Pamean Games GenCon 2014 Roundup

Hello everyone!  This is Ken, one of the designers at Pamean Games.  Now that I’ve had a couple of days to catch up on sleep and think about GenCon, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about this year’s convention, both about Brass & Steel and my con experience in general.

The Good

Our Players

We continue to be some of the luckiest GMs around when it comes to our players.  This is our fourth year running Brass & Steel at GenCon and this year we had a lovely mix of Brass & Steel veterans and newbies. Having some veterans who are familiar with the game makes the events run that much smoother.  Plus, we are very happy to have “repeat customers” turn into friends, even if we only see those friends once per year at the con.

The Events

Speaking for myself, I thought our events went fabulously well.  I actually managed to pace my tabletop sessions just right this year, avoiding last year’s annoyance of having to rush through the last act.  I continue to be gratified by the reception our setting and rules get with new players. I welcome both the praise and the constructive criticism on areas where we can improve the game.  I even tried out a few new “house” rules this year in my tabletops, as we continue to tweak in preparation for future rules supplements.

The Expo Milan LARP on Saturday was a joy to witness. All the costumes, the enthusiasm and the creativity on display make all the many hours of work we put into that event more than worthwhile.  I should let you all know that what happened in the Expo Milan LARP was noted and you can expect to see the consequences rippling into next year’s events and publications.

The Merrymaking

As fun as it is to run Brass & Steel events, GenCon is about more than just gaming.  We had a great time hanging out with friends, old and new, trying new restaurants, and generally partying the nights away.

 

The Bad

Hotel

The hotel itself was fine, but the twenty-five minute one way drive into downtown and the subsequent search for sub-$20 parking was not so fine.  We’re looking for next year’s accommodation right now to hopefully reduce that annoyance.  However, with convention attendance doubling over the last five years, reasonably priced accommodation at a reasonable distance from the convention center is becoming a very scarce commodity.  Which leads me to…

Overcrowded Event Space

This seems to be a growing problem as the convention attendance continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  This year our Brass & Steel tabletop events were placed in a subdivision of the Marriott ballroom that had eight tables, no dividers and terrible acoustics.  I talked myself hoarse on Thrusday trying to be heard over the cacophony in the room.  On Friday we decamped to the three tables placed in the corner of the hallway adjacent to the ballroom.  Out in the hallway with all the foot traffic it was much quieter than in the game room, which should tell you something about how loud it was in the actual event room.
Our room for the big LARP in Union Station was a pretty nice space, but we were occasionally competing with a concert in the main ballroom right outside our door and later with sound checks for the GenCon dance.  Next year we are going to request the lower-level ballroom at the Omni Severin that we had two years ago for “Drago’s Last Dance.”

There is no time!

I only got to spend about thirty minutes total in the Dealer Hall and basically no time just wandering the main convention halls.  I had just enough time for a quick run-through of the artist section. It’s mostly my own fault for procrastinating to the point where I was frantically putting the final touches on my event prep every morning of the convention. I need to be better about preparation and time management next year.  Being closer to downtown should help a bit as well.