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12.17.04  Things I learned at Gen Con So Cal, Part 2

If you haven't read last week's article, I strongly suggest you go back to read that first, otherwise the "second half of a list" won't make a lot of sense. The short recap is that I worked Gen Con So Cal a couple of weeks ago for Wizards of the Coast, and have compiled a list of 45 things I learned while working this convention. This is part two of two of that list.

21. Disney closes at 8pm
Our original plan for Gen Con So Cal was to take the kids to Disney on the Monday after the event. Of course, the kids were being taken care of by my wife's side of the family, and not once has anything ever gone according to plan where my wife's side of the family is concerned. This is not to insult them, it's just the way they are. Something always seems to come up or sound better when the plans begin to get nearer. In this particular case, it was Disney. My brother in law was in town, but wouldn't be for next Monday, so suddenly they wanted to go to Disney on Wednesday, while I was stuck fighting the previous twenty issues you read about last week. My wife was trying to see if I could make it out in time to go to Disney with the kids, which was admittedly only a mile away or so. But we found out that Disney closed at 8pm, so I sent them ahead since I did not expect to make it out before 8:30 or so. For the record, I got done at 7:30.

22. Valet parking is $20 a day
I hate SoCal Parking, that's really all I have to say.

23. Peter Adkison is a nice man
While going through all the annoyance of the bad little things, Kelly came to bring me to lunch before I got too deep into things. Who should walk in with her but Peter Adkison, old head of Wizards of the Coast and current head of Gen Con. We had met Peter a couple times before, and he met Kelly in the elevator on the way to the site, and decided to go to lunch with us.
Considering how busy he probably was, that he took some time out to eat lunch with us, and was always happy to see us throughout the weekend was a testimony to how nice he is. Considering how often he sees us, I wouldn't have been surprised if he barely remembered our name, but instead he remembered everything, and took plenty of time out for us over the course of the weekend. Just a nice guy.

24. Jeff Donais is always willing to help For those of you who don't know, Jeff Donais works for Upper Deck as head of Organized Play and R & D for the TCG group. I've known Jeff for a few years now, since he used to work for Wizards, and ran into him at the hotel lobby Wednesday night. We exchanged pleasantries, and he explained to me that if there was anything I needed, to just let him know. I slightly questioningly reminded him that I was actually working for Wizards this time, not him, but he said the offer still stood. Very nice of him. I was tempted on taking him up on it and asking to borrow one of the big digital clocks they use for the Pro Circuit for my events, but decided not to push my luck.

25. The purple tables and black tables are mine, although why they are not just all one color is beyond me.
Yeah, I dunno, I just don't get this one. The seating for Gen Con was segregated into several color coded areas, with each color being for a different company, except for some reason I had two colors. I to this day do not know why I had two colors.

26. Oh, we also have red tables, but those are for boardgames.
At least this one was slightly understandable. Board Games were in a slightly different area from the Card Games, so had their own color coding system.

27. Italian Legends packs are tempting.
One of the fun things about these events is that Wizards always seems to come with some kind of cool prize for these events. This time around they brought with them a case of Italian Legends packs to spread out amongst the prize pools for the weekend. All weekend we kept teasing Scott Larabee from Wizards of the Coast that he needed to let us do a pack master with the Legends packs.

28. When advertising a light saber prize, its best to have a light saber.
For the Star Wars events this weekend, one of the things we did was give away a Light Saber for the final prize. But when it came time to do the product count, there was no light saber in the stock. Strangely enough, the saber kind of magically appeared over the next two days before the final event. When I asked Wizards when it came in, I was told we had it all along.
I smell a conspiracy.

29. When receiving Neopets Product, its best to have Neopets events.
Then, there was the opposite issue. Two of the cases I got where for NeoPets events. NeoPets events we never had scheduled, and were not in the Gen Con So Cal event listing. Fortunately we ended up using the NeoPets product at least a bit for the Convention league.

30. Two words - Donkey Ears
Roughly two weeks before Gen Con So Cal, I got a call from Wizards, explaining that Mark Rosewater would be wearing a donkey costume, and that they would like the judges for the event to wear donkey ears. A quick discussion between myself and Dan Gray and we decided this would be a detail we would not tell the judges until the events started, for fear of mutiny.
It turned out to be irrelevant, however, since the ears never showed.

31. I really do run into someone who knows me no matter where I go.
It's a long running joke that no matter where I go, I end up running into someone I know, and this event was no exception. This time around, I ran into Ivan, head of Con Events, and convention company in Arizona. He was working for Peter learning a bit about how Gen Con runs, and it was good to run into him. I also got to run into a record number of people that said they read my articles. Hello to all of you and thank you to coming to say hi to me! Its always a great feeling to know people are reading your work.

32. If you want me to have people sign tax forms, give me tax forms for them to sign.
In the sanctioning packet that Wizards gave me at the convention, they informed me that the winners of the $250 cash events would need to fill out a tax form. However, they sent me no tax forms for them to fill out.
Thankfully, Dan Gray had the file on his computer and we were able to print some out.

33. Just because you ordered tables, doesn't mean you get chairs On my glorious stage which we had all the problems with and got set up so late, it was quickly determined that apparently having tables does not mean I get chairs, and there were none available for me. I ended up stealing a couple from my TCG tables until I could find someone to do correct this little problem for me.

34. Even after being questioned, and admitting you don't have a badge, you can still get in.
All day Wednesday I did not have my badge, as you can surmise from my earlier problems list. Theoretically this meant that I was not allowed on site yet to do set up, yet every time someone stopped me to ask me where my badge was, and I said I didn't have one yet, but was doing set up, they let me in anyways. While this was incredibly helpful for me, it was slightly disconcerting from a security perspective.

