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Subject: Gen Con 2016 Beginners and Survival Guide rss

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Each year, I find there is a lot of beginners going to Gen Con for the first time who seem a bit confused about how everything works. This is my attempt to put a lot of useful information in one place for those that are new to the convention.

I've also found that many folks who have been attending for years still mostly only focus on the dealers hall, so there might be some new information here even for those people.

General Tips

-Registration and badge pickup starts on Wed at noon and is open 24 hours from that point on. There will be a line at noon on Wed, but it will quickly die down. The shortest wait time is in the early afternoon (or very late night) on Wed.

-Try not to register on Thursday morning if you can avoid it, it gets very busy. Also give yourself time to register, don't schedule any events at 9am, especially if you get there at say, 8:30am.

-After you pick-up your badge, don't forget to pick up your coupon book (its a separate line). The coupon book is a great value, and includes a lot of freebies for the dealers hall, local restaurants, and other assorted things.

-Don't bother lining up to enter the dealers hall before it opens on Thursday unless you're desperate to race for some game or promo that might sell out. Honestly, its hot, uncomfortable, and claustrophobic. Wait until 10:15 or so after the initial crush has died down.

-Make sure to pack some snacks and bring a water bottle. Water gets hard to come by, and the vending machines will often sell out.

-Try not to carry around tons of bags of new games. We've found that this ruins our con experience. Only buy games when you know you're on your way back to your hotel. Also, don't be that person dragging a rolling suitcase. They are annoying for everybody.

-Use hand sanitizer, try not to touch your mouth too much, con crud is a thing.

Food

-The food trucks are located on Georgia Street, just outside the main entrance to the convention center. They are nice, but there is along wait during peak times. Only use the food trucks at odd hours! You'll thank me later when you're not covered in sweat after waiting 40 minutes for a slice of pizza.

-Don't ever eat the convention center food. It's awful and expensive.

-Use the nearby restaurants. There are a lot of them within walking distance.

Restaurants with theme menu's, decorations and freebies (sponsored by Gen Con exhibitors):

-Scotty's Brewhouse (better food than the RAM, sponsored by Paizo)
-The RAM (nearby, but very crowded, mediocre food and service, only use at non-peak times, sponsored by Privateer Press).
-Colts Grill (decent food, usually have theme nights during the convention).
-The Tavern on South turns into the Munchkin Tavern sponsored by SJG.

Other good options:

-Indiana City Market (a healthy walk, but the options are fantastic, its just as good as the Columbus market for those of you who go to Origins).
http://www.indycm.com/
-Haveli Indian Cuisine (buffet, great food, very fast, close to the convention center).
-Claddagh Irish Pub (hardly ever a wait for food, also delicious).
-Yard House (lots of beer options, great food).
- Cafe Patachou (great breakfast option).

Play Games

-If you're a fan of the Dice Tower or most BG media outlets, you might get the impression that Gen Con is primarily a trade fair since they often only focus on the dealers hall. Most BG media types hardly ever explore the gaming at the convention. They will often say "its hard to play board games at Gen Con", while simultaneously wandering around only the dealers hall for 4 days. As an example, you can pretty much disregard anything you've heard from Tom Vasel or the Secret Cabal about the difficulty playing games at Gen Con.

-The reality is that the Dealers Hall space is less than 1/10th of the total convention. The vast majority of the rest of the space (multiple ballrooms, every room in the ICC, and all convention space in ALL of the 8 connected hotels) is mostly gaming or related events. Gen Con is basically a gaming city.

-It's not hard to play games at Gen Con, but unlike a convention like BGG.con, you have to do a little planning in advance. You have 4 options: gaming in the dealers hall, official open board gaming, events, and unofficial open gaming.

Events

-Use the following website to find events:

http://gencon.eventdb.us/

It's mobile friendly and will be available at the convention.

-Try and schedule a couple of events each day, but absolutely don't overbook yourself. It's important to have some structure to your day, but you're also going to want time to explore all of the interesting stuff around you.

-Purchase some generics so you can jump in on a game that is short on players. The best place to do this is in the event ballrooms for Board, CCG and Mini events. If you're into RPG's, they use the ballrooms on the 2nd floor (Paizo) or the connected hotels (Westin, Hyatt etc.).

