Going Analog

Where video game industry veterans introduce great board games to video gamers

Gen Con 2017: The best and worst of everything else

There's a lot more to Gen Con 2017 than tabletop games!

We already discussed our favorite games of Gen Con, the massive convention that took over Indianapolis, IN back in August. But the show is so much more than just playing tabletop games….

Favorite moment: Going crazy in a game about crazy

We thought things went wrong during our demo of Iello’s Mountains of Madness. (Warning: Slight spoilers ahead, if you’re planning on getting this game!)

In this cooperative strategy game, players must work together to get past challenges as they slowly go mad, Lovecraft-style. Cards will force players to behave strangely, but we also caught some “misprints” in the demo’s retail copy. Some colors were off, which really threw off our timing in the parts of this game that are played in real time. And our demo guide (who was fairly new to the game himself) was getting worried, documenting all the problems we found in this fresh-off-the-presses release, so he could report them back to Iello headquarters.

​Then it hit us a few rounds later: The game was intentionally messing with us. Those odd color changes weren’t misprints -- just designers screwing with our heads and our strategies. Even the demo guy got legitimatedly fooled.

Well-played, game designers…you jerks.

Worst moment: The worst demo

We won’t names (the company or the game) just in case we misread the situation, but we had one really awful demo at Gen Con. The board game looked fantastic, with a unique, whimsical art style. But the guy running the demo would flat-out not engage with the two of us who were eager to learn the game. He kept teaching the two players on the other side of the table (who were playing against us), patiently showing them what to do, and we could barely see or follow along.

Even after we asked that he show us the game as well since, you know, we’re sitting right there at the table getting the same demo, he’d barely acknowledge us -- he almost went out of his way to ignore us. It almost felt, dare we say, racist? (Two Asians here, two Caucasians on the other side.) Or maybe we had something gross stuck between our teeth and didn’t realize it.

​Either way, it was really insulting, and we couldn’t wait to get out of that particular demo.

Best cosplay: Eleven

Everywhere we looked, great (and some not-so-great) cosplay filled the halls at Gen Con. (See the show’s official photo album here.) Our favorite this year was a young Eleven (of “Stranger Things”). She was so spot-on that we had to do a double-take to see if it were the real actress, AND YES WE FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE SORRY.

The best place to eat: …

Sorry, we’re not telling. It’s hard finding a restaurant that’s not jam-packed during mealtimes, with hour-long waits. We’re keeping this li’l hidden gem to ourselves.

Best booth: Mayfair

This publisher knows how to get showgoers to play its games. For trying out different demos, you can earn colorful ribbons to stick on the bottom of your convention badge. Nothing flashy in this booth -- just good ol’ fashioned freebies that everyone wanted to collect.

Worst booth: IDW

This was one tiny space with several worthy demos (like Centipede and Seikatsu) that drew too many bodies. It didn’t help that every other person there took up real estate just wanting a rewards punch-card punched, not even there to play anything. The least these people could’ve done is buy something, so IDW could afford a bigger booth next year.

Wasted celebrity sighting: Eric Lang

While we were waiting to interview Eric Lang, one of the most famous (and most recognizable) game designers in the biz, fans kept stopping him for autographs and pictures. While we were watching this, we asked CMON Marketing Manager Jared Miller if people would ever recognize and stop Lang...but use the time to ask him miscellaneous questions about game rules. “All the time,” said Miller, with a smile.
What a waste. At least use the opportunity to pitch him your next big, brilliant game idea or buy the dude a beer or something.