It was hard to contain my excitement in the weeks leading up to Gen Con. Though my preferences for board and quick card games make me much more a casual gamer than a hobbyist, I’ve always enjoyed the idea of hobby gaming. Thankfully, this convention has more than enough of both.
Unfortunately, a personal tragedy the night before it was to start limited my ability to spend the kind of time I wanted at the convention but I did still manage to accomplish most of what I wanted and got to demo a lot of really great stuff.

Given my limited time, I didn’t get much chance to focus on the amazing costumes (photos of those are everywhere) and so chose to focus on what a lot of people don’t…the games themselves. Gen Con is where many game creators will go to debut their new projects and, in some cases, how they fare here can make or break smaller companies. No pressure though.


Cosplayers with ocarinas? Yup.

I will take a minute to drop in that there’s more than just games and costumes…there’s a whole culture, including music. Myself and my girlfriend were lucky enough to meet up with Daniel and the Lion, a band I first became aware of through a promo session they did with one of my photographic heroes, David E. Jackson. They gave each of us a CD (which is fantastic, btw) and talked to us for a while. Supremely nice guys, but that’s just part of the culture of this convention. They’re all gamers, hiding Magic: The Gathering references in their songs and, in fact, challenging people to pickup games of Magic at their table on Entertainer’s Row. Each band member was wearing a crown and all you had to do to earn the crown was win a match. I’m not sure, but I believe they all left with crowns intact. To further their nerd cred, the tour van’s license plate reads “VAN LOL”.


This table costs more than my vehicle.

Everything is so game-centric that there’s even a company called Geek Chic that makes furniture specifically designed for gaming. We’re not talking poker tables here, either. We’re talking hand-crafted hardwood tables that break down to contain large scale miniature battles, everything you could ever need for D&D sessions, or even board and card gaming. It’s absolutely amazing quality…but be prepared to pay for it.


Destroyer Ship, Leviathans from Catalyst Game Labs

I did make it through almost everything I hoped to try this year, from the new miniature-based aerial combat game Leviathans (Catalyst Game Labs) to the independently-published card game Quack In The Box (“The Fun Game of Medical Malpractice!” from Don Gusano Games).

For fans of casual, quick-play card games, Steve Jackson Games is slated to release new editions of its popular Munchkin series soon, including Conan The Barbarian and another based on popular webcomic Axe Cop. One of the booth reps also clued me in to the fact that Steve himself is hard at work on three potential expansions to Zombie Dice, one of my favorite games ever…so I’m eagerly awaiting that for next year.

As for some of what I ne of the highlights for me was a brand new card game called Food Fight (Cryptozoic Entertainment). 2-6 players are using food troops such as Big Bad Bacon, General Chicken, and Kaboom Ka-Bob to win various battles like The Battle of Spaghettisburg and Push at Hamburger Hill. Once the armies are set, the battlefields are revealed, and each player decides whether he’s going to fight for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner, it essentially plays like War. Each troop has assigned “yumminess points” that serve as the face value. Other cards can modify those points and change the rules in many ways, but it’s essentially a high-card wins type game. It gets very heated very quickly when Instant cards get chained but the whole game can usually be played in a half hour or so.

Unfortunately, not all the games worked as hoped. I was disappointed when I finally got to try Monsterpocalypse from Privateer Press. It was a lot of fun to play the demo but it’s entirely too complex to be able to get a pickup game going with friends. That one definitely falls under the “hobby gaming” title. That’s fine, as it’s something I’d like to get more involved in, but really need to find the time to dedicate and other people with whom I can play. Bummer.


If it’s 10 feet tall, is it still a mini?

Privateer has another miniature based game called Warmachine that seemed much more accessible than Monsterpocalypse, at least with the quickstart rules as used in the demo. It’s a two-player miniature-based wargame. Each player has his warcaster, who controls warjacks (think Mechwarrior, steampunk-style). The object of each skirmish is to destroy the other player’s warcaster. There are massive tournaments for these sorts of games with huge money and community prestige for the winners. If I can find the time to devote to learning strategy, this may be something I could get into. A pretty good 35 point army (smallest generally used in competition) can be had for under $100. There are games of Warmachine (and its cousin Hordes) going regularly in the area.

