DragonCon 2013!

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It’s been a week since DragonCon in Atlanta, and we’re still looking back and grinning. This was our first time at the show, and we really weren’t sure what to expect. Oh sure, we’ve heard about the great costumes and how big the show is, but it’s always different to experience something like this in person. What is DragonCon? That’s a good question. I had a hard time explaining it to the woman behind the counter at our hotel because it isn’t one thing. It’s a convention for fans of TV and movies, fantasy and sci-fi, pop culture, and general weirdness. There is gaming, cosplay, shopping, autograph signings, and everything geeky under the sun. As Anne-Marie said to another vendor, “It’s like ComicCon before there was a ComicCon.”

The preparations started for us on Thursday, when we drove into downtown Atlanta and began the less-than-glamorous task of waiting for our load-in time so we could start setting up. Many hours later, we were finally carrying all our boxes and cases into our booth. Then we began the real work of turning an empty 10 foot by 10 foot booth into a cool space to show off cool games.

Before…
After!

We finished our setup and headed out to meet with our fulfillment partners for dinner. Our games are warehoused and shipped out of Atlanta, and it’s always great to see the gang and talk a little business while we’re in town.

Friday was the first day of the show, and it got busy quick! Right away we noticed a big difference between DragonCon and Gen Con in the way attendees view games. At Gen Con, players are there for games, and they want to sit down and play a game to really experience it. At DragonCon, attendees have a lot of interests, and there is so much to see they don’t have time for full games. They wanted a quick overview and made up their minds right then. It was a lot of fun getting to show our games to non-gamers, but we quickly realized we hadn’t brought nearly enough Castle Panic! To make matters worse, our reprint arrived later than expected, and we weren’t be able to get any more from our warehouse. Curses!

That night after grabbing some dinner, we hit the costume contest. A huge auditorium filled with eager onlookers as competitors took to the stage to show off their creations. The award categories are based on how experienced the creators are, and they are judged by a panel of professional costumers. While they were all pretty cool, my favorite had to be the full-body Skeksis Chamberlain, and since it won Best In Show, I wasn’t alone.

Image copyright @itp_atl

Saturday, we drove past the streets where the famous parade takes place. It was completely packed! We’re talking 4 or 5 people deep! Sadly, the parade starts at the same time that the vendor hall opens, so we couldn’t make it out there. Maybe next year. Once the crowd came in, we were surrounded by people asking about Bears!, Bloodsuckers, and Dead Panic. We had flown a few copies of Dead Panic out for Gen Con, but we sold through those in a day. All we had left at this point was our demo copy, which was great to give people a taste of the game, but it left a lot of folks sad that they couldn’t go home with their own copy right there. We were sad too.

We thought the crowds would start to die down on Sunday or Monday, but we were wrong. It stayed packed all weekend. We were always busy at our booth, explaining games, giving quick overviews, and handing out catalogs and swag to fans. The convention is actually spread out over 5 hotels with the vendor area taking over 4 sections of the AmericasMart building, so it’s pretty big. We barely even had the chance to leave our booth. The farthest we made it was to the bathrooms, but that just proves how great the show was.

Sunday night, we had a fun dinner with our friends from Adventure Retail, Steve Jackson Games, and Ken Hite. Monday was another blur of demos and crazy, cool costumes, and then the show was over. We packed up our booth, loaded the van, and said goodbye to DragonCon. We’ve already purchased a booth for next year, so we’ll be back! You can check out some of the cool costumes and get a taste of the convention in our photos and video below.

We left Atlanta to meet some friends in the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, for a short, but much needed mini-vacation. Our next stop will be the Portland, Oregon, area this Thursday, so stay tuned as we get back into the West by Southwest tour!


From DragonCon 2013!, posted by Fireside Games on 9/11/2013 (13 items)

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The End of San Francisco

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mass effect
Just kidding! – Image property of DraftFCB

Don’t worry. San Francisco is just fine, but last week was the end of the San Francisco leg of our WXSW tour. In fact, as I write up this review, we are counting down the final days before we head off to GenCon in Indianapolis!

Let’s look back on a crazy few days shall we?

