Steve Jackson's Previous Appearances
Want to meet Steve? Check the appearances page for a list of conventions he's attending, as well as other events where you can find him and say hello.
Here are trip reports from Steve's previous appearances.
April 30-May 2, 2022
We had only about 50 attendees, but that let us pay attention to everyone who wanted to have attention paid to them. The vendors reported they had fun too. I did a cople of demonstrations of Melee and **I** sure had fun! Renewed thanks to to our Guest of Honor, John Kovalic, and to all our staff who devoted time and energy to making it happen . . . and that definitely includes the MIBs!
September 15-16, 2021
I was only there for a day, but I had fun. Our booth looked great. I walked the floor and MOST of the booths looked great. Go, hobby, go! People were masking properly and at least making an attempt to maintain distance. I'm glad this was a live event this year.
September 2-6, 2021
This was my first DC in more than a decade. Physically exhausting but creatively rejuvenating. I have missed conventions.
Along with author, game designer, and Mayfair Games founder Bill Fawcett, I hosted a two-day workshop at this year's Dragon Con. There were discussions each morning and game presentations in the afternoon. Our speakers included Jean McGuire (Wintertree Software), Phillip E. Pournelle (author and U.S. Navy wargame designer), Kenneth Hite (author of over 100 roleplaying games and supplements), and IP attorney Bethany Lytle. We were also joined by N.Y. Times best-selling author S.M. Stirling, a recreational gamer, who helped us with our evaluations. Each student was encouraged to bring a prototype or draft of a game or supplement to review. The panel's reactions ranged from "You have some good ideas here, burt need a different presentation," through "I would like to play this," to "This might be a commercial success!" We want to do this again next year.
I did my usual talks on what's coming up next from the company, and showed off the prototype of the Foam Unnatural Axe and the #1-in-the-wild Giant Munchkin d10. Then we sent the d10 to the auction, and it raised $1,000 for charity. Thank you, bidders!
Ken and I did a couple of panels, joined on one by Jean, and they also went well. Ken is a brilliant exponent of the Great Man theory in gaming, and it was a huge pleasure to work with him.
And, thanks no doubt to my jabs and trusty N95, I made it home in one piece!
June 25-27, 2021
Virtual this year. Best virtual event I have ever been to! It often felt like there was a physical convention happening right around the corner, and if I would just step away from the computer, I would be there. Kudos to the organizers.
March 19-21, 2021
The 2020 edition of ZKK was canceled due to COVID-19. Darn. And out of an abundance of caution they are holding the 2021 event online. It was free to attend! And I was there. . . with a special Munchkin bookmark! Fun was had.
January 22-24, 2021
I made a Discord appearance at virtual Chattacon. The whole con was free, and fun was had!
October 8-11, 2020
Fans of Eric Flint's "1632" hold an annual convention, and this year it wa virtual. A number of big names spoke on panels, including Eric Flint himself, gamer favorites David Brin, David Drake, S. M. Stirling, and David Weber, and filker Tom Smith. I participated in a panel on games and storytelling, hosted by Bill Fawcett.
The panel will be prerecorded, so in theory, now that the convention is over, you can watch it any time. See the web page for more info.
October 10, 2020
Online from Austin, TX
Our first virtual FnordCon was a success, so we did it again. This was a free one-day live event with games and lots of panels. Games included Ultracorps (which had a great showing), Deadly Doodles, Ogre, Z-Shot, TFT, and more. Guest of Honor was Liz Danforth, prolific TFT illustrator. She was a great guest; she gave a good presentation and hung out a lot in the public areas when she was not officially scheduled.
Yes, the virtual dealer room was popular so we repeated it, with one more dealer.
So there will be a FnordCon 3 next year, probably virtual, probably first quarter.
October 2-4, 2020
Online from Seattle, WA
This is a convention for Lego fans. At 1pm Central time on Sunday the 4th, I spoke about long-distance collaboration., and took questions afterward.
I thought this went very well and will be open to proposals to do similar things.
May 8-10, 2020
Will be rescheduled for 2021, and I plan to go.
April 3-5, 2020
We have cancelled FnordCon. We will not try to reschedule for later in the year. We did a Virtual FnordCon on April 17-19, and it was very successful, with almost 500 present including staff, speakers, and, yes, dealers (we had a virtual dealer room). We may very well do the virtual event again, and we hope to see you in 2021 for FnordCon 3!
August 15-19, 2019
I had the great privilege of being one of the Guests of Honour at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Dublin, Ireland. This is the first time that a Worldcon has selected a game designer as a GoH, and I am (still) both humbled and excited!
Monica and I had a wonderful time. The other GoHs were Bill and Mary Burns, Diane Duane, Ginjer Buchanan, Ian McDonald, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. All of them turned out to be neat, interesting people, and I am grateful to the con for arranging chances for us to interact rather than keeping us all separately busy for the whole event.
I got some good playtesting done in the game room, and was introduced to two fine games, Azul and Colt Express, which I had not played before.
And I had a lot of just plain fun. I got to sit in the Captain's chair of the Starfleet vessel U.S.S. Cuchulainn. I acquired a wonderful purple origami spider. I attended the Hugo Losers' Party and got to see Hugo winners in squid hats. I saw swans on the Liffey!
It was an excellent show. If there's another Worldcon bid from around here someday – and I'm sure that there will be – I shall support it with enthusiasm.
And after the con . . . tourism! We visited a half-dozen different museums and libraries and saw amazing and beautiful things.
Special acknowledgements go to Chair James Bacon, for leading a remarkable team; for my old friend Colm Lundberg, for taking good care of us through the show; and to all the people I played with in the game room, for reminding me that I was at home.
