Monday, April 25, 2016

Mepacon Spring 2016 After Action Report

Let me just first say that it's was a loooong time since I game three days at a weekend convention, was being the important word.

Mepacon Spring 2016 (Mepacon 30 for those keeping score at home) is in the books and it was largely a fantastic success.  I almost don't mind that I missed out on Cold Wars this year.

Last year was a double bust for me going to either Mepacon.  I think November was my kid's musical, and April was something traumatic to make me cancel my Gnomish Space Marine playtest. Regardless, this year was semi-healthy relatives, a clear work schedule for my wife, and a few dollars in the bank, so I anticipated an expanded schedule:  Show up Friday for "grown-up" games and take my daughter, Maja on Saturday for kid-level family stuff.

Of course, the troglodytes of evil were working to foil the weekend.  Ted Cruz was making an appearance in Scranton Friday afternoon, right around the corner from the con.

There was no interruption in festivities.  He had a few more attendees for a speech than we had for a con, but it was a non-factor.

This is the first time I was at the con at its new location at the Scranton Hilton, and I must say, I recommend it highly.  The parking garage is a little claustrophobic, on top of not being directly connected to the hotel, but for validated parking each day, they're problems I can tolerate. 

Regardless of those nit-picks, the hotel staff was phenomenal, the space roomy, and the chairs relatively comfy. 

 I spent the early afternoon session strolling around the games and the dealers hall.  My friend Gerry ("Beret Guy" for friends who attended Lehicon back in the day) actually had a table selling old D&D, old Metal Magic figures, and surprisingly, Skirmish Sangin books and minis.  I caught up with a few friends, filled up on Dunwich Detective minis, and then headed over to the amphitheatre for the all-you-can-eat pasta dinner.  A few had their feathers ruffled when the dinner, which had been free the last two cons, now had a $9.00 charge.  For nine bucks, I got my fill of Alfredo for the next year and will be happy to pay for it in November, if everything remains the same. 
Steampunk Cake
Friday night I was the winning GM of the "Nobody Sign Up for My Game" No-Prize, which means the two other GMs with no players jumped into my Spirit of '77 event, "Cruise Ship of the Damned".   While only two players sped the timeframe of the game up, it was tremendous fun, as Colonel Roscoe and stuntman Darryl "Big Duke" Dutchman (and his sidekick Gearbox) fought through hordes of zombified crew and passengers.   A few changes to the plot on my part, plus an impromptu proposal in the first few minutes added some more drama to the building tension.  Alas, between naval bombardment and a well-placed stash of C-4 the bartender had (?) the SS Tangerine is no more... and possibly our heroes.

Saturday, Maja and I got a late start, still getting a solid breakfast before getting to the con just in time. 

Maja's morning consisted of the Kid's Coloring Contest (she is a two-time champion, after all), followed by a flurry of kid/family games.  Everything from Dungeon Roll to Pictureueka to Don't Break the Ice and a few more.   There were a few tenuous moments, but I barely pulled out a win in Don't Break the Ice. 
Maja at the Kid's Game Corner
Afterward, we went out to the car and got everything for my Gnome Wars Treasure Hunt game.  Alas, I had solid competition for both the wargaming demographic (a solid Kings of War demo) and the kids (the kid's pirate LARP), so despite Maja wanted to play just against Daddy, I sent her across the floor to the Kid's LARP. 

I cleaned up my game, traversed the dealer hall again, and ki-bitzed with some people until checking back with Maja.   She had a fun time, as the kid's LARP was a lot of puzzles (physical and mental), crafts, and for some reason, using plastic spoons to fling Peeps into a castle. 

Plus I can play the proud Papa Card (#1) with all the compliment I got from numerous people on how polite and well-behaved she was during the LARP, especially after she got released from the LARP, couldn't find me at the minis table (I was thirty foot around the corner and she was early), and immediately went to Registration to help them find her.  A harrowing 90 seconds later and all was well.

I won't let her drive, and I'll keep her away from white vans with candy, but at a con I know I can trust her to do her thing.

In the afternoon, both an adult LARP occurred, plus a visit by the local SCA chapter added to the festivities.   We decided to grab lunch at Pizza by Pappas which was tasty, affordable, and according to Maja, had "everything a kid would want in a pizza shop".

The theme for the con was Steampunk, so there were plenty of cogs, gears, extra monocles, and corsets running around, but very few games. 

A fashionable Steampunk couple, complete with auction bidder cards and dice!
The rest of the afternoon was a walk around Downtown Scranton (I had just been here the week before for jury duty, so I had a base familiarity) reading all the statues and banners, and getting cornered into discussions on labor unions and child abuse because of it (I think I did okay). 

