Sunday, August 9, 2015

A GenCon Tale Part 2: The Wrath of the Con

Ahhh.. day two!  Picking up where we left off on Wednesday, Thursday marks when GenCon comes alive and all the events are in full swing!  Today I would be entering my single miniature into the painting competition, exploring the vendor hall, and playing in my first Magic tournament.  It would be a day of making one's way through the massing crowds of gamers in search of demo games and promos.  But before we got there we had to go through this...

I was once told that, "beggars can't be choosers," and after arriving in downtown Indy this sentiment had never proved the wiser.  In past years, we drove in Thursday evening and never dealt with Thursday morning parking, so you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that by 10:30am each and every parking garage was at capacity and sold out.  Undeterred, we turned our attention towards the industrial outskirts, where many a vacant lot is used for just such a purpose.  In no time we spotted three very enthusiastic flag wavers and were hooked by the promise of $15 a day parking (compared to the $24+ it would have cost in a garage). It seemed like a pretty grass-roots operation, but the people appeared honest, and the price was right.  We were sold.

No sooner had we paid and received our four-day pass and were driving towards the next eager flag waver that three-and-a-half tons of vehicular doom came barreling our way.  The gravel driveways lining the lot were quite narrow and studded with lonely somewhat disheveled looking homes.  It was out from behind one of the houses that a city garbage truck came careening, spitting gravel from beneath its churning pneumatic tires.  

Donovan had taken the wheel for the drive in as I wished to hold my mini to prevent any further paint rub while in transport, so I had a front-row seat for "dieinna alley," (I recommend saying it like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter for added fun flavor) and was the first to utter a cry of warning, which came out as a hybrid mixture of words and gutteral noises, which sounded something like, "stopohhhgawdshitgod!" There was a moment when both Donovan and the city worker seemed unsure as how to proceed.  I imagine by the quick succession of braking and accelerations that Donovan made, he was thinking, "holy s*** I gotta stop, no, I gotta get us outta here!"  And by the way the trash truck didn't make any move to slow or alter its course, I imagine its driver as thinking, "the world is filled with trash... so much trash... so much and so little time.. muhahahaha!!"

Ultimately, Donovan slammed on the brakes and the truck's wheels locked, veering it in a rock chewing slide to the right.  The adrenaline jitters were still working their way through our fingers and toes after we brought our car to a stop at its final resting place.  "Almost dying on day one of the con...  Off to a good start," I remember saying.  "Yeah, that guy came out of nowhere," Donovan laughed.  And I did too.

The miniature in my hand reminded me there was still a painting competition to enter, so we laughed it off, and headed towards our first true day of GenCon.

At 11:00am miniatures events were already in full-swing, with take-and-paint's going all day long and speed paint competitions firing every hour or so.  

The main painting competition is hosted in six large display cases, where: single mini, large mini, diorama, squad, vehicle, original sculpt, and young bloods all vie for top honors.  By Thursday morning there were only a few entries in the case, but by Friday afternoon the competition was already getting stiff.

About 40 entries were submitted in time for voting by Friday night in the single mini category I entered.  This is how the case looked on Friday afternoon...

My high elf (green sash and purple cape) was amongst great company, and though I didn't expect to win top honors while working on him in the previous weeks, now I began to dream!

There are many fewer minis entered each year into the large model and diorama categories, but already some impressive busts and intricate scenes were being added to the competition.

In the vehicle category there we substantially fewer "classic" tank entries and more unique pieces from techno-mech lines like Infinity.

I thought these space marines looked great, the green blending was especially well done.

There would be only three entries made to the original sculpt category, which is always an interesting proposition.  Either all the Reaper sculptors turn out and absolutely kill the category, or the competition is as light as it was this year.  That's the interesting thing about these competitions, that the level of competition seems to have a regular and discernible rotations from year to year (except single mini, which is always fiercely contested).

Who knows, maybe I'll do a sculpt for next time...

By Friday Donovan was ready to submit his diorama.  There's a bit to do with registration paperwork, and the cost of entry is one general ticket ($2).  They handle the whole process with the utmost professionalism, and it's greatly appreciated by all who enter.

Donovan's entry can be seen in the back middle below.  It's an original composition, and I love how he positioned the zombies to be crawling out of some hellishly lit plague pit!

 At this point, it was anyone's contest and both Donovan and I could feel an air of excitement.  Besides competing for a prize, it was exciting simply to look at all the awesome pieces being submitted.  The talent in the GenCon crowd is definitely up there!

With our entries submitted, it was time to hit the food trucks and grab some grub!

I stopped at the Soul Shine Market where they had a cleverly named Game of Thrones menu.  The food was so good I stopped by twice, first getting the "Trial by Combat," which was Korean BBQ chicken with Kim Chi (cabbage slathered in spices and Siracha sauce) and then again for the aptly named "King Slayer," a decadently crispy pork belly sandwich with yummy hoisin sauce.

Trial complete!

 While I was feeding the dragon, Donovan decided to begin perusing the vendor hall.  It would be no large task to find him, right?


And so began our game of text tag, that goes something like this:

11:21am - Me: "Where ya at?"

11:22am - Donovan: "Plaid hat area" 

11:33am - Me: "Where is that? I'm at Wyrd." 

12:42pm - Me: "Dood wer r u?"

Eventually I stumbled into the Plaid Hat Games demo zone and found this...

Donny was trying out the new card game, Ashes, which, as far as I can tell, is kind of like Magic in that it is a game of dueling wizards and uses mana, but beyond that the difference diverge significantly.

The game system has built-in multiplayer opportunities and at the beginning of each turn you and your opponent get to roll a literal fistful of dice.  Who doesn't love that?!  If you ask me, there's nothing better than tumbling six sided cubes of chaos onto the gaming area, one which is already filled with meticulously positioned cards, tokens, and any manner of counters, life points, and your hopes and dreams of having a civilized and coherent gaming experience.  Is your opponent winning the game or otherwise being an ill-tempered brigand?  Let's just see how much mana I generate this turn good sir... ca-chunk ca-chunk ca-chunk, SLAM!  Oh no!  I appears my mana generation was a bit too enthusiastic this round...

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to play the game and all my comments are particularly ill-informed hearsay at best, so it's best not to consider my words as an actual review.  Donovan, however, really liked the game, and ended up purchasing a copy before our adventures in the vendor hall continued...

But that's another story for Part 3: The Vendor Hall Strikes Back! which will be featured in the days to come.

This is also an excellent time to introduce Donovan as a permanent fixture to the Lab Blog.  Donny has been been mentioned here and made guest appearances in many a post for some time now, and is a great friend and talented hobbyist, so I'm really excited to have him join the team (now not just a one-man wolf pack) and share his work first-hand.  I think you all are going to enjoy seeing the Malifaux projects he's been working on lately as much as I have.

Congrats, Donovan and welcome!  Now get to writing more blog posts! *Pulls out evil editor's whip* whoosh CRACK! 


  1. dying, and those mini's! What a story!

    That diorama is seriously awesome. Great composition, and I love the styling and use of the base structure

  2. Can you believe Donovan wasn't going to enter his diorama until I twisted his arm only minutes before hitting the road?? And to think that he would have missed out on getting... oh wait! That's a story for part 4 when we get the painting competition results!


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