For quite some time now, I've been interested in attending Gen Con. And this year, for the first time, I did. I joined Jon, Cathy, Pete, Lindsay, Jon, and Kathy for a great trip to the Indianapolis area and some wonderful gaming experiences. While there, I did cross paths with one person I knew from my Kiwanis family involvements, quite a few people I knew from the JoCo Cruise, and a number of Jon's other friends and family. I didn't see all my local Edmonton friends who were there, mostly because there's literally SO MUCH to do at Gen Con that it's both impossible to do it all and exceedingly a bad idea to even attempt to do so.
That said, my Facebook and Twitter feeds from the time period provide a good recap as will this Gen Con YouTube Playlist that Jon put together featuring our videos, which should get updated shortly with even more content, as he bought a GoPro shortly prior to our trip! I'm in the chainmail dragon video and the wire wrap tiara video and my cupcakes make appearances in the Deadpool cupcake video for example. But the forthcoming videos will feature some of the other stuff we got up to during our trip!
Day 0 - Travel day
We got up VERY early to fly but that's pretty much the norm anytime one flies east if one is trying to get somewhere early in the day... and we were trying to get there early on, partially as I wanted to check my auction and consignment store items in on Wednesday to take advantage of all the opportunities possible for them to sell (this was a good plan as all 7 items I brought in sold, and so I would have more space in my luggage to bring items home [hopefully my luggage shows up soon!]). Both of our flights were on time and we were moved to adjacent seats in each of them (we booked flights separately, and while Jon and I traveled together to get to Indianapolis, we returned separately because of the deals we could find when booking flights), and even ended up in an exit row on our first flight (which was great especially as it meant Jon had more leg room!).
Upon our arrival in Indianapolis, we met Lindsay after her delayed flight and eventually met up with Kathy and picked up my luggage. Next we went to ground transportation where I picked up a standby ticket for the Go Express shuttle and awaited my trip to the convention center to drop off the store items while the others took a taxi ride to our house rental. It was a long hot wait and standby tickets meant that the reservations took priority but I made it to the convention center in time to drop off my items before the 6 pm deadline that day and I checked out the Georgia street food truck area before having a chai latte and a granola bar at Bee's Coffee Roasters across from the convention center in the air conditioning (it is HOT in Indianapolis right now) while I awaited the others to arrive. It was exciting to see the crowds of people waiting for Will Call and comforting to know that my familiarity with Indianapolis downtown (because of Kiwanis of course!) would be useful for the convention itself.
We stopped at a Kroger grocery store before and after grabbing dinner at a McAllister's Deli (I like that place though their portions are often immense) and made it back to the house. We were staying at a house rental on a ranch which was rather wonderful: enough space for everyone, and the possibility of horse rides (Cathy and Pete had a horse ride already by the time we arrived). The horse ranch was in Brownsburg which is a 40 minute drive (depending on traffic) from the convention center which meant some planning but the drive wasn't bad (as long as there were enough drivers! The taxi ride that the others took from the airport indicated that not everyone knew their way here). We waited in the Will Call line for our badge and ticket pickup in the evening and then had a pretty relaxed rest of the night and we all got to bed at a reasonable point for our early morning start to the convention.
Day 1 - Thursday start and tournament begun
The day began with a great 9 person experience at Escape Room Indy where we successfully completed the Bank Heist escape room! This was an outstanding start to our GenCon experience even if it was a bit early (9am). We were all fresh and able to work together well, and everyone had a good role in our heist. We only used one clue (needed because some of the numbers got moved on one of the props) and finished with 10 minutes and 27 seconds to spare.
Cathy dressed in her cosplay (scalemail wonderwoman! It was awesome!) and we got stopped for lots of pictures as we made our way to the Deadpool cupcake decorating class. After that I walked the floor with Jon for a bit before picking up Codenames: Pictures (that I had preordered which is good as it was one of the hot items this year at the convention) and heading over to my 7 Wonders tournament. This tournament was much smaller than I expected it to be, but it was good fun. I was even winning after the third game (I ended up in 2nd overall after this round, qualifying for the final on Saturday, which meant that the next thing I did was get my Saturday tickets refunded before we headed back to the house. We stopped at the Brownsburg Steak 'n' Shake so I could get a shake (black raspberry chocolate chip) as a treat before eating Papa Murphy's (Take 'n' Bake pizza) for dinner. Cathy taught me how to make a glow in the dark winged devil chainmail necklace before I headed to bed (where I had unfortunate nightmares, the least restful sleep of my trip, even though I had enough time to get a good night's sleep that night).
Day 2 - A Busy Friday
We made it to the exhibit hall early enough to wait for the open this day and we missed the chance at the Harry Potter deck building game (which is fine, we can wait until it's more widely available) but it was neat being there for the opening of the hall on the Friday anyway even with the occasional smelly person in the crowd and the very opinionated loud talking rude man in the Archer cosplay nearby. At 11 am Cathy and I did the wire wrapping class where I made a tiara and she made an elven circlet. It was my first experience with wire wrapping and I'm pretty glad with how it turned out. If I ever go on the JoCo Cruise again, I'll totally have at least one tiara to wear!
We had lunch with Ben at Cafe Patachou (I love Cafe Patachou!) and I saw a bit more of the exhibit hall (Artist's alley mostly) before heading to the Friday Doubleclicks show (I couldn't see the Saturday one or the Professor Shyguy show as I had made it into the 7 Wonders tournament final, but the Doubleclicks show was awesome!). I even met up with Andy in the Exhibit hall and we walked over together and sat together. It was good!
