Unlike most years this one I decided to just drive in every day. The mileage is about 40 and around a 50 minute total commute. (Not counting time to like get a coffee or something like that.)
See the hotel rates are absurd and I have trouble sleeping in a strange bed anyhow. Sleepwise it was SO MUCH BETTER for me this year. Plus no time needed to pack and I could easily stop somewhere on the way or on the way back if I needed anything. Which I did.
Preregistration was yet again a saving grace as the line on Saturday to get into the convention was absurd and deep into the parking garage (a place where finding parking was 25 minutes of irritation Friday afternoon, and dumb luck quick on Saturday). Plus at center registration was absurd this year.
(Click images for larger and forgive formatting. Some pictures are from my camera, others the Ipad. Blogger can be quite vexing sometimes!)
The huge program book. A bit over 130 pages of full color.
Our badge front. Same ok art from the book. Shiny metal for the side text.
Below we can see the back, a thing the staff and volunteers were CONSTANTLY telling people to flip over because as badges on lanyards are wont to do they keeped flipping over.
We see some issues starting here. Stuff in the Hilton hotel a good 20 minutes walk away from the convention center? The Dealer's Room closing at 7pm on a Saturday? Uh oh!
Take a look at the map here. Stop 1 is the convention center. Stop 8 is where the Hilton is. Hartford is a city where even the Dunkin Donuts and CVS stores nearby close at 6pm on a Saturday. Even on a day where there was a fireworks/festival going on.
We can see next year's silly hotel rates plus the preregistration costs. (You could register Sunday afternoon for like a couple hours for 45. But I didn't do that this year.) Even taking gas into account it is cheaper for me to drive in. Unless you did some stuff in the convention center parking costs were the same either way anyhow. (19 a day this year. Though being in the center hotel at least gives you some access to exclusive parking spots. Some. I rarely have ever been able to park at them over the years.)
I was on a budget this year and looking for good stuff and good deals. In the Dealer's Room I didn't exactly have my mind blown. Things like the D&D 5th edition Starter Box for MSRP? Umm who cares? Get it cheaper locally or online. A lot of sellers were basically selling the same stuff I could get for cheaper or the same locally.
But one booth did have a huge half off used table. I could have dropped major coin there.
I only spent around 60 because I am becoming a responsible adult which sucks.
I've been getting into the Savage Worlds generic RPG system lately. Its good and unlike most, CHEAP. Core rulebook in full color is 10. Toolbox setting books also in color for 20 softcover, 25 hardback. I have been needing the Super Powers Companion and half off is GOOD TIMES.
I am a huge fan of Chaos in Warhammer 40,000. FFG's 40K RPG books are idiotically stupidly priced. But half off? Even if it's not a supplement book for my preferred god (Khorne), it was too good a deal to pass up. Sadly they didn't have the Deathwatch core book in the pile, only the Imperial Guard one. Which I don't care about.
(WHERE IS MY ORK OR ELDAR RPG BOOK FFG?)
On the upside, this book does have stats for some of the newer Chaos units, plus some Harlequin and Dark Eldar ones.
Not that I like, would voluntarily run a 40K RPG using the 40K RPG ruleset. I'd probably use Savage Worlds up there. Or Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying.
Two Hordes books I wanted. And Primal Mk2 saves me from having to get the Starter Box for Hordes and then want to play the Circle faction in spite of their lovely models. (And then find someone to buy the other faction.) While I kind of wanted the smaller rulesbook instead half off is good stuff even if a bit of the spine is seriously hurt. (The rest of the books look nearly NEW.)
The Minions book is basically the Hordes equivalent of Mercenaries for Warmachine. While you can normally ignore your faction army book as the rules and stats are on the cards the models come with, for Minions and Mercs it kind of matters so you know who will run with what faction.
(Like the Warmachine Tactics Kickstarter that I foolishly bought the limited version of the Journeyman Merc Warcaster. Only to get him and see he won't run with my Khador. Yeah. And I paid 5 dollars extra for this? The wide release versions are 15 instead of 20 and generally have BETTER SCULPTS. Oh no. We miss out on a silly coin.)
I try to always buy a robot toy or model kit every year. This year for a competitive price I got the Double X from Gundam X. The original 1/144 X kit was one of the earliest Gundam kits (Gunpla) I ever assembled and I really loved the design. This one is like the upgraded version or something.
It should be a nice but not insanely complex kit to assemble. Inspired by Gundam Build Fighters (and totally not the main character's hot mom) I might paint and modify it to make it my own. Plus I haven't seen more than a couple VHS fansubs of X back in the mid 90s so I don't really know or care about being accurate to the anime with it. (And it doesn't look like Bandai will ever bring this one out over here anyway. They keep teasing us with Turn A but no mention of X at all that I have heard of.
Except anime has gotten super creepy nowadays so I don't exactly pay a lot of attention anyhow.
Another thing I was looking for that I found at the con. I care nothing for an idiotic movie. But I adore sharks. And a cutesy shark flying inside of a tornado? I AM NOT MADE OF STONE.
And that was my purchases at the con outside of food and the like. I spent about a hundred bucks. Which is very good for me. Thankfully as I said.. there really wasn't all that much I just had to have.
No "Third Party" Transformers. No Kabaya model kits. Just not a lot of must have stuff.
The Artist Alley folks basically had a very bad year because of this. A lot of foot traffic never even knew where the area was, especially given the empty middle section!
This makes me glad I didn't bring anything for the voice actress of Korra or the actors of Pinky and the Brain to sign. They probably wouldn't have been there long enough to even get anything signed!
(And their panels were nearly impossible to get into and usually conflicted with other events anyhow!)
