, it was only our Wednesday night meal that I have described.

So, you may not care about food, but all of this was supreme cleverness to segue into talking about logistics.

“What was the lowlight of the con?” was asked Sunday evening.  I thought it was pretty clearly two things:  I didn’t get enough sleep; I ate too much.  Both would have been solved to some degree by foregoing teriyaki BBQ sauce.  However, the focus was more on when we fly in.  I’ve been old.  I’m oldening.  To fly in Tuesday and sleep continuously would solve a sleep problem but opens up other problems.  Increased hotel expense doesn’t bother me that much.  Taking more time off from work bothers others in addition to me much.

One opinion was to fly out later than 6AM.  Actually, I used to fly out more like 8AM, so I only had to set my alarm for 4AM rather than 2AM to finish getting ready to go to the airport.  I’m not sanguine about flying out after 8AM, also flights tend to happen at similar times.  We can see about a somewhat later flight and see if that makes a difference.

However, besides flight changes and skipping sit down meals, a manifesto is required.  For, you see, we are TDers, at least I’m a token tycoon.  We engage in an activity that one person described as a cross between a haunted house and an escape room [plus shuffleboard].

The Truth (shall reduce structural damage to one’s shoulders, collarbone, back, et al)

  1. I shall not bring tokens to dump on newbs and/or casual players to Gen Con.
  2. I shall not bring tokens to Gen Con solely with the intent of selling or trading them.
  3. I shall not buy, sell, nor trade tokens at Gen Con if it requires meeting up with someone Wednesday.
  4. I shall have normal and hardcore builds that don’t require nightmare/epic tokens prebuilt and arranged in my binders.
  5. I shall have those builds in my Android app.
  6. I shall endeavor to get rid of as many irrelevant tokens (rares and less) from sealed packs, treasure pulls, treasure bags, or whatever as soon as we meet people in the coaching area for a run and not somehow expect anyone to hang around at 1AM to trade, buy, or receive some gift.
  7. I shall not plan on transmuting anything at Gen Con.

Note the frequent use of a term spelled with two words and six letters.  Gen Con is just too short.  It’s too dense (busy).  There just isn’t any time to fiddle with anything that isn’t essential.  Better to just offer to give people $5 to mail something to me than wander around for 15 minutes trying to find someone when I could be sleeping.

Even at GameHole Con where I had nothing to do but TD, fiddling with a bunch of low worth tokens was rather excruciating.

Thursday

And, so three of us begin with Heroes of Rokugan.  For, you see, because gamers are masters of socialism … socialiting …

Anyway, when I was a lone wolf, always on the prowl for booth babes and beer roots (with no ice), I could play games where you were a many-layered archetype or where you made snakes more important to your tribe or where you superheroed in Renaissance Italy.  But, now that we are a pack, we must do two things at Gen Con.  Heroes of Rokugan and True Dungeon.  Two things that aren’t available on Sundays and, thus, make our schedules dumb.

9AM – CIT20

The Soul Goes Forth was the best of our day one mods and the only open library mod we did on day one.  It’s my type of mod, though there should have been more to do.

Sadly for thou, in an attempt to avoid spoilers, even spoilers for things spoiled on Sunday at Gen Con and spoiled in the TD forums, my actual content is virtually nonexistent.  But, don’t worry, I’ll get back to food soon.

2PM – CIT25

The Game didn’t Change because I know nothing about what matters in this campaign so having high status people do stuff meant nothing to me.  The poorest experience of the three mods we did on Thursday.  Too much party arguing over nothing.

7PM – CIT24

The Balance Shifts well to courtiers.  Courtiers who decide all enemies must not survive more than a couple of rounds.  I could see how this could be hard on certain tables.  I don’t recall feeling all that threatened.  It was okay, neither being as surprising as it seemed to want to be nor as challenging as I’m sure it could be for a mid rank mod.

Late – Into the Viper’s Nest

Long thread on the TD forums about how this was not a good intro.  On reddit, you can find people who said they would not play TD again if they hadn’t also done N1 and seen a different dungeon.

