Written by Christopher Bishop
Genghis Con is an annual event going on its 40th anniversary. Originally focusing on Roleplaying Games and Board Games, as well as War gaming, it has since expanded its scope to include Cosplay events, and Video Games as well. While nowhere near the size of Gen Con, or Game hole Con is still attracts a decent size crowd for sure. Held in the Raddison hotel it offers 2 floors of gaming goodness.
The central floor was host to the dealer room as well as various video game and cosplay centered events. A small arcade was also present for those wanting to go back to the days of yesteryear and slam tokens into machines while playing treasured arcade games of past and present. There were also several Live Action Role Play events, one of which was set in the popular Bioshock universe and apparently had participants playing the role of Big Daddies on the hunt for ADAM and out to protect their little sisters in Rapture. While I did not participate, hearing responses of those that did paints the experience has a huge success.
Upon arrival the lobby was filled with tables of artists and well known Cosplayers, such as Loralie Cosplay, Jinx Taylor, Carl Martin, and Kayden Macgregor. There was plenty of room to move around and the registration process of claiming your badge was pretty painless. However by Friday evening the scene in the lobby completely changed. Cosplayers from all walks of life filled the lobby, and it was next to impossible for someone handicapped to maneuver around the crowds which were largely all doing their own thing and oblivious to those trying to get to the dealer room.
The first event I signed in for was the Cypher System: Dread Expectations game. I have never played the Numenara system, and it appears the Cypher system is the core bones around which Numenara is built. The game in particular we played was a superhero version of the Cypher system. The core mechanic revolves around rolling a 20 sided dice to overcome certain challenge levels set by the GM. During the course of our adventure I took up the mantle of Dark Ronin a, sleuthy stealth like Rorschach homage. The mechanics of the game were quick to learn as again everything revolves around the challenge tests even combat. You have a pool of points derived from your three main stats, which acts as both your hit points and as a means to lower a challenge rating. Typical expenditures in our game were 3 points but if it was a task that fell under a skill you were particularly well suited for you were able to reduce the point loss to 2. This would shave one level off the challenge making it go from a challenge rating 5 (15 or better on a d20 needed) to a challenge rating of 4 (12 or better).
The game moved very quickly, but as with most con games looking over the character sheet I had no earthly idea how a character was made or really what relation the statistics had to the gameplay other than how to lower the challenge level. Still, con games generally do not go into how to create a character, and the system seemed pretty fast on its feet. I ended up buying it for my son, who has wanted a universal system for quite sometime.
The next game I had the pleasure of playing was a board game known as Mega City Heist. It is produced by 3 Wizards of the Moustache, a new upcoming company and we played the demo copy. While its currently having artwork developed, even with the generic laminated game pieces this game truly shined! You play a super villain bent on becoming the most feared name in all of Mega City. Every super villain has their own gimmick which determines the resources they start off with. My villain was more of a scientist so while on my first round I did not receive any henchmen, I did get plenty of coveted research pieces. On your turn you can buy more henchmen, commit crimes by attacking one of four different zone areas , Neighborhoods, Mansions, Business District and finally Downtown or you can attack the other players and rob them of their researched items.
If you choose to attack one of the zones, you and your henchman can attack or you can choose to just send your henchmen to attack without you. Most areas will defend themselves, but sometimes a hero will pop up to save the day. If your henchmen went without you, they will immediately fail their task and go to jail. If they are with you, in typical super villain fashion they act like human shields while you pummel away at the hero. Your hit points are called notoriety points. Once all 5 of your notoriety points are gone its off to jail for you, but don’t worry next round you will post bail and return to start your evil conquest all over. The game moves fast, its rules lite and just a ton of fun to play. I cannot wait for the game production to be finalized and if they offer a Kickstarter I will be one of the first on board!
My only complaint at this point with Genghis Con was chief to the board game room. Board games take a ton of space, require a lot of chairs and tables and the area they chose to host this in was basically a converted bar or cafeteria. It was nowhere near sufficient size for people to comfortably sit and majority of the downtime in playing a board game was in constantly having to shuffle around to make room for people going to and fro. Add in Cosplayers in bulky costumes and folks who do not seem to understand that playing foam sword smack around in an area where people are trying to do gaming is both distracting and often times causes the board to get jostled and pieces to be disrupted. You will find this is not my first complaint towards the Cosplayers, and it will not be my last.
I sat in later in the evening for Star Wars FFG produced game. This game is highly narrative and most of the action comes from using custom dice specific to the game itself. I went into this game with a fair amount of skepticism, as FFG is notorious for producing games that look gorgeous but the rules read like they were crafted by 13 year old kid with ADHD on speed. I do not think I have a single FFG product I have not had to wait around for someone on the internet to produce a translated document that is intelligible and well written. That being said, the game was amazing. It took about 20 minutes of back story and I was hooked. We played a group of neer do wells, surviving by our wits in a Cloud City mission to reclaim a missing bacta shipment that an imperial officer had misplaced. The action was fast, the story flowed well and the dice really helped keep an air of tension in line with the Star Wars theme of losses and gains. I really felt immersed in Star Wars goodness and came out of the game with the Age of Rebellion Rulebook and a set of Dice and GM Screen on order.
