Review: Gen Con 2013

actual journalism, cell phone ninjas, 98% of a frown, the first exposure hall
Review: Gen Con 2013
Indianapolis is a city generally known for auto racing and being the birthplace of America’s first 20th-century outlaw. Every August, though, it hosts almost 50,000 people who care little for either of those things.

They come for the sweet aroma of freshly punched cardboard counters, for the textured heft of rank upon rank of miniature figures, for the piles of weird dice slimed with the cast-off condiments of terrible convention center food, and for the sight of dozens on dozens of costumed geeks, scantily clad and otherwise, who’ve traveled from all over the nation and beyond for an event that’s billed as “The Best Four Days in Gaming,” and which does in fact give tabletop gamers and steampunk airship captains alike a formidably long weekend on which to celebrate their passion and ours: tabletop games.

This is Gen Con. Its origins lost to the mists of time, the nearly half-century-old gaming party -- for that’s what it is -- is probably the largest annual gathering of tabletop gamers outside Germany’s Spiel. I arrived midday on Thursday, just as Day One was getting into full swing. The Indiana Convention Center is a massive place, and, as is the habit among Actual Journalists, I wandered into it unaided by map or signpost, following the flow of musky t-shirts into the first exhibit hall I could find. The simple elegance of what greeted me there felt both surprising and inevitable at once. Because what’s special about Gen Con is that it’s about the one thing most important to the cardboard arts: playing games.

Games News! 19/08/13

holy ship, disqs, disks?, discs, brave sparrows, Haluk Sağlamtimur
Games News! 19/08/13
Quinns: It was GenCon this weekend! The most sleep-deprived four days in gaming. Here's hoping somebody spotted Mike, our tech guru, because the last message I got from him said he was going to try and carry this stack of review copies back to his hotel, followed by radio silence.

So, yeah, he might be dead, but on the bright side gloss-house Fantasy Flight had a ton of stuff to announce, causing the biggest stir with BattleLore 2nd edition, seen above. If you're a regular reader you'll probably have seen us review or play Memoir '44, a phenomenal, approachable World War 2 strategy game. BattleLore is based on the same systems, but takes place in a colourful fantasy world. So, less horrors of war, more bipedal horrors who want to eat your face.

The Opener: Mascarade & Cheesy Twists

pamasan, sel capitan fancy bastard, beautiful bank thing, extravagance
Matt's only gone and looked at a new way to open your game night! Isn't he an great? Holding his ground on the very frontlines of play like a big ol' play... man.

This month he's encouraging us to don the masks of the fabulous Mascarade by Bruno Faidutti, one of our favourite designers. This game is pretty. It's funny. It's simple. Most of it even occurs underneath the table. But most excitingly of all, Matt's baking again! Today is a good day.

We’re at Gen Con 2013! …Kind of.

lovely men, lovely conventions, don't kidnap these guys, seriously we need them
We're at Gen Con 2013! ...Kind of.
The moon landing. Penicillin. The telephone. And now humanity can boast another grand achievement: With exactly no money, SU&SD has managed to get two of its roster to Indiana's Gen Con gaming convention '13. The dreamy Mike, who built the site you're on right now and continues to upgrade it on a daily basis, and Mark Wallace, of our actual journalism and Borderlands review.

These are two lovely individuals. So lovely. If you'd like to meet exactly ⅓ of Team SU&SD, they'll be around at 8pm on Friday in the Hyatt Regency's bar/lounge area.

Also, if you're an exhibitor and would like to demo your game to Mike so he can tell the UK team about it, drop an email to [email protected] He says his best times are "Thursday after 3:00pm or Friday after 11:00am, booth numbers help."

RPG Review: The Quiet Year

swan people, bog kids, frost shepherds, glittering lizards, brendan moments
RPG Review: The Quiet Year
Leigh: Hi, Shut Up & Sit Down-ers (the Silenced & Seated?)! Thank you for having me back again as your ongoing indie RPG correspondent. Quinns, I think something might have gone off in your fridge, though. What is that?

Quinns: My flat has an Abundance of Rare Meats, but a Scarcity of Hygiene.

Leigh: A reference to the game mechanics, how clever!