In all, I ended up demoing 14 different games and picking up four; the aforementioned Food Fight and Quack In The Box as well as Square Shooters (basically, a deck of cards on dice) and a very interesting card game called Psi-Duel from Travesty Games that I feel the need to discuss for a minute.

Psi-Duel works somewhat like Magic: The Gathering in that you are both defending and attacking against your opponent. The twist is that you have no idea what you’re actually attacking. The game is set up as a duel between two psychics. Each player has two lines of defense. If you can penetrate both lines of defense, you begin attacking the player himself. Very basically, this game is SO FUCKING COOL. Unlike Magic, it isn’t a collectible game; the entire game is contained on 72 cards (two 36 card decks).

In all, it was a good year despite issues that prevented me from getting to spend as much time as I wanted.
If you’re interested in finding out more about gaming, be it casual or hobby, check out some of the local gaming stores like Indy Gamerz (Greenwood), Game Preserve (Castleton, Greenwood, Lafayette, and Bloomington), and Saltire Games (Pendleton Pike) or check out what’s going on at the Arsenal Game Room.

The rest of the gaming photos from Gen Con 2011 can be found here.

The first weekend in August is one of my favorite times of year, only topped by Halloween. The only reason Halloween gets the edge is candy. As it happens, that’s really the only difference between the two.

A brief history

Gen Con was founded in Lake Geneva, WI (hence the name: GENeva CONvention) in 1967 by a group of war game enthusiasts led by Gary Gygax. Gygax was the perfect person to envision this event as, just a few years later, he would go on to revolutionize gaming and essentially create the entire genre of tabletop roleplaying by releasing of Dungeons

Situated just a few doors down from the (thanks to Man vs. Food) nationally known Bub’s in Carmel, Detour: An American Grille is a brand new potential hotspot.

In all honesty, I was wary of Detour to begin because of the fact that it’s run by the same people that brought you Sensu. Though I’ve never been there, I’m told can be a little “upscale” (read: snotty). However, as it’s just a few blocks from my apartment, and with an invite from Mojo’s own Jen and Smitty, we decided it sounded like a good place to go after Saturday’s roller derby bout.

There were six of us in the group and, at about 1030p, we had no trouble getting a table for all of us. There is a definite upscale look but with a sports bar vibe. Lots of flatscreens everywhere and, as soon as we sat down, I was pleased to see the NHL playoffs on one of the screens. Our server was a really attentive kid (I’m old, everyone’s a kid) who introduced himself as “Nate, Nathan, Nathaniel, whatever”. The service was excellent, with our food being brought to us by what looked, essentially, like a conga line of servers people bringing us our meals.

This, of course, brings us to the food itself.

Between the six of us, we covered a pretty decent representation of the menu. Here’s where I have to throw out a little bit of a warning. You may experience some mild sticker shock when looking at the menu. I was a little wary of paying $13 for a plate of nachos with grilled chicken on it. This melted away when I actually saw what I’d ordered.

To say the kitchen is generous with its portions is like saying a drowning victim has moist skin. It’s technically accurate but doesn’t really express the situation properly. My order, the Under Construction, was a six-inch tall (easily) pile of multi-colored tortilla chips made in-house and covered with jalapeños, three types of cheese, corn, black beans, and chicken.

That was just from the appetizer menu.

Looking around the table, it looked very similar. Huge burgers, big portions of portabella ravioli, a massive club sandwich, overstuffed quesadillas. Everyone definitely left well-fed.

If you click the website link up above, you’ll also see mention of the “Triple Bypass”. This is a two-and-a-half foot long Italian Beef sandwich. You get that and one side dish down in 45 minutes and you get your picture on the wall as well as your name and time recorded on the last page of the menu. The manager, a really nice guy named Nick, came by and showed us a photo of the one person that tried. This thing is no joke.

Detour has daily drink specials and a fairly sizable beer menu that has a couple of local brews (Sun King and Barley Island stood out) in addition to imports and the standard domestic fare.

Manager Nick also clued us in to something else that’s very cool about this establishment; a free underground 400-space parking garage. This garage is accessible from 1st Ave NW along the east side of the building. This is very important since the building is in a residential neighborhood and the residents were very upset about the parking situation and have threatened to have cars towed.

