I am likely the last blogger on the Internet to get their Gen Con recap posted, but a combination of work deadlines, Con Crud, generating some spousal karma, and my regularly scheduled game conspired against me. Overall it was a very good Gen Con, and I had a great time seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and doing some needed shopping. So here is my 2011 Gen Con recap.

The Year of Seconds

This year was marked by repeats of two very special events from last year…

Second Silver ENnie!

For the second year in a row, Gnome Stew was awarded the Silver ENnie for Best Blog (yea!). Once again it was a great honor to have been awarded a Silver ENnie, and we thank all of you who voted.

Martin was not in attendance, so yours truly gave the acceptance speech with backup from Patrick and John. I would like to tell you what I said, but I don’t remember. When I got to the stage and looked down, the stage lights made it so that I could not see much of the crowd. All I saw was Monte Cook and Margaret Weis. To say I was a tad intimidated at that moment was an understatement. I did manage to say something, and my friends in the audience said I did not sound crazy, so that is a plus. To find out what I said, we will have to wait for the streaming broadcast that NEONCON will be posting.  (As of posting, no word when it will be up keep an eye on twitter for details.)

As cool as it was winning the Silver (again), it was equally exciting seeing the guys from Critical Hits win their first ENnie, and a gold to boot. We Gnomes are great friends with the Critical Hits guys and it was great to see them take the stage.

Second Book!

Masks made its debut out on the vendor’s floor, getting top shelf treatment at the Studio 2 booth, with Eureka right underneath. Seeing two books that I have co-authored, and as project manager shepherded from concept to book, is still full of awe. I stopped in mid-stride on the floor when I saw the books on the shelf and went right to them.

A number of people mentioned to me how much they have enjoyed Masks, which feels great. It’s a bit strange hearing that, and still strange being asked to sign books. Up to two years ago (and I still do it today) I was the one asking for signatures.

Bigger Digs

The Dealers Floor was quite nice and while I think it was bigger than the old one, it still felt as crowded walking from vendor to vendor. I take that to be a very good sign in terms of the record breaking attendance. The areas outside of the dealers floor were equally nice, with some places to sit, some tables to game at, and even some food and drink. Having been at Gen Con every year that it has been in Indy, I can say that its grown nicely over the years, without losing the things that make it the Best Four Days In Gaming.

Gnome Time

As in years past, we Gnomes hosted a seminar to discuss Engine Publishing, Gnome Stew, and to hand out GM advice. This year Patrick, John, Walt, and I hosted. We had a great group in attendance. We got some great feedback about things that we can do here at the Stew (e.g writer profiles).

My favorite part of the seminar, was when one participant told us that he was a player thinking of being a GM and asked for our advice on how to get started. We Gnomes gave our advice, and then we opened it up for all the other GM’s in the room to share some advice. If our fledgling GM took 1/10th of the advice given, he will be rocking behind the screen in no time.

Highlight Reel

One of the things I love about Gen Con is the ability to meet the designers of the games I love as well as meet many people I only know from Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. This year was no different, are here are some highlights (forgive me if I did not put you on the list, you still rock):

  • Getting my copy of Burning Wheel Gold signed by Luke Crane as soon as the floor opened. I am hoping that Luke remembered me from playing in his Freemarket game last year.
  • Spending a few minutes talking to Eloy Lasanta, from Third Eye Games. I have become a big fan of TEG over the past few months, and it turns out Eloy and I have a few things in common.
  • At the ENnies cocktail reception, Patrick and I were invited (read: commanded) to attend Sean Patrick Fannon’s Savage Saturday game. Who could say no? The game was awesome. I have never met a GM who can run an 11 person table with new players and be as entertaining as Sean. I tip my hat to you sir.
  • I attended a great Seminar about using Kickstarter which had Daniel Solis, Greg Stoltze, Wolfgang Baur, and Gary M Sarli. Afterwards Patrick and I had a chance to talk to Daniel about Do: Pilgrims of The Flying Temple.
  • Last year, I was unsuccessful in tracking down Monte Cook to sign Eureka.  This year my luck was better, and with Eureka in my bag, I got him to sign. I am sure Monte is totally cool talking with fans, but for some reason, I always turn out to be some kind of drooling fan boy taking to him, and come off far less cool than I really am (seriously).
  • I got to spend some great time on Thursday morning with my good friend, Philippe, the Chatty DM. Philippe and I have been friends since 2008, and it has been great seeing him go from blogger, to ENnie award winning blogger, to freelance game designer.
  • While taking a break and having my 1000th iced coffee, I met Jeremy Southard  from Westex Games who gave me and a few friends a demo of his very cool game Arena of Heroes. AoH is currently in a Kickstarter, and something you should check out.
  • I also got to see a few people I know on twitter including, @sunglar (would have liked a bit of that rum), vjwyatt, and @sponng.
  • Getting to play in Patrick’s Top Secret/SI game, with John Arcadian and Bob Everson (creator of Masks’ Index Four).

A Bag Full Of Goodness

I will not lie, one of my favorite parts of Gen Con is the shopping. I typically save most of my hard cover game purchases until August. This year was no different, and I had a great time walking the floor and shopping. Here is a picture of my haul.

Most of the things in the pile were things I was planning on getting, but one item caught my eye when Patrick was looking at it, and that is the 4×6, multi-panel GM’s screen from Hammerdog Games.

Until Next Year

So that’s it in a whirlwind. It was another incredible year, and I am already looking forward to going next year. Until then its back to work on providing all of you the best GMing advice possible. If you attended Gen Con this year, what were some of your highlights? Or tell us about what what games you picked up? If you did not go to Gen Con, ask me some questions about anything I did not cover.