This last set of store visits started off on Wednesday at Endgame in Oakland. It’s another very approachable store with a well-organized selection of games. Unfortunately, it’s not located in the best part of town, as we were about to find out. We’d only been playing games for about an hour when I received a phone call from a good Samaritan who had found my backpack. Wait, what? You mean my backpack that’s supposed to be inside the van?!

Sadly, Oakland had lived up to its bad reputation and sure enough, our van had been broken into and my backpack and computer case had been stolen. We had to shut our Endgame event down early to deal with the break-in, but we were able to get the backpack back and the only real damage was a broken window. The good news is that thanks to Kru over at American Auto Glass Solutions in Alameda, we had a new window installed later the next afternoon! They even came out to our hotel to fix it, which was great because we had to head out that night for our store event at D20 Games in Alameda!

We’ve known Ben, the owner of D20 Games, for a few years now, and when we met up with him earlier this year at GAMA in Las Vegas, he asked if we could include his store in our promotional tour. We were happy to oblige and Thursday night it all came together. Ben had made sure to tell all his regulars that we were coming, and it wasn’t long before we were swamped with excited fans asking for signatures and picking our brains about how we came up with our ideas. Between questions, we played as many games as we could, including a nail-biting ending for The Wizard’s Tower with the Chimera destroying the final tower in a fiery breath. We stayed late, playing Bears! and talking about games until it was time to head out for some sleep.

Friday, we rested up for a bit and then headed over to San Francisco, where we set up our table in the vendor room at GaymerX. This was the first year for the convention, which got its start as a Kickstarter project, and there was no shortage of activity as everyone prepared for the opening. When Saturday morning arrived and the doors opened, we were flooded! We haven’t heard final attendance figures, but the rumor was that around 3,000 gamers were registered, and at times it felt like they were all in the hall at once! The first day was great, with a huge amount of interest in all our games and some good sales to match. We sold out of Castle Panic on our first day, which would lead to an interesting opportunity the next day.

Sunday we arrived in S.F. early to grab the limited parking and had a brief chance to play tourist as we headed out to breakfast. We decided on Sweet Maple, which is known for their Millionaire’s Bacon (thick cut bacon glazed with brown sugar and sprinkled with red and black pepper) as seen on “The United States of Bacon” on the Discovery Channel. It was a good decision. The bacon is fantastic, and when paired with deep fried French toast, it made a lot of other meals on this trip jealous.

Later in the morning, GaymerX continued with more demos, great people, and a good time had by all. Being sold out of Castle Panic was a bit of a disappointment, but it turns out relief was on the way. Our friends from Gamescape had brought their inventory of Castle Panic with them on Sunday, and we worked out a deal that allowed gamers who bought The Wizard’s Tower from us to pick up the base game from Gamescape for just $20! Both games for $45 is a deal like we’ve never seen before, and it was no surprise when several attendees took us up on the offer. We took advantage of a lull in the crowd to hop the aisle and say hi to some fellow game publishers. We chatted with Christopher Badell, one of the designers of Sentinels of the Multiverse and co-owner of Greater Than Games. We also talked with Phil Kilcrease, owner of 5th Street Games, and got a look at their new game, Farmageddon from the designer Grant Rodiek himself. We also got our copies of those games signed while we were at it. Hey, we’re gamers too!

We manned the booth until the hall closed and then packed up and headed back to our hotel for some much needed rest. It was definitely a good chance for us to expose our games to new fans and meet existing fans. For a first-year convention, it went pretty darn smoothly. We wish the organizers nothing but the best for future events! It was a wonderful testament to equality that a convention specifically focused on queer geek culture felt a lot like any gaming convention—we met people who love video games, board games, anime, science fiction, fantasy, and having fun with people who are as excited about the same things as they are. You know, a game convention!

