It has been a while since I last logged in and wrote so without further ado I shall recount as best I can my trip to St. Louis for Fear the Con 6.
Learning from my trip last year about getting in early I decided to fly out on Wednesday so I had all of Thursday for some local sight-seeing and World Wide Wing Night, the meet and greet of all the people in town for the con at this time for some beer and wings. Friday and Saturday were the official game days and I will describe those in more detail later on.
I decided not to stay at the Drury Inn where a block of rooms were reserved for Con attendees as I could not find a person to share a room with and $110/night was a little steep for just sleeping quarters so I stayed at an Extended Stays Inn for around $35-$40 night. The studio was cozy. It had a full kitchen, bed and bathroom, all the comforts I would need for the nest several days.
Wednesday when I got in I didn’t go out anywhere other than to grab some provisions for the night. Chips, salsa, beer…you know, the essentials – to tide me over until the next day. I finished off the night by watching a little bit of a show called Hemlock Grove (a Netflix original series) that by the end of it I was TRULY disappointed. If you want to lose 13 x 45 minutes of your life, watch this series. I will talk about the in another posting.
Thursday I got up and headed out for the breakfast that my hotel provided which was unfortunately not very good. They called it a grab-n-go breakfast. Which means if it can be eaten on the go they had it. Fruit and granola bars were in abundance along with coffee and hot chocolate – the usual suspects. Finally they had oatmeal from a package and no bowls which meant you either grabbed a pack and took back to your room to consume or you emptied the pack into a coffee cup and managed that way. I went with option 2.
After consuming my meal I headed out to the Drury Inn to meet up with Ruben to see if there were going to be any exciting trips planned for the people who were here early. Something about a museum came up but Ruben and I had already talked about going to brewery. The adage, “Where there is smoke – there is fire”, holds true in many circumstances like…”Where there are breweries, there is beer.” And what is better than beer?” FREE beer! Our choice made we headed out.
We decided to go to Anheuser-Busch for our sight-seeing activity. Let me start off by saying that this facility is MASSIVE. 142 acres massive. I come from a town with many micro breweries and when you see them you say things like “oh, how cute” or “wow, nice facility, how many hundreds or thousands of gallons does this operation handle?” With AB, you can only measure things in millions – half a million bottles per day of any given beer is produced – which by the way gets consumed in about 18 hours. Something crazy like that is what they (tour guides) were quoted as saying.
Worth mentioning is the beautiful Clydesdales that they have, mostly for show during parades and special events. AB has the largest herd in North America at 200 pure-bred animals, 50 of which are kept at the St. Louis facility.
We wondered and toured for just over an hour getting to see the facility which has stood for more than 100 years. We were told stories of the special architecture that was incorporated into the buildings, such as the fox named Reynard (I believe) who sits on some corners of the structure eating chicken legs and drinking a beer. There were also a couple of elephants that sat atop some of the gates. For their purpose I have forgotten.
We saw a 600 lbs. chandelier that was built for the 1940 Worlds Fair. There is a mate to it in another city I forget. You could see where the new and old architecture came together in the more ornate and detailed railings and columns .vs plain white tiles of the new where areas had been reworked or sectioned off from its original state.
We tried one of the new brews for AB called Black Crown which was decent. I am not a snob but I like a little more bite to my brew is all.
Afterwards we decided to grab a bite to eat and ask one of our tour guides where we could sink our teeth into some nice BBQ and were directed to Bogarts Smoke House. Ruben and I had different meals but shared the overarching deliciousness that imbued each one. As we entered we were greeted by a gentleman who we later decided was the chef. He shook our hands and later comps us a rib of beef that literally was falling off the bone. It was SO good.
Finally we headed back to my room where we had a beer and sat down to play some Magic the Gathering for a couple of hours before we headed out for the World Wide Wing night.
The Wings were being served at the Con venue as opposed to the restaurant we had them at last year and where I believe the Con originally started at 6 years ago.
