You might have noticed the game Castle Assault occupying the top spot on BGG’s The Hotness and wondered why a 2015 release from two designers who have never published anything else is getting so much attention.
If so, then you missed one of the big news items from Gen Con 2023: “The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was called to the Indianapolis Convention Center where Gen Con is located to investigate the theft of more than $300,000 worth of ‘gaming cards’.”
To quote an August 4, 2023 article about the theft:
Now, with Gen Con events in full swing and lasting throughout the weekend, IMPD detectives are asking the public for help in identifying two people “possibly involved” in the theft…
Images from IMPD
Anyone with information regarding the theft, the people pictured above or the stolen cards is being asked to contact IMPD by calling 911. You can also contact CrimeStoppers of Central Indiana at (317) 262-TIPS to remain anonymous.
One correction to that report: The theft took place on Tuesday, August 1, not on Wednesday, August 2.
On August 10, 2023, the IMPD announced that it “would like to speak with: Thomas J Dunbar and Andrew Pearson Giaume, regarding the theft of $300,000 worth of Magic: The Gathering gaming cards from Gen Con Indy 2023. Both are residents of New York City.”
One image from that IMPD tweet was picked up and shared by multiple media outlets:
From left: Pearson Giaume, black oval, and TJ Dunbar
And I immediately recognized that image because I edited and published the video from which that image was taken: an interview by Phoebe Wild at BGG.CON 2015 with designers TJ Dunbar and Pearson Giaume about their game Castle Assault, which was being released by their own company, MomentumVolsk.
How were those two identified when the images taken within the ICC were so grainy? As it turns out, many areas surrounding the ICC have much better cameras, and one of those images shows a red-headed individual wearing a Castle Assault T-shirt.
All the media coverage of two game designers who have allegedly committed theft of game materials has generated a lot of activity on the Castle Assault game page. Thus, hotness.
Just in case it needs to be said, BGG does not recommend game creators take such actions to generate interest in their work.
On August 17, 2023, the IMPD announced that “Detectives are no longer looking for these persons of interest. Detectives have been in communication with their attorneys. The case is expected to presented to the prosecutor’s office in the near future for charging consideration.”
Indiana code defines a theft of more than $50,000 as a Level 5 felony (with Level 6 being the least severe felony) and the penalty for such an offense as follows: “A person who commits a Level 5 felony (for a crime committed after June 30, 2014) shall be imprisoned for a fixed term of between one (1) and six (6) years, with the advisory sentence being three (3) years. In addition, the person may be fined not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000).”
(Note that you can also be charged with a Level 5 felony in Indiana if you steal valuable metal that relates to transportation safety; relates to public safety; or is taken from a hospital or other health care facility, telecommunications provider, public utility, or key facility. You’ve been warned.)
Designer TJ Dunbar logged into his BGG account today, August 21, 2023, but has not yet responded to my request for comment. I’ll update this post if he does.