Indianapolis - August 10-13, 2006
Jamie Badgerow - crowfoot
August 16, 2006
Do what you want cause a pirate is free!
I hold Pirates of the Caribbean solely responsible for the gluttony of pirate games this year at GenCon. Yarr, ya couldn't go down a single row of booths without stumbling upon some one hawking a new pirate game or pirate addon to a game. Atlas Games's Pieces of Eight coin game made an appearance, and there is an MMO in development (Pirates of the Burning Sea) allowing you to captain ships from the French, Spanish, and British navys during the 18th century. And, of course, you can be a pirate. Even Wizkids had to make its Pirates constructible strategy game more . . . piratey . . . by adding Davy Jones' Curse as an expansion. There were dozens more pirate-related products. Every one seems to have pirate fever; I had to listen to this for hours yesterday as it was chanted over and over again by my kids. Curse you Robbie Rotten!
Miniature "mecha" gaming seems to be growing thanks partially to Warmachine. That steam-powered machine game and BattleTech were collectively occupying a large percentage of the new home for minis at GenCon (moved from the second floor to Hall A right next to the Exhibit Hall). Even for people who have never seen BattleTech before would not fail to see the gaming tables and the really great diorama that CamoSpecs did this year.
CamoSpecs BattleTech Diorama
Nick Smith of Virtual World brought a couple of pods with him and the folks at FanPro were nice enough to make room for him in their booth. A win-win situation since the pods kept a steady line on one end of the booth for the entire Con. I walked by the area many, many times during the Con and there was always people waiting to get a turn in the pods. Loren Coleman and Mike Stackpole even made time to duel in the pods.
Loren Coleman and Michael Stackpole
Noticeable smaller was the MechWarrior: Dark Age area. Dwindling sales despite set retirement has weakened the "Approved Play" of the game. Fewer and fewer venues are even holding official tournaments for Dark Age. The writing was on the wall when Mage Knight died after set retirement and and a new 2.0 version of the game. Things have been shaken up a bit at WizKids with Weisman stepping down and new people being brought into the Dark Age division of the company. The first thing they did was unretire all the pieces that had been banned from official play. Second, they beefed up the boosters a bit. While I was chit-chatting with Gigi Edgley, my friend Dirty decided to brave one of WizKids' Dark Age demos. He barely had the word "retirement" out of his mouth before they were assuring him that they had undone that particular decision and all his old pieces were legit.
A couple other mecha games were trying to make a comeback this year. Dreampod 9 seemed to attract a decent amount of attention with their new Heavy Gear "Blitz" miniatures and new rulebook aimed at faster play. Reaper Miniatures has been working on a new CAV rulebook for two years or so and they again failed to get the book published in time for GenCon. They cancelled some Tournaments, but did run demos for the entire convention so they may have gained some traction nonetheless.
Also big this year was the video games turned CCG genre. EVE, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft all got CCG/TCG games this year. WoW even has a board game by Fantasy Flight Games. The EVE CCG kicked off with a $10,000 tournament on Saturday where winners walked away with cash and boosters for the game. And let's not forget the Battlestar Galactica CCG that was just released by WizKids. You could have walked over to the media area and had your cards signed by the two Apollos if you desired. Both Jamie Bamber and Richard Hatch were there.
Intro : GenCon 2006
Part 1: BattleTech Seminar
Part 2: Battlestar Galactica CCG
Part 3: Pirates of the Burning Sea
Part 4: EVE CCG & With Hostile Intent