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GenCon ... What a Weekend!
8.26.04

Well, I got so many questions asking how GenCon was and lots of letters from readers saying they wish they could have gone.  So, what could I do better than bring GenCon to you face to face.  I have a quick and simple convention report.  That's not all though.  I've included pictures.  I hope this helps portray the experiences that I had over the weekend.  Strap yourselves in, this should be fun :)
 
Also, I want to apologize up front for the fuzziness of a couple of photos.  It was my poor camerawork in a hurried time.
 
Anyway, my travel partner for the weekend was fellow Pojo.com writer Paul Hagan.  He is our resident deck garage guy.  For those of you that are unaware, Paul is an employee of mine at The Game Closet in Waco, TX (www.thegamecloset.com) and we were both qualified for the Upper Deck Vs. System Pro Circuit event.  I also had other business there this weekend, but this made a great reason for us to get matching flights and fly together. 
 
We got out the door at 4:15AM to catch a 7:20AM flight out of DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth) International Airport.  With our trip being about two hours away, we figured this would give us good time.  Technically it did, but the rain starting pouring.  This wasn't a huge deal though.  We had a huge amount of spare time.  But then there was a wreck on the road which held up traffic.  My fiance and her friends which were riding with us were worried abbot the driving conditions.  Paul and I being the true gamers that we were just concerned about making our flight regardless of the weather.  On the plus side, we did have three nice looking women in a small space with the two of us.  So the severity of the situation depends on your point of view.
 
I'm getting sidetracked though.  We eventually get to the airport at roughly 6:55AM.  Awesome!  We had 25 minutes to go.  Apparently that's not good enough.  They stop loading bags at 30 minutes before flight time.  Well, this was bad news.  Paul's clerk was really mean and rude.  Mine was nice, but apparently shady.  We told them we would rush over to the proper terminal even though we though time was thin to catch the flight.  They said it would take forever.  We hopped back in the car and all total it took us about five minutes.  Cake!  When we get to the other counter and I explain to the guy our situation, he simply giggles a bit.  That's when I realize that the other clerk had tried to put me on he NEXT flight out.  He took the ticket, trashed it and gave me a new one.  Awesome!  I left the guy a tip as we bailed, so he HAD to take it. 
 
We are told that our bags have to go through security, but because of the weather, we have a little bit of time, as our flight had been delayed.  We go to security and notice there is a sign about taking off your shoes.  My shoes are a small pain to put on and take off, so I ask the security officer if we HAVE to take our shoes.  He looks me square in the eye and says, "It's strongly advised, sir."  Now, it's not what he said, but more about how he said it.  You know, in that tone of you really rather should than should not.  So of course, I take off my shoes.  Well, I put all my stuff in the box and send through the scanner.  When I walk through the metal detector, it goes off. 
 
At this point, the guy looks at me and said the scariest thing I have ever heard.  "I'm going to give you a second chance to go through sir!"  Imagine a strong, built black dude that stands roughly six foot four inches and has a deep scary voice.  So I realize I left my cell phone on me and I had my digital camera still on my.  So I take them off put them in the bin.  I start patting myself down and checking myself to make sure I have nothing.  I even check my socks to make sure that I didn't accidentally step on a paperclip or something.  I close my eyes and walk through and it doesn't go off.  Thank goodness.  Paul went through, giggling at me, but had his arms raised like he was in a hold up situation, so he looked funnier than I did.  But for those of you that wondered how many tries you get, it's apparently two.
 
Our flight ultimately was delayed for almost one and ah half hours due to rain.  So we had all the time in the world.  Anyway, we talk about deck plans and weekend plans, just to make use of our time.  Well, the ladies at the boarding counter were extremely nice and sympathetic to our situation and got us taken care of.  We board the plane with no major incidents (who wants any on a plane anyway?!).  While on the plane though, we saw quite a funny site.
 

 
Sorry the picture is blurry, I couldn't get good focus from inside the plane.  If you can tell, those boxes were labeled priority.  And remember, I did mention it was raining.  These boxes were on the ground next to our plane getting rained on and busted up.  I think I'll keep sending packages through the post office and UPS.
 
