This year, I finally went to Gen Con for the first time in my life. It was a great time. While I was organizing my vast (and ever-increasing) mountain of unpainted lead the other day, I came across my Gen Con 2012 acquisitions. I bought a lot of stuff there. It got me thinking: Gen Con was an expensive trip. Flight, hotel, admission/registration and car rental cost me over a thousand bucks alone; never mind things like food, parking, miniatures, swag and copious amounts of beer. Was it worth it? Yes and no. Here are my thoughts on both the Con and what I bought there.
Event registration was a pain. Like many others, I submitted my wish list of events with a click of a mouse at the exact moment online registration opened. Two minutes later, I realized my computer had frozen. So I resubmitted it and was informed I was number 2, 632 in line to be processed. Needless to say, i didn’t get into the games I most wanted to attend.
My friend and I played in four events over the course of our stay at the Con. The first was a “marines vs. alien bugs” themed RPG that was completely actionless. It was supposed to last four hours and we were done in two. It was run by a nice enough guy, but it was obvious he had only part of a story in mind. We learned the game creators were going through some legal issues, as well.
We got into the open play Super Dungeon Explore! event on Friday morning, and we had a blast learning how to play this very cool game. Later that night we played “It Came From Beyond the Still”. Mike Williams of Bring Your A Game ran a great game and put a lot of effort into both the board and the miniatures. I got to play the “meddling kids”, aka Hasslefree’s not-Scooby gang. My friend played the famous hillbilly family, the McCoys. It was the most fun I’ve had playing a miniatures game in years. My team did pretty well…Fred shot a UFO out of the sky with a pistol (while driving the Mystery Machine,no less), Daphne and Scooby-Dum were disintegrated by a gray alien’s rail gun, Scooby-Doo killed and ate (yes, ate) Agent K from the Men in Black, and Velma was stabbed by a cultist. In the kidney. Shaggy didn’t do much (but then again, he never really does). How about that for a game?
The last game we played was on Saturday morning-a Pathfinder scenario called the Tomb of Caragthax, run by the guys at Total Party Kill Games. Nice bunch of guys, and a fun time.
Food and Accomodations
Indianapolis has some pretty mediocre food, with some notable exceptions. The microbrews are terrific. The fried pickles (something you can’t get where I live) are amazing. And the Weber Grille served some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. The rest of the food we had was meh, and the Denny’s near our hotel pretty much confirmed that Denny’s sucks everywhere.
We stayed at the Candlewood Suites near the airport, and I think that was probably the best move for two guys who don’t want to be aggravated by each other and by gamers LARPing in the hallway at 3 am every night. The hotel was great, but about 5 miles outside of downtown, and paying for parking sucks.
Whenever we weren’t gaming, sleeping or drinking, we spent our time in the Vendor Hall. And it is here that I spent far too much money. I won’t go into everything I bought, but I should give some recognition to some of the cool people I met there.
The War Store had a big area, and as always, the staff was terrific. A woman named Phadra (? sp) ran me through a demo of Firestorm Armada. She was pleasant and very knowledgeable and even choked down her lunch so she could run the demo right away. (Which wasn’t necessary, but I appreciated it anyway).
Ginfritter from Armorcast was on hand, and as usual when confronted with Armorcast stuff, I bought a bunch of it.
The guys from Geek Chic were there showing off some of the coolest and most expensive game tables ever made, but boy are they impressive.
I got to meet Larry Elmore, who of course is a legend in the fantasy art world. I told him his stuff was the visual inspiration for all our games growing up, and he seemed to like that. I bought this print of his and he signed it for me. It’s the cover to the Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn game, and it’s now framed and hanging in my home.
I also bought a few prints from Erika Taguchi-Newton, whose stuff I fell in love with right away. She seemed very nice, but I don’t know her personally and I don’t know how she would feel about me posting one of her images on this blog, so I won’t. But I encourage you to check out my favorite one I bought on her website. It’s called “Night at Karloff’s”.
So what wasn’t worth it? Well, while going through my Gen Con purchases yesterday, I felt a bit of buyer remorse. I shouldn’t have bought the baseball hat with the Yellow Sign on it. Not because everyone who sees me goes incurably mad, but because I’ve never been much of a hat person. But what I feel the most buyer remorse about is miniatures. Specifically, these:
First off, let me say that I love Wyrd’s miniatures, and I love Asian-themed minatures. This would seem to be a win-win for me, and in a way, it is. I don’t play Malifaux, but I purchase a fair amount of Wyrd’s stuff for use in other games. When I saw the concept art for these Thunders, I was excited; and when I heard they’d be premiering them at Gen Con, I planned to buy them. And I did. For 21 bucks.
Now, at the time, I didn’t really think too much about it, because I was caught up in the excitement of the vendor hall. But when I looked at them the other day, I got annoyed. There are three plastic miniatures in this box, all contained on one sprue. I paid TWENTY ONE DOLLARS for this. For three plastic miniatures. That’s actually worse than GW, and they charge $25 for five plastic space marines!
What makes matters worse is that I’m not all that remorseful about spending the amount of money I spent on miniatures at Gen Con, which was a considerable amount. I’m mostly remorseful about this one purchase.
To put it in perspective, I also visited the Wargames Factory booth and bought a box of their Zombie Vixens for fifteen bucks, and they threw in an extra sprue for free. That’s 40 zombie chicks for fifteen bucks. That’s a sweet deal by anyone’s estimation. To be fair, this was a Gen Con special. WF usually sells the box for $19.95, and it includes 30 zombies. But that’s still ten times the miniatures, and it’s still less than the $21.00 I paid for the Thunders. I just bought a box of their Greatcoat Shock Troopers (not even sure why), and that’s 18 plastic miniatures for $19.95…maybe not as good a deal as the Zombie Vixens, but still a way better deal than the Thunders.
Sure, WF may be an extreme example of value for money, and no, the Zombie Vixens don’t look anywhere near as good as the Thunders. But they’re both plastic. The same plastic, as far as I can tell. Want another example? I bought a set of Mantic Dwarf Crossbowmen, ten figures in total, for $12.00. Want another? I bought a box of 24 Defiance Games UAMC Marines for $30.00.
I know our hobby is an expensive one, and nobody made me buy anything. But I think in this particular case, Wyrd is demonstrating some very GWish behavior. It’s too bad I didn’t realize it until after the Con, when I could think straight and wasn’t a drooling fanboy. No way will I ever pay this much for three plastics ever again.
I think Wyrd has some very talented sculptors and some very interesting miniatures, and I will continue to use them in my games. But there’s a point where ridiculousness smacks you in the face like a cold mackerel, and this was it for me. I get the fact that Malifaux is a skirmish game and in order to play Malifaux you need fewer miniatures than, say, Warhammer Fantasy Battle. But fewer miniatures should mean that playing the game is less expensive, and at these prices I’m not really seeing much difference. I’d hate to see Wyrd go the same way as GW, but it seems to be the case.