Back at the con we played a few more games and let Maja peruse the dealer's hall.  Despite a shopping list of "maybe" items, she was interested in Magic cards (which I put the kibosh on), a pillow from LemonLime crafts, and a Totoro "bunny" ornament from Lemonlime for Millie. 

Main gaming room, Brendan LaSalle of X-Crawl and Goodman Games fame is in the purple shirt.
As we sat to get ready for the raffle, Maja befriended the gentlemen at Brendan LaSalle's table, selling Goodman Games.  Proud Papa moment #2:  She was so friendly and polite and ask good questions that the fellow gave her a bunch of Goodman Games/Dungeon Crawl Classics freebies, including a bookmark (with character sheet printed on it) and a DCC folder that she took to school today for her classwork.   She reacted to his generosity with excitement and gratitude that knows my wife and I are raising her right.


I would have said that before Saturday, just not in all caps.

The Cupcake Ladies
We bombed at the raffle, but we can announce (Proud Papa Moment #3) that Maja won the Kid's Division of the miniatures painting contest with her Chupacabra.  Her prize, a fifteen dollar gift certificate for The Portal went right to the TMNT Mouser Mayhem set for Heroclix.
The Saturday night game's auction was a good mix of good and bad, cheap and expensive.  In the spirit of my buddy Brian, who refuses to bid over $3 on anything, but couldn't make it to the con this weekend, I grabbed four different Rifts books for $2 total.  With the Savage Rifts Kickstarter slowing coming to fruition, I'm excited for more source material.  I had also snagged up a copy of Diplomacy at the buyout price of $10 before the auction began, so I was happy with my winnings.
King's of War
Sunday was initially a disastrous mistake turned good.  I had accidentally scheduled by Kobolds Must Be Eaten Game for Sunday morning instead of Saturday morning, and never emailed to change it.   Then my wife told me to go on Sunday morning, while she got a pedicure, and it sounded like a fair trade-off.  Still, on Saturday, I  thought I might try to just not show up and sleep in, but I discovered my game was full.   
I got in early, made up some pre-gens and discovered that the my table was full of experience KAMB players... with books.  We rolled up Kobolds at the table and got three and a half non-stop hours of carnage!   Still being a general novice at the system, I had some worries that people would try to take advantage of my benolvence, until a cow landed on and killed a kobold for simply asking a question, while the party was still effectively "outside the front door" of the dungeon. 
Needless to say, "Kobolds Goez to Kollage" was a success, with:
Casualites:  four kobolds, five hippies, two campus police officers, four Vente Caramel Crunch Frappuccino with three shots of espresso each,  one co-ed (on screen),  and countless other childhood development major co-eds. 
Damages:  A cop car set ablaze, an exploded blue light emergency station, a quarter of the quad set ablaze, and untold damage to the childhood development department.

Plunder:  Three babies, an empty shotgun, an Italian sub, and an iPhone Six.  Who knew Siri could translate Kobold?  Is she a new Kobold Goddess???

Mepacon Review:
Registration:  A bugbear at the historical miniatures cons, my pre-reg took fifteen seconds, if that.    The on-site costs are a little steep, when compared to other cons, but when compared to another set of cons (large and small) that require event tickets, it's an affordable affair to attend.
Games:  The fact that organized play has splintered into three groups (Pathfinder Society, D&D Adventurers Guild and Greyhawk Reborn) would have me worried, if only the rooms weren't constantly filled.   There were plenty of D&D/5E/OSR games, enough Cthulhu games to make Lovecraft giddy, miniatures games of varying sizes, and plenty of board/card games. 

Dealers:  A year away has added just the right variety in dealers.  The addition of the gourmet cupcake vendor and LemonLime Crafts covering geeky accessories expanded the things from the days of the vendor hall constituting three vendors and a wall of overpriced board games.   I spent over my budget (food included) and could have easily tripled it
Swag:  Besides Maja's TMNT game, pillow, DCC stuff,  and Totoro ornament, I got the four Rifts books,  a copy of Diplomacy, ten of the Metal Magic Dunwich Detective figures, a pack of Reaper goblins, a new con t-shirt, and two older t-shirts for Maja and Millie to wear.   I could have been worse but a starving, growing girl ate away.

The next Mepacon is November 11-13, 2016, again at the Scranton Hilton.  The con's theme will be post-apocalyptic dystopia (great for kids!).  Check out in the future for more details.

The next spring Mepacon is March 24-26 (A week after Cold Wars, eek!), but I may have been bribed by the proposed theme, which is in my demographic.  More details as they come.
One Proud Papa (x a million) and one awesome little girl

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