I started playing Role Playing Games with AD&D 2nd Edition back in 1991, as a scout camp counselor. This isn’t as long as many people I know, although I guess that is over twenty years, using the new math. I learned to chuck dice with friends by firelight, in cabins in the middle of a camp with nothing else to do, and I learned quickly how to calculate THAC0. Moving through the years, I also picked up Magic: The Gathering a few years later, sometime in late 1994 or 1995. By the time I got into that, Revised was a thing and cards like Moxes, the Black Lotus, and Chaos Orb were already stupid expensive, at least for my blood. I’ve played pretty sporadically until about 7 years ago, when I just faded out and stopped playing.
Dungeons & Dragons
It all came down to the dice.
If you played a game of Confrontation at Candlekeep, at the cost of two generic event tickets ($4), then not
only did you get to play a game of D&D Next with complete strangers, but you also got a set of dice. Since almost all of my dice are currently in storage in SoCal, I’m game for a new set on the cheap. On Friday morning, I went ahead and popped into the Delve area with a couple of Generics, and started waiting in in line for the 8AM session, which was already a decent-sized line. While waiting, I was asked to fill out an application for a “DCI” card, something that I still don’t know what it is. Eventually, I was advised to pick a pre-generated character (Dwarven Fighter), and directed to the table. Here, I joined a group that seemed to already know each other, and I set down the warning/apology that I really had no idea what was going on, since most of my knowledge came from AD&D 2nd Edition, and D&D 3rd Edition. Everybody at that table, including the GM, was there to have fun. There was minimal role playing, maximum out of character jokes, and much swearing at my dice that were untrained and unused up to that point, and were behaving poorly.
The adventure was a short, two hour, example of how to play D&D these days. As many people know, the days of hard math are gone. Instead, we have time where we need to roll high, and be consistent, which my dice were NOT. Thank the gawds the GM wasn’t using any critical miss tables, because I probably would have taken out a character at the next table over. However, I only lost one hammer, and actually took out a few skeletons in the battle. However, back to the adventure…
I’m not going to go into detail, because we all know how boring and tedious “My character did…” stories are, but the general idea followed that each group of tables were running at the same time in various points of Candlekeep. These separate adventures culminated with each table taking over a tower, protecting a mage against skeletons, demons, and finally a dragon. Seriously, why does there always have to be a dragon?
Dungeons and Dragons Next seems to have gotten rid of a lot of the hard maths, and is focusing more on the game, and the story. I’ve also heard that a game called Pathfinder is supposed to be good, but with limited funds, I’m probably going to just go with the system I know. Next is wrapping up the public beta, but once it’s over and released, I’m probably going to buy my first new Dungeons and Dragons books in years.
Magic: The Gathering
Sunday was Family Day at Gen Con, and we had a chance to get a free deck of Magic: The Gathering cards so we could learn to play the game. My wife ended up with a Green Deck, the Geekling snaked the Black Deck, and I ended up with a White Deck. I had a chance to pull out and use that DCI card again (What IS that thing?) and my wife and daughter also signed up for the cards. When the judge that was doing the tutorials asked if we had played before, I was honest and told him I had played about 15 years ago, which definitely raised an eyebrow. We talked a bit about things that had changed, and I played a bit and noticed that many things had stayed the same, especially after I played a Serra Angel.
Between the free cards and the atmosphere, Shannon decided that she wants to learn the game a bit more. She had been playing the version available on Xbox Arcade, and we had messed around with some of my old decks back when we first started going out, but other than that, the most experience she has had with it was selling a lot of my older cards on eBay for a good chunk of change. However, by the time we left, we had the three decks from Learning How to Play Magic, along with a pair of 1,000 Card longboxes from the Troll and Toad.Com booth that were supposedly random, yet were full of cards that just were not usable, or with blocks of 25-30 of the same dang card, while at the same time not including a single basic land in all the deck. If that sentence was a bit weird, just understand this: Never again. Not another dime. However, with those, and some older free decks we had received at previous Gen Con’s, we have enough to get started and re-learn what’s going on. From there, we’re going to pick up a “Fat Pack” or two, perhaps a “Deckbuilders Tool Kit,” as well as hook up with friends who are playing, and try to get back into it without spending our food money on boxes of booster packs and starter decks. Since we’re just playing to have fun, I don’t think we have to worry about tournament rules or anything, or if a card is too old to play with. It’s just good fun.
Sometimes, Gen Con isn’t about all the new games. Sometimes, it’s about reminding you how fun things you used to play were, and how they are still fun today.