I hope you had the time of your life: A Gencon 2015 retrospective

So, here I am, first week of August, exhausted beyond measure trying to let it all sink in. Thirteen days ago, we left Fredericton and took a 23.5 hour drive (over two days) from my little corner of the Maritimes deep into the midwest toward Gencon. There are stories to tell, but most of them are about as interesting as every terrible "character story" your D&D playing friend has subjected you to.

Hopefully the stories I am about to tell will be a little more interesting.

The first five days of vacation aren't worth mentioning on a gaming blog, simply due to the fact that they were very touristy days and almost nothing gaming-related happened beyond my impending sense of doom and panic. On day six the doors opened and a tide of humanity the likes of which I have never before experienced crashed down upon the Indianapolis Convention Centre (ICC for short) and I was a minnow who had lost his way down river. At 9am on July 30th, I was participating in X-Wing North American Championships, though participating is a generous term.

Let me go back to the origin of my current situation - planning for Gencon.

My father had gone to Gencon last year as a Dungeon Master for Baldman Games, and he had had such a good time he immediately began planning for a return trip this year. He asked me if I would be able to get the week off leading up to the convention, and if I would be interested in going with him. Immediately I was interested, but I didn't know for sure if I could get a week off in the middle of summer. My employer has a vacation week draft during which employees have the opportunity to select their vacation weeks based on seniority (which is a pretty standard practice), and I only have 7 years on the job - a paltry sum compared to my co-workers.

I lucked out and managed to trade weeks with a woman in my group and secured the week leading up to Gencon (which also landed on a long weekend buying me time to get home following the event), and it was time to begin planning in earnest. As everyone who reads this knows, I am an FFG acolyte, and play Netrunner and X-Wing competitively ("competitively"), so I immediately wanted to try and get my tickets for those two events. I also used to play Game of Thrones 1st edition (it was my methadone which weaned me off Magic: the Gathering a couple of years ago), so I was really hopeful I could get one of the limited tickets for the Kingslayer event.

As luck would have it, one of our ticket-purchasing group got number 400 in the wishlist queue and all three of my event tickets were purchase din my name. This is where the compromise had to come in. Kris and I have been together for about 2.5 years and I wasn't interested in going away to the bigger gaming convention of the years without her - she is a relative newb to the tabletop gaming world, but she's started playing Agricola, D&D and was raised on Sience Fiction and Fantasy literature thanks to her sci-fi nerd father.

She is a video gamer, but I knew that this was an experience she would look back on fondly in ten years when she's developed more in this world. So I wanted her to come, and she agreed that it might be fun. But she was worried about being bored alone in the ICC for seven hours a day while I played in my tournaments. So I negotiated a compromise.

I would start each tournament, getting my promo cards and getting the experience of having played at a national scale, even if I wasn't able to put the hours in needed to compete at the top tables. I would get what I want, without necessarily leaving her out in the proverbial cold in a strange world full of strangely dressed strangers. This is a thing that you need to know about us, we are both distressingly introverted - I am outgoing while she is very quiet, but we both expend extraordinary amounts of energy while in large groups... being lost in a sea of humanity was a concern for Kris and I wanted to ensure her comfort as much as possible.

So I agreed that I would play the first round or two of each event, ending around noon each day and then we would spend some time together doing things that would be interesting to both of us. We selected one event each day for us to do together and agreed that it would be best not to over-commit to events until we knew how much energy we would have at the convention.

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Back to Thursday morning of the convention, I arrived at nine am and assumed (incorrectly) that the event would begin promptly and that I would get a couple of rounds in before my self-imposed 12-noon deadline. After the last of five "last calls", the first round began at 10:30am, and I was paired up against a really great gentleman named Ryan Hovin who was piloting a Rebel Swarm featuring a B-Wing (Keyan Farlander), a Y-Wing (Horton Salem), a HWK (Autoblaster Turret) and a Z-95. I hadn't played against this specific combination of ships before, and knew that my opponent definitely had plenty of experience against my Decimator/Fel list.

