It may be a little early to be writing this review - it's only Friday night, and the show still has two days left. In fact, I'm virtually certain that by writing this before I have a chance to see the Saturday afternoon parading freak show, I'll miss something. But I've seen most of the event hall, and I've seen more of many women than I ever hope to do again, and since I plan to be too drunk to type tomorrow night, you'll have to settle for a review of GenCon 08 at the halfway mark.
If you've never been to GenCon, it's difficult to put into terms that make sense. See, if I tell you that there are a lot of weird people, you can't actually fathom exactly how weird these people really are. For instance, today I saw a dude get fitted for a corset... as part of his Sailor Moon costume. And that's not even the weirdest thing I've seen since Thursday morning. Since the guy was reasonably clean, it's definitely not the weirdest thing I've smelled.
Speaking of odor, there's nothing that can prepare the GenCon virgin for the foul stench perpetrated by the unwashed masses (and that's not a euphism or catch phrase - there are literally masses of unwashed people). Some of these people avoid water and soap like it would wash all the mojo off their favorite dice. The wafting odor of ass and armpit is enough to make you wish you had skipped breakfast. It's a little like the smell you might find inside the tent of an Arab camel salesman who hasn't scrubbed his pits since the last sandstorm. We were hoping to sell out, so we could just stand by the booth and hand out little bottles of hotel shampoo.
The source of the stink is not always easy to identify - if three guys in a crowd of five smell like they sleep in a filthy gym sock, how do you know which one to dowse in Febreeze? - but it's not hard to see the cause. These people run around like crazy when they want something. The Game Nerd Shuffle is my favorite instance of this madness. As soon as the doors open, these hundreds of people who have been sitting on the carpet outside the convention hall for the last 45 minutes rush madly to get to the front of the line to pick up whatever obsession drove them to attend and made all sense of hygiene a secondary priority. But the security guards will tell them not to run (these game nerds have less sense than a hallway full of seventh-graders), so they walk really fast, head tucked down and arms swinging like pendulums as they do the nerd power walk to get ahead of all the other power-walking nerds. All that fast movement combines with an average body fat ratio of 87% to create sweat stains that drip all the way to the ass crack, and release armpit stench that could kill small forest animals.
And it's not just the boys that are socially inept. The most fascinating thing to see at a show like this is the gamer nerd chick, especially if she's in a costume. Now, in all fairness, there are several girl nerds at these shows who wear costumes that make most grown men have to adjust their pants, but unfortunately, those hot nerd betties are the exception, not the rule. Far more likely is the 55-year-old woman dressed as a fairy princess, whose top does not come far enough down, leaving a fold of stretch-marked flab drooping over the over-tightened belt of the gauzy skirt that is far too short, allowing the luckless onlooker to realize that Grandma Fairypants is wearing age-appropriate undergarments. If that ridiculously attractive vampire girl in the leather chaps would just replace all the 450-pound women who think they look good in a corset (you don't, incidentally. You look like a muffin), the show would be so much easier on the eyes. But then, it would also be a lot less hilarious.
I know what you're thinking, though - "I didn't come here to read about goofy people! Tell me about the games!" Well, if you thought I would miss an opportunity this good to make fun of people who are so far outside the social norm that you wonder how they hold down jobs, then you must be new here. Welcome to the site. Oh, by the way, I mock people.
There are a few big games, some surprises, some disappointments, and some people selling wooden sticks wrapped in foam padding and duct tape. The Monsterpocalypse debut was huge. Mayfair ran yet another Catan event, to the utter surprise of anyone who has been to any of the the Catan events that have happened in the last ten years. Wizards had no Heroscape display, but there were still plenty of Scaping tourneys. I talked with lots of game companies, so I should be able to review all kinds of new stuff over the next few months.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to review the best game that was at GenCon, because it doesn't exist yet. Well, technically, it does, but you can't buy it, because it was a prototype of a game that I was lucky enough to play last night, a game called Summoner Wars. I play hundreds of games a year, and Summoner Wars was the best game I've played in a very long time. I'm hoping Wizards will buy the game and produce it, because I would buy every single thing anyone ever made for it.
I'll close out this review with an idea I got from a reader, and throw it out there for your consideration. My no-nonsense approach to game reviewing (such as calling Mutant Chronicles a crossdresser, calling Seismic ugly and boring, or saying that a better name for Change Horses would be Change Games) is starting to make it hard to get review copies. For some odd reason, after you tell a publisher that their games are crossdressing homosexuals, they don't want to give you things. So I'm looking for feedback right now - if I had a PayPal button that let you request specific game reviews for a few bucks, would you use it? It would give you the chance to fly your own personal finger at the game companies who give you turds and tell you they're candy bars, and make your desire for honest reviews known. But then, it might also go right to my head and make me act like a prima donna rockstar, so give me some feedback here and we'll figure something out.