Serious Vintage Episode 43: GenCon After-Party

For episode 43, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Josh Chapple (@joshchapple) join Nat’s wife Elizabeth (@eaeshelman) to talk about a gamer’s first GenCon, hosting a diaper-party Magic tournament, and pregnancy food cravings!

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
0:00:41 – GenCon 2019
1:13:25 – TSI Diaper Party
1:23:31 – I Need Some Pickles Right Now or I Will Fight You
Total runtime – 1:36:17

Everyone Enjoys GenCon

Hello! It’s been several months since we’ve had time to do any recording, and in that time Vintage has changed drastically at least twice, so obviously we’re not talking about Vintage at all. Instead, we’re looking back three months to the beginning of August and the best time of the year, GenCon. Geoff and I attended this year, along with several Team Serious members, and this year I had the pleasure of rooming with my wife (five months pregnant at the time) and her older cousin John. Being able to introduce (or reintroduce, in John’s case) people to GenCon is a real treat, and even offers a refreshing perspective for myself, who has attended for the past 10-or-so years.

My view of GenCon has always been that each year’s experience is slightly different, and usually gets better as you weed out elements that weren’t as fulfilling and replace them with something new. You learn something and improve each time. For example, as much as I love playing Magic, there’s so much more going on at GenCon that I now prefer to spend my time elsewhere with friends, unlike the first couple of years where I spent most of my days in the tournament hall. Elizabeth, John, and I played a nice Commander game on Wednesday night before getting to the convention on Thursday, and Geoff, Andy “Brass Man” Probasco, and I did an Andy’s Closet Cube Three Player Partner Nonlegendary Commander Brawl draft (patent pending) one evening to pass a few hours. Action photo and my deck below; ask Andy about it on Twitter.

Most of our time was spent in GenCon’s extensive exhibit hall, where new games and products can be demoed and purchased. Covering everything in detail would take a lot, but we talk about several games:
● Robo-Rally-like programming games were surprisingly popular. These included the rubber-duck racing simulator duck! Duck! Go!, Tremors: the Boardgame game Terror Below, and Dauntless Dirigibles, which is still in development but was a lot of fun.
● Elizabeth and I played Foundations of Rome, still in development and on Kickstarter, as the last game on Sunday. It’s got a lot of potential, particularly with well-designed game pieces. Elizabeth would like to remind you that she won, by a lot.
Adventure Island was a fun, cooperative, narrative game, which sparked some discussion on the nature of those types of games and their replay value.
● Elizabeth and her family like the Lost Cities series of games. Lost Cities: Rivals is the newest addition to that group and is a fun bidding game. There’s also a four-player board game.
● I wanted to pick up Unearth, which we played at last year’s GenCon but which stuck with me. It holds up to my memory of it.
Silver: Amulet was new from the creator of One Night Ultimate Werewolf but had some frustrating elements. We all had to try it twice to check.
● I also liked 3 laws of Robotics, a fun social-deduction game with a party game element. My only gripe was that I thought the instructions were missing an important clarification on how points work.
● Geoff was enchanted by the simple dexterity game Catch the Moon if you appreciate games that are easy to teach. This one is super cute.
● Elizabeth and I both liked Wingspan a fun, complex engine builder with amazing bird art. And I just learned from BGG that it was primarily developed and designed by women.

Outside the regular exhibit hall, Elizabeth, John, and I got to look at the First Exposure Playtest Hall, which always has a fun feeling of being able to offer constructive criticism on a game before it comes out. We also played in the One Night Ultimate Werewolf World Championship, my first non-Magic sanctioned tournament at GenCon, and they made a few fun twists to the rules. Elizabeth and John also played several games of traditional and Ultimate Werewolf over conference. And the three of us attended a seminar on “The Secrets of Magic: The Gathering,” hosted by frequent GenCon presenter and intellectual property lawyer Jason Webb, who went step-by-step through a pack of Magic cards and explained all the symbols, language, and other IP text. It was interesting. And free. And we each got a pack of Ravnica Allegiance. So it’s worth an hour to relax at an otherwise busy con.

For food, we talk a little about brunch at Cafe Pikachu and dinner (and shrimp cocktail) at St. Elmo Steakhouse. I don’t remember if we mentioned the best chicken fingers in the world, but this was also the first year I ever dined at the Steak ‘n Shake near the convention center.

