Gen Con 2015

cthulhuGen Con 2015 may have started with some controversy thanks to Governor Mike Pence and that asinine Religious Freedom Bill, but in the end the organizers pulled off another epic celebration of gaming geekery.

This was my third trip down with my family, our second Sunday-only appearance. I have a day job that doesn’t afford a lot of time away from the salt mines. As such, my Gen Con experience, at least in the corporeal sense, is more of a nibble than a full course meal.

I do keep my ear to the rails though and I have a lot of good friends waist deep in the industry. So yeah, I’m aware of some minor (and some not-so-minor) guffaws.

Makes no difference.

Gen Con is a magnificent orchestration of near like-minded peoples. That, in and of itself, is a tremendous feat of geektastic engineering.

For our part, we spent the day browsing the dealers room and artists alley, scrounging for deals here and there, drooling over what we couldn’t afford, and pocketing what we could.

The good folks running the Paizo booth were as gracious as ever and get my vote for Publisher of the Con. I easily spent most of our club’s money there, not only because they offer great products, but because they go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.

My favorite dealer was the cool cats at Medieval Collectibles, who sold Connor an expertly crafted foam bastard sword. Dealing in awesome medieval replicas and LARP clothing and weapons, they sure as hell captured my (almost) twelve year old son’s imagination (and my wallet). We spent a good chunk of Sunday night perusing their website for future online purchases.

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The most anticipated game teased on the dealers floor was easily Conan: Rise of Monsters, a pre-painted miniatures skirmish game that pits King Conan of Aquilonia and his Circle of Iron against the nefarious might of the dread Thoth Amon and his Legion of Set.

Best Cosplay has got to go that freaking Cthulhu pictured up top. I mean, come on…

I only have a couple of regrets, mainly in regard to people I didn’t see and had hoped to and a few purchases I would have liked to have made if my wallet had just been a little fatter.

Gen Con is one of the highlights of the year for us now and, I suspect, will continue to be so for many more years to come. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to immerse ourselves more fully into the experience.

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Congratulations to Wizards of the Coast and the Dungeons & Dragons 5e Design Team

enniesThe ENnies (Gen Con EN World RPG Awards), named after their host, EN World, are fan-based awards that have been given out annually at Gen Con since their inception in 2001.

Let’s have a look at last night’s winners:

Best Adventure
Silver: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Gold: Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)

Best Aid/Accessory
Silver: Black Green Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition RPG Dice Set (Q-Workshop)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Screen (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Cover Art
Silver: Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Rise of Tiamat (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Interior Art
Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Blog
Silver: Gnome Stew
Gold: ConTessa Tabletop Gaming for Women for Everyone

Best Cartography
Silver: The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
Gold: Ninth World Guidebook (Monte Cook Games, LLC)

Best Electronic Book
Silver: Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 2 (Pelgrane Press)
Gold: Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Family Game
Silver: Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Free Product
Silver: 13th Age The Archmages Orrery (Pelgrane Press)
Gold: Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Game
Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Miniatures Product
Silver: Pathfinder Pawns Inner Sea Pawn Box (Paizo Inc.)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Icons of the Realms Elemental Evil Boosters (WizKids)

Best Monster/Adversary
Silver: Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Podcast
Silver: Miskatonic University Podcast
Gold: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

Best Production Values
Silver: Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)

Best RPG Related Product
Silver: Temple of Elemental Evil (WizKids)
Gold: Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions)

Best Rules
Silver: MUTANT Year Zero The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Setting

Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Best Software
Silver: HeroLab (Lone Wolf Development)
Gold: Roll20 (Roll 20)

Best Supplement
Silver: Pathfinder RPG: Pathfinder Unchained (Paizo Inc.)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Website
Silver: Tabletop Audio
Gold: The Escapist

Best Writing
Silver: D&D Player’s Handbook by Jeremy Crawford, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell (Wizards of the Coast)
Gold: A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher
Silver: Paizo Inc
Gold: Wizards of the Coast.

Product Of The Year
Silver: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

lost-mines

Well, I guess one might call the 2015 ENnies the Year of the Dragon.

From reports I’m hearing, this was not without some controversy. Rumour has it, several fans (and some publishers?) up and walked out once Wizards of the Coast’s award dominance reared its head.

Let’s be honest, any time you have a fan-based voting system, as opposed to a peer-reviewed award, the danger of it being tilted in the way this year’s awards were is always a possibility, and more often than not, inevitable… Not that that is a bad thing.

From my perspective, Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition was a breath of fresh air. My gaming group made the switch when 5e first appeared and we’ve been all in ever since. That being said, I personally disagree with more than a couple of their Gold Medals this year.

But here’s the thing, they’re fan awards, and as such, fans are going to vote for what they know, what they see, what they buy. And everyone (well, nearly everyone) bought 5e this past year. It was huge. So, when you take a look at the nominees for any given category, you are going to tend to vote for the things you’ve played.

That Dungeons & Dragons was the dominate winner should have been expected. It was the shiny new thing. And, to be perfectly honest, despite a few warts, it’s been pretty spectacular and their medals are well-deserved.

It’s a popularity contest, plain and simple. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is what it is. If your game didn’t win, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good game. It’s like this — your girlfriend not being elected prom queen doesn’t mean she’s not hot and you still get to take her home after the dance.