Four glorious days of games, no sleep, snack bar food, sore feet, meeting new people, buying games, learning about games and why they are important and playing more games otherwise known as Gen Con. Gen Con comes to Indianapolis, Indiana once per year for just 4 days. We are already planning for next year. If you have never been to Gen Con you really should experience this amazing convention at least once, there is literally something for everyone there.
Gen Con continues to break records this year with 56,614 unique attendees which beat last year’s record breaking attendance of 49.530. Each year is bigger and better than the year before and I don’t see those numbers going down in the future. Every year Gen Con raises donations for their charity partner, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and this year they raised more than $40,000 for their BackSacks program. This program provides weekend food to children at-risk for hunger. Mayfair Games held a charity event on Saturday called Cones of Dunshire which raised $20,000 of the total amount.
On top of being the “Best Four Days in Gaming” it also gives back to the community and lives up to its name every year. The feeling of community you get when you attend is there the entire four days and I honestly have yet to meet one rude person at Gen Con in the three years we have been attending. There is so much to see and do that I am honestly surprised they haven’t expanded this amazing convention by at least one more day. I am sure many agree but if you plan it right you can do everything you want to do in those 4 days.
We always get our badges as soon as they are available online and then order my kids wristbands. They are 3 and 5 so they are still free but kids do require a wristband. Your name, their name and your phone number on on these in case a child gets lost. When you enter either of the main halls they will ask to see the child’s badge or wristband too. If you plan on being there more than one day with your child you can do what we do to avoid getting a new one each day. Simply get a lanyard with the clear badge holders and fold up the wrist band and put it inside. My kids love it because they get a new lanyard each year and get to flash their “badge” like mommy and daddy.
This year our focus was different for everyone. I will actually go into more detail for each of my kids in other posts but basically the Diva wanted to find as many costumed people as possible to get pictures with. The Gentleman loves Pathfinder so we signed him up for all five of the Advanced Kids tracks which occupied 2 hours each day from 11:00 – 1:00 pm and a second at 4:00 on Saturday. My husband had a Mage Wars demo and a Star Realm tournament and I wanted to see the game companies and find new games to play with my kids or without my kids.
We all had our missions and four days to complete them. Well my Diva had only gone for a day last year and she was done after about 4 hours so we were not 100% sure she would make through all of day one. A friend was basically on stand by in case we needed to drop the Diva off to her during the weekend but we did a test run on Thursday. She made it the ENTIRE day for 3 days straight. My Diva is a gamer and future cosplayer, I’m sure of that now. We forced her to stay with a friend on Sunday because she started preschool Monday and well she is 3 after all.
The Gentleman of course lasted all 4 days and wanted to play more games at home and during the week. Next year he wants to try some more game events so we will have to see what they have available when its time. The kids were split up between my husband and me to be fair and not as exhausting on one or the other of us. There were occasions where one of us had both though but thanks to snack breaks, games to play and the family area they were never bored.
My husband spent most of his time taking the Gentleman to Pathfinder events or walking around the halls with one kid or the other. During his demo I had both kids but it was snack time so we were snacking and playing games at a table in the hallway. They had them setup for various events all over the hallways but when not in use for events people were allowed to sit and eat or play at them. During my son’s events I had the Diva and afterwards we switched and I had my son with me. Sometimes we all walked around together but the kids tend to go a little crazy with each other so we split up alot to demo games and look around.
We always met up for snacks and lunch times though to talk, play games and be together and afterwards we would all walk around together for a little bit before splitting up. This was very important because we had that quality family time we all love but also individual time with the kids which is great and not so common for us. Before you go asking, yes I kept my son out of kindergarten in order to go to Gen Con. Don’t judge (or do if you really want to). I feel that a great family-loved tradition that brings us all closer is more important than two days of school. He learns a lot at Gen Con and through gaming too.
The Diva and I would spend a lot of time wondering the vendor hall and oh my goodness were there a lot of things to see and do there. Our first mission was to locate a dagger for her since her brother got one last year. Sounds easy right? Not so much. There weren’t a lot of vendors making decent looking pretend weapons. They had those cool foam ones that you fight with but we wanted a more realistic looking one. After about 30 minutes of booth hopping we found one and she was ecstatic. I spent the next half hour explaining that, no we don’t stab people with it even if they do have weapons too.
During all of our exploring we came across so many wonderful new game companies and games along with companies and games we already knew and loved. Among our favorites already (including links to their sites) are Blue Orange Games, Calliope, Set Enterprises, iello, Mayfair, Rio Grande Games, Evanced Games, Maranda Games, Pajaggle, Steve Jackson Games and of course Paizo. You have probably read my reviews for several of their games and if not you should. All of those companies make wonderful games and we were not disappointed with the new ones out this year. Both of my kids spent a LOT of time trying out some old favorites and some new ones and of course wanted to leave with everything we tried.
Blue Orange Games had large Brave Rats which is new and there was even a coupon for trying to beat one of the guys at the game to win prizes! There were also large copies of Gobblet Gobblers and Pengaloo which we love. They have a new one that is great for adults and kids called Aztack. This one has you competing to be the first to play all of your tiles by stacking them on top of each other, but of course there are rules. No, I’m not explaining them now but check out the game on their site and keep checking for my review. Also, they just came out with a whole new line of Spot It! and Tell Tale with Disney characters!! Yes…including Frozen.
