Gen Con

This is it. The day Gen Con started and my first con ever in my life. All of the planning I did (or in this case didn’t do) came down to this day. After waiting through the trials and tribulations of the ticket line, the day had arrived. As you know from my first post, I was mostly here for the tournament, but my final goal was to grab conversion kits from the exhibition floor before they sold out. For a quick reference, if you were an X-WING 1.0 adopter, all of your cards, tokens, and upgrades from 1.0 are now useless. However, when FFG released 2.0, they released Conversion Kits for each faction so that you could still use your old ship models with the new game.

Gen Con
My excited face at 9:00 AM. I felt so awkward taking this. Please, feel awkward with me.

For all of the different ways to say it, I was excited as hell for the first day of Gen Con. Say what you want about my utter lack of planning, the one event I was there for was soon. The FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES X-WING SECOND EDITION tournament was here. I made sure to get to FFG’s area in the tournament hall a little bit early, and there was already a line. Luckily, the line wasn’t very long, and everyone was already as excited as I was. I met a few nice people, and we talked about Gen Con. I even met a few other first-timers. After we all checked in and lollygagged around for a bit, at 9:00 AM sharp, the event began.

First Things First

As none of us really knew how this was going to go down, there was the crackle of uncertainty in the air. All we knew was that we were going to get a core set, one expansion, and then play some games. The Gen Con employees sat us down in pairs, across from our first opponent. Almost immediately, they started handing out the Core Sets first. Let me tell you, If anyone has lost the magic of Christmas as an adult, I want you to know I found the cure.

To anyone else that can sound somewhat childish, but it was actually a very fun experience. Seeing people of all ages opening something together is genuinely wonderful. I was seated next to a dad and his kid, who couldn’t have been more than 12-13, and both were having an absolute blast. Next up, they gave us our expansions. All of the Imperial players (yours truly included) got a Tie Advanced. The Rebel players received a Y-Wing. Next, we were instructed to create a squadron from our available ships. As the new ships don’t have point values, each new ship comes with “Threat Level” cards. These are pre-built pilots with already assigned upgrades that you can use instead of starting from scratch.

In addition to our Core Sets and expansions, everyone received a set of shiny acrylic tokens to play with and some alternate art cards. With everything doled out, we started to make our squads.

First Round Jitters

My first opponent was an older guy from the area. He had cut his teeth on another game of this type, STAR TREK: ATTACK WING. It uses a relatively similar movement and attack system to X-WING. However, as this was his first time playing X-WING, he wasn’t entirely sure what to do. We both made our squads, and the battle began. Immediately, I made a few tactical errors. The Y-Wing ship can be outfitted as a bomber, and he took full advantage of my Imperial ships flimsy hulls. I managed to fly into his bombs at least twice, which took out a few of my own ships very quickly. After the Tie Fighters were gone, all I had left was my Tie Advanced. Unfortunately, he made short work of him.

Gen Con
Tournament ready!

One of the thing’s I realized during our playing is that both of us had been playing wrong. I don’t remember specifically what was happening, but it ended up giving him a huge advantage. Right from the start, we were told these matches were all for fun. However, during almost every one of my matches, I could hear cries of “REFEREEEEE” echoing through the room. There were so many of “those guys” there. Don’t be that guy at Gen Con or, hell, anywhere else. After my first defeat, I shook his hand, and we sat around talking for a bit before moving on to the second round.

Second Round is Serious Business

After the first round, I sat down and met my next opponent. Being the judgmental jerk I can be, I immediately thought I was going to be playing against a “that guy.” For a quick reference, in X-WING movement is handled by cardboard templates. You pick your ship’s move on a circular dial and use the corresponding template to move it. If you’re a die-hard X-WING player, usually, you’ll have a nice set of acrylic templates and even tokens. This guy not only had the templates but also a set of X-WING 2.0 acrylic tokens. This is before the game was even out, mind you. This made me nervous, and I immediately buckled in to see the ref at my table about 5+ times.

Gen Con
Win fabulous prizes!

Luckily, this wasn’t to be. He was another really cool guy who properly out flew me. I also neglected to use Darth Vader this round, and in X-WING 2.0, force users such as Luke or Darth Vader are very powerful. He full on steamrolled me. I won’t lie though I had a blast. The new paring down of the game, in addition to the streamlining of many of the upgrades made playing X-WING feel far more natural. One of my favorite changes in 2.0 is the addition of Charge Tokens. Originally, munitions such as torpedos or bombs could only be used once. This created a situation where they weren’t worth the points in the first edition. X-WING 2.0 added Charge Tokens to not only make them re-usable but also make them not as overpowered as before.

A Quick Respite

Now, I play X-WING quite a bit. Ok, fine, I play it a lot. Don’t ask my friends how many times I ask them to come over and play. Yet somehow, without mincing words, I still kind of suck.