After that I went to the dichroic glass pendant class which I totally enjoyed and look forward to receiving the resulting pendants in the mail! I finished first out of everyone in the class (probably because I knew what I wanted to make), and then caught the tail end of the Auntie Lisa's story hour panel that Jon and Pete were in before heading to the hall some more and then meeting up with Cathy and trying on the bat wings she had made. We had dinner at Buca di Beppo and then walked over to the Concert Against Humanity where we totally had a blast seeing awesome comedy and music on stage! The swag bag was also quite good (though I don't yet have it due to it being packed in my as yet not received luggage). I loved the fact that I saw a lot of Sea Monkeys from the cruise here and was seated beside one, even! It was well after midnight by the time we left downtown so it's not as if we got a lot of sleep before Saturday....
Day 3 - A Full Saturday of Fun
Saturday began with a great (long) chainmail dragon class. While Jon and Cathy left to do other things, I stayed until my dragon was pretty much done (I've since changed a few things, but he's a pretty awesome chainmail dragon, I think!). Then I ran off for my tournament final. We were all tired by that time so we played more sloppily but it was fun! All in all I played 7 games of 7 Wonders this convention and it was good! I definitely didn't win, but I did well all in all.
After that I caught more of the exhibit hall before we went to dinner at PF Chang's and then checked on the auction/consignment store (we missed the deadline to browse the store properly but all my stuff sold!!). Then we went to see the Gosh Darn Fiasco Show and headed back to the house. At the house Cathy taught a few more chainmail items and so I made a butterfly and made some dragon modifications before bed.
Day 4 - Sunday Floor Day
Sunday was the most chill day I had of the convention. This was because I didn't have any specific events planned other than walking the remaining 25 rows of the exhibit hall. And this is something I accomplished! I spun a wheel and won the game Caffeine Rush, I bought Realm of Wonder (because it was pretty and a good deal as well as having some neat game mechanics), I picked up some gifts for folks back home, I even bought a corset on sale (that booth had top notch customer service with fittings explanations and more! I loved how they were so helpful!), and bought a new beautiful leather purse (my old purse didn't even come home with me as it was falling apart) thanks to the help of Jon when I was having trouble deciding between a phoenix pattern or a dragon pattern on the purse (I got the phoenix one). The games I picked up for myself weren't a huge number of games, but I did manage to pick up the 40 minis from a kickstarter that hadn't delivered them to me so I was pretty happy about that (well, I'd be happier if the minis weren't in the piece of luggage that hasn't come home with me yet, but so were multiple pairs of shoes, lots of clothing and toiletries and all my promo cards etc. I really want that bag!). I did take advantage of the coupon book thing for a couple dice and promo cards and so that coupon book was pretty helpful. Jon also found the coupon book useful.
We went to the Kroger to pick up food for the evening before heading on our horseback ride that evening. We also visited the petting zoo they had at the ranch, and fed the goats and pig apple pieces. We probably should have brought the tortilla chips as that was a known favourite of the animals, but we were still entertained. The horse ride itself was a great trail ride including some timespan riding in deep water and getting rather wet as a result. My horse was named Stitch and he kept wanting to stop and eat although he had a bag over his mouth preventing him from doing so. Still he kept trying which was a bit frustrating/entertaining as I kept having to encourage him to keep going. I'm sure Jon will have some video posted of the horseback rides eventually (and there'll be more videos in the playlist I linked at the beginning of this long rambling post).
After that we went back to the house to meet up with Jon's dad and Judy for a lovely meal at the house of sandwiches buffet style and cake for dessert. We were all a bit wet from the horseback ride but eventually we dried out. The local animals all took the chance to visit us at the house (dogs and cats mostly). It was good that we could leisurely pack things up and prepare for our departure in the morning.
Day 5 - Return home and Wrap up
Yesterday we traveled home. Which meant a pretty relaxed morning: We woke up a bit later and I took a walk to the pond with Jon before finishing cleaning up and packing our stuff to depart to the airport in time for Lindsay's flight. Delta airlines had some major issues that day which meant that Jon's flights ended up rather delayed (and there were big lines for Delta check in) but other than forgetting to pack a few things in the checked bag, we were off to head home. My flights were pretty fine (I flew United to Chicago and WestJet to Calgary and then Edmonton, ending up in Exit rows twice on the trip home!) but I unfortunately had to do security three times (what a pain!), and my checked bag didn't manage to arrive home with me. I'm still really hoping that my checked bag will show up soon, as losing that much clothing and all my game promos would really put a damper on things.
All in all, I would recommend Gen Con to anyone interested in games, geeky pursuits, crafts and/or fun... (okay this KIND of fun, that is!). I am definitely going to go to Gen Con 50 next year -- I wouldn't miss it as this year's trip was marvelous on a whole. I'm really glad I booked the day after the trip off (as I was tired enough that my afternoon nap was needed and my shoulder and knee have been bugging me a bit from lugging luggage through airports). I'm hopeful that we'll have a large enough group to take advantage of another awesome house rental perhaps even with another horseback ride, but even if not, the house rental was a great idea and made our stay most wonderful. I will definitely contemplate selling more games in the consignment store/auction, doing more tournaments and crafts, catching more entertainment and panels, and generally trying to see more of the awesome folks that I rarely get to see outside of trips like this one. I don't think I did too much or too little, I got just enough board game playing, discovering, and other events and activities into my trip.