The next day started with a game run by the Colorado Spring’s Hackmaster King, Hackmaster Ted. The game session is known as Port of Anarchy and Ted pulls out all the stops. The following pictures do not do justice to the setup but it was nothing short of miniature heaven. Hackmaster reminds me a lot of Mordheim, of which I was a big fan. Ted was first to say this was simply a combat demo to show how the unique second by second combat system works, and I feel he knocked it out of the park on that note.
I chose a Dwarf Fighter as is typical of me, and we were hastily hired by the harbor master to seek out what could be the cause of an odd disturbance that has covered the docks in fog. Of course our stalwart party negotiated for a better price before heading off to confront what turned out was a crew of the living dead, which swarmed over the docks after killing a notable party figure, Mr. Heffner’s entire passenger list. The second by second combat allows you to move every second and your place in line after rolling initiative once is determined by the speed of your weapon. My Dwarf was pretty slow however I did figure out one quick way to make up for that. We were being attacked on two fronts so my Dwarf opted to make use of the burning brazier and the wooden docks by kicking over the brazier towards one group, hoping to cause them fire damage before they could reach us. I was rewarded for my efforts even though it did end up pinning me in.
As you can see from the black bodies in the second shot, fire was a great tactic for evening the odds, even though I felt like my dwarves beard was probably smoking by the end of it. In the end, I really enjoyed Hackmaster, but from the frantic amount of work Ted had to endure to keep the game moving, I knew that as a GM it was not for me. Since this was just a combat demo I am left wondering how standard events in a Hackmaster game are handled but I can say this one combat took the full four hours. It was quite enjoyable but I know my players would not be happy spending that long in one combat, even if it was epic like this one was.
The final game I tried out was Shadowrun 5th Edition. I have always loved the Shadowrun setting and lore, and Shadowrun 5th edition seems to bring that in by the truckload. That being said, I have a hard time with dice pool games, and the idea of grabbing 20 six sided dice over and over and counting 5’s and 6’s gets a little cumbersome for my tastes. The Gamemaster though did a great job keeping the game moving and it was quite fun. I went ahead and picked up the main rulebook and I am currently reading through it for a possible future review. I do have to admit I was pretty sold on my Dwarven Rigger by the end of the game, and I was left wanting to take just one more foray into shadows, so the GM did his job well. It was also the only event I attended where Catalyst Labs official demo folks were there.
This brings me back to my final commentary on the convention itself. Cosplayers, I get you spend 100’s of hours crafting costumes and working them over meticulously. You want to go to events and be seen, and appreciated for the work you do. But the problem was that often times this meant walking into events that had nothing to do with Cosplay and being loud and obnoxious in already loud rooms with several games going on. The larp battles and people running through hallways acting out were a bit ridiculous, especially at 3 in the morning. I was also assaulted by a furry in a bear costume in the elevator that would not stop touching me until I threatened to beat him with my cane crutch. There are boundaries that should be observed and they were not enforced at all. In fact if there was some kind of security there, I will be damned if I could find it, and that kind of makes me concerned. The rooms were overcrowded and most of the time the Gamemasters had to practically scream to be heard for their groups.
This was in large part to groups of Cosplayers in the hallways screaming and yelling and thumping into walls. Understand, I am not saying all the Cosplayers were like this. A good many of them were peacefully mingling and posing for pictures causing not a stir. This was definitely the younger teen/tween group running around unsupervised, but with no convention personnel to hold them accountable, well chaos ensues. The dealer room was sort of disappointing, because other than chessex most of the stuff was small local game companies trying to get their product out there, which was awesome, but still it felt lacking. I really hope perhaps in future years they can get more sponsors such as WotC and Paizo and perhaps even some OSR folks as well.
The one thing I found missing was a general lack of old school gaming. I saw plenty of grognards and had many a good conversation, but other than my Swords and Wizardry game in my room, I saw very little old school gaming, which was kind of sad when compared to events like Gary Con and North Texas conventions. All in all, I think for a small convention it had a lot to offer but it was plagued by lack of security and organization. There were very few guests of note, the bulk of the guest speakers or celebrities were gamers with you tube streams or cosplayers with small followings. The one aspect of gaming that was represented well was the Savage Worlds community, which appears to be very healthy in Colorado. If you are into Savage Worlds this convention was definitely for you as I must have seen 20 or so Savage Worlds going on each day.
My hopes for the Convention in the future would be better guests from the gaming world in general, tighter security so events are cleaner and quieter without disturbances, and better vendors invited in. Allowing more space for board games will have to be a priority, as the board game crowd is growing larger exponentially, and I think the addition of perhaps sanctioned Magic or Pokemon events would be a huge plus as well. As for all the Gamemasters who ran events, outstanding job, being a Con GM is never an easy task and all the games I played in were done very well. Overall, I give Genghis Con a B- grade. Until next time, keep rolling bones.