He deployed his first three ships in a wide arc all facing generally toward the centre of the table. To combat this, I deployed my two ships on the flanks, the Interceptor opposite a Z-95 and the Decimator opposite his B-Wing. He played his Y-Wing near the Bandit, and I knew I was in for a slog. My list for reference:

Soontir Fel
- Autothrusters
- Royal Guard
- Stealth Device
- Push the Limit

Rear Admiral Chiraneau
- Ysanne Issard
- Darth Vader
- Rebel Captive
- Push the Limit
- Flechette Torpedoes

I sped my ships up 4 on the first turn, hoping to get some range 3 shots off early in order to mazimize my defensive abilities and then break off in subsequent turns. I knew that a hit-and run approach was likely going to be the best way to counter his numerical superiority; none of his ships could outmaneuver Soontir, and even the Decimator could fly circles around the B, Y and HWK if given the opportunity. A shield off his Bandit was my reward for such impetuousness, and I immediately start thinking of ways to keep Fel alive long enough to get away from the Y-Wing's front arc.

On the second turn I get a shield off the B-Wing with the Admiral, but Fel takes a critical front Salem - Structural Damage was probably third on my list of least-welcome cards to draw, as it cost me effectively two agility, stripping my Stealth Device off the ship as well. I get his HAWK down to one on turn four thanks to some fancy shooting and Darth Vader throws his lightsaber at the impetuous ugly little ship. How dare he not die to my shooting?

My Decimator takes a couple of big shots on the counter, getting down to eight HP before I manage to get away from the B-Wing. Fel finishes off the Headhunter and I look to get distance from Salem once again. I manage to double-stress the Y-Wing, effectively putting it out of the fight; and I turn back toward the B-Wing, but not before Fel takes a second Critical - a hull breach nearly takes the Interceptor out, but I roll a blank on the extra damage roll.

As fifteen minutes are called both Ryan and I begin looking at the board very differently - he needs to secure a kill in order to salave a tie, and I need to keep Fel alive for five more turns. The numbers advantage he had enjoyed in the early goings was gone, as my maneuverable ships presented a very bad matchup for what was effectively a single B-wing; but I knew that one lucky roll would put the game right back in his court. I boost my interceptor out of range as I bring my Decimator back toward the fray and knock another two shields off the B-Wing.

Time is called after another couple of turns of parry-thrust, and Ryan sees the game has slipped from him - he has at most seven red dice to my Decimator's eight hull, and the Interceptor has successfully stayed away from danger. We play out the final turn but with no casualties, Ryan extends his hand and I have successfully won a game at a National level.

I'll admit, it felt really nice to win a game. I only won a single game at our local Regionals, and that was very late in the game. To begin a much harder event 1-0 felt somewhat validating to me. Clearly I am too experimental, and I need to just focus on the things I know I know...

After the round was called, I looked at the clock and saw it was 11:45. I was very disappointed that I wouldn't have time for a second round, but I did manage to secure a promo card by asking at the desk if they could give me mine early. I leave the event very happy with my result, and get in line at FFG in order to ensure I got my purchases in before they sold out of everything I wanted.

The line at FFG was pretty mind-blowing. I had managed to convince Kris to get in line when the hall opened in order to ensure that I didn't need to worry about missing out, and she got me reserve tickets for all of the products I knew I wanted. The only thing I missed out on was Data and Destiny, the Netrunner deluxe expansion I didn't know would be released - hint for next time, just tell her to get one ticket for everything rather than trying to cherry pick.

After I get my purchases made (Punisher, Raider, Universe of Tomorrow, and two sets of Game of Thrones), we head out to eat and do the Catacombs tour we had signed up for, along with much much more shopping in the football field sized vandors' hall.

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Let's fast forward past Thursday now to Friday morning. The time is once again 9am and I am once again sitting in Hall F at FFG HQ waiting for my tournament to begin. Kris is seated with me this time, as she no longer needs to ninja shop on my behalf and she's much happier in the smaller crowd in the gaming hall rather than sitting alone in the 'line' (and I use that term looser than Kim Kardashian) for the vendors hall. Things get underway a little quicker for Netrunner than they did for X-Wing and with a shorter round, I know that I can get two matches in before I turn into a pumpkin.

My decklists are; for the record:

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center (Upstalk)

Agenda (11)
3x AstroScript Pilot Program (Core Set) 
2x Breaking News (Core Set) 
3x Project Beale (Future Proof) 
3x NAPD Contract (Double Time) 

Asset (8)
3x PAD Campaign (Core Set) 
3x Jackson Howard (Opening Moves) 
2x Daily Business Show (All That Remains) 

Upgrade (4)
3x SanSan City Grid (Core Set) 
1x Cyberdex Virus Suite (Order and Chaos) 

Operation (11)
2x Biotic Labor (Core Set)  ••••• •••
3x Hedge Fund (Core Set) 
2x Shipment from SanSan (Second Thoughts) 
3x Sweeps Week (True Colors) 
1x Fast Track (Honor and Profit) 