Our flight was uneventful (just the way I like them).  When we touchdown in Indianapolis, Paul and I go to the transportation area after getting our bags to catch out limo.  That's right, we rode to the convention center in a limo.  No real reason really.  We just decided that since the price wasn't much different, a ride share limo was just more fun.  Besides, it gives off a good impression.  I also think that it was Paul's first time in a limo, so it was neat for him.  Anyway, our rider was quite cool and very professional.  We get there in just a short drive.  When we get out, I give him a tip and then I ask him to take a picture of us in front of the limo.
 

 
He apparently didn't understand my instructions on focusing the camera.  It was all good though.  He was nice enough to take a picture.  But you get the gist of the whole thing.  Our busy weekend took off right after this.
 
I went across the street to my hotel to find out that Comic Images, the guys that make the WWE Raw Deal CCG that I was there to help, hadn't added my name to a room.  I have to bust out my cell phone and call Barron Vangor Toth (WWE Raw Deal designer) to come put my name on the room and get me a key.  Yes, that's the guys actual name.  So that all gets done and I'm prepared to move over to the convention center. 
 
It took next to no time and the Comic Images crew put me straight to work.  I wasn't going to complain though as they take care of me pretty good on these trips.  I got bombarded my hugs and hand pounds.  Lots of people came over to say hello.  It's always a great feeling to be welcome, wanted, and remembered.  I was immediately pimpin' their latest release and was going at full blast.  People heard my story from early and offered to take a picture of my manning the counter.  Who was I to argue:
 

 
That's me way in the back.  And don't get the wrong idea.  I'm a sucker for attention.  I like taking photos.  I love talking to readers in person.  I love signing the few autographs I am asked to sign.  I'm pretty much an attention hog.  Don't ever be afraid to come say hi or ask me to sign something.  I'm more than happy to.  It really makes my day.  But, I'm sure you guys want to hear more about the crazy GenCon weekend madness.
 
Paul came by later in the afternoon and reminded me that I needed to go register for the Pro Circuit main event, so I did.  In doing so, I took a little bit of time to look around Upper Deck's emaculate setup.  Honestly, it was a bit overstated, but it was neat for a first impression.  However, the true geeks at the convention got to see two things that were unique.  First was the original Batmobile.  You could tell who the true geeks were (myself included), because they immediately identified what it was and where it came from.  Others just said, "It must be some Batman related car thingy."
 

 
The other neat thing was the oversized Batman piece that was at the doorway offering you some Vs. system cards.
 
 

 
He really is neat.  Honestly, I wouldn't mind having one of those guys at home.  Of course there were tons of other games going on.
 

 
Anyone that doesn't think card gamers can find something to do at GenCon is highly mistaken. 

(Pojo Note:  Pojo took the following photo of DQ playing a Featured Match of Vs. System with his camera phone.  DQ wasn't aware of it. I'm sneaking it in)

 Not only did I get to play Vs. and Raw Deal, I also got to play some Magic.  There were Magic players everywhere.  They were in the main CCG hall.  They were playing in a really neat play area set up at the back of the exhibit hall.  The play area int he exhibit hall was a new feature by the way, that nearly everyone seemed to like.  But Magic players were everywhere.  There were six or seven large scale MTG dealers.  There was a ton of trading going on.  There was even a PTQ held there. 

 

 
Oh yeah, just found this photo.  This is that Barron Vangor Toth guy.  I think he fits his name well.  He made this goofy picture at 3AM one night.  Yeah, that was a regular occurrence.  I honestly only got to sleep before 4:30AM once all weekend.  I guess that's what happens though.  It's not often you can game until your eyes fall out.  I was helping run more events than I played in unfortunately.  Honestly, I wish I was able to play more.  For a true gamer, this convention is such a heartbreaker.  There is literally not enough time in he day to do everything.
 
Man, I'm sitting here going through photos and realizing that I have a ton of them.  It's hard to pick out the best to share.  So, if you want to see more of them, you can go to my website and view them (www.thegamecloset.com). 
But I found another good one:

 
How can you complain about this guy?  Even when he's five feet tall, he's still cute.  Oddly enough, he had to be lead around by the hand.  It was a bit odd, but looking at the suit, I'm sure it was a pain to get around.
 
