GenCon 2016: Day One

GenCon day one is over! And unsurprisingly, it’s been great. As always, making a solid push into the trade hall has been the main focus of the first day, and I think we’ve made it about two-thirds of the way through. Which leaves plenty for us to do tomorrow!

Whilst my friend and travelling companion queued for some of the biggest board game releases (Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Dead of Winter: The Long Night), I steadily made my way around the hall: saying hi to some of my favourite publishers, checking in to see when upcoming releases were landing, signing up for the next Star Trek RPG playtest, and buying some cool gifts. I even found a gift for myself in Fear Itself 2nd edition.

For the rest of the day, I got to visit some pretty cool panels in between food, networking and meeting friends…

  • The nice guys at Onyx Path did a panel on how to freelance for them – which is something I’m unlikely to do, but I hope to get the opportunity to freelance with other companies! Mostly this was an extrapolation of stuff that’s already on their website.
  • I stopped by the Chaosium panel mostly just because they’ve had a pretty terrible year, and I thought there might be fireworks or at least some gossip. It seems they’ve had a course correction, which is great for them and their fans, but not so exciting for me.
  • Finally, the inimitable Matt Mercer hosted a great little Q&A, which was as entertaining as anyone whose seen him talk before would expect.


Pictured: a river of nerds, shortly before doors open and the liquid-geek streams in.


I want to draw special attention to “State of the Hat”, the other panel I attended today, in which Evil Hat reviewed their last year and trailered the year to come. Partly this is because it’s been the best thing about my first day; partly it’s because a lot of cool stuff got discussed which I think people would be interested in, but the panel itself was MASSIVELY under-attended.

This was an extremely different panel than what I experienced two years ago, in which 20 or so designers crowded up front and took turns to sell their games to the room. Instead, this was a two-man panel, which left time to cover a lot of content…

  • Firstly a review of the year. The success of the Fate More Kickstarter helped contribute to the release of seven new books this summer, which was a mammoth achievement that Evil Hat have promised Will Never Happen Again. From now on their priority is to release a few books, spaced out, with the marketing and attention to distribution each product needs. Don’t expect to see a second Fate More Kickstarter soon – discussions are still ongoing about how to manage that in line with their new business model (and raft of new hires), which might result in canning the Kickstarter altogether.
  • War of Ashes is looking to be the least commercially successful product Evil Hat have ever produced. Apparently Zombiesmith, the license holders, had been talking with video game developers to release something for the franchise around the same time the RPG came out. When that fell through, all hopes for the original marketing campaign seemed to collapse with it, and even making people aware of the product has been a struggle.
  • The big release for March next year is “Kaiju Incorporated”, with both a both game and RPG release. The RPG is written by Rob Wieland of CAMELOT Trigger/Save Game fame, and chronicles the hilarious tedium of being a menial worker or office drone managing the clean-up after a kaiju attack. June/July should see the release of the Dresden Files co-operative card game, and the Dresden Files Fate Accelerated RPG adaptation.
  • SO MUCH EXCITING STUFF coming in the currently unscheduled future. This includes: Fate of Cthulhu (what if Skynet was Cthulhu), Shadow of the Century (80s action movie roleplaying), Fate Accessibility Toolkit (advice for making the game more usable for people with disabilities, including suggestions for player characters with disabilities), Fate Horror Toolkit, Fate Space Toolkit, and probably other amazing things which unfortunately I’ve forgotten. The company is still committed to developing material for non-Fate games, with some in the pipeline they weren’t able to discuss. And apparently a MASSIVE Kickstarter is coming in the new year for a major IP…
  • Finally, I got a chance to play out the Dresden Files co-op card game! Which was awesome.

Full disclosure that Evil Hat did conclude the panel by via kindly awarding me a free copy of Do: Fate of the Flying Temple, in case people feel that compromises my supposed journalistic integrity. But I think my stance on Evil Hat’s output, both negative and ludicrously positive, is pretty well established at this point.

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