Gen Con 2002: Friday

Reported by Neal Sofge

Well, I probably shouldn't have done those shots at the Safe House last night. On the other hand, I'm not really that hung over -- I'm reserving the really spectacular excesses for tomorrow night.

We stop at the email kiosks (donated by Microsoft, of all things) to let Robert to post a quick message on the Chimera list explaining why we won't be doing realtime reporting this year. Then off we go to game journalist heaven, the...

Exhibit Hall

This year we've got a specific mission in mind: comb the hall for new stuff from smaller outfits that might get overlooked by less-specialized game industry periodicals.

But the first game we try is from a competitor, and is a way to do something useful with excess CCG cards.

You can play Scrye Magazine's Scrye-ing Game too:

In our case, Tatyanna kicked Neal's butt, which meant that as a penalty he had to keep all the cards. Nuts!

The usual amazingly cool Armorcast table.

From Zeno Games comes Virus Alert ($15), a game of distributing computer viruses. It's very fast playing and sort of goofy with each player defending their files (games, web sites, documents) from virus chits generated by opponents' attack cards. The play sequence is simple, draw a card and play a card; cards are files, viruses, antivirus programs, software piracy, etc. The first player to get 10 undamaged files in play wins, but virus chits temporarily deactivate resources, a clever mechanic that keeps the strategy interesting.

Here we have an enthusiastic fan of the newly D20-ized The End, an RPG of the apocalypse from Tyranny Games (makers of Sack Armies). This edition is a very nice-looking digest-sized book, with all of the information from the first edition plus D20 notes and some additional material.

Here we have a miniature and matching card for a combatant in the Magical Arena from newcomer Jesere Games. It's a sort of modular hex-based battle game; the basic box has a board, cards & four wizard figures. The other cards in the set have figures associated with them (sold separately, along with foamcore terrain bits to expand the arena). Expansion books tell more about the world, give more detailed combat rules, cover different battle scales, and handle campaigns. There's some very involved background notes along the way, too.

Francis Larose of Canadian company Steamlogic holds up Mechanical Dream, a self-described "Industrial Fantasy Role Playing Game." Looks very cool, but this seems to be the Year of Steampunk, and the fighting for market share will be fierce.

One thing you can't see from the photo is that both of these books are actually the same product. It's got two covers, and the insides are half one way and half the other (like an old Ace Double, for those of you as old as we are).


Jeff Hexter, Neal Sofge and Robert Posada await the start of the Cyberpunk event.

At 14:00 we give up on the Exhibit Hall and head off to play Cyberpunk with da boyz.

I don't want to give away the plot in case ex-Talsorian staffer Benjamin does it again next year; suffice it to say that he runs an exciting Deep Space adventure. Any Cyberpunk game that ends with the remaining characters on a drifting orbital transfer vehicle, with no fuel, a busted radio, and only the air in their suits, can't be all bad.


After dinner, and a game of Lifeboat, we wandered the floor and ran across Cardhalla, "Where dead cards go to be reborn as beautiful structures."

And beautiful they are, or at least big.

The best part of this is that it appears to have arisen spontaneously. There's no mention of it in the program book, no Internet hype or full-page CGI ads. Just gamers coming up with something cool out of thin air.

And with that, we call it quits for the day.