Opening weekend hiccups (and Carmel stereotype) notwithstanding, Detour is the type of joint I really like going. Great food in a relaxed atmosphere, it would be an excellent place to go any night of the week. I’m definitely looking forward to bringing more people to check it out as soon as possible.

Excuses. Much like opinions and assholes, everyone has them and, yes, they all stink.

Are there things you either need or want to do but you’ve never gotten around to them? Why not? Because you don’t have time? Lies. There are 168 hours in every week. Assuming you sleep 6-8 hours per night and work 45 hours a week (we’ll call it 50, including commute time and lunch breaks), that still leaves anywhere from 62-76 hours per week free to do whatever you want. If you don’t sleep much, you have even more time.

Think really hard about why you don’t do the things you want or feel you need to. What do you do instead? Why did you make that decision? Why aren’t you more successful at __________ than you are now?

People sometimes have a really difficult time accepting that their excuses and justifications are paper thin. They really don’t hold up.

Every 6 months or so, I find myself falling into the same trap. Things I know I should do, things I sort of want to do…none of it ever ends up getting done. I don’t have time…bullshit. The time is there, it just gets used to do other things. I don’t have money…still mostly bullshit. The money isn’t as easy to come by as the time but it’s still getting used to do other things.

Taking an inventory every so often can really help put things in perspective. Sometimes it’s hard. It sucks. At the same time, if you do it well, you’ll figure out really quickly how you can simplify things. Lay it all out in front of you and most of what seems really important in your head looks like the most ridiculous shit you can imagine.

Be honest with yourself. I don’t like when other people aren’t honest with me, why should I allow myself to be dishonest with me?

Try it and see what happens.

Yeah, so by this point, some people are aware I make chainmail. I alluded to it in my last blog and some of the membership have actually seen some of my work. A few of them have a piece or two.

No, I’m not into LARPing or Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I just really like doing things with my hands, so wires and pliers really let me stretch that as far as I care to go. Like a lot of things, it’s simple but it’s not necessarily easy.

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of different weaves, depending entirely on the size of the rings you’re using, specifically the aspect ratio (AR). The AR is the ratio (uh…really?) of the thickness of the wire (gauge) and the inner diameter of the ring.

The simplest weave is what’s most often referred to as European 4-in-1 (E4-1). It’s what most people think when they think of chainmail. Every ring has 4 other rings passing through it. This is designed mostly to be a sheet weave. Sheet weaves are used to create things that would normally be used for fabrics; think apparel and containment.

The second type of weave is a chain weave. Chain weaves aren’t meant to be (but some can be turned into) sheets. They’re used for jewelry or decoration or…well, pretty much anything you’d use a chain for.

Since I mentioned armor in the title, I should talk about that a little more, maybe. Maybe not. Whatever, I will anyway.

There are two main types of chainmail. The first type is the earliest (used mainly by Roman Centurions), referred to as butted mail. Butted mail is pretty self explanatory, the edges of rings are butted up to one another.

The second type is called riveted mail. Riveted mail has rings with edges that overlap, are flattened, and have a rivet driven through that overlap for added strength. Since the second requires more time, tools, and technique, and I don’t care about whether it can stand up in battle, I make butted mail. Here’s how the basic stuff is done with some E4-1.

First, get yourself two pairs of pliers and a lot of little tiny rings. These happen to be inexpensive chain nose pliers since I’m working with an aluminum alloy. For harder materials, more heavy duty equipment is needed.

You can probably see how these rings are all split. That comes from winding wire along a mandrel and cutting the coils. Cutting those coils causes the offset that allows you to open and close the rings.

To make one basic unit of E4-1, you need 4 closed rings and one open ring.

You then put the four closed into the one open and close it.

After that, expand in all directions and create a sheet.

Repeat that a few dozen times and you’ll have something more substantial.

Repeat the few dozen a few hundred and you get something recognizable.

Just FYI, the sheet in the above photo is going to become the missing sleeve. Also, the shirt is the same aluminum alloy but trimmed with copper.