August 1-4, 2019
Gen Con was crazy and busy! I did the "Steve vs. the World" Ogre game, which went very well and made me late for dinner with Phil Foglio (at which dinner we discussed Eeevil Plans, as we have been doing for so long). I ran a game of TFT for Kickstarter backers, using the 3-D terrain built by Phil Reed and Eric Dow, and they all survived.So did the terrain! I am happy enough with that scenario, Old School Adventure, that I will put it in the next book of TFT adventures.
And I hosted a couple of multi-multiplayer Deadly Doodles games. Those were fun but taught me that a big DD game should not be held in the middle of a crowded room with roleplayers emoting in all directions.
And there was a lot of wandering around, seeing old friends, and having fun. I expect to be back next year.
June 28-30, 2019
Everything about LibertyCon went very well . . . which was probably a surprise to the organizers, because a hotel problem forced a date change only a few months before the event. But the new hotel was fine, and everything went magnificently!
At the charity auction, two Munchkin cards went for $1,000 each. Words fail me.
I watched a couple of games of Terraforming Mars, and then played one. Good game; it has been heavily hyped, but in my opinion it deserves it, and I will play again.
And, as usual at Liberty, there was a thriving game room, and we got in a lot of playtesting, as well as demos of games already released.
A great event (also as usual) and I will be back next year.
June 16, 2019
Because of a conflict with Brickworld, I was only able to attend Origins for the last day. But according to all reports, it was a well run convention. Certainly everything that I saw was proceeding smoothly and much fun was being had. The dealer room was a madhouse, which is a GOOD thing if you're a dealer!
On Sunday afternoon I ran a TFT game for four of our Kickstarter backers. They survived the dungeon and got out again, though there were a couple of tense moments when . . . hmm, I'd better not spoil, because I'm hosting this adventure again at Gen Con.
The next day we went to an excellent bookstore in Germantown. I bought an anthology: The Year's Best Science Fiction, which is not merely always reliable (Gardner Dozois is, I think, incapable of selecting a bad story) but thick enough to get me through both plane flights.
June 12-15, 2019
After missing two years in a row, I got to go back to Brickworld! It was good to see old friends, goggle at the work of Lego builders beside whom I am a mere speck on the windshield, and generally have a great time. Guy Himber and I ran the traditional Charity Munchkin Game. Saturday night I took off for Columbus, to make the last day of Origins.
April 6-7, 2019
IT WAS AWESOME. We sold out. Our staff and MIBs did a great job, and everyone had a good time. We will soon be postmorteming it and announcing whether we'll do it again. Thank you to everyone!
March 7-10, 2019
Lake Geneva, WI
This was my first Gary Con, and I really enjoyed it. For those who don't know, this is an annual celebration of the life and work of Gary Gygax. Naturally, a lot of games are played, and a lot of glasses are lifted to Gary.
I ran several things, including a couple of tests of the current version of Car Wars, which went very well indeed. I also ran a TFT game for Matt Rose, one of our Kickstarter supporters. The spiders almost got him but he triumphed in the end, though with the tragic loss of half his party. Leaving the spiders curled up on their backs with their legs in the air, he proceeded to the skeletons and totally demolished them. Maybe I need less fragile skeletons in this labyrinth?
The con staff was very helpful and friendly, I got fun people as players in all my games, I enjoyed the dealer room . . . all in all, a good convention.
February 22-24, 2019
This was one of the best medium-sized cons I have ever attended. Staff was ubercompetent and very friendly, the fans were interested, and the gaming track was biiiig. I showed the new Car Wars rules and a brand-new game, Deadly Doodles. And I got to go to the transportation museum and see trains. It was an awesome weekend. Thank you!
November 9-11, 2018
I had a very good time at Gamehole Con a few years ago, so I went back. Partly to run an event or three (Triplanetary, Melee, Car Wars), and partly to get in some gaming!
All my events went well, with enthusiastic players. I got to meet a lot of people, and I got to run through the True Dungeon. I even survived, though Phil, alas, fell heroically in the last encounter. He was rolling dice to the last . . . And I played some new-to-me games. Hansa Teutonica impressed me. I'll have to try that one again.
Gamehole has grown hugely. It's now up to 4,000 paid attendees. That's what they get for running a tightly organized but fun event. I hope to go back again!
June 29-July 1, 2018
Fun was had! I did playtest/demos of The Fantasy Trip and Car Wars, and I spent time in the game room just playing games, including Conspiracy Theory and Super Kitty Bug Slap, both of which were playtested at LibertyCon last year. Full circle!
High points included Chuck Gannon's Toastmaster introduction, David Weber's reading, and getting to have dinner with, among others, Bill Fawcett, Jody Lynn Nye, and John Picacio.
As always, LC was a relaxed, fun, family affair, and I plan to go back next year.
June 13-17, 2018
Origins was fun. We had our own room and a large crew. I got to do a lot of stuff:
• A big (10 players!) game of Triplanetary. (No, it's not quite available yet, but you CAN pre-order it.)
• Demonstrations of Melee from The Fantasy Trip.
• A "me against the world" Ogre event, where I played on ten boards at once. Won 8, lost two. One of those was close. In the other one, I was completely schooled. It was all fun.
We also had lots of learn-to-play and draft events for the Munchkin CCG. Phil and I walked the hall and saw everybody's new releases. I got to catch up with some old friends. It was good.
August 17-20, 2017
I was at all four days of Gen Con this year. Very, very good convention, fun and busy. They sold out before the doors opened and the halls were full (but not impassable). I really have no criticisms at all. Everything was excellent.
