Another year has gone by and another trip from Chicago to Indianapolis and back has passed.  Last year was my first experience with “the best four days in gaming”, and now it seems like the convention will be another that I attend yearly.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of free wifi, I couldn’t give day-to-day updates concerning the sights and sounds of a whole lot of geeks gathered for a weekend but now that I’m back at my desk I’m going to do my best to sum up some of the highlights.

For those of you that don’t know what GenCon is; GenCon is a gaming convention that brings in pretty much every aspect of the gaming life.  Video games, board games, role-playing games (both live-action and tabletop), card games, party games, and much more can all be found on the convention floor.  Various demonstrations, tournaments, and just-for-fun playing occurs in the various hallways and rooms within the convention center.  GenCon is a geek paradise.  So, I’ve made note of which things to look out for in various aspects of gaming.

Board Games: I saw a lot of new, innovative, and fun board games throughout my wanderings of the convention floor.  Although a couple of the stood out enough for myself or one of my friends to pick it up.  The prize of the show has to go to a game entitled Blasphemy: The Race to the Cross!.  The basic, yet hilarious, premise is that each player moves a little Jesus figurine along the board — through the various trials and places of the New Testament — gathering followers and performing miracles.  The first Jesus to make it to the cross (which is an actual game piece that you can place your Jesus on) is the true messiah.  My favorite part of the game was some of the action cards that could be played such as “Heckle” which allows you to rudely voice your opinions about another Jesus’ sermon.  The only downside of the game is its price ($100), although the intricacies of the game and the detail put into the pieces are worth it.  Plus, the game board is cloth which is rather nice.

Card Games:  My favorite card game from the show was also one of the simplest.  Yes, I’ve done the whole CCG (collectible card game) thing before, but I’m becoming more of a fan of something you can purchase and play without having to purchase more…until an expansion comes out.  Anyhow, the simple game that I loved so much is called En Garde!.  A whole group of people can play it, and with some simple mechanics the game mimes a pirate sword fight.  Parry, riposte, and lunge your way to victory while having lots of fun.  Perhaps my favorite part was a preview for a card that will come out in (hopefully) an expansion pack – “Inconceivable!” – which depicted a classic scene from one of our favorite pirate movies.

Video Games: The video game section had a rather weak showing this year.  If I had to pick something that at least piqued my interest, it would have to be the trailer for Fable 2 that was being shown, which incidentally is the same one that was shown at E3 and is available online.  Still, it was cool to see on the big screen.  Also, they were handing out cards that would grant free downloadable content for Fable 2 once it became available. 

Role-Playing Games (TableTop): I checked out a lot of role-playing books throughout the weekend, and picked up my fair share to try out, but my favorite by far is the game that I was most looking forward to; Hunter: The Vigil.  It’s a White Wolf ‘World of Darkness’ game, the newest in the line, and if you’re at all familiar with the setting – basically  the real world if you add in more corruption, vampires, werewolves, mages, etc – then I strongly urge you to pick this game up.  There’s a lot of really good content that can be used to either play in or run a game involving normal guys that decide to take some sort of stand against the creatures of the night (and of nightmares).  It’s full of secret organizations and conspiracies and just plain old fun, making itself a worthy edition to the World of Darkness.

Role-Playing Games (Live-Action):  While its incredibly hilarious to watch certain groups run around with foam swords and bean bags that they throw at each other, I can’t take that kind of LARPing seriously.  Hell, until two years ago, I didn’t think any LARPing could be serious.  Yet, I’ve fallen in deep with White Wolf’s Mind’s Eye Theatre system.  Every year at GenCon I now participate in the free LARP, which consists (mostly) of a group of normal people that want to have fun running around playing Vampire, Werewolf, or Mage.  So, I did it again this year, and had a lot of fun.  I can only humbly suggest that those out there give it a chance if they’re curious, but you’d be much better off with finding something with some dedicate players who keep reality in check (like those of the GenCon Free LARP) rather than falling in with some of the freaks out there.  And trust me, they are out there.

Anyhow, I’m back in the Chicagoland area and back to work.  So expect my schedule to return to normal and to see some more movie reviews and ramblings from my in a timely matter in the future. 

Stay tuned.