The cool thing about this is that you can do just about anything with it since it essentially becomes a metal fabric. The only difference between chainmail and any other fabric is that this (for obvious reasons) has absolutely no stretch, so measurements are always very important. There are some slightly more advanced techniques like expansions, contractions, and 45 degree seams but a lot can be accomplished without having to know any of that stuff.

I know maybe 2 dozen weaves (out of hundreds, maybe thousands) but only really come back to 8 or 9 that I really like and find extremely useful.

If anyone’s interested in learning how to do any of this, I get all my supplies from a Canadian company called The Ring Lord. As always, I’ll entertain whatever questions you’ve got. I’ll throw up pictures of some of the other stuff I’ve done someday soon.

I’ve got a problem.

There are entirely too many things I want to get done but, of course, there’s only so much time to do them.

This sometimes causes me to bail on things before they’re done. I justify it by saying I’ll come back to it but I usually don’t. Guess that’s perpetual half-assery. Looking back at the hobbies I’ve picked up over the years, it’s definitely obvious I like to try new things. These seem to be on a random rotation of sorts.

Sometimes I’ll really feel like breaking out a deck of cards or a set of spongeballs or something and doing some sleight of hand, reliving the days I did walkaround magic for people because I was bored and they were excited by it. Then, after a while, I’ll sit down with my musical gear and play something I haven’t played in a while. Currently, I’m back to making chainmail after an exceptionally long hiatus.

I suppose it all comes down to whether or not there’s a larger purpose. With music and magic, it was mostly interesting when I was able to perform. I can still do both of those things (and pretty well, I might add) but it’s just not as fun sitting alone, running drills and practicing routines. There needs to be something larger. I’ve decided my musical performance days are done just because it’s not worth the trouble to do the sort of thing I want to do anymore. Magic…maybe. The reactions were fun but the routines themselves just got old and I lost interest

It was the same thing with the metalworking. The interest came back because there’s something to do now. I’ve got specific projects and so it’s become fun again.

The things that never seem to go change are cooking and physical training. Those two always stay right at the forefront. They go together, so it’s not entirely surprising. I’m very passionate about the kitchen just as I am my workouts.

I’m not really sure what the point of all of this was, just a moment of introspection, I suppose.

Gamers.

The word conjures up many different images for many different people. A lot of those images involve sweaty, overweight guys living in their mothers’ basements, blurring the lines between the real world and their level 35 Chaotic Good Half-Elf Barbarian D&D character and whose main weakness is against soap.

Now, I’d be lying if I said that didn’t happen. The truth, however, is that it isn’t as common as you may think.

Walk around the convention floor and talk to people and it’s obvious that a lot of them are really into what they do. The miniatures gamers choose their game, be it Warhammer, War Machine, Monsterpocalypse, Wings of War, Star Wars, or any other and build their armies. They spend hours upon hours painting each piece in painstaking detail, many of them with a mastery that would blow Michelangelo’s mind. They have carrying cases for the armies and/or vehicles, each one having its own place in foam trays. They have rule books, tape measures, protractors, and bags of other miscellaneous accessories. They set the armies up and get ready for tiny dice-controlled combat. They’re out for blood. The games can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Then the battle ends and everyone’s friends again.

It’s the same story with CCG (Collectible Card Game) players. Whether they’re playing World Of Warcraft (not just online anymore!), Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: The Gathering, or any of a few dozen others, once the competition is over, they’re trading cards, talking strategy, or just watching other games.

The Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall E is 40,400 sf. about 1/3 of that was dedicated to ongoing games involving various miniatures, the rest was dedicated to a massive tournament for both Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic. A non-stop series of WoW CCG games was happening in several large outlying ballrooms. There were pickup games happening on tables in food courts, on the floor in the hallways, and anywhere else with a flat surface.

Cosplaying (costumed roleplaying for those watching at home) is incredibly popular as anyone who’s ever walked through downtown during Gen Con weekend can see. Some of them just like dressing in costume. Some go a little farther and actually become the characters they’re wearing. Of these, some do it for entertainment and some do it because they’re actually LARPers. For those not in the know (and who have never seen Role Models…) LARP is Live Action Role Playing. Instead of using figurines or pen and paper to keep track of stats, they become their characters and engage in battles. They are, in essence, the pinnacle of role playing games.

