Derry at Gen Con Indy 2007

Tuesday: Preparing for Gen Con

I fly out Tuesday night at midnight and arrive Wednesday morning. I like redeye flights since I have no problem sleeping. My preparations of DDM and Dreamblade warbands, notes, and all the other materials I need for both games has been mostly prepped for a couple days. Packing should be pretty quick. As usual, I have extra minis for my warbands, just in case I loose something or if a teammate or friend needs a loaner. The spare warbands and creatures are also for buddies who have to make minor last minute changes.

I packed boosters and prize minis for the Community Draft. I am looking forward to the event this year. It will be my first time to play, since in prior years as head judge I stayed for the late shift to let the other judges play in the community event. I get to play this time since I am not judging at all.

Part of my preparations this year are to make the Team t-shirts again. This year our team name is Team DDG. (2006 it was Team NOST for non-obvious secret tech, a name that was part of our disinformation campaign, and 2005 it was Team Snake Eyes, due to the Couatl Justice Archon warband we ran.) Below is an image of what I ironed-on to some grey t-shirts. Making shirts like this is very inexpensive and quite easy for most anyone to do.

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Team DDG (Derry Doubts Guy or Dragondown Grotto?)

My two teammates this year for Dungeons and Dragons miniatures are Guy Fullerton (guyf) and Jesse James Dean (doubtofbuddha.) I have been teammates with Jesse for a couple years now, but Guy is "new" to our team. Since Guy and I usually judge events and he judges the championship days, he has not been able to play for a couple years, despite being a very good player. Although I am the defending Constructed Champion, there really is no defending it since it would be quite hard for the same person to win twice (Tiger Woods excepted, I guess.) My expectations this year are not too high for DDM because I have had little chance to practice the last few months, due to work committments.

As for Dreamblade, I am still on Team Dreaming Dragons, but sadly the least active member. I have very low expectations for Dreamblade since I have played less than 100 matches lifetime, and less than 30 since January this year.

For those who wonder why be in a team for an individual game, my best explanation is to be challenged more. I find teams help drive me and I help drive them to make the members work harder and smarter than they would alone. Although I am officially on one team only per game, I have associations with many other teams and individuals due to my discussions with people about DDM. One of the few gaming things I have done over the last few months is endlessly discuss minis with other players. Some of this was due to the State of the Metagame articles, some was just because they are fun to talk to.

Well, enough quibbling and crying from me about my poor chances. I am logging out and will be back on with reports Wednesday.

PS, I am still a member of the Kevizoid fanclub (may he destroy everyone but me.)
Wednesday

I travelled all night and got stuck in Detroit for a couple hours due to mechanical problems on the plane. I got checked in to my roach motel (5 miles from the convention center, but really cheap) and got to Gen Con about 1pm local time.

After buying my con badge and tickets for league and the Community Draft (woot!), I met up with Louis Sacha (LCS) and we went to the dealer's room to say hi to the Wizards folks. Few were around and it was hot and sweaty like normal so we got out of there.

Louis and I hung out some and talked about some rules issues. We then met with Shoe, Jason Lioi (Fenris), to go eat at Alcatraz. On the way to eat, we met up with Robert Hatch (dagni), Amy Leute and John Siadak, Patrick Hanberry, and John Fanjoy. Although we were most of Dreaming Dragons, we talked about Dreamblade only a little. We talked mainly about business models of possible directions for Wizards, and alternative ideas for Dreamblade, DDM, and other games they have. Obviously some big announcements will be coming out this Gen Con, but Shoe was too tight lipped to give us a preview.

After lunch, Shoe and I talked some about some behind the scenes activities and ways we hope to improve them, maybe more to follow later as things develop. I then met up with Pat Ellis and crashed the volunteer meeting (mainly for RPGA, but also had the DDM guys there.) After sweating in the hall for a while, Peter Lee, Louis Sacha, I, and some of the DDM judges went to Champions for “dinner”.

I only stayed for a little while since I needed to go practice with Guy Fullerton and work on his grinder warband, strategies, matchups, and first few round movements for a couple key matchups. Kevin Malestrom, Guy, and I then went to eat at a horrid sports bar that turned into a screeching karaoke auditory assault. Jason Lioi and Jamie (Ack) met us there and we all hung out for a while.