GEN CON
A quick stop for lunch with my mascot.

Going into the third round, despite knowing wins didn’t really matter, I was still disheartened even after receiving free stuff. As a surprise, after the second round, each participant received a promotional deck of X-WING cards that only people who pre-ordered got! The way damage works in X-WING is when your ship’s shields are depleted you begin to suffer hits. These can take the form of normal hits or critical hits. While this deck isn’t any different, it has illustrations and Andrew likes pretty illustrations. I mean, who doesn’t, right?

A More Even Third Round

I finally met my third and last opponent. Like me, this was his first Gen Con, and he too had lost his first two games. We shook hands, and it was on. I’m not the type of person to learn from my mistakes, so I flew the same squads as before, hoping the third time was the charm. This game was intense with both of us scoring hits and taking out ships left and right. It lasted the longest out of my three games.

Gen Con
This wasn’t a prize for X-WING, but I still love Dr. Aphra

It finally came down to his one very wounded ship and my two last ships. He managed to get the first shot in, taking out my wounded TIE/LN fighter. However, I managed to roll an almost perfect array of hits and critical hits, and he rolled no evades. With that, I won my first and only game of public X-WING. The guy was really nice about it, albeit slightly disappointed, but at least, no one shouted “REF.” Oh yes, people were still shouting that throughout.

Hitting the Exhibition Floor Running

One of the final surprises from the X-WING tournament that absolutely made my day was that all players received a ticket that reserved them one copy of every product for X-WING 2.0. This included the conversion kits. I low key sat through the entire tournament with the urge to run into the exhibition hall to the booth and yell something about taking my money.

Gen Con
Yeah, you try to navigate this without a map. Hell, even with this map.

Luckily, this enabled me to take some time after the tournament and make my way into the hall. Navigating the hall was an entirely different sort of animal. The area was huge, and it was filled with thousands upon thousands of people and hundreds upon hundreds of booths. The FANTASY FLIGHT BOOTH was somewhere in the middle. I made my way through, noting some other booths I would come back to and visit later. Even though my ticket allowed me to get what I wanted, I still had to wait in a decent sized line. While waiting I met up with some people from the tournament I was friendly with, and we chatted. When they let us in, I don’t think my eyes have ever glazed over, but this got me close to a full on glaze.

I spent at least ten minutes just looking around (and squeezing past people) in the booth. I finally grabbed the items I wanted and headed for the register and, eventually, got my conversion kits. Instead of intelligently making my way back to the hotel, I decided to carry a 15+lb bag of stuff with me. Huge Mistake.

Shameless Plug and Some Honorable Mentions

After lugging my huge tote bag around the floor I headed over to STONEMAIER GAMES booth. This took me another half hour of searching as the place was so damn huge. They make a board game called SCYTHE (video review of the new expansion coming soon!), and I was there to pick up its third and final expansion, which was also a pre-order. After getting to the booth, I learned they were out of one of the pre-order bonuses. As a consolation, the guy I was talking to let me pick out some stuff at their booth worth about $15 in credit. I picked out some promotional pieces that I had my eye on, which totaled about $10.

I looked through some fun metal coins but realized they were too expensive ($30? yikes), so I picked out a set of promotional cards  instead. Unfortunately, they were another $10. I started digging into my wallet for a $5 to give him. Without missing a beat he handed me the cards and just said, “Nah dude, don’t worry about it, we’ll call it even.”

GEN CON
SCYTHE’s last expansion with some promo items.

Now, I know that’s quite a simple gesture, but in addition to the previous interactions I’ve had with that company, I find these kinds of things endearing. In a day and age where companies bleed us dry for every single dollar they can get, rainbow mohawk guy running the booth is my hero. So thanks, rainbow mohawk guy at the STONEMAIER GAMES booth.

There were so many other games and creators I wanted to check out, shout out to BATTLETECH and WETA WORKSHOP’s GKR HEAVY HITTERS, but I just didn’t have enough money or space to take all of your wonderful things home with me. Next year though!

A Successful Day

Having done almost everything I had gone in for, I headed back to my hotel, smile on my face, hole burnt into my wallet and shoulder sore from carrying all of my stuff. I decided to take the day and go back, just to soak up the atmosphere and try to catch some more events. Unfortunately, by that point, I found most of the interesting events were booked up, so I just spent some time walking the convention center and taking all of Gen Con in. I even wrote some companies and games down for future reference in case I decide to purchase them, so keep an eye out for further board game reviews down the line.

GEN CON
Farewell Gen Con!

All-in-All, it was a very fun experience, and I’m glad I went. My only real concession for next time is planning out other events to do. There were so many fun game demos and other interesting events and seminars I saw that I missed out on. My advice to anyone looking to go: absolutely do. It’s fun, and everyone is nice and helpful. Just make sure you plan a bit better than yours truly.

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