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Subject: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran (updated for 2010) rss

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Marshall P.
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edit: please see the link at the end of this post for updates for BGG.con 2009
edit: please see the link at the end of this post for updates for BGG.con 2010


I’ve attended all three BGG.cons so far, and several other conventions. So, here are some tips from a BGG.con veteran to help you know what to expect and how to get the most out of your BGG.con experience.

What to Bring

Clothes. I don’t need to tell you what clothes to pack right? Actually, I will say one thing. You might want to bring more clothes than you’d normally anticipate. Last year I had to buy a T-shirt at the gift shop because I ended up changing more often than I thought I would (super-long gaming days often require a “freshener” shirt mid way through, and sometimes you spill food on yourself). Do us all a favor and keep yourself tidy.

Games. Don’t bring any. Seriously, in most cases you won’t need to. The BGG.con library is, frankly, mind bogglingly huge. If you can’t find a game to play in there, then you’re not a big enough gamer to bother coming to the convention in the first place.

The exceptions to this advice are if you’ve agreed to play a specific game at a specific time with specific people, then it might be a good idea to bring a copy. Especially if it’s a popular title. Also, obviously, bring any games that you are trading (see math trade below). If you plan on arriving early you might want to bring a game or two for Wednesday night as the library won’t be open yet and you’ll be at the mercy of what others have brought.

When to Arrive

The con starts Thursday morning at 10:00 am. If you arrive the night before there will be some ad hoc gaming going on amidst the setting up. Probably about 50 or so people last year. Feel free to participate, but it’s harder to get in a game at this time than during the con itself.

The registration line starts forming about an hour early. It’s kind of up to you to decide how long you want to stand in it. The line moves fast once it’s open, but one reason people get there early is for the free game selection. After you register everyone draws a random ticket. The ticket tells you whether you get to choose a free game from the “good” table (more expensive/desirable/harder to get games. I got Amun-Re from the good table one year), or from the average table (think Tanga. I got Ra, Empire Builder, and my wife got Guestures from the average table over the years).

I personally don’t think it’s too critical to get to these tables early. They have A LOT of games on them, and it takes awhile to deplete the selection. If you’ve got nothing else to do, then sure, wait in line. But I wouldn’t sweat it too much otherwise.

In addition to the free game, when you check in you’ll get a “goody bag” full of little trinkets and sponsor gifts. I usually carry it around with me till my next trip back to the room. In all the excitement don’t forget to rifle through it though, as there can be some interesting stuff in there. Last year there was an entire “meta game” involving trading cards in order to form certain high scoring sets. Everybody got a unique card in their goody bag. Many people didn’t bother with the game, and I just gave my card away to a friend. But a few people really got into it and had a good time.

You’ll also get your badge with your name, userID, and Avatar, you’ll get your library card, and you’ll get your raffle ticket. Make it a high priority to hold on to all three of these things. They’re very important.

How to Get Into a Game

This is where the con really starts. You’ve arrived, checked in, got your badge. The excitement is high. There’s a large crowd milling around, greeting each other, talking. Certain voices rise for a moment and catch your attention then fade into the background. It’s heady stuff and you’re ready to dive in.

The first thing you’ll notice is all the tables. If you arrived the night before, or checked in early, they’ll be mostly empty. You’ll think that there are more than enough tables, that it’ll never be a problem finding an empty one. You’d be wrong. At peak times the hall is going to be crowded and table space will be at a premium. Just remember to be considerate and don’t take up more table space than you need. A two player card game doesn’t require the whole table. Rather than tote around a massive stack of games and leave them on the empty table space next to you, consider a trip to your hotel room or your car to store that stuff. It takes a bit of time, but it’s a courtesy to your fellow conventioneers.

So now you want to play a game. If you’ve got a lot of friends no problem, but say you don’t know anyone. There are four things you can try, and at some point I typically do all four.

1) Go to the library. Just go and wander around in there. First of all, it’ll be so enormously huge that you’ll spend a bit of time just taking it all in. Let the anticipation and promise of all these games wash over you. Don’t be in a hurry at first. It’s an experience just to scan the library tables.

Once you’re in the library you’ll often simply be approached by someone else to play a game. Stay there long enough and it’s inevitable. If you’re approached about a game you’re not keen on feel free to make a counter proposal. In a few cases people are looking to play a specific game, but in most cases they’ll happily play something else if you suggest it.

2) The second thing you can do is be the instigator yourself. You’ll notice some people are kind of “window shopping” in the library. They don’t seem to be looking for a particular game per se. These people are more likely looking for other people to game with. I’m not shy and I don’t hesitate to go up to somebody and just ask them – hey, you looking to play a game? Success rate is about 50%.

