Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Gencon Experience: Friday

Friday during my free time I tried stopping by WizKids booth early to play a Battle Royal, and fell flat on my face as the lines just kept growing. I had what can only be described as a sour experience, waiting in a line just to sign up for an event, only to be told I couldn't wait to sign up because they had no sign up sheets out. They also didn't know when sign up sheets were going to be put out.

It turned into a catch-22 fustercluck, and I was told to wait at the back of a new line despite being first at the table for the next wave of sign-ups. By the time it was over I got moved to three different lines and ended up so far away that no one could hear their names being called. I also got chewed out by staff for making a mistake when signing up and asking "stupid" questions, which as a first time con goer with no clue what was going on was very disheartening.

I don't entirely blame them for the situation, but rather how they handled it was pathetic. I could see their frustration levels rising at a situation they had limited control over, and I know what it's like being an overworked, unpaid volunteer. Still, I can't believe how rudely I was treated by the staff, and official envoys of WizKids in the process of me trying to give them money. If I had been a casual or new player this experience would have turned me off for life.

After nearly two hours (and most of my free time that morning) I eventually got to play in a King of the Hill event against... surprise! 2009 World Champion Ben Cheung, the maker of the notorious Nightcrawler. Ben had great pulls and played a Soldier team with 2x Steve Rogers, Maria Hill, and a Howling Commando, to my somewhat lousy pulls (I played Klaw, Phobos, Adaptoid and Bucky-Cap). Ben won roll-off and picked the Crater Map making it a shooting gallery for himself. I trudged my team up the side hiding behind Adaptoid and with my average attack roll being 5's wasn't much of a threat.

My spirits were kind of defeated already from the long wait in line to finding out Ben was my opponent to his map advantage choice, and I think it translated to bad chi for my dice which never made a successful Leadership, Super Sense, or Shape Change roll. I pushed on, hoping he'd roll a critical miss at some point, but never got that lucky and I only managed to take out his Howling Commando.

I headed off again to help run Stratego and Stomple demos and decided I was pretty much done with HeroClix for the weekend. Too much disorganization on WizKids part. Still, I had bought enough generic tickets that I wanted to burn up, and I really wanted that convention exclusive Wonder Woman LE, so I sucked it up and managed to get in a Battle Royal at the end of the day, with a lukewarm partner that wanted to drop right away from the game after opening his boosters.

We lost the BR, and I lost most interest in playing competitive 'Clix at the convention which is expensive - I plucked down nearly 40 dollars to pick up figures I already owned just for a chance to win one of those gorgeous Horsemen of Apocalypse.

In hindsight I can see where WizKids tried to be too accommodating to everyone, offering more scenario play this year at the expense of table space for grinders and battle royals. There needed to be some penalty for people that dropped immediately from play (after seeing the contents of their booster and what an opponent pulled), and a better way to sign up for events so players could manage their time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scarlet Witch: Creeping Me Out for Years

I hated Brian Michael Bendis for taking one of my favorite characters and turning her into a raving loon as a vehicle for rebooting the Avengers. And then perusing some older issues of the Avengers I realized, maybe BMB wasn't that far off.

Wanda's always walked a fine line between helping her teammates and killing them with her uncontrollable "Hex" powers. Like the Witch from Wundagore mountain shows, she's forever been on the edge of losing her mind, a loose cannon capable of accidentally harming friend and foe alike.

Take this exchange between Scarlet Witch and Electro for instance.

Wanda pulls a Vader Force Choke on this poor two-bit villain, and could have easily killed him. It's not the act so much that bothers me, but her teammate's reactions.

Captain America for instance. A guy who has fought in the bloodiest war in history, and has no doubt seen gruesome dismemberments, Nazi torture victims and the like takes one look at Wanda and has a WTF moment.

Rather, it was "What the Blazes?!?!?!", but we know what you meant comics code Cap.

Is that fear in your eyes Steve? His response says it all. "UM.... Yes!" So what do you expect from someone who can bend reality to shape her will, giving birth to mutant twins from an android father, or wiping the mutant gene out of existence.

Or most of the mutants anyway (since we can't just get rid of Marvel's best selling titles!). Still, with that kind of power cap is right to be scared. Scarlet Witch could conceivably do anything, including making Steve Rogers her love slave. SHe wouldn't do that though.... would she?

So in hindsight, the crazy was there to begin with. Brian Michael Bendis just connected the dots.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Superman or Elseworlds?

So the Superman checklist was revealed, (awhile ago, I know...I know) and compared to my list there's actually a lot of difference. Many of the characters I figured would be in the set, didn't make the cut.

No Lana Lang Insect Queen? Now she'll never get made. And what about the Furies? And then there's just the bizarre choices. No Jimmy Olsen? No Mxyzptlyk? No Krypto? Sigh.