So, The Quiet Year. I’m accustomed to roleplaying games that give me the chance to tell a story about a character, through interaction with other characters, but this game is different: Two to four players collaborate over a map to tell the story of a place, and the narrative that unspools itself is about the challenges a community faces following a long war, given one year to prepare for the advent of the mysterious Frost Shepherds.

What are the Frost Shepherds? Who knows! What is this place? Well, that’s what you play to discover. The designer, Avery Mcdaldno, calls it the world’s first cartography RPG.

Designer Interview: Zach Gage

Release valves, rockets, motor oil, boxes of spiders, holy hobbies
Designer Interview: Zach Gage
[Zach Gage is a New York-based game designer, artist and friend of SU&SD whose work recently saw a change in direction. After success in the App store with SpellTower and such high-profile experiments as a videogame that penalises failure by deleting files on your computer, he's started working with table games. Guts of Glory is his post-apocalyptic eating contest, and is arriving very, very soon. We got in touch to find out where the shift came from.]

Quinns: Can you explain how the New York University Game Centre came to commission Guts of Glory?

Zach Gage: Sure thing!

Actually I think they wanted me to make a weird artsy game. They commission a few people each year, and typically, one of those people is the type of person who sometimes makes really odd games. Robin Arnott and Terry Cavanagh filled this roll in years past. I think Charles was expecting something closer to Lose/Lose or Killing Spree from me, the card game came a bit out of left field.

Games News! 12/08/13

Choking hazards, sexy sleds, turtle burglary, alligator attacks, Mr. Thrower
Games News! 12/08/13
Quinns: Happy Monday, everybody! Are we well? What games are we playing? Hopefully the lovely ones made from cardstock, and not the troubling mind games that emerge from failing relationships. That would be awful.

The big news this week is that comedy board gaming series Board With Life released their first episode! We feel a profound kinship with these guys. Like us, they're working with no money, an awful lot of heart and they're all startlingly handsome. In fact, I like it so much I've embedded it after the jump.

Review: Kemet

hot cats, nubile slaves, big beetles, I'm gonna eat you also your children
Like the tomb robbers of old, Quinns has cracked the seal on our copy of Kemet, heedless of all those snakes, scorpions and ancient Egyptian curses to bring you our definitive review.

But there's a problem! This game is the spiritual sequel to Cyclades, yet another svelete, gorgeous game of warring gods from the same publisher. Who will come out on top, in this divine duel? Should you buy this is you already have the other? And why is the SU&SD supercomputer so rubbish?

Podcast #8: Pointy Masks & Huge Beetles

sting, king quest, brick king, king cube, I like my beetle, megatanks of the outback
The SU&SD podcast has once again arrived like a great big board gaming burrito: Fiery, fresh and surprisingly dense*.

In our eighth instalment Paul and Quinns are joined by Matt Lees as they thoroughly deconstruct Egypt simulator Kemet, senile dementia simulator Mascarade, and Police Precinct! Which simulates literally no policemen or women who have ever existed.

They also find the time to quiz Paul about Risk Legacy, bully Quinns about Cube Quest and take on the tricky subject of wargaming, before diving headfirst into this month’s mailbag.

*Rejected adjectives for this analogy: Lukewarm, creamy, gassy.

Review: The Guns of Gettysburg

delicious weevils, fabulous bodhrans, oh Mr. Simmons, SO MANY LIMBS
Review: The Guns of Gettysburg
Brendan: Hi Matt! So nice of you to invite me to your summer garden party! You know, I literally can't remember the last time we saw each other-- OH GOD WHAT'S THAT ON YOUR FACE

Thrower: Ow. Ouch! Unhand me, you oaf! That’s my authentic American Civil War facial hair.

Brendan: Sorry, I thought it was a badger.

Thrower: This month sees the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, often cited as the turning point of the civil war. To celebrate, I’m participating in an ultrarealistic re-enactment, playing the part of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. You missed the first two days. I’m whiling away this third morning while my troops assemble playing this new wargame on the battle, The Guns of Gettysburg.

Brendan: That’s pretty.

Thrower: It’s more than pretty. It’s absolutely beautiful.