The Show: Our Gen Con 2019 Wrap-Up

August 26, 2019

We’ve finally recovered from the chaos that is the largest gaming convention in the U.S.: Gen Con. No matter how much you plan ahead, it always turns into a mad scramble leading up to the show, and something always throws you a curve while you’re there. But, it’s also chock full of energy, a great place to meet the fans, and the biggest stage to show off your work. This year was no exception for Restoration Games. We know a lot of folks like a little peek behind the curtain, so here you go….

The Booth

We were fortunate to get upgraded to a 10’x20′ corner space this year, and we still had trouble figuring out how to fit everything in. We knew Unmatched would be hot, so we wanted to get a couple of demo spots for that. Fireball Island is a table hog in its own right, but we were introducing the Spider Springs expansion, which adds more to the footprint. We also were showing off Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit to a wider audience for the first time, and it takes up a bit more table space and does better with a longer demo, even a full play if possible. So we ordered a couple of new wrapped demo counters for UM and broke out our swank game table. We decided to give the Kallax a try for displaying stock and tested out a video monitor to catch the eye of passers-by. We even managed to squeeze in the penny press. (Alas, curveball, we couldn’t get the dies installed for the new designs.)

We tucked a small counter in on the side to process preorders from Board Game Geek. That system worked great. Folks were able to order on BGG before the show and pick the games up at their leisure without fighting the lines. We’re excited to leverage this system more in the future now that we’ve seen it in action.

The calm before the storm.

We had a great set of folks staffing the booth this year. Lots of returning people. I feel like we have a roster of regulars that really fit in with our culture of warmth, humor, inclusiveness, customer service. That is a great luxury to have and a real step up from prior shows where we’ve had to scramble to make sure we’ve got all the hours covered.

Overall, the booth was a great success. We’d still like to get a little more space for next year as our product line continues to grow.

Our breezeway display case drew a lot of attention.

The Games

We had three new releases for the show: Unmatched, Fireball Island: Spider Springs, and Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit. Based on preorders and buzz, we knew Unmatched would be a hot seller. We had the Battle of Legends, vol. 1 and Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot sets, of course, but we also had copies of the Bruce Lee solo pack. This was a result of our partnership with Mondo Games and made for a unique Gen Con experience. Our booths couldn’t have been farther apart in the exhibit hall, so we decided ahead of time that we’d split stock and each carry all of the sets. Our expectations were, if anything, a little low.

We decided to allot a certain number of copies of each game per day. We sold out of our first day’s allotment in less than 15 minutes. It was bananas. I texted Luke over at Mondo to see if they had extra copies, and they were in the same boat. So, for the next three days we actually handed out vouchers to all the folks in the line-up so people didn’t have to wait in line only to find out later that we had sold out for the day. We just might have a hit on our hands.

This was the first time Fireball Island was at Gen Con, and we also had the Spider Springs expansion for folks who already had the game. Spider Springs demos like a champ. As soon as they see that spider launcher sending spiders in the air the first time, they’re hooked. We sold out of our copies of the base game and expansion as well. The brand continues to be a strong seller.

Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit feels like it’s been out for awhile, but we haven’t even hit the street date yet. (September 4th by the way.) It’s got a great hook and a cool 70s spy vibe and I just love this game. We sold out of our stock in the last hour of the last day. Nailed it!

About how many copies we had left at the start of Sunday.

The Tower

One of the most exciting parts of Gen Con for us was finally being able to show off all of the hard work we’ve been putting into Return to Dark Tower. With Isaac, Noah Cohen (designer) and Tim Burrell-Saward (lead engineer) in town, this was the first time we had the core team all together in person since we started the project. What’s more, Tim brought the “Mark VIII”, the latest iteration of the physical prototype tower. We were able to get in a good number of playtests, do some rapid iterating, and let interested attendees have a look. On the last day of the show, we took over the demo table and even did some public designing right in the booth. Lots of folks did a double-take when they had a gander at that clunky-but-sexy hunk of plastic, gears, and motors. We even had Tim do some tower “surgery” right before he hopped on the flight back home.

Rob, Isaac, and Noah deep in thought.

The Events

Gen Con always comes with a number of special events, and this year was no exception. We ran an Unmatched “Teach & Tourney” that introduced folks to the game and let them try a few rounds of competitive play. Overall, a huge success and bodes well for organized play. We also ran a joint seminar with Mondo on the art of games, featuring Oliver Barrett, who did the amazing illustrations for the first three Unmatched sets.

As is becoming an annual tradition, we had an appearance on the Dice Tower Live show. We showed off some of the art for Return to Dark Tower but also announced our next big game: Key to the Kingdom, featuring art by the peerless Andrew Bosley.

Beware the Demon King!

We were fortunate to host the Secret Cabal meetup, which was a great time. Just a fun, casual vibe with gamers taking a night to relax from the go-go Gen Con scene. (I was only bummed I had to check out early to head back for more Return to Dark Tower playtesting.) If you have a chance to go next year, I highly recommend it.

Finally, our Gen Con would not be complete without “Blueprints” our seminar where we dish on all the latest news for our fans. The crowd seems to be getting bigger every year, so we must be doing something right. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the talk was about Return to Dark Tower, and we even showed off the prototype tower.

Rob’s explaining how awesome Return to Dark Tower is going to be.
Check out these Fireball Island superfans!

That’s it, folks! Another Gen Con in the books. Personally, it’s always a highlight of the year. Nothing compares to the energy of 70,000 gamers descending onto Indy. If you attended, tell us what your highlights were. If you didn’t, well, hopefully you can join us next year.