We ran the Munchkin Tavern again, and I did a signing there on Saturday night. The Tavern went very well – the only problem was that we underestimated demand for the special Tavern goody box, and ran out Friday evening!
And I enjoyed the They Might Be Giants concert.
I watched the eclipse from the airport on Monday afternoon, and played a game on one of the game tables that Gen Con had thoughtfully sponsored at the airport. A classy touch!
June 30-July 2, 2017
Chattanooga's a great city, and I always have a good time at LibertyCon. This one, number XXX, was no exception. I ran demos of three unpublished games and they all went well. I also played Ogre and Munchkin – I won my Ogre games but got beaten like a drum at Munchkin. So it goes.
And I had dinner with Jason "PK" Levine, who lives nearby, and we ate great sushi and schemed about upcoming GURPS releases.
But I don't pay my own way to LC just to do business and demo games. I also get to socialize, meet other pros, and generally have more "fan" experience than I normally get at a convention. I attended the Baen Books dinner, rekindled some old acquaintances, and met some new people. I got to see a lot of programming, including Dr. Stephanie Osborn's entertaining and scary report on the New Madrid fault system (midcontinent and just as ominous as San Andreas – look it up.) I toured the parties. And I got to spend some time chatting with two of my favorite authors, David Weber and John Ringo (who was Literary GoH).
The charity auction is always a highlight of LC. This year two Munchkin card appearances went for $800 each, benefiting the Hatcher Foundation, which fights childhood cancer.
If a fun Chattanooga event sounds like your cup of tea, watch their site at libertycon.org. The date and location for the 2018 event are not set, but when they are, it's likely to sell out even faster than this one did.
August 4, 2016
I was at Gen Con for Thursday only. I signed and imbibed in the Munchkin Tavern, hung out in our booth, and checked out the show floor. I got to say hi to Randy Milholland, Howard and Sandra Tayler, Rob and Linda Balder, Phil and Victor Foglio, Bill Fawcett, and a lot of others. Had breakfast with the PSI team and dinner with John Kovalic, and many good evil things were plotted.
Gen Con was huge this year. That show just continues to grow, and we'll continue to come with a big presence.
July 8-10, 2016
I'm going back to LibertyCon in 2016, because 2015 was so good, it just seemed like the thing to do. Lots of friendly people, fans and guests alike; a fine program and an excellent art show that got its fair share of my money; a traincar hotel room and a dinner train ride (let me stress that the hotel room itself did not go on the train ride); great backup from our local MIBs; and the excellent city of Chattanooga for a background.
See their site at www.libertycon.org for the very impressive guest list.
June 15-19, 2016
Just like the past few years, I'll be here with my LEGO geek hat on, exhibiting with the Texas Brick Railroad and PennLUG. Maybe I'll even finish the brick-built Castellan
February 21-28, 2016
Last year's JoCo Cruise was an amazing experience. It was my first cruise ever; I met a lot of gamers; I heard a lot of music. I also ate too much, but I am given to understand that that is traditional.
What is the JoCo Cruise? Look here. Or, for those who didn't click the link: it's a week on the Caribbean on a humongous luxurious boat, with some excellent musicians, starting with Jonathan Coulton himself and backed up by Paul and Storm and a lot of other talent. You really ought to go click that link.
While music is The Big Thing on the JoCo Cruise, gaming is The Other Big Thing. There's an active 24-hour game room with frequently-replenished munchies. SJ Games sponsored it last year and is sponsoring it again this year, because it was good. Among other things, that's where I first got to play Splendor. (While I am mentioning things that have bigness, I should point out that writing is also a Big Thing. If you are a would-be writer, please note that there IS a writing track, and that the guests on the cruise include John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, and Wil Wheaton. All of whom can write, and will talk to you about writing.)
But I digress. This year we are doing three special events for the cruise's gaming track: a general "What's New at SJ Games" event at which secrets will be revealed, a status report on the Munchkin Shakespeare brainstorm that we did on last year's cruise, and a NEW brainstorm at which the attendees will get to help me and Andrew rough out a new, NON-Munchkin game.
The fourth of our third events will be a Munchkin playoff. Four aspiring munchkins will win seats at that table during the cruise's earlier gaming events. They will play against me. If I win, I keep the prize.
Last year's cruise was unlike anything I've ever done. I really had no idea what to expect. But I was committed to the 2016 event before the 2015 cruise docked. You really ought to be on board too, but at this point that means you have to have your ticket already, because they are sold out.
November 6-8, 2015
Gamehole Con is a convention for all types of gaming. All types, do you hear me? They had over a thousand people for 2015. It was friendly, busy, and really engrossing.
One of the things about this show: they invite a LOT of game makers. Madison is very close to Lake Geneva, where so much started, and a lot of the best Gygax-era names come to visit. I saw Ed Greenwood, Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, Ernie Gygax, Jim Ward, and the creator of some of my very favorite Old Skool games, Tom Wham! Not to mention young whippersnappers like Matt Forbeck, Jonathan Tweet, Jenn Brozek . . . oh, go read the site.
The big disappointment was that John Kovalic was, mostly, not there. I'd looked forward to some quality hanging-out time, but it was mostly not to be. He came down with a stomachache just before the con. A BAD stomachache. A "your gall bladder needs to come out right now, so give us your insurance card and lie down on this here gurney" stomachache. Trouper that he is, John actually showed up for a couple of events, and he had fun. But he was also hurting, and it was good that he spent most of the weekend NOT at the con.