-Unused tickets for scheduled events *can* be used as generic tickets at other events. Your event organizers should know this, but sometimes you need to explain it. If you miss an event, you can still get your money back this way.

-Take note that the Board + Card game categories are at this point the majority of events at the convention. Even now, there are lots of spaces available to play interesting board games.

-Don't schedule back-to-back events, especially if one is in the ICC and another is in a hotel. Give yourself some time to travel, and recognize that sometimes games run long. Tournaments are especially notorious for running over time.

Open Gaming

-The official place for open board gaming is the library and pick-up play area (under the Isle of Misfit events). It's a pretty good deal if you're going to stay there for a large block of time. Most people use this area to find other folks that want to just open game. Like other conventions, there are flags indicating "players wanted". The library is large, but will lack new releases and many euro classics. It's a step below the CABS library at Origins, but still serviceable.

-Games on Demand events are for open RPG gaming (once again under Isle of Misfit events).

-There are TONS of open gaming opportunities sponsored by companies or by game groups. Many of them are free. Here are some highlights for this year:

-Rio Grand room is always free to play games. They will often provide free food as well (located on the 2nd floor of the ICC).

-CGE has a free play room this year as well (on the first floor of the ICC).

-BGG and the Nerd Nighters are sponsoring a free "nerd night" for charity event, that will be mostly open board gaming.

-BGG is hosting a "hot games" room at Gen Con:

http://gencon.eventdb.us/changes.php?ChangeSet=275

-Other options for open gaming (some free, some not) under Isle of Misfit events:

-AEG big game night
-Asmati and friends sneak peak
-Card game showcase
-Catalyst Board Game zone
-Demo the best of Kickstarter
-Family Games showcase
-Various game nights sponsored by Stonemaier Games
-Indie Game showcase
-Learn to play new release games
-Mayfair Games Get Together
-Play the best from Protospiel
-Prototype Preview Showcase
-Gamecrafter community game night

Unofficial open gaming

-The Gen Con hashtag #genconpug is used by many to find potential players. It's a great resource.

-You and your friends can use any open table in the gaming ballrooms if they are not being used by events. Just go to the appropriate HQ desk (Board Game, CCG, Mini, RPG) and ask for an open table. There are tons of tables open past 7pm and before noon, but very few during peak times.

-The hotel lobbies at all surrounding hotels are gaming hot spots. You can often get in on games this way.

-Wed night open gaming is mostly in hotel lobbies, the Union Station, and the food court tables in the ICC.

Dealers Hall

-ALL gaming in the dealers hall is free. Just make sure you know if they are allowing full games, or only shortened demo versions before you start. Many companies will let you play the full game, but not all.

-Thursday and Saturday are the busiest. Friday and Sunday are the slowest and the best option for moving well through the dealers hall and getting in on demo games.

-Many companies run special (free) events at their booths. Flying Frog Games for example has Shadows of Brimstone play and painting events all convention long that are not advertised in the program book.

-Many companies are giving out promos, but not all of them announce it! You should always ask if there are promos while you're purchasing an item.

-Just about all the dealers take credit. But don't use credit, bring cash. The wireless in the ICC is very slow and often goes down. If you try and pay by card, you'll constantly run into problems. Just use cash. You can haggle with vendors and resellers, but not with the publishers (or at least you shouldn't).

-Try and avoid the following booths while walking through the dealers hall since they create bottlenecks:
-FFG
-Paizo
-Asmodee

-Make sure to check out the art show in the dealers hall, even if you aren't planning on buying anything. Many of the artists are really talented. If you do buy something, you don't pay the artist directly, but will need to take the ticket to the Art HQ tables, then bring a receipt back to the artist to pick-up your item.

EDIT: Looks like this has changed for this year:

http://www.gencon.com/forums/15-general-info-2016/topics/595...

-Feel free to take pictures of cosplayers (with their permission, always) outside the dealers hall, but NOT IN THE DEALERS HALL. If you do this, I hate you. This is one of the main reason why traffic slows down in the dealers hall.

-While were at it, please be respectful of everyone in costume. They want to enjoy the convention as well. Take pictures when they are posing, but not when they are trying to play a game or shopping. Use your people skills.

-If you're interested in new releases, be sure to ask which days/times they will be releasing them for sale. Publishers will often follow a schedule, e.g., 100 each morning at 11am. Or 200 on Thursday at 10am, and another 200 at Saturday at 10am.