I did not care for the puzzles in this 2014 redux intended for newbs.  I totally understand the frustration two of my friends had with room 5 and how they had nothing to do after that.

I enjoyed it.  I like snake themes (hellooo Setite seducers).  I got to play druid for the first time in ages.  I actually wanted to cast Detect Poison and Neutralize Poison.  I entered room 7 with only Resistance left of the spells I was ever going to cast.  I survived with 2hp left at the end.  I didn’t have to make a saving throw in room 5.

Not that you probably have any idea what I’m talking about, but, let’s say that I played TD a long, long time ago and witnessed the devastation that could be wreaked by dancing foes and had the presence of mind to take constructive action.  On the other hand, I’m not a quick thinker.  I know.  You must be shocked that my brain isn’t so perfectly adept at all things that I must be a master of speedextricitous actions of perfect wisdom and calculation.  Nope.  It never occurred to me to say anything to the rest of the party until after I considered the value of players developing good dungeon skills through terminal experience.

Damn, druid is so good.  Can just cast forever both murdering stuff and saving folks.

Not much sleep.

Friday

9AM – CIT26

Whereas Thursday was about sharing mods, Friday was about splitting up since we didn’t expect Andy to do HoR on Friday.  I played the intro mod, which required that I spend no XP from 1PM Thursday to 1PM Friday as I sat at 149 Insight.

I like intro mods.  This was not a good intro mod.  I got value out of it.  Liked it better than any of the other four mods I played at GC, but two of the newbs were completely lost and two others were mostly lost.  This mod is just way too complicated and exotic for newbs.  The very young girl playing the Seppun Guardsman who was a veteran of sorts of HoR play, however, got to win a duel and was quite proficient in the role-playing parts.

2PM – CIT23

Best start ever.  Two of us burned a Luck (because of course it’s “a” and not “the”) on the first activity!

The GM was willing to let someone(s) roll INT/Spellcraft at one point.  I kept saying “Someone … should roll INT/Spellcraft.” in the direction of at least one of our two shugenja (both of which with INT higher than 2) … up until the point that I rolled 2d10 and got a 13.  Then, the moron herald with no knowledge of magic … Honor Rolled …  Ah, the mechanics stories that will live on until my future self blows up the Sun and wipes out the human race [sorry, not all that I see seems to come to pass, so there’s still hope].

After 7PM – N2

So, Andy and I had done N1 at Origins and we figured it would be easier to get into a N1 late in the con.

Lot of forum complaints about how hard N2 was.  I liked it most of all, but, then, I had lots of hit points with my mini barbarian build (10 token) and didn’t realize how much everyone was getting beaten down and not just some of the newer players.  I passed out a number of healing potions at one point.

The most important thing, however, was I got to play my mini-barbarian build that uses … wait for it … this probably means utterly nothing to you … but it’s still going to blow your +1 Fae Blowgun Flute … as its two-handed melee weapon my +1 Quarterstaff.  Yup, my wooden +1 Quarterstaff.  I saw it pop up once, but, apparently, it kept popping out of the disk.

For, you see, I played wizard a lot and had a +1 Quarterstaff as one of my few “relevant” tokens.  It was irrelevant.  Now, I could never bother with a non-focus staff.  But, it’s a two-handed weapon.  A dozen or so years in the making – +1 Quarterstaff beats.  And, now that I’ve proved my amazingosity and my total disdain for being a good player and teammate, I will move on to using only weapons that actually stay in the disks.

Later – N3

This was our improvement over the nearly deadly GC 2017 – back to back runs in a RPG slot rather than everything after a full day of RPGing.  This was the group’s favorite dungeon.  I liked it.  I just liked N2 more, which was prettier to me.  I was struck, though, by how similar puzzles were between dungeons.  I have this sense that TD comes up with clever ideas but tends to go to similar wells too close in proximity to each other.

