Serious Vintage Episode 30: GenCon 2016 Magic, Gaming, Eating, and Drinking

For episode 30, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Josh Chapple (@joshchapple) talk about Gen Con, an annual gaming convention with 64,000 attendees and the erstwhile home of the Vintage and Legacy Championships.

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
00:24 – On Feet and False Starts
01:55 – Gen Con Magicking
24:38 – Gen Con Gaming
53:59 – Gen Con Eating and Drinking
Total runtime – 1:08:03

Magical Fun Times at GenCon

With Wizards of the Coast ramping up its presence at PAX and making its Grands Prix larger, more elaborate affairs, Magic: The Gathering at GenCon has taken a back seat to the rest of the conference. Magic events are run by Pastimes, and were smaller overall affairs this year. We played in one Vintage event with 28 players and had a good time, but it’s a far cry from previous years’ events with Vintage and Legacy Champs, and even Worlds.

Many of the players at the Vintage events of GenCon are regulars, coming every year. There’s also a healthy group of new players who may just be getting into the format. Nat tells about playing against a newer player who was using Delver of Secrets with Kiln Fiend and Reckless Charge!

Josh did the best of us, playing BUG Control:

BUG Control, by Josh Chapple, GenCon 2016 Friday Vintage

Business (38)
Force of Will
Mental Misstep
Cabal Therapy
Null Rod
Abrupt Decay
Crucible of Worlds
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Painful Truths
Dig Through Time
Treasure Cruise
Demonic Tutor
Deathrite Shaman
Snapcaster Mage
Baleful Strix
Trygon Predator
Gurmag Angler

Mana Sources (22)
Black Lotus
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Sapphire
Verdant Catacombs
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Strip Mine
Sideboard (15)
Grafdigger's Cage
Nature's Claim
Engineered Explosives
Virulent Plague
Dread of Night
Tormod's Crypt
Ravenous Trap
Maelstrom Pulse
Murderous Cut
Null Rod

From all experiences with the deck, you play some bad cards and then, just when you’re about to lose, you find one that just crushes your opponent.

On Saturday, we played Vintage Artist Constructed, hosted by Josh Krause. The rules for this format are simply Vintage, with the additional restriction that all of your cards need to be illustrated by one artist. It’s a lot of fun, and I would anticipate an event at Eternal Weekend this year.

You can see how much fun I was having here (playing against Sam):

But seriously, the format has a surprising amount of life. There are several varied decks and options for people to play, and you can have as much fun or be as competitive as you want, just like regular Vintage.

Gaming Highlights from GenCon

The main reason for going to GenCon (besides the friendship of course!) is for the games. Every year the event hall is wall-to-wall with new games, old favorites, and plenty of accessories and related oddments. Every year improves because you learn more what you want to do and can focus on that. We highly recommend it.

We played many games this year, but the ones we talked about on the podcast were these:
1. Pocket Dungeon Quest, which we referred to as Nethack the Boardgame. It’s a light dungeon crawler that mimics a roguelike computer game.

2. Thief’s Market, a dice splitting and bidding game. We kind of wanted to see this played by different people in different groups. It’s an interesting exercise.

3. Captain Sonar, which is Battleship on Super-Soldier Serum and was a highlight of Gen Con. Here’s the French video if you’re interested.

4. Werewolf, which is really a family of games at Gen Con including Ultimate Werewolf (which adds different roles) and WitchHunt (which gets people yelled at for not playing well).

GenCon Eating and Drinking

We’ve talked about some of our other Indianapolis food experiences (Pearl Street Pizzeria, Punchburger, Patachou) in previous episodes, but the one new place we went this year was Pioneer, which was excellent. They had several house-made sausages, a wide selection of drinks, and a well balanced set of appetizers and entree foods.

Would highly recommend and will look forward to going back next year.

There was also talk about carrying water and other beverages around the event. I bought a Hydro Flask before GenCon and was impressed at how it kept ice water icy throughout the day. I could fill it with ice in the morning, drink, and still have ice in the afternoon. Jon Hammack, a Team Serious affiliate and friend of the show, recommends a CamelBak backpack-style carrier, which holds enough to not need refilling throughout the day. Both good methods, I’m sure.

Question for Discussion

We closed with a brief and simple question for discussion: What’s your favorite non-Magic game? There’s obviously a lot to choose from whether you like simple card games, complex war games, intense betting games, or relaxing party games. There’s no wrong answer. Except maybe Monopoly.

Concluding Remarks

Thanks for listening, and thanks to everyone who made GenCon great this year! We always look forward to the one-of-a-kind entertainment that “The Best Four Days in Gaming” offers, especially since we get to meet and hang-out with so many great people. We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or TheManaDrain or on Twitter. You can also email us at