Wednesday, August 5, 2015

There and Back Again: a GenCon Tale - Part 1

This year marked my third trip to Indy for GenCon, and I have to admit, I was out of my mind with excitement.  For those who have never gone to a major game/comic/miniature/hobby convention (let alone GenCon, seriously where have you been!), I could best summarize my advice to you like this: GO.  Go once, with no agenda, make a huge mess of it, and then plan to go back.  As funny as it sounds, each year you attend a con as big as this one, the better the next year is likely to be.  There really is that much to see, do, and experience.

So after stripping myself of my GenCon virginity two years previously like a hometown kid gone off to a division 1 NCAA party school, and then resolving to make it right by seeing more the con had to offer that wasn't limited to vendor hall spending binges and over-priced beer at questionable joints like the Tilted Kilt (which are invariably tinged with sadness), year two still fell somewhat short (there was a minor fiasco with a gamer drink mixology class run by a man in a corset that spectacularly failed to launch when he and his cronies secured $20 worth of booze from $400 worth of funding and declared, "yes, you really can make a ton of drinks out of one alcohol and one mixer!"  No Mr. Corset Man, you really can't, but A- for the effort I guess.).

Yes, like a more world wise junior entering their third year of college (I understand I may be stretching this whole metaphor to its limit, but you make due with the tools God gives you), I was ready to do it right!  With three whole weekends to paint my single miniature entry, and having registered in three card tournaments, things were going to be great.  No, more than great.  AWESOME.

And they were.

This is the tale of how five fun filled days culminated in dreams coming true, new friends being made, and two geeks surviving the stinkiest hotel stairwell in the history of the universe and one run-away trash truck to tell the tale.  This is the story of GenCon 2015.

Like Bilbo's journey to the mountain, there was a lot of monotonous travelling to be had in-between. Eight hours to be exact.  But we were not without sights to see...

Obviously everyone was getting into the GenCon spirit.  This car hauler for instance, and its Leia themed loin cloth which flapped tantalizingly in the wind, revealing a tasteful amount of license plate.  I was appalled to see it do the full Monty at least once before we passed.  Somewhere an ewok cried, you can be sure of that.

Instead of goblins and giant spiders to avoid, and the Eye of Sauron at Mount Doom patiently watching over all, we had Jesus.  He's kind of like Sauron, except he conquers the world with love and compassion and is entirely nothing like Sauron, so that's cool.

Hey a giant cross!

We were travelling across what most consider bible belt country.  I would consider it more like bible suspender country, as no mere belt could hold the mighty waists we witnessed..

There was no shortage of roadside rests, and I guess Donovan got tired of taking pictures of car haulers and the "world's biggest" whatevers, so he took a picture of this this quaint stop.

Put the camera down, Donny!  Onwards to Indy!  Huzzah!

And we made it!  For all appearances it was a decent hotel.  That illusion would hold out only so long, precisely until we took our first step down one of its many humidity saturated hallways, which stank of something bordering on a mix of cloying and repellent.  Little did I know that the hallways would appear tame in comparison to whatever died in our stairwell and then had 10 gallons of Febreeze dumped on it.  I held my breath when I passed through that stairwell without exception after my first encounter with its unearthly Lovecraftian stench.  No pictures were taken of it for your safety and ours (plus it was a stairwell, how boring).

So check out this pool!

It's not a good sign when your pool is covered at the height of summer.  What lurked under that cover I dared not contemplate.  But hey, once again Jesus was nearby, so I didn't worry about it too much.

With our bags finally unpacked we made all haste to the promised land of downtown Indy with hope in our hearts and a starry look in our eyes.  GenCon here we come!

Ahhh.. Cardhalla and the old balloon monster, both true staples of the con and still in their infancy.  

At this early stage I wasn't sure what the giant balloon creature was to become, but can you tell?  My guess was an elder horror.  To be fair, most things at this point in their creation look a bit like a many tentacled freak from outer space, so it was anyone's guess.

Being only Wednesday night there were only a few folks traveling the halls of the Indy Convention Center, so we decided to go see what was happening out of Delaware Street..

Quite a lot as it turns out!

Sun King Brewery was busy dispensing beer to the throngs of eager convention goers..

Myself included.  Just look at the concentration and the intensity, under such circumstances only the highest dedication to securing a brew will do.  And like a jackal who steals a piece of a larger animal's kill, I slunk off to slurp my hard won beer and people watch from a suitable vantage point.

Remember kids, get your front-row seats early.  

When a romantic horse drawn carriage isn't enough to excite your significant other, I highly recommend this horse with blinged out glitter hooves drawn carriage.  My heart fluttered just at the sight of it, so I knew it was time to get more beer in me before I became a love-struck fool.

It was on to Scotty's!  Three blocks east of the convention center and past this Hard Rock Cafe, it was a bit of a walk in the high humidity, but entirely worth it.

When we arrived all the TV's were playing Star Trek and they had special GenCon brews on tap, in bottles and cans! 

I enjoyed the Ghost Goblin Ale, Klingon Warnog, and Steamjack Orange Cream Soda (not alcoholic, but delicious and Donovan's absolute favorite as I believe he had at least three in one sitting).

We were even treated to the sounds of "Five Year Mission" on the patio, where ample couch seating makes for a truly great evening dining experience.

So, so classy.

Ohh, bean bags! (cornhole to some)  I love drinking games in all their many forms.  Fuck the Dealer, Presidents & Assholes, Beer Pong, Washers, Beanbags... now I was really in Nerdvana.

We began challenging random people to beanbags and ended up playing with some nice folks.  Beer has since wiped their names from my memory, but that special moment will always be ours.. when Donovan and I crushed you... and then lost to your girlfriends.

If you take a pass on the food trucks that line Delaware Street you will be sorely remiss.  This one was called Pi and had a brie burger that will put a look on your face like this...

Mmmm... delicious.

We were nearing the end of our first night at the convention center, and after opting to wait for the line that was roughly 200 people a few hours before to die down, we decided to return and get our badges at 1am when things would be a bit more calm...

Only to find that the line contained approximately 1 billion people and stretched to the horizon.

Behold and despair.

In a surprisingly short time (I think it was less than an hour) we made it to the front, secured our badges, and made all due haste for our smelly accommodations in anticipation of the first true day of the convention... and that is where our story will pick up next time in Part 2: The Wrath of the Con!

If you found Donovan conspicuously absent on day one in the pictures, never fear, he was the only one to have the good sense to snap photos and will make a triumphant return on day two in the next post!

Missing GenCon as much as we are?  Share some of your favorite moments down below in the comment section!  Or sit in the corner and greedily keep them to yourself, whatever floats your boat.


  1. Haha awesome Matt! Looking forward to the next parts!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Greg! I certainly enjoyed writing it while lounging in a wingback chair in front on my Victorian fireplace, slipper and robe clad, puffing on a mahogany pipe...


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