But I did, and I had a great time. I got a stuffed owlbear. Can you say "stuffed owlbear"? I knew you could. I was introduced to Framboise, and I'm going to keep up the acquaintance. A unique event was the con-within-a-con sponsored by The Game Crafter. Aspiring game creators had the chance to learn a lot about prototyping, and a whole lot of other breaking-into-the-business stuff, that I wish I had known 30 years ago, or even 20 or 10. I got to watch some as-yet-unreleased games, including one that we're going to evaluate a bit more at our office.
A standout about this event: it was very sharply organized. As in: there were a couple of site issues that I'm not even going to describe, because in less time than it takes the average event to go "duhhh, is something wrong?" the Gameholers had FIXED things. Big points for that. Not "we'll fix it next year," but "problem is slain NOW, 2,000 XP, go up a level."
All in all, Gamehole Con was a winning event. Two thumbs up.
November 2, 2015
Retailer Appreciation Open House Day
As we moved back into our office after repairing the water damage – and remodeling the whole place since it was torn up anyway -–we threw a party for our friends in retail.
I did a little presentation on what we have new and upcoming, answered questions, and helped play the games and eat the goodies.
I am especially proud to say that among the games we demonstrated were a couple of SEEKRET ones. We said "We won't make you sign NDAs or anything – just please don't tell." And, (updated more than a month after the fact!) nothing leaked. Thank you for being as trustworthy as we thought you were!
This was by invitation only, but if you are a brick&mortar game retailer within travel distance, and did NOT get an invitation, write to email@example.com and we will see what can be sorted out for the NEXT time we do something like this.
July 23-26, 2015
Brick Fiesta is a Lego fan convention – this was, IIRC, its fifth year. It moves between cities, and for 2015 it was back in Austin. Guy Himber of Crazy Bricks was Guest of Honor. Andreas and Rhea did a great job at demonstrations. And there were massive quantities of other Lego-geeky stuff.
Next year it will be in Houston; the best way to keep up with it is on the Brick Fiesta Facebook page.
June 26-28, 2015
I liked my first visit to LibertyCon so much that I was happy to be invited back. And Chattanooga is such a great city that on a previous visit I actually looked at real estate magazines. So this one was fun. LibertyCon is a very comfortable, companionable event, gamer-friendly but definitely a full-spectrum SF convention. And they put me up in a train-car hotel room. How cool is that? (There are some available for GenCon, I know, but I've never gotten a reservation in time.)
The guest list was excellent. It was headlined by David Weber, best known for the Honor Harrington series (though he's done a lot of other great stuff). The toastmaster was none other than Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary, and he did a brilliant job. And I got to play in a test session of the upcoming Schlockiverse game, Planet Mercenary. And lo, I had a very good time.
Along with Howard and his daughter Keliana, con chair Brandy Spraker, and a small and non-random assortment of other con-goers, I played hooky Saturday night and rode the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's dinner train. The Eden Isle is a very fine car indeed. I want one.
This is such a great event that I am looking seriously at going back for 2016; fie on this "have to spread yourself around" stuff. (And it was held in the Chattanooga Choo Choo, right on the city's electric-bus line that runs straight to the Aquarium and the good restaurants. A great choice.)
June 17-21, 2015
While I primarily went to this marvelous event to admire awesome Lego and to hold Seekrit Meetings ////////////////////// consult with Guy Himber (Munchkin Bricks, www.crazybricks.com) I did a signing and defaced some games. Most of my time, though, was at the PennLUG / TBRR table, and at the Great Ball Contraption. And at the charity auction. And the mixers :)
And, of course, at the big Munchkin game that Guy and I did for charity, using the amazing board that he built.
May 8-10, 2015
It's amazing when a con makes it to #50, and I felt very honored when Marcon invited me back for their fiftieth year. I've been there twice before, and both times it was great.
In 1989 I got to meet Hal Clement! The convention took all the guests on a museum tour to see the traveling exhibit of ancient Chinese sculpture and artifacts. I still have posters from that show on my wall.
In 2005 we took the Chaos Machine, and John Kovalic was there, and Dr. Demento was the DJ for the dance and I did the Macarena, and all in all it could hardly have been more awesome.
It was fun this year, too. I got to listen to a lot of music – in particular, among the returning guests were Barry and Sally Childs-Helton. I liked their music in 1989, they're still rocking, and I'm still liking. Also: Tom Smith! Wild Mercy! Random Filk! And the very best Barfleet party I've ever attended. What is Klingon for "Pour me another Hammer, right now?"
The weather was beautiful, and after decades of occasional convention visits for Marcon, Origins, and so on, I'm finally getting to know the city well enough to find a good meal outside the convention center. I went to the Museum of Art and the Franklin Park Conservatory. I visited Hawk Galleries, which is the place to go in Columbus for studio glass art.
February 20-22, 2015
This was a surprise appearance. TO ME, TOO! I flew to Seattle, all by my lonesome, for REDACTED and some quick meetings with Not Available At Your Clearance. It was a seven-hour trip from Austin; I left the house about 5 in the morning. Much of the flight has already mercifully slipped from my mind. It's better that way. (I can report that the Sekret Meetingz went swimmingly.)
I wanted to schedule a gamer meet-and-greet, but dropped the idea, because this was thrown together rather quickly and everybody who would normally help set up an event is recovering from Toy Fair. Yet, after that idea had come and gone . . .
As I was walking to my hotel room, I saw a big shiny banner and some people who looked very much like they were, well, OUR people. As in, US. I said “You're putting on a con?” They said that indeed they were. We talked. So: Mythicworlds is a new event with a heavy focus on music, art, and fantastic masquerade, and the chairman, Robert Gould, was kind enough to invite me to check out his show. I did!