Things were pretty good until it was discovered that the amount of wings needed was sorely underestimated and we were out before half the people had any. Another 30 minutes later more wings were brought in and we were finally able to eat but were limited in our consumption of them. I had six in total. One thing to know about me is that I LOVE wings and to be told there were no more made me cry a little on the inside just a little bit.
Mikey got up, played his guitar and sang some of his songs which are well put together and funny. Many people spoke about how awesome the next 2-days would be and we mingled.
Another tradition is that those of us interested in cigars could buy one off a local and smoke and chat. I did this and realized I am a terrible smoker. I don’t smoke at all normally but I like the smell and since you don’t inhale I thought the impact to my personal health would be very minimal. I didn’t know when to puff or how I should blow out and when I did because of the wind I got it in people’s faces…the list goes on why I have given up my cigar smoking days.
Finally an after party-party was being formed to be held back at the Drury Inn where I joined in a game of Cards Against Humanity. If you know about Apples to Apples then you have the mechanics down for this game. The difference is this game has the most horrible sayings on the cards that you could possibly imagine. I loved it! After I had played for about an hour I excused myself and went back home and watched some more Hemlock Grove and quickly fell asleep.
Friday morning I went to the Drury Inn so I could have a real breakfast. Fortunately you can purchase their all you can eat buffet style breaky. I had waffles, O.J., coffee, sausage and good company. I grabbed Ruben and we made our way over to what would be our home away from home for the next 48 hours. Armed with GPS on my smart phone we made it without incident.
Ruben had put together an adventure or a series of adventures rather that played off one another in slots 1, 2 and 3. The first was low-level, the second was mid-level and the third was hight(er)-level. Let me inject at this point that there are three slots per day 1-6. Each slot runs about 3.5 hours long with a 30 minute break in between. Ruben’s games were fantasy using the Savage Worlds system. The system is ok but does have its drawbacks; one of which was discussed on WWW Night and I discovered first hand Friday morning. For those of you who know this system understand the mechanic shaken. You will also understand how crappy and utterly useless you are when you do not un-shake. You get to do nothing – nada – zip – ziltch. Now, if on the other hand you have a bennie (this is a small bundle of cosmic power that allows you the chance to alter your current circumstance by rolling an additional die. You can use it to automatically un-shake and act. However it is recommended that you always have a bennie to soak wounds which can be lethal as the dice mechanic – exploding happens every time your die rolls its top number. If it does that, you get to roll it again and add the numbers. You get to keep rolling if you roll the highest number on the die…I rolled a 32 on a d6 over the con weekend which I have to say is pretty friggen’ awesome…but I digress. You are given a set amount of bennies
at the beginning of the scene and are awarded them throughout the session given certain circumstances i.e. heroic deeds, selfless acts, playing a character to the “9’s” etc…but can be gone through very quickly, like when you dice take a giant dump all over the place and taint the rest of your dice who then in turn also leave hot steaming piles of fail all over the place when you go to switch them out. Stupid dice!
So to be clear – I am not a big of the shaken mechanic. Sometimes, if you are shaken, you get to do nothing which happened to me 2 or 3 times in a row. How crummy to be playing and getting to do nothing. It sort of starts a downward spiral. You have no bennies to un-shake so you don’t get to act so when the bad guys who aren’t dead because you couldn’t act and kill them get to put you in the hurt locker and since you have no bennies to soak wounds you fall closer and closer to death soaking up additional party resources trying to save you as opposed to killing the bad guys. Deep breath. Breath!
We had a full group of players for the 1st slot but then no one else had signed up for his second or third slot and almost all other slots were filled up or weren’t of interest to us so we ended up playing some MtG for about an hour and then I went home to watch more of the horrible series Hemlock Grove.