Now, I can't even begin to think of how many times I've had to stress patience to a player.  Well, there is a group that shows up to the convention every year that builds an entire city out of cards.  They take spare cards from each of the card games and rooms and any that are donated.  Sometimes it's fun to look for high dolalr cards in the pile.  It takes all weekend to build.  They do let random gamers help build small portions if they like.
 

 

It is honestly amazing and beautiful when it's all completed.  However, they let people toss coins up into the air to destroy pieces of the city.  The coins all go toward helping different charities each year.  So you end up with a nice aftermath that looks something like...
 

 
Or even ...
 

 
Now, I want you to know that I was one of the few that wanted to donate some large bills to the charity.  It would have been on the behalf of Comic Images, so I was trying to devise a way to destroy building with it.  So I started to build a paper airplane.  Everyone around me thought that was a great idea.  However, I started to fold my $20 bill into an airplane and realized the stupidity of what I was doing.  It would have easily been the most offensive thing anyone would have done that weekend.  But apparently, no one else caught it.  Lucky for me.  I still donated the money and I gave a couple quarters to some little kids to toss at the buildings. 
 

 

 Miniatures games had an entire room there.  And man, the painting contest was ridiculous.  I paint well, but nowhere near the quality that was in the room.  These were just on display at Privateer Press's booth.  Nice folks over there.
 
Man, I just realized how long this report is getting. I better hurry things up.  Let go into my last few favorite photographs from the weekend.
 
OK, this one is a picture of a chubby storm trooper.  I know what you're thinking.  They don't come in "chubby."  Honestly, several attendees I spoke with mentioned this fact.  Easily the least impressive storm trooper I have ever seen at a convention. 
 

 
Don't be misguided though.  Less than one percent of the players that attend major conventions dress up.  But the ones that do put on a great costume and show off. Like this guy:
 

 
That's not a lookalike standup cardboard thing.  That's a true to life Bobba Fett.  It's crazy cool.  I'm not even a Star Wars fan, but even I can respect this.  The guy said his suit took him THREE years to build.  It took almost nine months just to get it into a wearable condition.  The suit includes a built in LCD readout on the chestplate.  It is programmed to have random stuff come across it.  And as you can see in the photo, the targeting mechanism lights up as well.  Just goes to show you the length that gamers will go to for convention fame. 
 
On a funny side note, some of my friends from New York were telling me that their local news was saying that the New York Jets were upset because they couldn't get a hotel near the RCA Dome for their preseason game with the Colts.  The kicker was that it was supposedly due to a "Star Trek convention."  If they would have said "Star Wars convention," they would have at least been closer.
 
Anyway, let me close with one of the coolest things.  Throughout the convention this group of artists got together and built a dragon.  It started out as a sawing horse and some wire.  They added a layer of foil to shape the dragon.  Then they added a layer of clay and carved it.
 
Here are a few of the later progressive photos:
 

 
The one on the head is the miniature model they were following.
 

 

 

 
And what's one of the coolest things that can happen to a fantasy game geek?
 
Well, being able to ride a dragon of course!

 
 
 
But just because you guys are Magic junkies, I'll give you a bad play of the week.  This one comes from Shaun McWhirter of Waco, TX.  This happened to him this past weekend at a Pro Tour Qualifier for Columbus.  It was Mirrodin Block Constructed format:
 
I made a bad play of the year nominee, but still manage the win. His first turn after my stellar turn one of a Forest was Glimmervoid, Mantle, Mantle, Disciple. I drew, laid an Island, Serum Visioned, and said go, then looked down and cried when I saw a shiny Echoing Truth sitting at the forefront of my hand. I could have targeted his Mantles with it, killing his Glimmervoid, and setting him back severely, as Affinity decks have a traditionally low land count. I do manage to pull the game out as the counters pick off key Shrapnel Blasts and Shamans and Oxidizes keep his permanent count down.
 
Well, I should get some sleep and get back to living in the real world for a few days.  I'll have a more Magic filled article for you next week.
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com
 
 

 

 

 

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