Parking

-If you're commuting into the convention, don't even try and get a parking space nearby unless you arrive before 8am. It won't be possible and you'll get really frustrated trying to enter the parking garages with hordes of people wandering by. Find one that doesn't allow overnight parking (those fill first) a good 5-10 blocks away and just walk.

-If you're staying downtown and just need to stash your car for a few days overnight, you can use one of the nearby (e.g., mall) garages if you don't mind paying $25/night, or you can use an uncovered lot a good 5-10 blocks way for $5-10/night.

Auction

-The Gen Con auction is fantastic, and is a long-lasting tradition at the convention. It's located across the hallway from the dealers hall on the first floor of the ICC.

-All items need to be listed in advance at:

http://www.livegameauctions.com/

-This is new this year, YOU CAN'T BRING ITEMS TO SELL THAT WEREN'T PREREGISTERED. Don't be that guy who wheels 50 board games into the convention center to sell without preregistering them, you'll have to wheel them straight back out.

-The live auction runs from Thursday morning to Saturday night, and there are multiple theme sessions. They will post the schedule outside the main door on Thursday.

-People can list items in the auction store if they are below $50 (prereg still required). This is the best place to get amazing deals at the entire convention. There is often a line to get into the store, especially at peak times.

Explore and try things outside your comfort zone

-Gen Con fills every single room and all event space in the following:
-ICC first floor
-ICC 2nd floor
-Union Station
-Hyatt Regency
-Crown Plaza
-Embassy Suites
-JW Marriot
-Marriot downtown
-Omni
-Westin

-Explore these areas! You'll often find weird little events, people doing silly things, or gaming options you didn't know existed. This is the real Gen Con, and it goes far beyond rushing for new releases in the dealers hall.

-The hallway going to the Lucas Oil stadium will be lined with vintage arcade games this year.

-True Dungeon and anime events are in the stadium. Even if you didn't sign up for True Dungeon I would recommend taking a walk down to the stadium and checking out their free area. It's a pretty incredible fantasy set-up they have (think haunted house but for D&D). If you do sign up for True Dungeon as a newbie, make sure to arrive 20-30 minutes early. There will be people available to help you make your character. It's extremely simple and you don't need to worry about the rules, its very intuitive.

-If you're interested in video games, there are arcade machines and open video gaming in some of rooms across from the dealers hall on the first floor of the ICC.

-The area outside on Georgia Street will have live entertainers, parties and other special events each evening.

-Check out the 2nd floor of the ICC, you'll often find underused areas:

-Rio Grand Room
-Open Crafting Room
-The Quiet room if you need to relax and get away from the crowds.
-The mini paint-and-take (free) and the display cases with the winners of the various mini painting competitions.

-Werewolf and games of the Resistance pop up like weeds in the ICC hallways starting around 11pm. Don't feel weird about asking to join.

-The convention is open 24 hours and there is always people around playing games, though it dies down between 3am - 8am. Many restaurants and bars are open most of the night in downtown Indy, some like Scotty's pretty much never close during the convention.

Hope this helps!
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Jeremy Burke
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Thanks for sharing this, Zaphod! You've got great advice on a wide range of topics.

Let me know what titles you'd like to see added to the Games Library, and I'll be sure to target them! We added more than 100 last week, so we might have even caught some already. :-)
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jburke98 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this, Zaphod! You've got great advice on a wide range of topics.

Let me know what titles you'd like to see added to the Games Library, and I'll be sure to target them! We added more than 100 last week, so we might have even caught some already. :-)


Thanks Jeremy. I've noticed some definite improvements in the library over time. I would suggest just filling in any gaps from the top few hundred games on BGG, that to me is what most people will be instinctively looking for when they go to the library.
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Jeremy Burke
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Most definitely! Thanks.

See you in Indy!
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Zaphod wrote:

-Make sure to check out the art show in the dealers hall, even if you aren't planning on buying anything. Many of the artists are really talented. If you do buy something, you don't pay the artist directly, but will need to take the ticket to the Art HQ tables, then bring a receipt back to the artist to pick-up your item.


My friend has a booth in Author's Alley. And for the last few years that is how they operated as well. But GenCon informed my friend they changed the process from last year. It appears now that you are paying the artist/author directly. Not that it matters much but thought it should be noted.