Diapers for Little Magic Player

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of the arrival of our firstborn, Elizabeth and I hosted a Team Serious Invitational: Diaper Party (TSI:DP) at our house in Columbus. In addition to being a fun episode of camaraderie, where the entry fee was just some number of (unused, I really felt we needed to specify unused) diapers, this was also a lead-up to Eternal Weekend for the Ohio Vintage players. But in addition to the five rounds of competitive Vintage Magic: The Gathering, we also had some fun baby-related games.

Players were invited to stick balloons up their shirts to simulate pregnancy for example, and two of the balloons had tickets to win a Death Star beach ball! Guhstin used three strategically placed balloons for the full effect.

We also organized that game where players try to identify candy that has been melted in diapers. If you’d like to play at home, I’ll put the answers on Twitter.

And we had a basket of diapers for people to write messages on so that we could have some encouraging cheer for those late-night feedings and changings. Those will be fun to go through, as will the box of diapers that one Twaun P. Pwnertown sent, decorated with Orkz.

It was a great time! At least Elizabeth and I had a great time. I got to play some Vintage and she got to show off our house—including the newly finished nursery—and play hostess to a bunch of fun people. I think our guests had fun too, but who am I to speak for them?

Regardless, our attendees, along with a few who couldn’t attend and sent mail instead gave us more than 3,000 diapers, and nearly as many wipes. We also got a great assortment of books, toys, and clothes. Vintage writer Joe Dyer brought the rocking horse, and the day’s winner, David Lance, brought a personalized MTG onesie for the boy. (We had joked about first prize for the tournament being naming rights for our son, so maybe David just called his shot.)

There’s a more complete report on The Mana Drain. As I mentioned, David Lance won with Survival. Steve McGrew, Nam Q. Tran, and Rajah James rounded out the Top 4 on Paradoxical Outcome, Ravager Shops, and ZiasBond Lands, respectively. Prizes included sealed product from my infancy in Magic: a 4th Edition starter, an Urza’s Saga precon, and Ice Age and Fallen Empires boosters.

Food and Drinks: Pregnancy Cravings

For our food and drinks section, we talked some about the culinary highlights of GenCon, but we also talked with Elizabeth about her pregnancy cravings. Instead of the stereotypical strange combinations of pickles and ice cream, she wanted mostly comfort foods. Shells and cheese, or pot-roast sandwich with fries and a Coke from Bob Evans, for example. We’ve had several batches of shells and cheese over the past three trimesters, and this is the first time in our 10-year marriage we’ve ever done that. Here’s the recipe. It’s what you’d expect: delicious.

We also talk about how there should be more nonalcoholic cocktail options. Recently Elizabeth and I rediscovered Asterisk Supper Club, which is mere minutes from our house. There the bartender will concoct a “mocktail” to your taste preferences, and it’s a reasonable price because they’re making you a fancy pop.

Questions for Discussion

Why don’t you come to GenCon? You’d probably enjoy it. Also, why don’t you host a Vintage tournament (or whatever format you prefer) at your house? Invite your friends and have fun. Act like you like one another. Have you ever been pregnant? Did you enjoy restricting your diet? No alcohol, limited caffeine, avoiding foods like sushi, unpasteurized dairy, lunch meat? Did you have any weird cravings? What hot spots did you find for mocktails in your area?

Conclusion and Post Script

Thanks for listening! And thanks to Elizabeth for joining us. If you’re interested in some of her writing, it’s available on McSweeney’s and elsewhere under her authorial name, Elizabeth Eshelman.

And in the few weeks it took for us to get the podcast edited and the writeup written up, Elizabeth and I had a baby! Jesse John Moes was born on November 16 at 7:13 a.m. He weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. and was 7+13 in. long, so he’s got some clear lucky numbers. Both mom and baby did just great. In fact, we’ve had him home for two weeks now and are having fun figuring out this whole “Living With a Baby” thing. So far, so good!

We’ll probably be on hiatus a bit longer as Nat and Elizabeth enjoy their newborn, but we’ll be back. Geoff loves editing these shows too much to let us quit. He is a harsh taskmaster. We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or The Mana Drain or on Twitter. You can also email us at