Monday would be our last store event in the Bay Area, and it almost didn’t happen. We had some chores to do in San Francisco before our event at Black Diamond Games, so we headed out to the Bay Bridge like we had several times before. Sadly, we didn’t know about the big-rig fire on I-80 that would ruin our afternoon. We made it to the toll booth, where it was too late to turn around and came to a complete stop. Imagine driving over a big bridge. It takes 30 seconds? Maybe a minute or two? We were stuck on that bridge for over 3 hours. That’s not a typo. It’s an agonizing way to spend your day. We finally made it across the bay, finished our errands, and sped off to Concord to Black Diamond Games. We made it more-or-less on time, and it turned out to be the perfect cure for our less-than-perfect day. We had excited gamers asking about our games the minute we entered the store, and we had a blast running demos as fast as we could put them on the table! In a nice change of pace, we had two games of The Wizard’s Tower that ended in victory after a week of mostly defeats. We didn’t have time for a Bears! tournament, but at the end of the night we held a raffle in which the first winner got a copy of The Wizard’s Tower, donated by Black Diamond Games, and the next winner took home a copy of Bears! Overall, it was the perfect end to this part of the tour. The next few days will see us catching up on emails, changing the oil on the van, and finishing our preparations for GenCon. We’ll be in Indy next week, can you believe it?


From The End of San Francisco, posted by Fireside Games on 8/07/2013 (32 items)

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San Francisco, Part 2

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We’ve been really impressed with how many game stores there are in the Bay area. Games of Berkeley, D20 Games, the two Gamescape and Game Kastle locations, Gator Games, and more make for a really nice mix of stores all fairly close together. Continue reading San Francisco, Part 2

There Are Crazy Squirrels in Fresno!

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Before we started the drive from San Luis Obispo to Fresno, we needed to make a stop for lunch. We had heard that we really needed to check out the Madonna Inn and decided that was the place. What a spot! Continue reading There Are Crazy Squirrels in Fresno!

Ahoy Cap’n!

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We’ve been in San Luis Obispo for almost a week, and we’ve had a great time eating tri-tip sandwiches, drinking locally roasted coffee, and working on a super-secret new project! Last night finished up our much too brief time here with a visit to Captain Nemo Games and Comics in downtown SLO. Continue reading Ahoy Cap’n!

Imperial Outpost Wraps Up Our Phoenix Visit

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Last Thursday, we finished up our time in Phoenix, Arizona, with a visit to Imperial Outpost Games. This was another one of those fun store appearances where we had fans waiting for us before we even arrived! Continue reading Imperial Outpost Wraps Up Our Phoenix Visit

Specialties Games, Toys & Gifts

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Our visit to Specialties Games, Toys, and Gifts in San Angelo last Saturday was really fun. San Angelo is a small town located in west Texas that’s mostly known for Goodfellow Air Force Base and Angelo State University. We had heard about Specialties from other gamers that used to live in the area and had recommended that we check out the store. They were right.

George Bell and his wife, Linda, have built a really great store that not only caters to gamers and their families but to anyone looking for quality, cool toys and games that can’t be found on the shelves of the giant big box stores.

We were immediately treated to a warm welcome when we walked into the store. George had been anticipating our visit and a bunch of local gamers were excitedly waiting for us to arrive. We visited with everyone for a while and then got down to some gaming! Some of the gamers were already fans of Castle Panic and Bears! and were eager to try out Bloodsuckers for the first time. We started up a vicious vampire battle and before you knew it, we had new fans. As new players arrived at the store, we introduced them to Bears!, taught them how to defend a castle from Orcs, and how to cast spells in The Wizard’s Tower. We even signed several copies of our games for happy gamers.

The Bears! tournament was an epic close finish and left many players retelling the story of their final pairings. Check out the video for a fun look at this unique store and all the fun we had. Speaking of videos, local blogger Rick Perez from Let’s Level Up! joined us for some gaming and later in the day we spent a few minutes together in front of the camera giving him a quick interview about our tour and future plans. We’ll have a link to that video posted soon.

When we finally ended the night, we said goodbye to our new friends and headed out to a yummy dinner at the Cork and Pig Tavern. We had a great time in San Angelo, and we’ll definitely come back to this big, little town that was so darn friendly. From here, we’re off to Lubbock, where we’ll be at Mad Hatter’s House of Games on Saturday, June 29th, starting at 7:00p.m.


From Specialties Games, Toys, and Gifts, posted by Fireside Games on 6/26/2013 (12 items)

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