These are the ones that tend to receive the most scorn. Sure, it’s escapism…but so is watching a movie, a TV show, or reading a book. Theirs is just a more active escape. When they’re not in costume, they’re just like anyone else. Go to work, pay bills, deal with real life, then escape.

Of course, there are a whole bunch of other types of gamers out there…board gamers, puzzle gamers, tabletop/pen & paper gamers, and video gamers. It’s all the same story.

The biggest draw about something like Gen Con is that, more than being a gaming convention, it’s a community. A lot of the serious gamers catch a lot of flack from their peers for being nerds. The reality is that they just have a hobby they’re very interested in and serious about. It’s not really any different from any other hobby. Gamers in general are very intelligent, have jobs, families, and social lives. Those social lives just happen to revolve around gaming. Some people have social lives that are entirely centered on bars and clubs, some revolve around sports.

People will travel to be around their own, to feel that sense of community. The draw of Gen Con for these kinds of people is so strong, they’ll cross oceans. Think I’m kidding? I met a guy that came from London. There was a contingent that came from Japan. I spoke with someone that had a friend come in from The Netherlands.

Very simply put, all these gamers can get together with about 27,000 people that share their interests. They know they can be themselves and have a good time in their own way without being hassled. Seems like a pretty good deal to me. When talking to service staff at bars and restaurants downtown, every one of them said they love Gen Con weekend. Coming into work is like dropping into a Halloween party in August.

What kind of person could really have a problem with that?

Gen Con. Its tag line is “The Best Four Days In Gaming”. You know what? I’m sure they’re right.

I’ve never really been a gamer. I played AD&D for a while but haven’t played in about 17 years, not since I moved to Indiana. I’ve played card games, been stuck inside on rainy days with Milton Bradley, and play some video games sometimes.

If that’s all you’ve ever experienced, Gen Con will blow away your idea of what the word “gaming” means.

This was my second year, though last year I was only able to make one day. I learned this year that one day just isn’t enough to take in the full scope of what there is to offer. Even if you don’t know exactly what they are, you’ve probably heard of Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh. What you don’t know is that, for every one of those you’ve heard of, there are dozens you haven’t…and that’s a very conservative estimate.

Most of the games being sold were being sold by the companies that created them. In some cases, the creators of the games themselves. Among many relatively smaller companies like Myndzei, our new friends (and booth neighbors) at Mindtwister USA, Twilight Creations, Inc (sponsors of Friday’s Zombie Walk), established companies like Privateer Press, Smirk & Dagger, Catalyst Games, and Steve Jackson Games (creators of the Munchkin series), and the heavy hitters like Bandai, Konami, Wizards of the Coast, and White Wolf. Every company had demos of several of their flagship games set up where someone working for the company would teach you to play. Try before you buy…and with the amount of money that flows through the gaming industry, the odds say you’ll probably buy.

I didn’t get to play anywhere near as many games as I wanted to but that’s because there just wasn’t enough time to play everything there is to play on the show floor, at least not if I wanted to see things going on in surrounding areas.

Since they were (as I mentioned) our next door neighbors for four days, I got a good look at what Mindtwister USA had to offer and was pretty impressed. They aim to do pretty much what their name suggests…twist your mind. The games are primarily strategy-based board games but newer games have been moving into card and party games. I ended up getting two games from them, a strategy board game called Element and a cards and dice party game called Sushi Roll.

Element is a two player game of capture and resource management that combines elements of Go, Chess, and Rock, Paper, Scissors in which you’re trying to trap your opponent using the elements of fire, wind, earth, and water. The elements work in a recursive heirarchy where fire burns wind, wind blows away the earth, earth rises from the water, and water puts out the fire. I played a demo with the game’s creator Mike Richie…and got my ass handed to me in 3 turns.

Sushi Roll is a game where every player is trying to be the first sushi chef to match the pictures on the cards to those on the dice. Whoever has the most cards at the end of the game is the winner. It really is that simple…just a really entertaining party game.

You can find out more about Mindtwister at their website, Mindtwister USA.