Granted, Author's Alley is different than the art show but if they changed one, they likely changed the other.
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Danny Applegate
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Let me know if you have any questions about the food here in Indy. I like to eat and work downtown. I agree with basically everything in the op, but I also highly encourage walking around downtown and finding places to eat. There is some great food here!
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Derek H
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Quote:
As an example, you can pretty much disregard anything you've heard from Tom Vasel or the Secret Cabal about the difficulty playing games at Gen Con.

Has anyone ever contacted those worthies and informed them they are giving out misinformation?
 
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Remus Rhymus
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Gen Con first timer here. Thanks much for this article, very helpful and informative!

Probably a totally stupid question, but folks who pre-registered and had their badge and event tickets mailed to them ahead of time can just enter the con, right? There's no lines to stand in unless I want the coupon book, correct?

Speaking of the coupon book, if I can avoid the lines Thursday morning and just enter the con with my pre-registered badge, do you think there will be coupon books left later at a slower time when the registration lines have died down?

Thanks in advance from a Gen Con Noob!
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This is my first Gen Con. Thank you so much for this !
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Brad Keusch
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great concise overview.

I'd add that having water/hand sanitizer on you, and a bag (one comes with the coupon book) is absolutely essential.

Also, there are some pretty awesome meetups that happen, the Secret Cabal meetup (with tons of games given away) is at the Alexander again this year, which is a little south west of Lucas Oil.
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Brad Keusch
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remus wrote:
Gen Con first timer here. Thanks much for this article, very helpful and informative!

Probably a totally stupid question, but folks who pre-registered and had their badge and event tickets mailed to them ahead of time can just enter the con, right? There's no lines to stand in unless I want the coupon book, correct?

Speaking of the coupon book, if I can avoid the lines Thursday morning and just enter the con with my pre-registered badge, do you think there will be coupon books left later at a slower time when the registration lines have died down?

Thanks in advance from a Gen Con Noob!


They will run out of coupon books every day, and probably con books as well, but the line is WAY way shorter than the registration line. I don't think I've ever waited more than 5-10 mins for a coupon book/bag, so I'd recommend just biting the bullet early.

Also pretty much the only time you'll be badge checked is when entering the vendor hall, anyone can actually just walk off the street into the ICC without being stopped.
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Zaphod wrote:


-Don't bother lining up to enter the dealers hall before it opens on Thursday unless you're desperate to race for some game or promo that might sell out. Honestly, its hot, uncomfortable, and claustrophobic. Wait until 10:15 or so after the initial crush has died down.

...


-Try and avoid the following booths since they create bottlenecks:
-FFG
-Paizo
-Asmodee



Mostly good stuff. I gota disagree with the two points above though. IMO hanging outside the dealers hall on Thursday is great fun and a superior way to start the con.

Also FFG and Paizo both give out great promos and are showcasing the very latest stuff. I'd say make sure to pen a trip to their booths on your to-do list.

remus wrote:
Probably a totally stupid question, but folks who pre-registered and had their badge and event tickets mailed to them ahead of time can just enter the con, right? There's no lines to stand in unless I want the coupon book, correct?

Speaking of the coupon book, if I can avoid the lines Thursday morning and just enter the con with my pre-registered badge, do you think there will be coupon books left later at a slower time when the registration lines have died down?


You are good to go.

If you are getting into town Wednesday night then I'd recommend hopping over to the convention center and picking up your coupon book then. Make sure you have your badge as they will want to mark it in some way.

Traditionally the line for the coupon book is quick. All they do is mark your badge and hand you a book. No messing with money or other things that slow down the rest of the lines.
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Jason Thompson
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What's the auction like? Are there actual good games there, or is it going to be 1000 Trivial Pursuits and Craniums?
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dannya8432 wrote:
Let me know if you have any questions about the food here in Indy. I like to eat and work downtown. I agree with basically everything in the op, but I also highly encourage walking around downtown and finding places to eat. There is some great food here!


What are some of your recommendations for good to great sit down restaurants in the $10-$20 per meal range. I hate vegeatables though.

I have tried the ram, the old spaghetti factory, greek isles, and know most of the chain stuff. I am going to harry and izzys and fogo de chao this year, but looking for some more inexpensive places as well. Last couple times I was Indy the food I got was mediocre or worse at most places I tried. My best meals were at the greek isle and noodles and company.
 