Calliope Games had our favorites Tsuro and Got ‘Em! that we were able to demo along with Ugh! which I will be reviewing this year. My son didn’t need help he said so I just got to watch…a lot. My favorite form of Tsuro was also there, Giant Tsuro which you play using large tile mats and YOU are the piece that moves. It is so much fun! Their newer game Roll for it! was of course available for demo and they had the amazing special Gen Con addition of Roll for it! in a collector tin! There was a velvet dice bag, beautiful artwork featuring Gen Con characters, a beautiful tin that had its inside ready for dice to be rolled in and the dice were that pearly looking type that I love. Don’t be jealous. Good news for you is later this year Calliope will have a Roll for it! Deluxe available featuring a lot of the same things except instead of the Gen Con characters their own artwork will be on the cards.
Set Enterprises was showing off its fantastic Set Junior, Quiddler Jr and Five Crowns Jr. There were of course regular versions of those games too along with their new game Karma. Karma’s goal is to play all your cards first but to do so you have to play cards equal to or higher than the last card. Of course there are special rules and cards to help…or not…along the way. I’ll be reviewing this one so keep checking for the details or go to their website.
iello’s booth was of course busy with their new game King of New York and a giant version of King of Tokyo! I love giant versions of games. I love iello’s range of games as they have some of the few that work for really young kids up to adults. Fun Farm is new and has a group of soft squeezable animals that you have to grab before anyone else to win the card but only if one of the two dice match a die on the card. More on that in my review, coming soon! Aside from King of Tokyo and New York they had Zombie 15, Think Again!, Phantom, The Hare and the Tortoise and Three Little Pigs. I love their Tales series, they look like books! Look for my reviews on Zombie 15, Fun Farm and The Hare and the Tortoise coming this year!
Mayfair actually co-sponsors Gen Con so their games are all over the place. You probably know a few like Catan, Catan Junior, Bedpans and Broomsticks, Mad City, and Star Trek Catan among there many wonderful games. Keep checking back to find out more about Mad City in my review coming this year.
Rio Grande Games had a room this year where you could just go sit and play their games. It was great! They had Dominion of course along with Race for the Galaxy, Zooloretto, of course Carcassonne and Carcassonne Jr. They even had kids games like Monster Factory and Viva Topo (which I will be reviewing this year!).
Evanced Games had their digital booth up with plenty of tablets to play their wonderful games on! Tic-Tac Bananas, That’s Baloney! and Froggy Phonics were available to play and they even handed out free downloads! They also had wonderful toadstool stools to sit on and play or just relax. Froggy Phonics is a HUGE hit in our house and both of my kids play it all the time.
Maranda Games had their booth full of wonderful games like Speedy Recall, Dotzee, Settrio, Quanzy, Eternas, Abacan, and Trappex. This company makes games that are fun and make you think! They also make outdoor games, Flexi Freeze products, and the Wonder Shade. So many exciting things! I will be showing you some of them in reviews in the next year so keep checking.
The Pajaggle booth was one that we visited literally all four days and more than once each day. We LOVE Pajaggle but they had Rings out this year too! These soft puzzle shapes would have been hours of fun if we had them to spare. As it is we spent at least 30 minutes each time at that booth playing with Rings and my son and I tried to beat each other in Pajaggle. I won..but not by much, that kid is good at that game. You will love Rings so keep checking back for my review later in the year.
Steve Jackson Games had their booth on the opposite side of the hall and lots of Munchkin was being played. Their new one Munchkin Adventure Time seemed to a huge hit at their booth along with Zombie Dice, Castellan, Munchkin Pathfinder Deluxe and Ogre. Can’t wait to teach the Gentleman Munchkin! Once I work out all the not being able to read fully yet details I will share how I taught him to play.
Paizo’s booth had lines out of the hall almost every day! We were only able to visit the booth on Sunday when they opened the area up to everyone at the same time. It was constantly packed with people wanting to get their hands on Pathfinder, items for Pathfinder, games, mini’s and the new Pathfinder Adventure Card Game! I’ll let you know all about it in a review in the next year but you can also check it out on their site.
I will have to tell you about all the amazing new companies and games we discovered this year in another post. I don’t like splitting up posts but really you can’t have that much awesome in ONE post. It will be way too long. Look for that in just a couple days though, I won’t keep you waiting THAT long!
Here are the pictures from all four days! Well most…Enjoy!
As you can tell my focus was on games and playing them with my kids…or sometimes without my kids. Rediscovering old favorites at booths of companies we knew is always great and fun. I already trust those companies so I get excited when I can try out their new games. I have yet to be disappointed with any of them!
We were all very successful in our missions! *Fist Bump* Ahem…everyone had an amazing time and we all got to spend quality family and one-on-one time together. My husband and I even got to spend some time gaming without kids at night! TWICE! A friend kept them over night one night and my sister kept them another night. TWO whole nights of going back to Gen Con to the Game Library and playing games. We tried a few new ones there too that are now on our wish list. Just in time for Xmas!
To be continued…