Saturday arrived and I was full of optimism; I had made it into the MtG draft in slot 1. If you aren’t aware of the draft mechanic or play style here you go. You start with “x” amount of boosters, we started with three. You open the first one, pick one card from it and pass it to you left. Everyone does this. We had eight people. You keep passing the cards until there are no more cards left from the pack. You do the same with the seconds and third packs alternating the direction you pass. Once you have all you cards you get to make a deck at least 40 cards in size including land. Everyone is randomly paired with one of the other eight people and the games begin.
Between each game you can swap cards in and out of your deck to tailor it more to your opponent. You play best out of three games. There are three rounds and based on how you did in the previous rounds determines who you play in the next round meaning the people with the best records will play off against each other for the second and third rounds. Once the three rounds have ended winners are determined and product (booster pack(s)) is handed out based on overall ranking. I went 1-2, 0-2, 2-0 and took 1 pack. I am not sure how Ruben’s three sessions went but know he did take 2 packs. Go Ruben!
The second slot was another game using the Savage Worlds system called XCOM. It is set in a contemporary setting in an urban setting where aliens have landed and taken over small sections of a city e.g. Taco Bell, library or neighborhood.
The idea is that we are a team of four (I believe only four) military bad-asses set loose to clean up the bad guys. We had in our team a grenade launcher, sniper, medic and saw gun (me). We started out as extras, extras get to act normally but don’t get to use what’s called the wild die. Wild dice are the extra little bit of goodness that make us the heroes, the edge if you will. It is typically a d6 that we get to roll in addition to whatever else we are rolling for success on any given task.
In scenario one we are in a neighborhood that has had all human life evacuated from it so all there is left for us to do is mop-up the aliens which we do with ridiculous ease. Our game master originally had eight people slotted but four dropped out so he reduced the number of bad guys by half so it was a four-on-four fight. Not much of a fight really. We were destroying them pretty easily with 1 shot plus our armor gave us a toughness between 12 and 18. I was easily at 18. Not much getting through that.
Scenario 2 was Taco Bell. Same as the first scenario – kill the bad guys. This time we had a d4 Wild die. Same result as the 1st scenario – death almost immediately.
Scenario 3 was a library where we had to rescue the civilians and kill the bad guys. After the success of scenario 2 we were awarded better armor. Up goes our toughness even more. Cake walk again.
At this point we have played for maybe 30 minutes of our 210 minutes allotted and our game master was done with material. He said he would take a break to smoke and come back with 1 epic battle. fortunately Ruben had a big blank map he used to draw a big neighborhood scene on with street lamps, cars and such on as or game master had no more maps for us.
For this scenario it was like scenes 1 and 2, kill all the bad guys. There were crystalline aliens and shooters and a flying saucer that didn’t stand a chance. This was funny – our grenade launcher guy said he was gonna roll his notice check by blowing up one of the building with a grenade. We all laughed and he got a benie for it.
So…with almsot 2 hours left in this slot and nothing booked in slot 6, although I had signed up as an alternate for 2 games, I decided to head back to my hotel and pack for my 8am flight out Sunday morning.
More Hemlock Grove (don’t watch it unless you feel like feeling dumb for having watched it afterwards), packing and off to bed.
I would say if I plan on going next year, if they put it on, as it turns out Chad said they were thinking maybe 5 Cons were enough but so many people wanted it that they put it on, I will have to sign up early for my events so I get what I want and not play and Savage Worlds games. Not a fan.
My overall experience was lessened because of the wing debacle which left me feeling not so good after it was all over and done with…and that was even before the actual 2 (almost) days of play. Also to be considered is the cost – $50 ticket, hotel at $40/night x 4 = $160, car rental 4 days = $181, gas for car = $12, airfare = $227 plus cash money of $150 = $779 for 6 wings, about 8 pints of beer, and 8 hours of game play. I also took 3 days off work. I think I may have to rethink my decision to go next year.
Things to consider for going again are that another friend of mine who could not make the trip this year wants to badly go as Ruben and I have talked it up so much. Also I wanted to run a game next year – maybe 2, then at least I may actually get to play some games.
We shall see what this next year brings.
More to come…