I did not plan to buy many things at Gen Con; the cost of flying to Indianapolis and staying at a hotel were expensive enough. I went into the convention center with a mindset to avoid purchasing all the things I would – of course – want to buy. The only other thing I wanted to buy at Gen Con was a set of dice. One can never have enough dice!
My love/hate relationship with my dice has led me to engage in troubling behavior. I have learned though online osmosis about GameScience Dice and figured they would have a booth at Gen Con. I shuffled over to their booth and got lost in the rows of pretty dice. I finally decided on a set of orange and black dice (the colors of my favorite hockey team). I was happy, I bought my first set of GameScience Dice and those would be “My First Gen Con” dice.
@TheIdDM careful de-burring them if they have mold marks. Ruined my GS D6 using wrong kind of sandpaper...
However, a gentleman on Twitter – and who I met at the show a day earlier – commented that he ruined one of his GameScience dice when filing away an imperfection. I opened up the plastic box holding the die and – sure enough – each of them had a rough edge or some other type of flaw that would need to be sanded or filed down. On top of that, I realized he d20 was an old-school model with two sets of numbers that went from 1-0 with no teen numbers. There would be no way to tell if any given number was above or below 10.
I was seven kinds of frustrated by these developments! Below, I discuss my (probably too strong) opinions about different brands of dice, my irritation while shopping for dice at Gen Con and my idea for how to fix the GameScience Dice problem.
Because I would really love to say I have empirically validated dice!
I have mentioned on numerous occasions that I primarily play Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. While I thoroughly enjoy 4th Edition, I know I am missing out on many great gaming experiences in various formats. One of the formats I have not experienced often enough is tabletop games. In the past month or two, I have enjoyed playing Ticket To Ride on my iPhone, which is a port of the tabletop game of the same name. It is a fun game that features competition between 2-5 players. It made me realize there are wonderful gaming experiences to be had away from roleplaying games like D&D. During Gen Con, I was able to take advantage of several great game demonstrations that were available to test and consume.
While at Gen Con, I played the following games for the first time, Dominion (and later Dominion: Prosperity), Settlers of Catan, Kingdom Builder and Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. I saw how similar Dominion is to Ascension (and vice versa) and it reminded me of when I played and reviewed Thunderstone. All three games – and I’m sure many others I have not played – work off similar principles and mechanics. Of the three, I found Ascension to be the game I thought about most after I finished playing it. My friend and I came close to buying Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer but decided neither of us would be able to travel home with it. Besides, I had already reached my limit for buying merchandise at Gen Con!
Enter the slick Ascension application for the iPhone, which allows you to play the first edition of Ascension for a $4.99. The app also allows you to purchase the two expansions (Return of the Fallen; Storm of Souls) and additional Promo Cards for a few extra dollars each. The app has a solid tutorial that teaches the basics of the game, and there are routinely open games online to join 24 hours a day. Two-player games last approximately 10 minutes (when both players are actively playing back and forth) but games can also be played asynchronously over the course of days or weeks. It is addictive.
Let me repeat.
Below, I write about why I find Ascension so engaging and discuss my initial foray into playing against random people online – and the beatings I suffered as a result.
My first Gen Con is now a matter of record. I survived the experience, which can only be summed up in one world – overwhelming.
In the course of approximately 72 hours, I got to spend time with a great friend from another area of the country I rarely get to see, walk about 15 miles to, from and around the convention center, play an assortment of games for the first time, listen to employees of Wizards of the Coast talk about the future of Dungeons & Dragons and offer tips for running better games, salivate over rows and rows of awesome merchandise that would leave me broke and last – but certainly not least – meet many of the interesting people I have communicated with online since the construction of this blog in 2011. The experience was fantastic, and there is no way I could condense my experience into one coherent post.
I present some general reactions to Gen Con below, but during the rest of the month you can expect dedicated posts to the following subjects:
Several months ago, I posted an interview with Monte Cook, which was the result of an effort that started in January to interview a member of the Dungeons & Dragons Next Design Team. After Mr. Cook left the project, I continued to communicate with Public Relations staff within Wizards of the Coast in the hopes of contacting a member of the design team. These efforts recently led to the opportunity to interview Mike Mearls, the Senior Manager for the Dungeons & Dragons Research and Design Team.