Impressive guest list, including Brom and Laurie Lee Brom . . . which makes me happy because I'm a Brom fan and wish we had more chances to use his wonderful stuff. (Darn it, I never actually caught up with Brom. Life is rough.)
I was grossly underdressed. I did not even pack my bowler hat. But all the very beautifully-dressed faerie folk and steampunks were completely kind to the guy in the polo shirt. And the music was awesome. I bought three CDs before the weekend was over.
See . . . not only can I not escape geekdom, but it somehow knows where I will be and gets there before I do. What could be cooler?
February 13-15, 2015
New York City
It was amazing.
John, Andrew, and I all did signings. Many games were played. Fun things happened. Prizes were given. Sunday night after closing we held a party for distributors, partners, and other cool biz friends.
All thanks to Sam Mitschke for spearheading, for everybody who helped, and for all the munchkins who came out and had a good time. We are seriously thinking we'll do this again next year, and maybe at some other big events too.
January 31-February 8, 2015
I was the Gaming Guest at JoCo Cruise Crazy 5! My first cruise ever. It was a wonderful event, we want to go back, JCCC wants us to come back, we'll be back. (I say "us" because I was ably assisted by Andrew Hackard and Monica Stephens, without whom it would not have been possible to bring nearly so much of the awesome. Next year the team may very well be larger.)
-- Below is unedited material from the original announcement. I'll come back and replace it with more about the things that happened, but I wanted to get in NOW, start the update, and tell you that if you are any two of a geek, a gamer, and a music lover, you should come next year. --
JoCo Cruise Crazy is the Jonathan Coulton cruise. This year will be the fifth, and they keep on doing it, so obviously something is going right. It runs eight nights in the Western Caribbean on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, with music, comedy and performances from Coulton and friends. It departs from Ft. Lauderdale, FL on January 31st and returns February 8th, with ports of call at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Labadee, Haiti.
And because this is a geek event, and because many of us geeks kind of like games, the ship will have a game room. We're sponsoring it. There will be Munchkin. There will be Zombie Dice and Castellan and Revolution. Heck, there will even be Ogre. It's a big ship; we're pretty sure it can carry the box.
Not to mention a great number of games that we did not publish ourselves, because face it, some of those are pretty good too.
This whole thing is exciting to me for several reasons:
• I have been a Coulton fan for years, seen him in concert, spent a lot of time (but not enough yet) listening to the music . . . but I've never met him.
• Time spent around Paul and Storm is never wasted. Well, actually, it probably is, but it sure is fun.
• And Andrew is coming, and when he gets together with Paul and Storm the repartee is competely repickulous.
• I have never in my life been on a cruise.
November 21-23, 2014
San Antonio, TX
This was my first dedicated "neo-Victorian" convention, but I've had a great time at the steampunk tracks of events like Comicpalooza. So I wanted to try a pure steampunk weekend. I don't usually call out an event in public after I attend as a guest, but on the whole this was not a good representation of geekdom to the public.
There were some great moments. The hotel was excellent and pretty darn near Victorian, and the staff tried very hard to be accommodating. I saw some wonderful outfits and met some nice people. I learned a lot from a presentation on steampunk in comics. The guest of honor was Michael Moorcock, and I got some books signed!
But on the whole, this guest did not have a good time. Things that were promised did not happen, the schedule wasn't taken seriously by the organizers, and a late-night event that was billed as "introduction for newbies" turned out to be more like "spooky Camarilla-style improv." It was probably a real hoot if you were part of the in-crowd. For the captive audience, it was tedious, then embarrassing, then tedious again.
I have to give the whole event about one star out of five. Come on, folks . . . we can do better, and if we can't do better, we shouldn't be doing this at all.
October 11, 2014
Munchkin Panic Release Party
I joined my friends Anne-Marie and Justin De Witt, aka Fireside Games, at the release party for Munchkin Panic! It was at Wonko's Toys and Games in northwest Austin from 6-9 pm. And it was busy! Andrew Hackard was there, making awful puns. There were games, prizes, and swag. I played one game. And I won, though it was hard fought. Munchkin Steve ftw! (Yes, in the "More Munchkin" rules of Munchkin Panic, there's a winner. What you want to do is make sure to be the one with the most kills when the castle finally falls down. Which translates to "Stop fighting the monsters and help the castle fall – while you are ahead.)
And there was indeed cake – a chocolate Spyke with Rice Krispy horns, and a lemon Duck of Doom. Plus cookies in the shape of monster counters. Fireside really knows how to throw a party.
September 26-28, 2014
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
I was the Special Gaming Guest at FenCon XI. Other guests included Eric Flint, Rich Sternbach, Timothy Zahn, and Ookla the Mok. I managed to carry a copy of Flint's 1632 with me throughout most of the con without ever remembering it at a good time to get it signed. I got to talk to Sternbach, whose work I have admired forever; I got to catch up with Tim; and I got to hear two Ookla concerts and spend some quality time in the bar with Rand and Adam!
And Saturday, Tom Smith and I presented a preview (pre-listen?) of the long-awaited Ogre Suite. The audience listened, and overall seemed to like it, and made some suggestions that Tom and I thought were VERY MUCH worth the effort of setting up the event. Unfortunately, Tom was taken sick the next morning, and as of this writing, as far as I know, has not left the hospital in Dallas. So the next iteration of the music won't happen right away. But it will happen . . .