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NaptownMVP wrote:
What's the auction like? Are there actual good games there, or is it going to be 1000 Trivial Pursuits and Craniums?


oh man, the auction is awesome and definitely worth your time. It's decided NOT full of junk. They usually break it up by game type, so make sure you check ahead of time if you don't want to watch wargames get auctioned off for a couple hours
 
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cetiken wrote:


Mostly good stuff. I gota disagree with the two points above though. IMO hanging outside the dealers hall on Thursday is great fun and a superior way to start the con.

Also FFG and Paizo both give out great promos and are showcasing the very latest stuff. I'd say make sure to pen a trip to their booths on your to-do list.



I should have worded this part better! I didn't mean don't go to their booths, but to avoid them as you are carving a route through the dealers hall, because people get bunched and traffic slows around those booths.
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Lewis Murray
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Fantastic!

Very welcomed advice.

-Lew
 
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Water.

Water.

Water.

Not pop. Not juice.

Water.

Sure, you can drink down a Mountain Dew or a Coke when you want something with flavor or caffeine, but drink water.

The ICC will have the AC turned to 0% humidity. The air will literally wick you dry of fluid. If you don't drink water, you will get dehydrated. Con Crud is less about shaking another gamer's hand and getting dysentery and more about a case of mild, sustained dehydration. Caffeine drinks will also dehydrate you. Mountain Dew is not your friend here.

8 years being in the dealer hall at both Origins and Gen Con running demos four days straight and I've never gotten con crud. When I'm there, you will see me with a bottle of water. If you don't, I will have one in 15 minutes. This is the most important advice I can give to any of my fellow Mayfair volunteers, and I say the exact same every year in these threads.

Trust me when I say that you'll be happier when you wake up Monday morning if you take a break from the pop and mainline the H20.
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FunkyBlue wrote:
Water.

Water.

Water.

Not pop. Not juice.

Water.



If by "water" you mean "coffee" then I'm in complete agreement.

;-p
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FunkyBlue wrote:
Water.

Water.

Water.



Are there places to refill bottles with water (not tap water from the bathroom sink - talking about spring or distilled)?
 
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From game publishers to vendors on the floor, from purchasing generic tickets to the food truck vendors outside (and everything else at Gen Con) - Is cash king or will credit/debit cards suffice?
 
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remus wrote:
FunkyBlue wrote:
Water.

Water.

Water.



Are there places to refill bottles with water (not tap water from the bathroom sink - talking about spring or distilled)?


There are large water coolers all over the ICC that can be used to refill water bottles. They do sometimes run empty, and it might take a little while for them to be refilled. There are also water fountains around. This is the reason you want a water bottle with you, so you can refill and keep water on you at all times.
 
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remus wrote:
From game publishers to vendors on the floor, from purchasing generic tickets to the food truck vendors outside (and everything else at Gen Con) - Is cash king or will credit/debit cards suffice?


Pretty much everyone takes credit, as I noted in the guide. However, vendors are at the mercy of small portable readers and shaky wifi. It's certainly easier and faster to use cash, but you can use only credit if you don't mind waiting. All the food truck vendors I've tried have taken credit.
 
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shouit wrote:


My friend has a booth in Author's Alley. And for the last few years that is how they operated as well. But GenCon informed my friend they changed the process from last year. It appears now that you are paying the artist/author directly. Not that it matters much but thought it should be noted.

Granted, Author's Alley is different than the art show but if they changed one, they likely changed the other.


Thanks- I didn't know this was changing this year. I found the appropriate discussion:

http://www.gencon.com/forums/15-general-info-2016/topics/595...

Paying the authors and artists directly will be nice- its one less line to wait in.
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Zaphod wrote:
shouit wrote:


My friend has a booth in Author's Alley. And for the last few years that is how they operated as well. But GenCon informed my friend they changed the process from last year. It appears now that you are paying the artist/author directly. Not that it matters much but thought it should be noted.

Granted, Author's Alley is different than the art show but if they changed one, they likely changed the other.


Thanks- I didn't know this was changing this year. I found the appropriate discussion:

http://www.gencon.com/forums/15-general-info-2016/topics/595...

Paying the authors and artists directly will be nice- its one less line to wait in.


Agreed, I passed up some art purchases last year because the line was insane.
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