Steve Jackson Games is another really interesting company with some great products including, as mentioned before, their flagship Munchkin series. One of the best and most unique things about Steve Jackson is that he’s designed almost all of his games to be combined with all the other ones to create a huge number of different gameplay experiences. Try mixing Scrabble and Candy Land…that probably wouldn’t be too special. I ended up picking up Zombie Dice, in which you roll randomly selected dice in a quest to collect at least 13 brains while not getting shot and Cthulhu Dice, where each player is a cultist trying to steal sanity from the other players in order to become the cult leader. Both games are simple, fast, and a lot of fun.

Twilight Creations, Inc makes their mark with games involving Zombies, Vampires, and Martians (all, incidentally, names of their games) among a few others. The games are all designed to put the cheesiness and fun back into the undead. Though all of their products looked interesting I picked up a game called All Wound Up that is a racing board game featuring little plastic wind up zombies. Your goal is to be the first out of the graveyard. Granted, the rules are a little complicated but it’s pretty hard not to laugh at zombies that can’t walk in a straight line.

The last game I got came from Myndzei who, sadly, don’t seem to have much of an online presence. It’s called Wench: Top Shelf which is a revamp of their original Wench, a card-based drinking game where every card has a rule or action that can be directed at one or more players. Billed as “The Thinking Drinking Game”, its play shares several ideas with Kings (I know you Mofos know that one…) and the cards, featuring cupcake-style pinup art, are actually a full 54-card poker deck. This is definitely coming out the next time there’s a party.

Something that’s always caught my attention but I never got into because of time and financial limitations is the world of miniatures gaming. The granddaddy of them all is the classic Warhammer 40000 from Games Workshop. These games use armies of small character models (usually hand painted in amazing detail) and rely heavily on strategy to defeat the opposing armies. In some competitions, winners actually keep trophies…pieces of their opponents’ armies. It’s the tabletop gamer equivalent of racing for pink slips.

There are several other games that work using the same general type of play, including WarMachine, Monsterpocalypse (soon to be a 3D movie by Tim Burton, apparently), and an upcoming Voltron game all by Privateer Press as well as Star Wars Miniatures by Wizards Of The Coast (Magic: The Gathering, D&D, and Axis and Allies), a game involving combat between miniature planes called Wings Of War by Fantasy Flight Games.

Most of these types of games involve rolling dice to determine movement and the unit types have different rules that apply to how and in what direction they’re able to move as well as what actions they’re able to perform.

Of course, even though this article has gotten fairly long, this is really only a sample of the variety of what’s available at Gen Con. I’ll have to write a whole new article just to talk about the culture of gaming.

Like a lot of the members here, I originally joined Mojo after seeing a bunch of lunatics at a bar. I started getting active in the forums while at work because it was better than actually doing my job.

In March of 2009 (the 25th, to be exact), I got home from work and my boss called to tell me I was being let go along with 25 other people. That Saturday, I went to the first Go Broad Ripple Bar Crawl event and met a bunch of people. Several of those people would turn out to be really good friends.

This past Monday was April 26th when I started a brand new (and very promising) job. It was 13 months to the day that I had been without full time work. On that first day, I was able to introduce myself to people and engage in conversations with the other newbies as well as several of the old hands. The ages and personality types in this company range all over the map. There were never any nerves or awkwardness. I was never uncomfortable.

The man who is now my boss said he rarely saw someone that had the comfort level in an interview that I showed him.

I owe most of that to IndyMojo.

Anyone that gets involved for any period of time will eventually develop friendships. That’s never been a secret. I have lots of friends as a result of my involvement but I got something larger and just as beneficial. I got exposure to lots of different people, places, and things I might not have on my own.

Being unemployed, I didn’t really have a whole lot going on so I started doing things for JK. I got the opportunity to see and work behind the scenes not only with the Mojo community itself but also several of the large events. I’ve seen some of what goes into making this whole thing work and what it takes to get the large parties going.

Because of all of this exposure to such a diverse range of people and experiences, I learned how to adapt and engage people in different ways. I learned how to adapt my behavior and communication to whatever situation I was actually in.

If there are any newbies reading this, we try to tell you that you get out what you put in. Let my story be an illustration of that idea.

I really don’t know where I’d be without IndyMojo and, no matter what happens, I’ll always love this community.

