“Gen Con: The Best Four Days in Gaming.”
They’re really not kidding when they say that. Gen Con, held in downtown Indianapolis is one of, if not the, biggest gaming convention in the world. It’s held over four days and every hotel room in the city is booked, almost a year in advance. Millions of gamers gather in the midwest to play together, discover new games, and make memories. So here’s a few of mine, as well as a couple of tidbits about getting a little extra out of your Gen Con experience.
One of the main attractions is the exhibit hall, where hundreds of game companies, vendors and artists have booths where you can purchase everything from the latest releases to decades old classics. But outside of hand made dice bags and other trinkets, the exhibit hall is home to all kinds of great things. A significant portion of the “Vendors” are actually people that are deeply involved in the games they’re selling. Grant was able to meet the designer Ignacy Trzewiczek of some of his favorite games at the Portal Games booth, and I was able to meet John Hodgson, the creative director at Cubicle 7. He did the artwork for one of my favourite role playing games ‘The One Ring’, as well as many others. He was just at their booth interacting with everyone and selling merchandise. I noticed the name on his badge and had to ask if it was really him! He graciously signed the books I bought there, which was just really neat. So when you’re in the exhibit hall, just talk to the people there, everyone is super nice and you never know who you might meet.
When I register for events, I always prioritize registering for RPG’s, because in my experience those fill up the quickest, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then get on those first! For most board games you can be at least a little more relaxed about them. Obviously some events fill up quickly as well, things like Twilight Imperium 3, are very hard to get into, because they take a lot of time and have limited players so there’s just not that many spots. In my experience the best way to do board games at Gen Con is in the exhibit hall. Almost every publisher is there and have demo tables set up, for all of their new games as well as house hold classics. And as I said earlier, sometimes you get lucky enough to have the designer teach you how to play the game! The great part about doing this is that it’s much more relaxed, and you’re not running around on a tight schedule to get from game to game. You can just walk around, browse the vendors and play at your leisure. This experience should be fun after all, not stressful and hectic!
Another great part of the convention is the discount coupon book everyone receives on entry. There’s a ton of great deals for those looking, but there’s a page for one free dice from Crystal Caste, that is engraved with that year’s convention. These are a great little memento to take home, for free! It’s also worth checking out game release events, because companies often do promotional deals along side their game events. The blue set of dice pictured above right, was included in the ticket value (only 2 or 3 generic tickets if I remember correctly, at most $6 worth) of an event. So not only did I play an awesome session of D&D (where my Halfling Rogue rode a dragon from table to table, which is a story for another time), but I also got a really nice set of dice out of it! The previous year Wizards of the Coast were play testing 5e D&D as well as their Dungeon Command line, so they were giving away other dice which are pictured below.
There’s a million and one things to do at Gen Con, and it’s unrealistic to expect to do them all, but with careful planning you’ll be able to get the events that you want, as well as having plenty of ‘down time’ to browse the hall, and just soak everything up. There’s so many different things that I could write about but, instead I’d just say come. Be here. Soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy downtown Indy. The atmosphere is great, and the people friendly, but most of all the unique gaming experiences that YOU will have, will be unforgettable.
So share your Gen Con memories below and get excited for this year’s convention and all that it brings!