I played wizard and was not effective in the last fight.  Not effective at all.  I could rant about it, but it didn’t affect my experience here like it may have affected my experience a couple years prior due to the same cause.

Saturday

9AM – Political Interactive

My first announcement at a major political interactive and I chose my words poorly.  Not to say it was related, but the other notable thing was how totally uninterested everyone was in the Imperial Advisor contest.  Nobody ever wanted help from any of the four of us Imperials to choose a candidate.  I may have been lame, but so was that.

The four of us started with five influence chips and the four of us turned in our 20 influence chips.  What was good was that the Crab Lion War sides were much better balanced and more amusing than it sounded like they would be.

Actually, I thought the Battle Interactive premise was weak, but having this event precede it helped immensely, methinks, in building up the clan vs. clan event into something for people to care about.

Playing an Imp in the PI was so, so much better than not.  Previously, I was an irrelevant flunkie who accomplished nothing.  Now, I get to be my own nobody who helps newbs and accomplishes nothing.  Win-win-win.

3PM – Battle Interactive

I was an observer, of course.  Eric chose to join team Observe In Force, where I pushed heavily engaged on the group for our opening round.  We did some arranging to end up with one shugenja and someone who didn’t suck at Battle rolls.

The table GM then told us that I had to make all of the Battle rolls due to my military status and because, for some reason, no delegation from table commander to battle commander to have someone good at something weak actually get to make use of their abilities.  I thought it was funny, but it kind of impacted our entire table and theoretically could have been really punishing to a PC.  It worked out fine for us, but I’ve already tried lobbying for not having military status dictate these things.

So, I rolled my 3d10 (first VP gone) and failed the Tier 2 TN 20 by 1.  I spent my second and last VP in the first round of combat against Matsu Berserkers.  Oh, why?  Why did we have to be on the Crab side?  I’m a huge fan of Matsu, whether Berserkers or the even more feline kind.

Eric finally got to Kenjutsu-Kill and did 98 wounds with his first ever Katana-7 attack.  We were actually in pretty good shape after round one, but decided to go easy because I couldn’t make any TN higher than 15, anyway.  Disengaged Tier 2.

Our shugenja got wrecked.  Team two courtiers, a monk, a shugenja, a Taoist, and the Flower Champion would have been good to go without a world to slay, but we just went for Engaged Tier 2 because some folks are not all that into harshness.  I Honor Rolled to make the roll.  We had to slaughter some poor pussies and their […].  I almost had a full attacking animal ready to reduce me by more than the 20 wounds I had.  Some Initiative manipulation and it ended without Observers In Force carnage.

I did get dinged Honor, though, for pinballing extra attacks off of grappled samurai.  Mechanically bad for me and the mechanical rewards for BIs are pretty lame for the people who play, but it doesn’t bother me as it would be hypocritical to bitch about how dumb grappling is and still feel entitled to abuse it.

I wonder if I would get more value out of GMing BIs.  At their best, they are my favorite thing to do in HoR, so the idea of doing them is ingrained in me, unlike PIs where I’m typically bored after 30 minutes.  But, GMs get interesting things that might shape more interesting characters and so many BIs are monotonous.

Late – N1

Finally, the Paladin and Monk get back to the Astral Plane.  I played fighter, for the first time ever.  I could see playing fighter again, but I never used the reslide and I doubt I would except when things are not going well.

We played this normal.  The 19hp rogue (to my recollection) and a low hp ranger (maybe) both got hit for 8 damage twice in the first room.  That was weird.  It was way better doing the stupid arrange lights puzzle (so, so over coordinating lights in that way) when it was known exactly how to proceed.  Another fight made no sense to me in that the rogue kept getting targeted when the rogue wasn’t overequipped for this run like two of our group were.  I actually participated in the final puzzle room and it was pretty easy.

