107 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Gen Con Thoughts with Nick and Izzy
Let’s talk to Nick and Izzy about their Gen Con experience!
107 is a prime number: A great way to introduce Optimus Prime super-fan, Nick Martinelli!
Nick writes for TFG and most recently wrote a review for Let Them Eat Shrimp!
Nick has been gaming for about 10 years. Carcasonne & Catan were his gateway into boardgaming; he actually started playing them on Xbox 360. He likes gaming with his kids Izzy and Jace. Prefers light- to medium-weight and filler games. Current favorites: Above & Below, Valeria Card Kingdoms.
As you may have noticed from episode 105, Nick was our man-on-the-street for Gen Con. We brought him back to ask about his personal experience there.
How large is Gen Con?
Very large convention center + LucasOil Stadium (NFL stadium). Vendors, open gaming, each with its own massive hall. Several connected hotels run minor events out of their ballrooms, and it seems like every conference room in every hotel has a boardgame publisher running demos morning until night.
Nick stayed in Crowne Plaza connected to Union Station (a converted train station). Getting a hotel room is challenging and times to book a room are arranged by lottery. Nick lucked into an early booking time and had a lot of selection: he picked one that was a train car, still on rails!
What is it like being a Gen Con attendee?
Crowded and busy, of course. Huge mega-booths for the large publishers. Nick finds himself with “Squirrel!” syndrome. It’s so easy to get sidetracked, and you won’t make it to everything.
Lots of games available to buy before retail, along with promotional extras that you can’t get anywhere else.
Nick likes to walk the aisles, and stop whenever he sees something new or cool.
What is Gen Con like with a kid?
Nick’s daughter Izzy is 9 years old, and came for the first time. She’s been gaming since she was 3 or 4, and preparing most of the past year for her Gen Con experience. Lots of walking, and long days, but she did really well!
Parent tip: Every time you walk near a bathroom, ask your kid if they need to go. 😉
Kids 10 and under get into Gen Con for free – as long as they aren’t attending any events that need tickets.
If you can take time away from the show floor, there are lots of local things to do in Indianapolis. Gen Con also hosts some kid activities, and even has a (paid) babysitting service!
What kinds of vendors are there?
So much more than just games! There are lots of publishers, but that’s not all that’s in the vendor halls. Game stores, game accessories, geeky non-gamer accessories (t-shirts, leather armor, glassware, stuffed animals, anime, etc.) The same kind of vendors you’d see at a comic con. Nick’s eyes were caught by some dice made out of precious stones.
HABA’s booth was run by a local game store.
Can’t Miss Activites at Gen Con?
Block party – beer tent & food trucks out in front of the convention center (Rio also provides food for free in their demo room!)
Cardhalla – CCG cards (Magic the Gathering, etc) – people build huge towers of cards. On Saturday night, they destroy the whole thing for charity (throw money at the towers to knock them over).
LucasOil stadium was unreal. Huge, and full end-to-end with gaming.
There’s a local restaurant that changes all the food names to be gaming themed.
More Highlights from Nick:
Dice Tower live show
Meeting BG superstars (Rob Daviau, etc.)
Friday night, picked up My Little Scythe and started playing it. Marcus (designer of Beees!) walked by and struck up conversation. Then brought over a copy of his game and they all played together!
Playing Filler w/ Jonathan Chaffer, the designer – and he taught them how to play Fabled Fruit too.
People were really awesome and kind.
They tried to buy Dinosaur Tea Party at the last minute – Restoration Games had sold out and Izzy was so upset! They gave Izzy a “booth copy” (still sealed), paid for “with a smile”.
Andy Geremia remembered Nick from last year and showed him Sports Dice: Football. Nick had fun with it even though he’s not a big sports fan.
What did Izzy think?
The train car was super cool on the inside, with all the stuff that would be in a normal hotel room.
Izzy’s favorite games played were My Little Scythe, Magic Maze, Whoosh, Minute Kingdom, and Rainbow Knights.
Rainbow Knights uses clear cards. You create a border and put some “grumpy clouds” in the middle of the play area. Each knight is building a “rainbow” track to travel along, without crashing into the clouds, the edge, or anyone’s track. Once everyone has crashed, the player with the longest path wins. Looks like it’s really durable, great for outdoors play or restaurant (no worrying about spills).
Izzy tells us that if you’re going to buy Ice Cool 2, you should get the original Ice Cool to make a huge board and allow for 8 players.
She was so excited to meet Tom Vasel. Inquiring minds want to know: why does Tom do the “component drop”?
- It’s fun,
- You can see all the pieces,
- It makes everyone mad, and
- Because he can.
Sounds like Gen Con was great! We hope we can go next year… but until next time, play games with your kids!
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