35. Don't let your wife pack for you.
While I love my wife dearly, her version of packing is much different than mine. She had a new idea that she wanted to make sure my feet were always fresh, and that every time the event was over I would need a change of clothes. So I had double the socks i would ever need, and almost double the outfits, because the reality is that most of the time, after my work schedule, I can just hang out in uniform for a little bit, or just change shirts, or in many of the cases it won't matter because I am just going to go to the hotel and sleep.

36. Make sure your wife packs for herself.
To make a funny story funnier, my wife, in her quest to get my packing done perfectly (in her mind), forgot to pack shirts for herself. Thank goodness her mom and her wear the same size.

37. The sanctioning numbers will be wrong.
When Wizards asks Linda Roberts, head sanctioning person and savior of my butt on numerous occasions, to sanction like 40 events in an hour for four different days and four different games, each with at least two different formats, something invariably gets messed up. This set was no exception, but it was minimal. The only issue I had was two MLB Booster Draft events being listed as Constructed. Easy fix.

38. Ben's phone is better than Jay's phone.
When the hotel fiasco happened, I wanted to let the car load of Ben, Jay, and Chris Shaner know about the change, since they were en route.
Unfortunately, they were crossing the great wasteland that is the freeway between Arizona and California, so it was unlikely that I would actually be able to get a hold of them, but I thought I'd try. I called Jay's phone, and Ben answered. The reception was horrible, and I figured I'd just have to wait and try again when they got closer to California. The last thing I heard from Ben was to try his cell phone instead, so I hung up and dialed Ben. Ben's connection was crystal clear.

39. It's $2.50 to fax one page to Seattle from the hotel.
This was a lesson I didn't want to have to learn, but I had some Pokemon paperwork I absolutely had to get done that weekend, so I had to print out the sheet and have the hotel fax it. $2.50. Ouch.

40. Limited events require land.
You'd think I knew this one by now after years of running tournaments, but somehow it slipped my mind, until the first Unhinged event when someone came up and asked me for land. My bad, my bad.

41. Joe's Crab Shack does not serve chocolate ice cream or Mike's Hard Lemonade So, one night, we all got to head to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner. Dinner there was great, although I was having bad drink problems, mostly through the fault of my own. The first drink I ordered was a Joe's Volcano which I got mostly because it was what I was staring at when they asked for my drink. I did not like it much, and switched to a Heineken, but there was a big Mike's Hard Lemonade sign right in front of me, so I resolved to get that one next, during desert. When desert came around, my wife asked if they had ice cream for the kids, to which we were told yes, just not chocolate.
We asked if that meant they only carried Vanilla, like some places do, but no, they just don't carry chocolate, they have plenty of other flavors. Were they out of stock? No, they just didn't carry chocolate.
Oooooookay...
I was amused all the way up to the point where I ordered my Mike's Hard Lemonade and was told that they didn't carry it. I animatedly pointed to the Mike's sign I was staring at all night, and the one above the bar, and the one by the restroom. My waitress nodded sagely and said that they were great at false advertising, but that they did not actually carry Mike's Hard Lemonade ever.
It was at this point I gave up on the night.

42. It's my fault you showed up 21 minutes late for a tournament.
On Sunday, the early type two had a whole five people for it, not very big, but hey, we run any event if we can. Exactly 21 minutes into the event, four people came up to request to play in the event. I gave them the same answer to always give in this situation, which was that they could play, but with a first round loss. They then went into a compelling argument that obviously a nine person event was better than a five person event. I agreed, but explained that I could not penalize the other players because these guys showed up late, and even if they had signed up for the event and just not shown up until now, they would still have had a match loss. One of them then told me I was being condescending to them, and to please stop making up excuses.
Fortunately I have done this long enough to know the right answer to all of this is to simply point out there are other events and to walk away. I will never win this argument, and when someone is so far off base that they think its somehow my fault that they showed up over twenty minutes late for an event, well, I have no way to convince them of otherwise.

43. Even the Grand Prix Trial will not necessarily go off The guesses on attendance were all over the map for this event. We figured the G.I. Joe events were never going to go off, and the Star Wars one's were unlikely as well. We figured that, at the very least, the premiere events would go off. How wrong we were. One of the Grand Prix Trials went off with the minimum amount of people, and the other didn't even happen.

44. Every Donkey in California has the same name This is by far my favorite story for Gen Con So Cal. As I mentioned before, Mark Rosewater was wearing a Donkey costume for the Unhinged events. During Thursday, it was still pretty slow, and there was a grade school class field trip that was going through the exhibitors. Mark had not been wearing the actual donkey head because it was extremely hot and it made him sound like he was talking in a deep dark cave, but he decided for the kids that he would make an exception. He put on the donkey head, and walked out to the main walkway where the kids were starting to walk by.
The first couple of kids looked at him a bit strangely, but were o.k. with him, and he raised his paw and waved. Then it began.
"EEYORE! EEYORE! LOOK IT'S EEYORE!"
Suddenly the entire class fell upon him, screaming "EEYORE!" over and over and jumping up and down. Mark was the perfect donkey gentleman, playing along just fine, while the entire rest of the crew had to hide behind the tables, laughing uncontrollably.

45.Everyone wants Unhinged
My final learned thought was that everyone loves Unhinged. No less than 12 people in the Upper Deck Pro Circuit left the event then came over to try to get into Unhinged events. In addition, two of the judges of the Upper Deck Pro Circuit approached me to see if I was willing to exchange their judge compensation from the Pro Circuit for Unhinged product.

Whew! That was a lot longer than I thought it was going to be. Thanks to everyone for reading and see you next week!

 

 

 

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