So, I’m not as big of a fan of N1 as others.  I don’t tend to find puzzle rooms with a physical component (not a physical challenge necessarily) appealing.  The first puzzle in N1 I like, though I think it’s rather easy.  The second sets me off.  The third is a great room, but I just don’t really care.  And, … well, that describes the fourth puzzle room as well.  I just don’t feel stimulated by those sorts of challenges.

Not to say I was super thrilled by the logic problems.  I did like the seven image puzzle in terms of style, just finding the dungeon kind of foreboding, where N2’s bright, snowy features were far more appealing to me.

To be fair, I don’t know that hardly any puzzles really excite me.  One forumite was mentioning not liking role-playing style challenges like Moongate’s first room.  That’s the stuff I love.  I got tired of it after the first couple of times and my efforts weren’t appreciated as much as I appreciated thinking about them before GHC, but I’m all over kneeling before naked hotties, er, and, um, sucking … up to them.  Even when I solve puzzles quickly, I often feel like then the puzzle was too easy.

As much as I didn’t like playing bard, there’s something about bard that is more engaged with the seven room romp to where I could see some effort to do a spellcasting build, of course, that’s helped by my owning Briano’s.

Maybe two hours of sleep.

Sunday

8AM(!!) – Invisible Sun

I was physically struggling.  After my game, Andy brought me bitterish coffee that tasted along the lines of unsweetened tea.  During the game, I was very interested.  The theme appeals to me.  The chrome is a bit much for regular play, but it seems good for convention play.  I just didn’t get to do hardly anything.  Normally, when I have supernatural powers, I find good uses for them.  My main contribution was causing a demon to vomit up a bunch of insects long enough for us to get what we needed.

I’d be willing to get into Invisible Sun, though I have my doubts it will see any more play than Age of Legends, 7th Sea 2e, Weapons of the Gods, et al.

12PM – Spirit of 77

Charlie’s Angels … on the Love Boat … with Ricardo Montalban as a possible Charlie.  Kris tried to prove herself as the new Angel by taking on toughs by herself.  I played Sabrina and lost a close chess match in a Battle of the Network Stars style competition to Captain Stubing.  Jill (party NPC) had to give mouth to mouth to Doc.  Kelly outshot the bartender and brought up her former heroin addiction.  We never did reconcile the divorcing couple who struck me as right out of Love, American Style.

So many of these references and others will make no sense to younger folks.  I want to go back and watch episodes because I don’t really remember them that well.  I watched a ton of TV when I was growing up and it’s largely a blur of impressions rather than detailed knowledge.

Everyone answered my question correctly – four players, four middle-aged men, only one Bosley.

Spirit of 77 strikes me as something to look at for rules light play.  Again, likely just a con game, but maybe not.

And, so we get to the crucial part of the con.

The after con BBQ.  I made a poor decision due to factors that are too involved to articulate and ate a rack of ribs, a cheddar-jalapeno link, and a Sugarfire Pie Milkshake for our Sunday dinner.  Dave’s strawberry milkshake sounded much yummier.  The ribs had a lot of fat to where I pulled some off and there was no real advantage to a rack over a half rack.  I’d go back to Sugarfire Smokehouse Indianapolis, but I wasn’t stunned by the awesomeness.  I could see trying the pulled pork and brisket and getting a different milkshake.  Because, if there’s one thing hard to find in downtown Indy, it’s milkshakes.

Food highlight?  My TGIF berry smoothie was solid and not overpriced.  The drink I probably enjoyed the most was the grocery store sweet teas, stirred not shaken.

Oh, and the highlight?  Playing True Dungeon.  I enjoyed ItVN well enough and everyone liked N1-3 a lot.  I got to rage with a quarterstaff, cast Neutralize Poison, and talk with another Dungeoneer.

I also got to completely avoid going into the exhibit hall.  No ticket issues.  Not late for any games.  Had a little bit of HoR conversation.  We somehow got exactly the Blessed Redoubt Helm we needed from one of our treasure bags.  And, I started making my fun buys for Miya Tatakisu where maybe I’ll get to be a cavalryman or assassin or deckhand or something and really relate to it.

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