Barrier (5)
3x Eli 1.0 (Future Proof)  •••
2x Wraparound (Fear and Loathing) 

Code Gate (7)
2x Tollbooth (Core Set) 
2x Enigma (Core Set) 
3x Pop-up Window (Cyber Exodus) 

Sentry (3)
1x Ichi 1.0 (Core Set)  ••
2x Architect (Up and Over)  ••••

17 influence spent (maximum 17)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Order and Chaos

and

Leela Patel: Trained Pragmatist (All That Remains)

Event (18)
3x Account Siphon (Core Set) 
2x Inside Job (Core Set) 
3x Special Order (Core Set) 
3x Sure Gamble (Core Set) 
2x Emergency Shutdown (Cyber Exodus) 
3x Dirty Laundry (Creation and Control) 
1x Lucky Find (Double Time)  ••
1x Legwork (Honor and Profit) 

Hardware (7)
3x Desperado (Core Set) 
1x Plascrete Carapace (What Lies Ahead) 
3x R&D Interface (Future Proof)  ••••• •

Resource (8)
2x Kati Jones (Humanity's Shadow) 
2x Same Old Thing (Creation and Control) 
2x Security Testing (Honor and Profit) 
2x Symmetrical Visage (The Valley) 

Icebreaker (10)
2x Corroder (Core Set)  ••••
1x Mimic (Core Set)  •
1x Femme Fatale (Core Set) 
1x ZU.13 Key Master (What Lies Ahead)  ••
3x Faerie (Future Proof) 
1x Passport (Honor and Profit) 
1x Cerberus "Rex" H2 (All That Remains) 

Program (2)
2x Sneakdoor Beta (Core Set) 

15 influence spent (maximum 15)
45 cards (min 45)
Cards up to The Valley

In the first round I am paired up against Elizabeth, a fellow Maritimer who moved to Toronto and now played in the same metagame as Sean, a friend of mine who has been on the Tag Me podcast. We have a nice relaxed match, where I take the first game as Near-Earth Hub against her MaxX and quickly find myself opposite a deck I never thought I'd see - Argus.

The second game is nice and tight, and I feel as though forgetting to trigger my Leela 80% of the times I stole an agenda proved to be the difference. I had many opportunities to get her Cleaners off the table before she finally scored it, which led to my downfall as her contract killer mopped up what was left of a two-card hand a few turns later.

At 1-1 I knew I was unlikely to be paired up against one of the 'super' byes in the second round and I took my deck to my second table up against a lovely gentleman in a Breaking News t-shirt. Battle of the Network TV Stars is much less exciting when you never actually get to see the 'stars'' faces. Dodd Harris wass a great opponent through and through, and we laugh and chat most of the way through our match.

We were playing a mirror match, with each of us on NEH and Leela, though I'm sure that Dodd's builds were much better than mine (not to mention his level of practice). I make sure to keep my assets rezzed in game on during Dodd's runs in order to ensure he doesn't accidentally get a Leela trigger off at an inopportune time (I do it on all runs, whether I have an agenda in hand or not). My train begins early and I manage to score out seven points before he was able to get going.

In Game two Dodd copies my strategy of keeping his cards rezzed against my impetuous running, and I get lucky by snagging some agendas out of a flooded hand. My notes for round two aren't as good as they were for round one because I honestly expected to get crushed. Be sure to listen to Breaking News, though, not that you don't already! That guy is a class act and I really enjoyed playing against both of my Netrunner opponents!

Having vindicated my choices of NEH and Leela by going 3-1 in the first two rounds, I happily dropped form the event and joined Kris for some Kung Fu before we went into the second main event of the day - True Dungeon.

Dad and Perry (the other gentleman with whom we traveled) both wanted Kris and I to try out True Dungeon - it is the main event of Gencon for many people... some people go to the convention JUST for this RPG-lite event. We acquiesced and I dibbsed the Bard; Kris was less concerned and was assigned the Fighter as a very basic, entry-level class. We got into the room to assemble with our party (all of whom were the players who were at dad's D&D table for the weekend), and one of the more experienced players informed the judge that we would be playing on Hardcore mode.

Big mistake.

Our monk died in the third room, and nobody escaped the boss in what would ultimately be a very negative experience for most of us. Kris and I, who had never played the game before, were left with a very poor opinion of the game, and we indicated that we were uncertain if we wanted to play the second half of the adventure on Sunday. It just wasn't fun, the room judges were very non-communicative and it felt like they were intentionally ignoring our actions in order to maximize the difficulty of the game.