At the same time, I also realized that many others have interviewed members of the Design Team and Mike Mearls even hosted an extensive Ask Me Anything on reddit to answer specific questions about D&D Next. I decided that if I had the chance to interview a member of the design team that I would ask questions that relate to topics I have written about for this site – or as in the case of the psychology of ownership – topics I am in the process of writing [look for a series of articles on this topic in the coming weeks]. In the following interview with Mike Mearls, he was kind enough to offer responses to these questions.
Below, he talks about the challenges and opportunities posed by the shift to digital media in our culture. He discusses the benefits and limitations of designing and playing D&D as part of a job, and responds to my belief that D&D and other tabletop roleplaying games have not advanced far beyond stereotypes that are approximately 30 years old. We conclude by discussing the role of the Dungeon Master and how D&D Next can be structured to take the creative burden off of the DM’s shoulders.
This week will bring a flood of D&D news and information with Gen Con, but let this whet your appetite and give you something to read as you are traveling to Indy . . . or stuck at work wishing you were traveling to Indy!
In just two days, I will be traveling to Indianapolis for Gen Con. I have never been to the convention before, so I am thoroughly excited to see first-hand what the experience is all about. I am relying on the wisdom of my elders, sage advice of veteran gamers and local sources in Indy to prepare myself! I am scheduled for a few specific events but my primary goal is to meet as many people as possible that I have “met” through the construction and maintainance of this blog over the past 18 months. If you would like to spot me at Gen Con, my picture is below.
It is my hope to post some thoughts about the experience throughout the week, but I will certainly be tweeting pictures and other random tidbits from the convention. If you are going as well, then here are some specific places to find me throughout the week:
Sorcere & The Clawrift – D&D Next Playtest (Thursday at 10AM) [Location: ICC: 134-138]
D&D Next: Creating the Core (Thursday at 1PM) [Location: ICC: 139]
West Wall – Drow Adventure (Thursday at 4PM) [Location: ICC: 134-138]
D&D Next: Monsters, Magic Items and DM Mischief (Friday at 10AM) [Location: ICC: 139]
D&D Advice Live from the Tome Show (Friday at 6PM) [Location: Crowne Plaza: Victoria Stn C/D]
Behind the DM Screen LIVE (Saturday at 7PM) [Location: Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Stn C]
I hope to spend some time painting a miniature or two, play in some impromptu sessions and try out new games that I’ve yet to experience; so far, I’ve stuck primarily to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and a bit of the D&D Next Playtest. Also, I’ll be joined by a friend who is attending the conference to dive headfirst into all things Magic: The Gathering. I have not played MtG much but I’m sure I will find myself learning more about the hobby and playing a few games (and most likely losing all of them). My friend has a small online store dedicated to Magic: The Gathering items for those interested in such endeavors.
If you are a reader of the blog and attending the conference, then I hope to see you there! And if you are a previous Ego Check participant, then I will be searching for you to bestow a ‘thank you’ gift.
Several weeks ago, I was approached by one of my players who wished to write a guest post for the blog. He plays a Ranger in my Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition campaign, and his character has the wonderful genre-breaking trait of hating the outdoors and anything associated with the wilderness. I found my player’s concept for the post interesting, and it built off a conversation regarding uneven leveling that has sprouted up in our games from time to time. Below is his column, which was shaped with a bit of feedback from yours truly and The Hydra DM who shares similar interests in dissecting the building blocks of a game – including Experience Points – and theorizing about what the results mean for those playing each session. During the life of The Id DM, I have hosted one previous guest post on the motivations of a Power Gamer. Enjoy the guest post below . . .
Power (Non-Outdoorsy) Ranger
As an introduction, I have played with The Id DM in a 4th edition game for almost a year. I am almost ashamed to admit that after playing for that long I only recently examined this site. [Iddy’s note: he has not yet been punished for such insolence!] I was impressed with how well put together the site was and how well written the articles were. The reason I visited this site for the first time was because an old discussion was restarted about uneven party member leveling and the associated benefits and consequences of giving some party members varying experience for activities or actions completed, which in turn results in some players leveling before others. The Id DM wrote an article that listed reasons to avoid uneven party leveling while another player in our campaigns, Dungeon Maestro, listed reasons to embrace uneven party leveling.