I really enjoyed FenCon. From my point of view, the committee did everything right, except for the things they did excellently.
August 14-18, 2014
Worldcon gave me a chance to visit London again, a thing which does not happen often enough.
Monica and I had a good time, playing tourist until our feet hurt. We used the Underground a lot, and we like it. The convention itself was excellent. For once, I got to attend a lot of programming and filk concerts, rather than just doing my own events and collapsing. Among the most interesting: a multi-session attempt to recreate the Game of Azad, from Iain M. Banks' Player of Games. In the final session we actually tried to play what had been created. Fruit, Lego, and children were involved, and many bemused spectators.
I did three signing sessions, participated in three panels, and met a lot of people.
I also came back with a cold (again). So it goes. Perhaps I should have myself coated with plastic before the next event.
June 11-15, 2014
I wore both my pro and fan hats at Brickworld. With my fan hat on, I marveled at the amazing LEGO exhibits and helped at the combined PennLUG/TBRR train layout. With my pro hat on, I supported the Crazy Bricks "Munchkin Bricks" project. (Check out the Crazy Bricks Kickstarter site here – it ended at nearly 400% of its original goal, and hit lots of stretch goals!) I did Q&As, signed things (for an amazing number of gamers!) and generally had a good time.
April 5, 2014
Like last year, I celebrated TableTop Day at Wonko's in Austin. Games were played. I got to walk a couple of really nice kids through the basic Ogre scenario. We had a lot of spectators, and the Ogre ended up destroying absolutely everything. There was some serious killer instinct at work. Also, hilariously, the Ogre player kept thinking out loud about what he would do next, and the defense kept believing what he said, and then the Ogre would look at the board and change his mind. Ogres are sneaky! And Ogres are very bad news even after you shoot their guns off. But, full disclosure: during the endgame, the defender was NOT getting the die rolls he needed, and he was a great sport about it and fought to the bitter end. We had a lot of spectators for that game, and everyone had a good time.
That wasn't our only TableTop Day goodness. Our MIBs held events all over the place. The link is to a forum that (as I write this) is nine pages long, full of event listings, and not just in the US – we were gaming in Brazil, Korea, Russia, UK, Mexico . . .
March 29-30, 2014
Irving, TX (near Dallas)
This was a local event created by Tiffany Franzoni and her Roll2Play troupe. It was launched as a Kickstarter project and succeeded. It succeeded as an event, too! By Sunday, a lot of the attendees were twisting Tiffany's arm to make it a continuing thing. Being a businesswoman as welll as a fangirl, Tiffany replied "Let me crunch the numbers first." But this is the kind of convention that the hobby needs – strong local roots, friendly management, and huge amounts of open gaming!
There were also a lot of guests for an event that size! They included Kevin Nunn (who is the man to blame for Duck! Duck! Go!), Keith Baker (prolific designer in several genres, and most recently responsible for Gloom), and my friends Justin and Anne-Marie De Witt, also known as Fireside Games. I got to play their Munchkin Panic for the first time. SO MUCH FUN. And we did many, many rounds of Munchkin Loot Letter, the upcoming Love Letter reskin from Alderac.
And at the last minute Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo was added to the guest list. Rick's probably my oldest friend in the whole hobby, and it was great to see him.
March 7-9, 2014
We had a booth, and I did an hour of signing. I wandered around the hall beforehand; the game that impressed me most was Mushroom 11. Look it up, starting with this YouTube video. I enjoyed talking with designer Itay Keren, and I really want this game to make it to release.
Here's what stank with this event: SXSW put a music stage in the gaming expo hall. When the band started up, the rest of the hall started to empty, because nobody could hear the game audio or talk to the creators. That was a massively thoughtless move on the organizers' part. I know SXSW started as a music festival. I could care less how it started. If they're going to add a "game expo," they have to provide an environment where the fans can hear the games. A lot of the game developers there were struggling startups who thought the bucks they paid out for a booth were a good investment in promo. In my opinion, they were ripped off.
Note that I'm NOT calling out the musicians on the stage. Like any band at SXSW, they must have thought they were being given a great opportunity to show their stuff. They had no way of knowing that a lot of the people in that hall would consider them nuisance noise. So they were ripped off too.
Clean up your act, SXSW.
February 22, 2014
OwlCon, the Rice University game con, is always fun for me, and I always get great support from the Houston-area MIBs. To be honest, I should say that *I* support *them* – they did all the organizing, and I just showed up, talked, and played. Of the new stuff we played, the biggest hit was Mars Attacks, which kept drawing new players to the table to destroy cities and have their photos taken at the Washington Monument. Those wacky Martians . . .
November 20-24, 2013
This was only my second BGGcon. It was better than the first, and the first was pretty amazing. Lots of talk with old friends, lots of playing new games, lots and lots and LOTS of kibitzing on new games, Toward the end I followed the example of the late lamented Bob Asprin and just declared a table in the bar to be my office. Some good meetings were held and at least one deal was done. And they make an excellent brandy Alexander!
One day of the event was mostly taken up by Andrew, Ross, Phil, and me just hiding out in one of the nice hotel meeting rooms and having a no-kidding Munchkin summit meeting. That was probably the most important thing we did. But the most FUN thing we did was go downstairs and play games. OMG, do they ever have a game library. I intend to go back this year.
October 19-20, 2013
Ogre Launch Party
Soooo much fun. Plans for this started as a one-day event, but it soon grew into two days. Big thanks go to everyone who helped turn our temporary Ogre Logistics Facility (which used to be a furniture store) into an events venue. Especially Eric Dow, who spearheaded the project, and Jimmie and Brandon, who provided the necessary tech support, and the graphics team that made the giant Ogre blueprint and the cool signs. And I have to say that we got the classiest sets of convention attendees EVAR.