We were assured that this was an anomaly and that on Sunday we would be playing on Normal mode.

I have a few thoughts on the True Dungeon experience from Friday night - as a person who had never played again and who had an extremely negative experience, there are a few things that might have helped to mitigate the problem areas.

The Dungeon Masters were awful. Not universally, but a high enough percentage to be generally bad; they were willfully ignorant of our effects as we announced them, and they completely refused to speak up and make the scenario of the room known to the participants. I was playing the Bard in the first game we played, and was lucky enough to be fifth level, granting me access to the second level healing spell soothe wounds. This spell heals the entire party for 3 hit points, and I used both instances of the spell in the best way I knew to.

In the second room, I knew that a lot of the party was getting low, and we were running low on healing already, so I decided to ease the burden on the party by casting my first instance of soothe wounds. The DM marked my copy of the player sheet, and then gave me no further instructions. I told the leaders of our group what I had done and they nodded approval of my choice - but nobody told the whole group to increase their hit points by three.

This led directly to the death of the monk in the third room, as the three hit points from my spell would have kept him alive against the deadly strike by a single point. Had I been instructed that it was my responsibility to tell the individual members of the party to heal up three points I would have done so, but I assumed that it was on the DM (or at least the caller for the party) to let the party know of the situation and how it was unfolding. I feel that had I been given better instruction we would have at least had a chance to perform better than we did.

The ambience was awful. The noises being pumped into the room by speakers was destructive to the gameplay - we couldn't hear the DM, and we couldn't hear one another. One of the puzzles was an auditory puzzle where we had to listen to a series of clues and then figure out the answer from there - but the room itself was so loud that it was impossible to hear all but the loudest of the clues before we just started guessing. Outside of this single puzzle incident, it was disruptive to be unable to hear one another or the dungeon master who was moving at a mile a minute in order to get everyone's actions in (whether they were counting the actions or not, see above).

Ultimately, I feel that a confluence of negative occurrences led to the ultimate experience being distinctly negative; which, combined with increasing exhaustion on my part (due in part to being stuck in the ICC until after 1am the previous night waiting for dad to finish his adventure), made me very sour on the whole thing. It took until Sunday morning before I decided whether or not I would give it a second try.

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Saturday morning was the event I had been looking forward to for the entire trip. The Kingslayer was ultimately the reason I had started planning the trip in the first place, and it was scheduled to begin at 10am. I really enjoy X-Wing, and I love Netrunner... but Game of Thrones is home to me.

As the game began its slow decent into madness during the Kingsroad cycle, I was distressed as I felt that the game that had shown me the light of day and allowed me to escape the heroin of M:tG was dying off. When the announcement came regarding second edition, I was overjoyed as I felt that this was the new lease on life that could really open up an archaic game for a new modern era of gamers. I have a lot of thoughts about first edition GoT, but these have been repeated ove rand over on various forums and bear no repeating here; needless to say I was stoked.

As you may have read in my previous posts, I had given a lot of thought to the viability of each house; and I'm glad to say that I was mostly vindicated in my theories regarding the best way to approach the event. Greyjoy and Targaryen were at the top tables the whole day, and control decks struggled to keep up with the dominating pressure applied by the more aggressive factions. That said, I knew I wouldn't be competing for the prize pool and decided to just go with what I knew would suit my play style best.

My decklist for the Kingslayer was as follows:

Lannister (x10)
Tyrell (x10)
The Iron Throne
The Roseroad (x3)
The Hand's Judgment
Tears of Lys
Milk of the Poppy (x2)
Varys
Rattleshirt's Raiders

Plots
Wildfire Assault (x2)
Calm over Westeros
A Game of Thrones
Marched to the Wall
Marching Orders
A Clash of Kings

Now, I just have to say, X-Wing players are intimidating to me, they are very intensely passionate about the Star Wars-iness of their game, and they fall into one of two very distinct camps: aggressively casual or aggressively competitive. I don't really mesh with X-Wing players on the whole, I just don't find myself aggressively anyhting as it related to Star Wars.

Netrunner players intimidate me as well, but that is more due to the fact that I know I don't belong among them. I'm not a sci-fi person, in general, and Neturnner is as hardcore sci-fi as you can get without actually installing some Net-Ready Eyes. Everyone is so high on the flavour of the game and how the game 'feels' to me that I feel somewhat alienated by the overwhelming sense of "other" I get when talking about the game with strangers.

Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is home. I am a fantasy junkie - my first 'series' was the Belgariad by David Eddings, and was quickly followed up with The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and then Game of Thrones in high school. When I was in middle school, my father and I worked as playtesters for Iron Crown Enterprises, the makers of the Middle Earth: The Wizards card game that was very successful for about five years in the mid nineties. Before I was allowed to participate in company events, he required that I read the Lord of the Rings series of books rather than simply invest into the game as a neophyte.

I have dragons and giants and swords and sorcery screaming through my veins, shining as a beacon outward to others who share the same fascination with the genre as do I. All of this is to say that I instantly felt more at ease as I strode confidently into Hall F on Saturday morning. I saw a fellow podcaster (in a brand new The White Book t-shirt - should have thought of CitD branding for the event!) surrounded by a gaggle of like-minded folks but was still not confident enough to walk up to him and start talking.

Instead of interrupting his conversation, I found a different group of guys to chat with; nitpicking each others theories about Jon Snow, discussing what strategies we liked in this very unique tournament format, and just all in all making friendly with people I might never see again. I had a couple of people tell me they liked the previous articles after I introduced myself to them, and that was a really great feeling!

I had previously assembled my deck out of the core set I had been testing with the night prior, but thankfully I had a sealed box still with me as I made a few last-minute changes to the deck. I took out the second Varys for a Rattleshirt Raiders, and I changed a plot before the pairings were announced.

I was paired up with a really nice guy named Bill, who was on Stark/Night's Watch (a combination I think would have been much better had he gone Greyjoy instead of Watch, but nonetheless), and I got a pretty mediocre setup of Right, Roseroad and Jaime Lannister. He started on Bran and a Builder along with a reducer. I lead with Game of Thrones to his Calm over Westeros (on Military).

I draw Left and another character and my mediocre setup immediately feels much more powerful. That's the trick with combo gimmicks, if you draw both sides of your combo early, your combo is incredibly strong. My defenses sorted themselves out very early on and while I lose an intrigue challenge, I manage to trigger my Mander on the counter swing. I win Dominance with some gold, and he chose not to use his Varys to clear away my board.

I feel that was his opportunity to win the game, had he swept away my Jaime/Left/Right combo, he could easily have stabilized with a few cheap puds while making me rebuild from stratch. As it stood, I Milk his Varys on round two and asserted my control from that point forward. He wasn't a real card gamer (having come from a wargames perspective to this amazing game), so I offered him some pointers along the way, mostly with keywords that were printed without reminder text for some unknoable reason. The game was really great, and I think we both had a really good time just laughing about the silly scenarios we were playing out.

On one turn, Cersei poisoned Ned Stark with some Tears of Lys, and then the turn immediately after, Olenna and Cersei team up to win an intrigue for over five, triggering the Mander to draw my Olenna's Informant, putting her into play to gain an additional military challenge, and get double claim on his hand. That was truly the dream.

What a truly fantastic game, FFG! This was easily the most fun I had all weekend, and it definitely made the trip worthwhile. It could easily have been disappointing considering all of the hype I had self-imposed, but the game leaves nothing on the table. The game will be out in stores soon, and I really think everyone owes it to themselves to at least give it a try and see if it is their cup of tea.

If you read this blog, you are certainly a nerd, and nerds generally already love the show - there is no reason you won't love this game, telling fascinating stories about characters everyone knows and loves is the whole point of playing thematic game slike this! I think that if you try out A Game of Thrones: LCG 2e, you will love it just as much as do I, or as did the two hundred-plus players who played in the Kingslayer last weekend!

I was pumped and ready for my second round when Kristina walke dup to me and told me that the e-Games room had kicked out all of the spectators (stupid fire marshall... thanks Obama!). She had been watching the first round of the Kingslayer and was astonished at how much fun everyone looked like they were having, she has had a hate-hate relationship with card games as long as I've known her and never really believed me when I told her how much fun they could be.

She presented me an offer I couldn't refuse (cue Brando), either I could play in the second round and she would spectate from afar as she had previously done, or I could drop out now and teach her the game and she would give it an honest try. Needless to say, when a miracle presents itself, you do not tell it "just give me an hour!" I dropped out after the first round and we went across the street to the Westin and found a quiet corner and built a couple of learn-to-play decks.

Five days have gone by, and she is still talking about playing the game, so it feels like the virus has implanted itself and she isn't doing a very good job of fighting it off. Feels like victory, and a much sweeter victory than would have been earned by playing another round of competitive cards.