Exodus, Testament, and the mighty Megadeth. Three of the most important and influential pillars of American Thrash metal, these bands brought a total of over 80 years of heavy metal history into the Circle City for one night. Most modern heavy metal is a direct result of what these bands have put out since the early 1980s. They brought every bit of that experience along with them.

As a fan of heavy metal and most of its many forms and sub-genres, Megadeth’s Rust In Peace (released 1990) is one of my ten “desert island” CDs. Its compositions were far beyond anything that had been done in heavy metal before, combining technical ability with the blinding speed and freight train power that previous thrash bands had perfected.

Imagine my amazement when it was announced that Megadeth would not be touring to support their newest album (Endgame, 2009) but would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Rust In Peace. Ask any Megadeth fan what his favorite album is, you’ll most likely hear that as the answer. In celebration, the band announced that original bassist David Ellefson was returning to the band after being absent for the recording of the last three albums. Ellefson and vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine were the only part of the lineup that had remained the same from the release of 1985’s Killing Is My Business�And Business Is Good to the tour supporting The World Needs A Hero in 2002. It’s great to see him back

One thing that impressed me about this show more than anything was that it was almost 4 hours long. Very few international touring artists put that much time and effort into their shows and it always makes me feel better about spending the money to see a show if I feel like I’m going to get my money’s worth.

The show opened with Exodus. The only thing most people might possibly know about Exodus is that they are the band that Kirk Hammett was playing with when he was convinced to leave and replace Mustaine as the lead guitarist in Metallica. That’s unfortunate, because they really are an incredible band on their own.

The 45-minute set they played covered most of their career without going all the way back to the beginning. It was good to hear several of the newer, more mature tracks from 2005’s Shovel Headed Kill Machine and The Atrocity Exhibition Exhibit A but was just as great to hear the raw power of their earlier work too. It’s really too bad their sound wasn’t that good. One guitar was just lost in the mix and everything was overpowered by the kick drum. The engineer really dropped the ball on that mix.

Testament was up next, touting this tour as a classic lineup. This marks the return of legendary guitarist Alex Skolnick. Because the lineup dates from about 1983-1992, that was the entirety of the set list. In an interesting turn, the band chose to play ONLY classic material and nothing from their last release The Formation Of Damnation or the three that came before it. That was a mixed bag, since it was great to hear classic Testament but I didn’t get to hear anything from 1999’s The Gathering, another of my desert island albums. The sound was far better for this hour-long set, though still not the best it could have been.

Finally, the Megadeth had landed. One of my favorite bands of all time, I’d seen them before at Riehle Bros in Lafayette back in 2002 when they were supporting The World Needs A Hero. It was a jaw-dropping show then and it was even bigger this time. They opened with some old school tracks, dating all the way back to 1986-88, building up to the start-to-finish performance of Rust In Peace, featuring several songs that have never been performed live prior to this tour. Something interesting to note is that only the single from the most current album was played. The 90-minute set also ended by playing the second half of the opening track to Rust In Peace (The Punishment Due) a second time as the closing song. The entire set list is added at the end you know, in case you’re into that sort of thing.

The energy in the room was intense from the moment the drum set was uncovered and the dual radiation symbols on the kick drums reminded everyone of what it was like when Nick Menza was behind the kit 20 years ago to Mustaine’s final words “You’ve been awesome, we’ve been Megadeth. Goodnight!” The sound was greatly improved once again which was excellent. Finally, we had a great mix and could really appreciate this amazing music for exactly what it is metal at its purest and most exciting.

These bands have been doing it for almost 30 years. I hope they can do it for 30 more.

Like I said before, here’s Megadeth’s complete set list and the album each came from.

Set The World Afire (So Far, So Good, So What?)
Wake Up Dead (Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?
In My Darkest Hour (So Far, So Good,So What?)

RUST IN PEACE
Holy Wars/The Punishment Due
Hangar 18
Take No Prisoners
Five Magics
Poison Was The Cure
Lucretia
Tornado Of Souls
Dawn Patrol
Rust In Peace/Polaris

Head Crusher (Endgame)
Trust (Cryptic Writings)
Symphony Of Destruction (Countdown To Extinction)
Peace Sells (Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?)
The Punishment Due (Outro)