The dream is over, at least for a year. GenCon 2016 is concluded. I’m back in the UK now, readjusting to normal life, before I head off to Nine Worlds tomorrow. Sorry this is so late…
I didn’t blog on Sunday, partly because I was as knackered as you’d expect, but mostly because I didn’t have much to say. The last day of GenCon is practically a half-day; after lying in for an extra hour, the Conan RPG I ran took up all the rest of our time, except for a last minute dash around the trading hall.
My game went really well! Although two players didn’t show up, an inevitability when fast sell-outs force people to sign up for games months in advance, we still had three people left to play, which made for a more personal and intense experience. Whilst my preparatory playtest flagged up some problems I had with the 2D20 system (there’s a lot of crunch to wrestle with), the fact that every player already had a vague idea of the mechanics before we started helped make things smoother, more tactical, and narratively focussed. And the ground we covered in four hours was incredible: introductions, battle, glory, a dash for safety, argument, conspiracy and a final last stand. If you’re reading, thanks so much to Louis, Carlos and Laz for a fantastic end to the convention!
Except for gifts (not pictured), my haul this year was pretty small: Fear Itself 2nd edition, Pixel Tactics, and a free copy of Do: Fate of the Flying Temple from the lovely folks at Evil Hat Productions. Honestly, my failure to spend money was not for lack of trying. By the time I’d tried out Captain Sonar and realised I definitely wanted it, it had sold out. For RPGs, I’m desperately eager to buy hard copies of Conan, Blue Rose, Apocalypse World 2nd edition, Cthulhu Confidential, Undying, Mage: the Awakening 2nd edition, Blades in the Dark and Ten Candles… but none of them were on sale (most aren’t out yet). I already grabbed Bubblegumshoe just before leaving the UK, I couldn’t buy the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide because Margeret Weis wasn’t selling any RPGs (apparently she’s out of the games industry, but all their PDFs are still on sale?), and I changed my mind about buying Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras after seeing the size of the book. Large rulebooks scare me.
First of all, congratulations to Eric Lang for a hard-earned Diana Jones Award victory. I’m not enough of a board gamer to have played many of Lang’s games, but the many hours of enjoyment I’ve had with X-COM and Chaos in the Old World are enough for me to celebrate his accomplishment.
Over at the Indie RPG Awards, best game of the year is a tie! Between Night Witches and World Wide Wrestling, both Powered by the Apocalypse. Fall of Magic picked up a couple of wins in other categories. First thought – so the Indie RPG Awards are still going then? Because last year their website was trying to sell me homeowners insurance. Has anyone told the guys who started up the Indie Groundbreaker Awards this year? Plus, I was at GenCon this year, and would have been delighted to attend an open awards ceremony if there was one, but if there was then I certainly couldn’t find any evidence of it. A few years ago I remember Ken Hite responding to his Indie RPG Award win for Day After Ragnarok by remarking that he hadn’t realised he’d been nominated, hadn’t been invited to the ceremony, and didn’t consider the release to be an indie RPG. Which isn’t a great endorsement.
As for the Ennies, looking back over my results predictions, I scored 6 out of 10. Which I think is pretty good! About the same success rate as my nomination predictions. And two of the four I got wrong were incorrect silver medals in categories where I correctly guessed the gold medals, which isn’t so bad. Unfortunately, I incorrectly guessed both the Gold AND Silver wins for Product of the Year… which is pretty awful. Never mind!
Congratulations to Pelgrane Press for not only winning Product of the Year for the Dracula Dossier, but also getting a silver medal for Fan Favourite Publisher – beating out Dungeons and Dragons in both categories is no small achievement! Not to mention the many other accolades for the Dracula Dossier and their other releases. As a Brit, I’m weirdly proud to see one of our little gaming companies punching above its weight.
With Dracula Dossier winning Product of the Year and Curse of Strahd coming second, there’s a strong vampiric theme to the year’s top releases… presumably next year’s Ennie winner will be a copy of Curse of Strahd with annotations in the margin’s revealing Wizard of the Coast’s attempt to recruit Strahd as the ultimate dungeon master. I guess we’ll know next year, at the 50th GenCon… and fingers crossed, I’ll be there to find out 🙂