GenCon Vol 1 – Planning
Alright, I’m getting excited. GenCon is coming up in a while, August 1st through 4th, and I’m going this year! A board game and RPG convention with 60 thousand plus people in attendance will be crazy. I’ll probably get to see some people whom I’ve met at AcadeCon in previous years like Shane from Total Party Thrill and some of The RPG Academy crew. I’ll also probably get to meet some people that I’ve watched a lot of their videos, The Dice Tower crew, Rodney Smith from BGG and Watch It Played!, The Brothers Murph, and possibly more (or possibly less).
But, as cool as all that will be, the biggest part of going to GenCon will be seeing the new board games. Followed up by playing in some RPG’s and board games. And that takes us to what this is article is going to be about. It’s going to be planning events and what I want to do at GenCon.
Like I said, the biggest reason I’m going is to try out new games and probably pick up new games. But that is going to be a little bit looser as to how that works. But that really does come into how you plan going to a convention. I need to give myself enough time at the convention to do those more random things, and I can’t plan out my whole day. Even as I get a better idea as to what games might be there as the time gets closer, for new board games, it is going to be guesswork as to when I might be able to see them, if I am even able to see t hem at all. Again, there are going to be 60 thousand plus people there, so it’ll be a little bit crowded, I’m guessing.
So how do I go about picking the right number of events that I’m going to be doing?
I think that’s something that’s really tricky. The Con is a four day event, but like most Cons, that really means a three day event and Sunday. Sunday, things just slow down, but we’re planning on being there all of Sunday and heading back on Monday. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be games and things to do on Sunday, it just means that the crowd is thinning out a lot and your options are a bunch less.
So, Sunday, GenCon released it’s primary event schedule. The person I’m going with and I have already scheduled some time this evening where we can go over what events we are going to shoot for. But one thing we have to do is determine how many and what events we’re going to what to do.
I’ve gone through some of the list, but there are thousands of options, possibly even thousands of options per day. So how do you narrow that down? First know that you can’t do everything and even know that by the end you probably won’t want to do everything you have signed up for. Having the ability to do those random things, meet new friends and hang out with old friends, those are the strongest point of a convention. Being able to play a pick-up game of the new board game you got with some people is probably going to be more interesting than playing in yet another random D&D Fifth Edition game. And that’s not to say that those events are bad, but just limit your number.
Going through the list, I saved a few to an e-mail that I sent myself just to get an idea of what I was looking for. By a few, I mean over twenty items, and all of those were basically on the calendar before noon on Thursday, so all at the same time. Clearly I’m not going to go to all of those, but they give me a baseline and my friend a baseline of what to talk about when planning tonight. We can see what sort of events and games look interesting to us. We definitely don’t have to do the same thing all the time, but since it’s both our first times there, I’m sure we’ll be doing that more often than not. Also, we don’t know many people who are going, but might be getting a few more friends along.
So what am I looking to do there?
I’m looking at some board games that I’ve heard about in the past year but haven’t been interesting enough for me to pick up. Games like Chronicles of Crime, Too Many Bones, the Hellboy board game, and Village attacks. Beyond that, I looked at different RPG systems, stuff like Kids on Bikes (which I backed on Kickstarter), Sentinel Comics RPG, A Dresden Files game using Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and one using Fate, Mutants and Masterminds. So I’m really mainly looking for stuff that I haven’t done before. I also put down some games, like Root, which has a new expansion, or Folklore: The Affliction and Arkham Horror 3rd Edition that I own but haven’t played yet. I hope I have by August, but at the same time, it would be a good learning situation.
That’s what I’m really looking for in what I do at conventions that is planned. I want to be able to learn how to play a new game, or see something done that’s new to me, even if the game itself isn’t. If someone were to want me to play a Mansion of Madness intro scenario again, I’ve done that three times, I’d pass. But if was an expansion of Mansions of Madness that I don’t have, I might consider it, because the experience would be new.
Along with that I’m also trying to be discerning when looking at stuff to see if what I’m looking at seems like something that’s been planned out or run before. Is it an established system or is it an RPG system that I haven’t heard of before? Because, you might get someone who is testing out a new system and it might not be enjoyable. I feel like RPG’s are also hit and miss because you don’t know what sort of group dynamic you are going to get. You hope it will be a good one, but you really don’t know. So I like to make sure that I really like the idea of the game. So, that’s why I’m drawn towards Dresden Files games, I think that seems cool to play in that world, no matter who is at the table. This is also a reason that I have a lot of board games on the list. The board games almost all already exist, so you know that they are at least interesting enough to get published, even if the game isn’t for me in the end. It won’t be a bad experience.
Another thing, and probably the final thing, to consider is how much time you want this to eat up. Like I said, I want to do a lot of browsing of the dealer hall to see the new games and pick up new games. But there are some of the events that are two hours I’ve looked at, and some of them are four, and I even saw a Twilight Imperium game that is set for going eight hours. The longer they are, the fewer of them that you can do. I’m the type of person who would probably schedule stuff for in the morning and then go in the afternoon around to different booths and things like that, but we’ll have to see what we want to do.
That’s really all the advice I have for planning at this point in time. I’ll probably do something coming up here in a few weeks about packing and what you will want to think about bringing for a convention. Conventions are an interesting beast, and I’ve been to CONvergence and AcadeCon, a couple Con’s that are a bit smaller than GenCon, so this will be a cool new experience.
Let me know what sort of events you look to do at a con. Do you find that you fill up too much time or not enough?
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