Here's where my list matched up with WizKids:

  • #1 Intergang Agent
  • #7 Superman Robot
  • #8 Gangbuster
  • #9 Zod
  • #11 Sun Boy
  • #14 Steel
  • #18 Parasite
  • #19 Ursa
  • #20 Supergirl
  • #22 Superman
  • #26 Superwoman (Lois)
  • #29 Maxwell Lord
  • #31 Superboy (classic)
  • #33 Silver Banshee
  • #34 Non
  • #35 Bruno Mannheim
  • #37 Magog
  • #39 Lex Luthor
  • #43 Lobo
  • #44 Brainiac 5
  • #52 Eradicator
  • #54 Darkseid
  • #58 Cyborg Superman
24/60. In short, I suck at predicting these things.

It is interesting to note that this is the closest thing we've had to an Elseworlds set ever. Between the All Star contingent, the Flashpoint sub-theme, and the variant chases, there's no less than 15 out of continuity figures. And that doesn't even include the Kingdom Come guys, or the Legion who are constantly going through alternate timeline reboots.

There's also a few figures I suspect are holdovers from DC75. Human Target, for instance isn't exactly a Superman staple, and while Swamp Thing has had encounters with the Man of Steel, he more or less screams 75 years of DC! Swampy probably had to be delayed due to storyline reasons, I'm not sure it was known that he came back with the Brightest Day when 75 was released.

Seven Deadly Brothers feels completely out of place (and is another that was better suited for DC75, which just adds to my conspiracy theory that DC75 had a bunch of Skittle Lanterns shoved into it at the expense of a few other figures.

My GenCon Experience: Thursday

Thursday morning came fast and with it the long walk to the convention. Fortunately as insiders we bypassed the legion of gamers lined up to get in we helped set up the Spinmaster tournament area then had a couple hours to walk about and take in the 'Con, enjoying all the colorful costumes and people along the way.

We stumbled into the paint and take where I fell in love with this Hillbilly Goblin model from Wyrd miniatures,

while my wife painted this Mouseling pirate. Both minis and paint were FREE (with con admission).

Captain Frosttail of the Icy Seas...

We then went to work helping run the Stratego events while demoing Stomple at the next table over. Stomple caught on like a super-flu virus, contagious to passers by as the shine of the marbles, and the CLACK sounds they made when falling through the board, drew people in like rubberneckers at a train wreck.

The more people we taught, the more they wanted to show their friends how to play. Because the rules are so simple it got to a point where people I had just taught how to play were explaining it to their friends (and other strangers) and so on.

After the Exhibit hall closed and the last Stratego event ran, I quick changed into my Mouse tee

and we headed over to the Old Spaghetti Factory for the member appreciation dinner, where I finally got to meet and greet many people I have only known through online communication. We sat with a table of gamers from the Boston area and enjoyed dinner and conversation that didn't just revolve around games.

Later in the hotel lobby we had a four player Battle Royal of Epic Proportions - my Mole Man was on the prowl looking for objects to steal, and I managed to snatch up a Scorpio Key, A Black Lantern, and the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak before XLII's X-men thwarted my heist.

Play of the night went to a Juggernaut-empowered Moloid who KO'd Larry's (HCRealms Tyroman) FF Sinestro - no easy feat with Sinestro being on his Invulnerable clicks and Molo-naut having only a 2 damage.


My GenCon Experience: Wednesday

The Best Four Days in Gaming isn't just a hype filled slogan, it's truth. I realize I'm a bit late in posting this, but since this was my first big convention I thought it was worth sharing my experience.

My wife and I arrived in Indianapolis Wednesday night to help the Spinmaster team as demo monkeys, and I got on the floor just in time to see the exhibit hall as it was being set up, with forklifts dumping carpeting and crates everywhere in a flurry of activity.

The Redakai Booth

I made the rounds looking at booths and marking out where I wanted to go the next day, including the Cool Mini or Not area, Reaper booth, and WotC castle.

Reaper Minis

I also stopped by WizKids to geek out over some unrealesed 'Clix previews including the Pathfinder minis, Lord of the Rings sculpts, and Halo clix. My personal highlight - DC Superman sneak peeks including Sensor Girl/Princess Projectra, a split (100/200 point) dial Supergirl, and Silver Banshee.

We picked up our weekend uniforms, tee-shirts featuring classic Stratego icons and then strolled over to restaurant row where we enjoyed some boneless chicken wings.

Heading back to the hotel we found the lobby buzzing with gamers, including HeroClix and I got to chat up Mike and Mike from Calgary, who were both playtesting World Championship teams. I ended up playing a pick up game and had a lot of fun losing. Little did I know the fun was only just beginning.