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Subject: GenCon: What is it? rss

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Eric Johnson
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I've never attended a gaming convention, don't really know what to expect (even after pretty thoroughly perusing the GenCon website), and am wondering whether it'll be worth the admission price for me.

I wouldn't want to do any tournaments or anything, but I might be interested in doing some gaming. Is that relatively easy to accomplish? Is there just general "open gaming" where I wander around until I find someone who will play something with me? What happens at the "booths" I keep reading about? Will they be demo'ing games there for anyone who happens by, or do I have to pre-register (and pay?) in order to do anything other than walk around and look?

I gather there's some shopping to be done as well. Is that in a special area? Are the prices reasonable? Are there usually advance copies of things like, oh, Marvel Heroes???

If the nature of the above questions didn't fully get the point across: I really don't know what I'm getting into. What lies on the other side of those convention center doors?
 
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Graham Smallwood
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Since you are posting today I'll assume you mean SoCal GenCon (there are like three different ones) that is this weekend, and since I've been to that the past few years I can answer. If you aren't going to register for individual gaming and tournament events, then a one day ticket will cover everything. Even then, it is a little pricey.

Gaming is easy to accomplish; there will be a ton of tables set up for all of the CCG tournaments and such. Just always look for signs on tables showing they are reserved for something and pick a different one. My friends and I always cart our new purchases straight to a table because we can't wait to get home. I haven't seen an area specifically for Open Gaming, but I'll be looking for it.

The booths are the coolest part. Row upon row of guys sitting at tables with new games that they would love to demo for you so you will buy it right there for retail. Really cool to meet and talk with the designers of smaller games and buy random games you never would have heard of otherwise. The big company booths usually have real hired staff giving more official demos, but I like the little guys.

Yes and hell yes there are advance copies. Last year, I picked up a double armload of Privateer Press's Hordes 4 months before release. Then I shipped them around the country like a mini-game Santa Claus. This year I was hoping to get BattleLore until I heard no DoW presence this year, but heck yeah I'm coming home with Marvel Heroes.

SO in summary, you pay admission, and all the games inside are at retail price, so you have to really want to go. You could stay home and wait for the games to spread to online stores, but you would really miss out on the chance to talk to designers and see games before they come out. I think it is totally worth it.
 
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Blorb Plorbst
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Bloomington
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GenCon is a gamer's wonderland. Since this the BGG, I'll limit my comments to Board Games -- though any other type of gaming you might be into is also available.

I can also only speak to the Indiana Con -- I haven't been to the other locations though I hear attendance is smaller at those.

There's 3 ways to play games:

The standard way is to play in a scheduled game. These are advertised gaming sessions that you can either sign up for ahead of time guaranteeing you a slot or you can show up at the start time and hope to find an open seat. In either event, you'll need a ticket. Games usually cost $1.50 per hour and a half and most board games are in 3 hour slots (that's $3 per game for the math impaired). If you sign up for a game, you get a ticket for the game or you can buy generic tickets that can be used for any open seat.

If you don't know the rules, there are very busy people around to teach you -- if you can snatch them.

If this is your first time to GC I strongly encourage you to schedule your time using these events.

Second way is to find pickup games. These can often be tough to find unless you're there with others. Don't count on a full weekend with only pickup games. Naturally, these are free although you can rent games from gamebase7 if no one has it.

Thirdly, you can spend time in the vendor hall playing demo games. This is a great way to get exclusive time with someone who can teach the game. The downside is that sometimes demos are incomplete games (you'll just play one round), they either fill very fast (which means you need to stand around until the game you want to play if free) or you can't find anyone else to play. (I hung out around RG's Goa for a half hour to find players and finally left)

The vendor hall is where you can find lots and lots (and lots) of vendor booths with all things gaming available.

Hope I hit most of your questions.
 
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Eric Johnson
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Yeah, both those replies help a lot. Thanks! I think I should probably go for a day and check it out.
 
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mrbass
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/135433
Gencon SoCal
 
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Mike zebrowski
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CrankyPants wrote:
The standard way is to play in a scheduled game. These are advertised gaming sessions that you can either sign up for ahead of time guaranteeing you a slot or you can show up at the start time and hope to find an open seat. In either event, you'll need a ticket. Games usually cost $1.50 per hour and a half and most board games are in 3 hour slots (that's $3 per game for the math impaired).


The cost is $1.50 per 2 hours and most games will fill a 4 hour slot. Most games, if they are run by a good judge, will last between 3.5 and 3.75 hours so that attendees have time to get to their next event.

Quote:
If you sign up for a game, you get a ticket for the game or you can buy generic tickets that can be used for any open seat.


It is also important to note that just because a game is sold out doesn't mean that there will be not open seats. People often flake out and not show up. There are many reasons for them not showing up, some valid and some not-so-valid, but the end result is that there is an open spot.

The evenings, day 3, and day 4 are the times that most people no-show.

Quote:
If you don't know the rules, there are very busy people around to teach you -- if you can snatch them.


This depends on the game and the person/group running the game.

If a game is listed as Entry Level or Beginner Level, there should be a person teaching the game.

If a game is listed as needing experience, it depends on the group/person running the game.

Games run by independent judges will often have a person available to teach the rules as the judge usually only runs one game at a time.

For groups, it varies greatly. Games sponsored by game companies will usually have people teach the rules unless it is a tournement. Private groups vary greatly.

Mike Z
 
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Dave Sokolowski
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For the record, I have been attending gaming conventions for more than 20 years, and have NEVER paid to play in games, outside of the registration. And when I attend GenCon Socal this weekend, it will be first gaming convention that charges registration AND single game cost.

I'm not sure why GenCon can't figure out how to roll their cost of running games into the registration (as every other gaming convention in the world does), but it seems an excessive way to squeeze more money out of gamers...
 
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Chad Rutt
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Sherman Oaks
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I went on Thursday. It was my first Gen Con and for a person like myself who is strictly a boardgamer it was pretty disapointing. There were very few board games to play, I think maybe 6 different ones on a rotating time schedule for $1.50 each. There were tons on CCG space set up and some minatures area.

The expo it's self is really tiny. But because of that size the exhibitors took the time to talk to you and walk you though games, which I did enjoy. But if you are going just to board game, you may be disapointed. I drove in from the Valley...1 hour 15 min in and 2 hours 15 min back!

 
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I didn't drive all the way down here to play a peace game
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This was also my first convention, and my experience was a lot like Chad's, with the exception that I did want to play some of the new WoW TCG. I went Thursday and was able to play against the new Onyxia raid deck run by Upper Deck employees, which was brief but fun. Also played a tourney, though I had no idea it would turn out to be over seven hours long and got my fill of playing WoW for some time.

On Saturday, I came back and brought my wife, hoping to find some board games I might get her to play. We tried to sign up to play the Marvel Heroes game, but were told it was 'sold out'. So, we tried to sign up to play Puerto Rico...also 'sold out'. (Reading other posts here, I see that 'sold out' doesn't really mean 'sold out' and that you can buy generic tickets and still try to get a seat. Unfortunately, we didn't know that and weren't told.) I was able to get us into a miniatures sculpting workshop, so we did that to kill some time, but that was it. The two times I went by the far corner of the hall marked "Exhibit Area", it was closed down with bedsheets over the tables (must close early or something). So, I had one good day of card gaming, but other than that it was a fairly colossal waste of time and money. On the upside, the mojitos at the Mariott bar were really good with a big piece of sugar cane in them to chew on. Nice.
 
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