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?
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