After all the time the game was in development, it was huge fun to watch so many sets of Ogre getting punched, and assembled, and played. Scenarios got tried, too. In some cases, they got broken. Oh, well, take them back and fix them. Other things got tested, as well: Zombie Dice 3 got its final playtest there. (Thanks, Al Griego, for useful comments!)
Of note: Mike Hall bid $300 for charity (The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) to win a copy of the game . . . and then donated his new game to Wonko's Comics as a store copy.
Putting on our own convention was a whole lot of work, but looking back afterward . . . it was SO worth it, and one day we will do it again.
October 4-6, 2013
With my other geek hat on, I went to play with LEGO trains at the Galveston Railroad Museum. I did give out a few "Adventure Time" bookmarks to the lucky people who knew what they were.
Full report here: www.texasbrickrr.com/past_events.html
August 29-September 2, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
This was apparently a big con with a lot going on. I say "apparently," because I spent almost all of my time at the Chaos Machine . . . which went over very well. That was not . . . actually . . . my plan. But that was how it worked out. I only got to one program item besides my own, and that was a Leslie Fish concert. Wasn't going to miss that, no matter what!
It turned out that the game area was right next to the Machine, so at least I got to move back and forth some. Al Griego and the MIBs ran a lot of Munchkin and Zombie Dice, and showed off the production copy of Ogre. MTV Geek interviewed me; a link will be posted when it's up.
I moderated a panel on the Vorkosigan universe, with Lois in the audience. No pressure, folks!
A Hugo Award that made me particularly happy this year was the Best Related Work, which went to Writing Excuses, a podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and my friend Howard Tayler. This is a fun, useful program that gives back to the community by helping us write better, and I'm very glad it was honored.
And I can unconditionally recommend the Texas de Brazil restaurant in downtown San Antonio to my fellow carnivores.
August 15-18, 2013
We showed off the ever-closer Ogre game and let people try to pick up the box. Fun was had!
Then I got home dead tired, and promptly came down with the con crud. I'm sure there is a moral there somewhere.
July 19-21, 2013
I wore both my LEGO fan hat and my train fan hat here. The Texas Brick Railroad was part of a multi-club LEGO layout at the National Train Show. I spent my time – what else? – running trains. But I got to talk to some other gamers who are also train fans!
July 3-7, 2013
Morristown, New Jersey
Dexcon is a really big, busy game convention, with a fantastic staff, in a part of the country that I don't visit as often as I should. I made it in 2013 as part of the promise to take Ogre to some big summer conventions. And, yea verily, we had Ogre events with both me and Ogre Line Editor Daniel Jew. I did a 12-player "simultaneous exhibition" (won 10, lost 2). Daniel spoke about the upcoming Designer's Edition and showed off our actual factory sample, and Dexcon's famous Arena featured Bill Refsland's Ogre macrotures with a pair of two-foot-long Ogres!
We also had a charity Munchkin game! We raised $480 for Child's Play.
And I had a great time with outside appearances: a visit to Peachstate Hobby Distribution, and three very-well-attended retailer events: The Only Game In Town (Somerville), The Fallout Shelter (Highland Park), and Gamer's Gambit (Saddle Brook). Big thanks to Vinny and the whole concom; to MIB Sean Ferris, who organized the outside events and chauffered me all over the Eastern seaboard, and to David Neuschulz, who drove me to NYC one morning to see the Lego "Art of the Brick" exhibition!
June 13-16, 2013
Schaumburg, Illinois (near Chicago)
Massive fun, This is one of the biggest LEGO conventions in North America. I went this year because I went last year and had a great time. I missed the first day of Brickworld; not many events could drag that compromise out of me, but . . . Origins is one of them! So I went to Origins first.
And I did a presentation on track ballasting for LEGO model railroads. (Woot! I got to do a Brickworld presentation!) This has the potential to be intensely interesting **IF** you happen to be a model railroader who likes LEGO, or a LEGO fanatic who likes building big train/town exhibits. The slide show will be posted on the TBRR page soon, and I'll update this report.
June 12, 2013
I made it it to Origins this year! It was a multi-day event, but I was only there for Wednesday, the first day. I did a Q&A session, playing Munchkin and Ogre, signing some games, and generally walking around having fun
On Wednesday, June 12, 2pm, I did a simultaneous exhibition, playing Ogre against multiple opponents. Won eight, lost two, and two had to leave early.
The next morning, VERY early, I was off for Brickworld.
April 6, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
Chimaeracon is a full weekend gaming/anime con, but I was only able to be there for an hour on Saturday the 6th to say hi to my old friend Al Griego, check things out, and do a "What's New at SJ Games" talk. Daniel Jew was also there running Ogre.
High point of the event was absolutely, without a question, meeting the Sparkly Good Fairy! This is Jessica Dye. She's amazing – she had all the Fairy's weapons and magic items, and most of them were handmade. Last year she was the female Munchkin. I wonder what happens next year . . .
March 30, 2013
International TableTop Day
I celebrated the day at Wonko's in Austin. At times, we had more than 60 people playing! To the right you see me and clan Dow, proprietors of Wonko's.
Big thanks to our friends at TableTop for making this happen. There are rumors it will happen again. Cross your fingers.
Through the magic of video, I was also able to drop in at Lofty Pursuits in Tallahassee. It was fun to hear the crowds at the two stores cheering each other! To the left, I am in two places at once!