After a little more practice with Guy, I headed back to my hotel to type up this brief report. It is 1:30am now and I need to get some rest, so more from me tomorrow.
Thursday

Thursday was grinder day for DDM. The big goal for Jesse and I was to keep Guy ready to get qualified for the DDM Constructed Championship on Friday. We met Guy a couple hours early for breakfast burritos. We ate in Sagamore ballroom, the site of the Grinder and spent a lot of time meeting our friends in the DDM community. Kevin Tatroe showed off his awesome new maps he has to support his community site: hordelings.com, check it out.

After spending a couple hours chatting with everyone, I headed to the Dealer’s room to check out the goodies. I talked with Andy Collins at the Wizards booth (he is now Stephen Shubert’s boss and a big name at Wizards now.) I am very happy with this development since I have been very impressed with him and I see this as a great development for not just Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures and D&D, but for all the projects Wizards R&D is working on.

I wandered around the Dealer’s hall for a couple hours. I picked up a few minis, including 4 Cormyrean War Wizard repaints (for disinformation purposes since I planned to flash them during warband registration for the Championship on Friday morning.) I took a peek at Wizards online gaming booth for only a short bit, but I will try to return later.

I next met Jesse Dean, my teammate to talk about and practice warbands we were considering and finalize on the warband we planned to play. Our choices were narrowed down to three choices, all secret and never discussed with those outside our team. Since this report is written a day late, I can reveal that the warbands were triple Shadow Dragon with Tiefling Blademaster and 8 activations, Storm Silverhand and 4 Cormyrean War Wizards with 11 activations, or Human Blackguard (HBG) and 2 Noble Salamanders
(NSal) with 11 activations. My goal was to extol the virtues of the HGB/NSal warband, but to determine whether it is really the best warband for the matches we expected to face with the skill we currently have (with is not our highest.)

We took a break so we could go see the big announcement from Wizards about what seemed to be something about D&D 4th edition (at least that was the rumors.) Others have covered in more detail about what was revealed, but I was impressed that the announcement was handled quite smoothly. Major changes to something people love and have a lot invested in are hard to create excitement instead of trepidation. My feeling and the buzz of the audience was that they were excited about the news and felt Wizards is on the right track with these developments.

After the big announcements, I had dinner with some friends and then went to meet Jesse again to close on our plans for the Championship. We reached an agreement to play the HGB/NSal warband later Thursday evening (about midnight after a practice match.)

I got home late and the hotel wireless did not work and I did not get to put out the report for the day.
Friday

Friday is the big day at Gen Con Indy for me since it is Championship day and as the defending champion, I am supposed to “defend” the title. I have no illusions that I would sweep through the competition, although I was quite confident in the warband choice and how it allowed the minor mistakes we were bound to make. Guy did not qualify during the Grinder, so we did not get him up to speed on how to run the warband.

The pre-tournament intel and misinformation efforts of the competitors seemed pretty casual this year. I don’t think our warband got revealed prior to the tournament start. The tournament got split into two flights (think two separate tournaments.) The value of keeping the warband under wraps is to limit the time for people to make plans and explore ways to approach the warband. This year the casualness, the larger teams, and maybe Jesse and my desires to know allowed us to find out about two thirds of the warbands that would compete. This knowledge is not super useful, but initially seemed to vindicate that we did not overlook anything big.

I may write a more complete report later, but the short review is that I ended up going 3-3 and dropping. Jesse was in the second flight that started an hour later and also did not end up getting in the top 4 for his pod. While we may have had a great warband for the day, we did not make the cut. After each match Jesse identified a number of minor errors he made. I identified fewer (but I may have made just as many.) At least I took notes, so I can analyze things more later. Unusual luck may have impacted Jesse’s matches and I felt they impacted mine, my goal is to focus on what I can fix, not on elements I cannot fix.

In the past I have not always taken such big losses that well, I had low expectations this time due to lack of practice and maybe my earlier growth opportunities (losses) did result in mine. This is the worst I have done at any championship, so I guess my expectations were not really this low. Regardless, I did not obsess too much about my wins and losses. Since I dropped the last round, I got a chance to grab dinner with Rob Heinsoo, Guy Fullerton, Kevin Malestrom, Rich Bark, and a school buddy of Rob’s. After dinner the top 8 map was out. The map was called Evermelt (I think) and had limited LOS on most of the map.

I have to get up early for the Dreamblade 50K Championship tomorrow. I guess I am a little more invested in this tournament, especially since it is time for me to get some hot luck. More tomorrow.
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