Gencon 50 Recap

A weekend of tabletop board gaming. Does that sound like fun? It did for thousands and thousands of gamers as they packed the Indianapolis Convention Center to get a taste of the newest games, shop for a food deal, and/or participate in tournaments. And being the 50th anniversary of Gencon, it was guaranteed to be a crowded affair. We Roll Solo had a chance to visit on the Friday of the convention. (Other engagements kept us from staying all four days.)

Playing Visitor

I had set up an interview with Alison Haislip (G4’s Attack of the Show), who was representing Iello and has a special King of Tokyo token in her likeness, but that was at 2:30. Her interview is coming soon. After getting the press pass, there was still 90 minutes before the exhibit floor open, so I strolled through the gaming and tournament hall where most of the events required tickets. Many gamers looked exhausted from hours of gaming, but remained exuberant about whatever game they were playing. That, or they were hopped up on energy drinks or caffeine.

The gaming hall was packed early morning, with players signing up for demos, tournaments and general gameplay. You could play a life-size version of Catan, or take in the multitudes of games and miniatures set up around the room.

As the time got closer to 10 am, I headed back out into the hallway and closer to where the press room was located. That didn't matter: The throng of convention-goers came to a stand-still, like a traffic jam on I-294. I hung out off to the side for a few minutes after the main doors opened and waited until the crowd thinned. Once the exhibit doors opened, board gamers of all types rushed in. As I suspected after viewing pictures from Thursday, the crowd spread out, and moving through the main hall was no problem. There were some bottlenecked places, but if you came to Gencon 50 with expectations of easy and roomy maneuvering, that's on you!

Playing Modern Art
I spent an equal amount of the day shopping the booths and playing impromptu games at the many tables set up by publishers and designers looking to show you their games. First, I walked through the energetic CMON booth and played Modern Art, a fun auction-style game that uses art from real, contemporary artists. I played Visitor, a decent deduction game for 3 or more players where an alien has crash-landed in the woods and a kid discovers him. The alien and kid work together to keep federal agents from arresting them by creating secret patterns with objects on the cards. I also played Pandemic: The Cure, but I already knew the rules since I often play it solo. In fact, the girl running that table was told a few minutes before she’d be hosting that game. She admitted she didn’t know the rules, so I taught her and one other participant to play. Hopefully she managed okay later! One of the more interesting games I learned – one I didn’t think I’d enjoy – was Drawing Dead, a poker variant that includes role cards with special powers to help your hand or hinder an opponent’s hand.

For purchases, I picked up Mint Works, the expansion to Terraforming Mars called Hellas & Elysium, and Shahrazad from Osprey Games. (All three will be reviewed on We Roll Solo.)

Overall, Gencon 50 was a great experience. If you’re into board games and have never gone to a Gencon, you should. Next year may not be as crazy as this year’s 50th anniversary, so the city and convention center will be less crowded for your tabletop enjoyment!

Games Mentioned in the Recap

Gregory Gregory Author