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

The final gaming-related item I had on my docket was the second session of True Dungeon. Sigh. I agreed with dad that the first experience probably shouldn't define my view of the game, and I begrudgingly gave in to try it again - Kristina agreed too, "Worst case," she said when I asked, "I can just be miserable for another hour."

What a trooper.

We got into the room, and after the absolute shit-kicking everyone took in the first dungeon, the room was a bit more reflective. The leader, Chris, was a really nice guy about the whole thing, and as a way of apologizing for the bad experience he let me use his special token that made me a Troubadour (the prestige class for the Bard), which would also ensure that we got all of the treasure out of the dungeon. We took better equipment this time, as everyone had seriously under-prepared for the hardcore mode and nobody was taking any chances.

What a difference a day makes! The DMs were much more congenial, and they even offered small tips to make the whole thing a little more sane. Every time I used my bard song ability, they took the time to write out my bonuses and ensure that they were all added up properly, and everyone was just a whole lot more relaxed.

We defeated the demon from the abyssal portal with relative ease and got our treasures from the big treasure chest at the end of the dungeon - Kristina got a Runestone for her troubles, while I got some poisoned rations. You can't win em all!

All in all, the second time through the dungeon was a much better experience; and in all honesty, I would be willing to try it out again if ever the opportunity were presented to me. We worked better as a team, and the DMs were more clear and expressive about the scenarios facing us... the ambience was still distracting, but not to the point where it detracted from our ability to play.

Gencon. What a crazy weekend... I have been dreaming of going since I was 13 years old, and nearly twenty years later I finally fulfilled that most important wish. But was it ultimately rewarding?

In short, yes! I had a brilliant time meeting new folks who share the same silly passions, I got to introduce myself to a bunch of business guys and managed to even do surprisingly well in the events in which I played. I would say that a 5-1 record is far better than my original 1-x I was expecting, and certainly helped convince me that at least I'm playing the right games, even if I'm not playing them very competitively.

Props:

Nate Davis from White Wizard Games, for noticing my Tag Me shirt and having a short conversation about how much we loved each other's products! It was my first industry circle jerk, and it felt really nice! I also got a couple of extra promos out of the whole thing to share with Alex!

Fantasy Flight Games for putting on three (at least) incredible events over the course of what I can only assume was a terribly busy weekend, and specifically to the OP guys to whom I introduced myself on Sunday. They were very nice to a nobody with a website, and treated me with more respect than I had earned.

Steak and Shake for offering a salad that wouldn't upset my very delicate digestive tract. As a sufferer of Celiac disease, I have to be very careful about what I put in my system, especially when I'm eating out, and the folks at Steak and Shake not only provided me with the ingredient list for the dressing on their salad, but they even had the complete ingredient list fo rtheir menu published online! It was definitely a huge relief not to have to worry about food all week - even if it wound up being a little pricey by week's end!

Kristina - we've been together for nearly three years and through all of that time I've been constatly trying to get some stupid internet website off the ground floor. Your patience and support has meant the world to me, all the way to travelling 2200 Kilometers away from your home in order to let me have the experience of a lifetime. I might never be able to pay you back, but I hope oyu know that you mean the world to me and I love you mor ethan words alone can express.

Slops:

True Dungeon: despite the positive experience on the final day, I still feel as though I was tricked into playing some strange dystopian version of D&D in which there is no role playing, only shuffleboard exists to determine victors and losers. The game itself is flawed in many very specific ways, but most impactfully it isn't D&D.

Lost Keys: Don't lose your keys at Gencon. But if you have to, do it at the Indianapolis Marriott, where a wonderful night clerk has them in her lost and found.

22 Hour drives with your father and his friend: There are no words to express how long the trips there and back again were. The constant bickering and endless rounds of character stories were mind-numbing and I would not do it again if someone paid me a million dollars for my time. The experiences we all shared made up for it, but I would not advise anyone take this trip if you can at all help it.

70 cent dollars: I took $300 USD out of my bank account the day before we left for Indy, and it cost me $400 CAD because my bank plays fast and loose with the exchange rate - but for the rest of the trip, I found it incredibly hard to keep track of just how expensive everything actually was. Getting home to see the condition of my bank account and VISA was startling to say the least. And I haven't even paid off the hotel yet!

Thanks so much for reading, and if you've read this far, I thank you twice as much! Please be sure to keep the website bookmarked as I will be blogging about my experiences trying to get Game of Thrones back off the autopsy table in Fredericton and the Maritime region. I relaly appreciate all the clicks, and all of the positive feedback I've gotten over the past month!

Until next time, always be gaming!

Matt