I also had the pleasure of giving some rides in the FNORD Model S, and even allowing a few guest drivers . . . The car is quiet. The "Whooooooaaaas" were loud.
March 22-24, 2013
I was Gaming Guest of Honor at this long-running Southern convention. It was fun! I got snowed on! I did not drink the Blue Stuff, but I put it on a card! And everyone was amazingly nice. Okay, that's not amazing at a Southern con, but it's amazing anyway. Thank you!
Despite the weather, we held a special Munchkin game in . . . a gazebo. That is the Official Truth, and anyone who thinks they saw us finishing the game inside is simply not with the program. This game also marked the first public view of the new Munchkin Dragons supplement. There were six of us playing, everyone reached Level 9 at least once, and I did not win. Though I got to make the Maul Rat "Draconic" and laugh insanely.
And there were three separate sessions of Ogre demonstration, for a total of 20 players and I-don't-know-how-many spectators.
Monica and I got in a lot of Memphis sightseeing, including the Botanic Gardens, the locomotive and cars at Collierville, and the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum (thank you, Brian, for the great tour of the catacombs – photo to right!). Then we rode on an antique trolley car that went past a pyramid. It doesn't get much better than that.
February 23, 2013
And I got to learn a new game. Here we see Paul Chapman, a SJ Games alumnus now with PSI, teaching me and Alliance's Frank Penc to play a new dice game, Skyline. Okay, actually all we see of Paul is his finger. Fame is like that, Paul! We enjoyed the game. The "15 minutes" estimate on the box is off by about a factor of four, even for only three players, but it was a happily spent hour and I'd play it again. Attractive components, simple rules.
Thanks, Alliance, for putting the show together, and Paul, thank you for teaching me the game!
February 15, 2013
This is the annual game convention at Rice, my alma mater. So I go when I can, and I always have a good time. This year, the big deal was showing off some Ogre components that hadn't yet been seen outside the office, and playing on, not actual Ogre boards, but full-size printouts using full-sized counters and real Ogre Mark IIIs.
High points: A really good shawarma at the RMC. Catching up with some old friends and MIBs. Seeing a really active convention with a dealer room that was open, and busy, past 8pm!
Special thanks to John Lach, who did his usual great job running our room, and Matt McDonough, who transported the (somewhat bulky!) Ogre material from Austin to Houston and back.
February 9-10, 2013
A model train show. I was here as part of a new LEGO train club, the Texas Brick Railroad; this was my first shot at organizing this kind of exhibit. We looked good! The showpiece was TJ Avery’s giant all-LEGO Pennybacker Bridge (the Loop 360 bridge in Austin). There was a lot of other wonderful stuff, but the bridge was the thing you could see from across the room. Biggest single model at the whole show. Awesome.
November 9-11, 2012
Lombard, Illinois (near Chicago)
A SF/fantasy con of great antiquity. I was gobsmacked to be invited as Gaming GoH, and Windycon absolutely lived up to its reputation. Someday I am going to get back there . . . watch me and see.
Highlights: dinner and the new James Bond flick with ESR and Cathy Raymond. Going slightly fanboy on Seanan McGuire. Lurching around the halls in undead makeup and full Slow Shaky Zombie mode (thanks to Barb VanTilburg of Offworld Designs for the pic). Drinking with the Klingons (again). Seeing Tom Smith again. Hearing Tom Smith again!
John Ickes spearheaded a great MIB presence, and there were many mighty Castellan demos.
November 2-4, 2012
Highlights: Hanging out with Howard Tayler, and buying an original Tayler not by Howard. Talking to Steve Brust again after way too many years. Enjoying some good performances at fan karaoke and NOT being pushed onto the stage myself. Meeting the polymath Lee Moyers (and I wish I could have talked to him more).
More highlights: the Klingon Black Hole party. A fantastic meal at Boboquivari’s with some old friends and veteran MIBs. Post-con tourism in San Francisco.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped with Chaos breakdown, and double thanks to Andrew Walters, who also brought his own big Ogre demo set.
August 10-12, 2012
A general media-SF-fantasy-gaming con. I took a lot of questions about Kickstarter, gave the best answers that I could, and met other people organizing KS projects.
Highlights: Playing a game that used rubber-band trebuchets to knock down enemy units and walls; lunch with Tracy and Laura Hickman and Bob Salvatore. Seeing people use the Munchkin QR code sign live.
John Lach and the MIBs did a great job running demos. And after the con I got to test-drive a Tesla Model S . . .
Low point (at the beginning of the show, so everything got better after that): I couldn’t check in to my room because the Westin Galleria had a plumbing problem and was flooding from the top down. Space City Con intelligently chose a different hotel for 2013!
March 7th, 2019 – December 31st, 2069
Lake Geneva, WI
I have never made it to Garycon. After this march, that omission will be corrected. I also expect to have advance copies of TFT to show off.
October 8th, 2020 – December 31st, 2069
Fans of Eric Flint's "1632" hold an annual convention, and this year it's virtual. A number of big names will be speaking on panels, including Eric Flinto himself, gamer favorites David Brin, David Drake, S. M. Stirling, and David Weber, and filker Tom Smith.
The panel will be prerecorded, so in theory, once the convention launches, you can watch it any time.
October 8th, 2020 – December 31st, 2069
Fans of Eric Flint's "1632" hold an annual convention, and this year it's virtual. A number of big names will be speaking on panels, including Eric Flinto himself, gamer favorites David Brin, David Drake, S. M. Stirling, and David Weber, and filker Tom Smith.
The panel will be prerecorded, so in theory, once the convention launches, you can watch it any time.