One of the big reasons I come to GenCon is to play games, but it's not the only reason: shopping is another. In 2000 I bought my first Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Player's Handbook there, in 2014 I'll by my first 5th Edition PHB. This is where I got my Battlestar Galactica and Serenity RPG books, as well as more d20 sourcebooks than I care to mention.
It's about far more than RPGs though -- the Exhibit Hall is huge with plenty of board games, card games, war games and, well, I'll stop listing game genres because they have them all. Moreover they've got lots of great add-ons for your games. Miniatures, geeky bumper stickers, precision dice, custom science fiction patches inspired by TV and movies, you name it, you can probably find it here.
While you can just browse the Exhibit Hall, I find it's better to have a plan ... and a shopping list.
Dungeons & Dragons Player's HandBook, 5th Edition
Topping my GenCon shopping list is Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition's Player's Handbook. I haven't purchased a PHB at GenCon since the 3rd Edition book came out at GenCon 2000. My gaming group ran a one-shot of D&D on Gygax Day, and we really liked what we saw. It really is a faster, simpler version of Dungeons & Dragons that cherry picks the best parts of earlier games without creating an unwieldy hodgepodge. The preview pages that Wizards has released have looked fantastic, and the game itself looks like the one that just might be able to end the Edition Wars in my group.
I've only played it a handful of times, but I really enjoyed the Cortex-powered Serenity role-playing game inspired by the Firefly TV series and the movie which followed it. That game was discontinued a few years ago, apparently in anticipation of the Firefly RPG, a new and improved version (still powered by Cortex) that's being released this year. I'm playing two sessions of Firefly this year at GenCon ("Wedding Planners", "What's Yours Is Mine "). Assuming the game plays as well as Serenity, I'll be picking up a copy of the new game.
Achtung! Cthulhu is a World War II-meets-Cthulhu campaign setting for Savage Worlds. I considered backing the kickstarter, but couldn't afford it at the time. With my Weird Pulp campaign up and running, I'm seriously considering buying these books as idea fodder. This purchase is tempered by the fact that Weird Pulp might go on hiatus for a while when the last of the D&D core rulebooks drop.
Mindjammer Press' Mindjammer came out of nowhere. It's a FATE-based transhuman science fiction role-playing game, which auto-scores it near the top of my list of games to look at. My hesitation at buying it outright comes from it being a 500 page book, and the fact that my group's never plated FATE (and isn't likely to anytime soon). Based on the previews, it's a beautiful looking book), and I plan to wander over to the Indie Press Revolution booth to check it out in person.
Board & Card Games
There are a number of board and card games I want to take a closer look at. Z-Man Pandemic: Contagion is a board game sequel to Pandemic. This time around, instead of working together to save the world from rampaging diseases, the players are the rampaging diseases trying to wipe out humanity.
Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars: Armada scales up its popular X-Wing game to capital ships, allowing you to pit Star Destroyers against Rebel cruisers while squadrons of fighters fly interference. It's a big, huge, expensive game -- I think it's listing for $99 -- but I'd love to play test it at the convention.
I've never played any of the Legendary card games by Upper Deck, but I'd like to try its new cooperative Aliens card game. It's a deck-building game (think Dominion or Ascension) in which players trying to deal with an Alien infestation. The twist? Players can become infested with alien embryos after falling prey to a face hugger, and then turn against their fellow humans.
And the rest...
There are a few other things on my shopping list that aren't games, though they are game related. I need to buy replacement dice for my "Dice of Ragnarok" set -- they're smokey grey dice with red numbering that I used for my lunchtime Savage Worlds game. They're some of my favorite dice, but they fell victim to an overenthusiastic kitten who scattered them to the far corners of the gaming room (where they remain unfound). I'd also like to get a set of dice for my Weird Pulp campaign (I'm thinking grey-green), as well as another new set for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (perhaps a nice orange/red/black set to tie into the Tyranny of Dragons storyline).
I also need new geeky/gaming t-shirts. When I was packing for GenCon I was surprised to discover how many of my old shirts had holes in them; it's definitely time for an upgrade.
In particular I'd like to find a new "Fnord" t-shirt and anything Chronicles of Amber related (an impossible task since Phage Press ceased to be, but I'll keep looking).
I'd like to get some miniatures for my Weird Pulp campaign, particularly mook NPCs, strange monsters, and a few heroes. I might also look at some fantasy-related minis, but the rest of the Blackrazors have those covered pretty well.
Finally I need new bumper stickers. It has been years since I bought any new bumper stickers for the Jeep ("Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow" anyone?) and I need something to supplement the existing "Cthulhu for President" and Cthulhufish bumper stickers.
Of course, the list is only the beginning. Once I get the high priority items on my list, I plan to spend a few hours just browsing the hall, demoing games, and compiling a list of things I want to check out after the convention.