And speaking of events I had preregistered for some RPGs!
The problem is the registration system was off and on for people before the convention, and half the time even if you were able to get the system to cooperate you might not even be on the sign up list if the computer person was around.
Not to mention half the time tables listed at the signup table or in the convention book were incorrect. People just sort of ran their games anywhere they felt like! I even kind of irritated the Marvel RPG GM as he had been running his games on one table all weekend and I basically got him to move because the game I was in was scheduled for this table. THE GUIDE IS THERE FOR A REASON FOLKS. What happens if you can't find your game or are running late? You don't have time to wander through 30 odd tables trying to find yours.
Some people just didn't care I guess. The same things happened with the CCGs too.
The con really needs to start printing out what event is on what table with a little sign to be placed on the table. It would save so much grief. A good third of any area's game table seemed to just be used for whatever instead of their intended purpose.
(Between this and the Guest Area everything sent to the Hilton probably could have been fit into the center.)
First on the docket was yet another Doctor Who RPG! In this case a pair of adventures using the characters from the Eccleston/Tennant era. I played Martha Jones. Because she is hot. They were fun sessions. I still want to buy a copy of the RPG myself but.. who the hell could I find to play it with?
Nobody. The answer is nobody.
The next RPG run by a poor con volunteer who was already losing her poor voice Friday and mostly entirely lost it Saturday. It was a fan made game based on the Something Awful Goon Unapproved My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. I have a lot of issues with the Brony fan community but I quite enjoy the show. She had gotten a copy of the rules printed up from Lulu, and even had a GM screen plus her fantastically drawn NPCs.
I played a Griffon. I kind of want to get a copy of this book because it is very pretty for a free fan work. The odds of me ever running it or even mentioning to run it are super low but.. its lovely!
My character. I decided his name was Cageybee, from Stalliongrad. I gave him a Russian accent and GOT THINGS DONE. Throw desks! Yell at crazy horsie people! Fight for the Proletariat! I got people laughing quite a bit so he worked out pretty good. It is kind of funny the dumbest character statwise was the smartest in play. He was just blunt and not exactly as crazy as his fearless but silly pony cohorts.
I am also really impressed with the game system. Its fast, elegant, yet simple. I liked it!
I do regret not getting a picture of the GM's amazing facepaint or her character art though.
(On the upside I gave her some horsie buttons the next day and she seemed to like them. And I gave a lot of people horsie face rings from some cupcakes.)
Just a distance picture of the local fireworks and festival going on Saturday. It made walking about a bit difficult. And well.. things kind of happened to folks walking to get a meal or go to the Hilton:
This is the major reason Hartford sucks. It is not a good place and everything closes super early. And the convention wants people to walk a good 20 minutes to go do some events? Or wait even longer for a shuttle that ends at a certain point?
What if you have one event and then another event right after that is at the other one? You simply can't do it! By all reports, the Hilton events were really sparsely attended because of this.
If people could not find the Artist's Alley as it was just past an area that was mostly empty, what makes the con staff think they will go a couple blocks over for them?
Anyhow.. on Saturday I mostly hung out with friends, waited for the infamous Acid Police to show up (Acid did not, meaning this SA poster has now failed to hang out at three consecutive conventions. Meaning I have no guilt about going to Mass. and not playing stupid Japanese music arcade games.), and walked with friends to find anything to eat outside of the center. I think we passed a hooker by the CVS that closed at 6pm though. I was quickly getting a death grip on my Ipad Air case that was akin to something precious to me that is attached to me naturally as opposed to my electronics addiction.
There was a MLP CCG meetup Saturday. As is the con's wont, it wasn't remotely where it was supposed to be, hardly anyone was there, and the advertised promo cards weren't about. Maybe people already grabbed them all or maybe there never were any. But I did trade some of my foils for equal rarity other foils. I still haven't played the game. Or know how it plays. Or am likely to play at all.
The con was finished up with Shadowrun! The fantasy cyberpunk RPG I have wanted to play for years. The game I keep pestering anyone who says they might run it to do so. (And they don't. Which saves me money. I won't buy an RPG any more unless I am actively playing it and KNOW we will be playing it for some time.)
Surprisingly it was a second edition game (they are on 5th ed now), and the GM didn't have his pregens so we just used archetypes and I was able to get mine modified to be a Troll. I played a Street Samurai named Beef. (But the ladies call him "The Big Kielbasa". He enjoys guns, ballroom dancing, and 30-50s cinema. )
Beef was fun to play and I continued to get laughs out of people like the MLP RPG.
While sadly one of our players had to leave early as her sister was already needing to be driven home thanks to being blazing drunk by 10PM I did win one of the two Free RPG Day Castles & Crusades adventure booklets. (And her leaving gave me room to avoid the ahh.. scent of the guy on my right. My second experience ever with "Con Funk" WASH YO ASS PEOPLE!)
Then I drove home.
I thought about coming back Sunday, but I would mostly just be hanging out for an hour or two before doing one more RPG event (Top Secret, an old Spy RPG) and then coming home. As I was already getting post con depression and had things to do at home anyhow and didn't feel like wasting more gas & money I chose to stay home.
The convention wasn't bad but.. it has so much room for improvement yet as I stated above, they keep not improving, giving us their C game and not their A.
Even seeing a Shadowcat in Excalibur era costume I so regret not getting a photo of Saturday wasn't enough to brighten my spirits.
Its not helping I am not getting any younger and the convention really seems to be mostly populated by late teens and early twenties types.
Will I go again next year?
I just don't know right now. If more events are moved to the Hilton I can safely say no.
And this would suck.