3) If the first two options fail you’re not out of luck. Just check out a game (remember that library card you got when you registered? You didn’t lose it right? When you check out a game you hand your card to the attendant. They write the name of the game on the back and keep the card. You get the card back when you return the game. Think of the card as the hilt of your gun, you want a lot of notches – scratched off names of games you’ve checked out and returned – by the end of the con).

Take your checked out game to the main hall. Find some table space. And hold the game above your head and shout “I need four for Power Grid!”. I’ve never seen this fail (ok, sometimes people try this method with really loooong games like Here I Stand. It doesn’t work as well in this case. Use a reasonable game).

4) You’re final option is just to cruise the game tables looking for games about to start up. If you see a game starting don’t hesitate to ask if they need a fourth or a fifth or whatever. I have about a 50% success rate with this too. Often times you’ll even be accosted as you walk by a table that needs another player. They’ll ask you if you want to join. It’s hard to stay out of a game at BGG.con

My only word of caution on this method is be sure to only invite yourself into games you know the rules for, or that the rules haven’t been explained yet. It’s slightly annoying to have explained the rules and be ready to start a game only to have somebody else ask to join who doesn’t know the rules.

Really, don’t be shy about getting yourself into a game. People are very friendly, and it’s very easy to get into games. Before my first con I was somewhat worried about this aspect but not anymore. Even a complete introvert should not have much problem playing games at BGG.con.

How to Schedule Your Time

BGG.con is mostly unscheduled open gaming. Though people do schedule specific games ahead of time, and there are certain con sponsored events that are scheduled ahead of time. How much of this scheduling should you do? My advice is not much. I’ve been seduced by the siren call of the special events and have mostly decided they’re not worth while. With a couple of exceptions I like to leave most of my time unscheduled and just see what happens.

Here are some of the events you’ll have the opportunity to schedule in advance:

Flea Market – Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mad dash when it first opens as people try to secure the good deals. It generally happens early Saturday morning, which is a bad time for me sleepwise so I usually miss it. If you want to go to the flea market then you already know who you are, otherwise don’t sweat this one.

Treasure/Puzzle Hunt – This is an hour or two affair where you form teams and try to complete a puzzle that’s structured like a treasure hunt (the solution of one puzzle leads you to another puzzle etc…) Personally, I tried this once and found that I begrudged the time it took away from playing games. So now this is a skip for me. But, it has a loyal following. If you think you might like it then try it one year.

Poker Tournament – A no limit Texas Holdem tournament played by about 100 to 120 folks. Don’t be afraid to join this even if you’re not a poker player. In fact, since no money is at stake and the level of play is generally amateur, this is a good place to get your feet wet with this game. This generally happens Friday night, and unless you’re on tilt from the get go it’s probably going take at least an hour. Longer if you do well at all. So make sure you commit the time for this event. This is one of the few events that I’ve decided to do every year.

Game Show – This is another team game, the format of which varies I believe. But, you generally answer silly and fun trivia questions while accruing points for some kind of bragging rights. I tried this one year and found it fun at first, but by the end decided I’d rather have been gaming. So this one is a skip for me, but definitely try it out if you’re in the mood.

Special Guests – There may be some kind of round table discussion with podcasters or some game designer. You’ll probably know way ahead of time if this event belongs on your schedule.

Math Trade – Each year there’s generally a no shipping math trade. This is a great opportunity to swap games at no cost. As great as it sounds it’s actually a logistical nightmare to swap hundreds of games among hundreds of people in a very small space with a short amount of time. Last year all structure broke down and people basically just held games above their head until the recipient recognized it and claimed it. It was a chaotic method, but probably beat the “call one name hand off one game” approach that would have taken hours. In the end, it was stressful but quick. The Math Trade is a must hit event for me.

User organized events – There will likely be some user organized events like tournaments for certain games, certain monster games, or specialized discussion groups. You’ll be on your own finding out about these and attending them or not.

Prize Drawings – Prize drawings are held every night and you’ll attend whether you like it or not (unless you’re not physically present at the convention). During the prize drawing they draw raffle tickets out of a bag and call off the numbers. If the number matches the raffle ticket you got at registration (remember not to lose that thing), then you win a prize. The amount of prizes given away is simply staggering. Some nights they’ll be calling numbers for over a half hour. And some of the prizes are very valuable. We’re talking Settlers 3D set, complete GIPF series, Crokinole board, Fantasy Flight monster game package valuable here. Don’t. Miss. The. Raffles.

Do you need a car?

No. There’s a shuttle to and from the airport, and once you get to the con you don’t technically need to leave if you’re willing to eat at the hotel and Denny’s the whole time. If you do want to take a culinary break it’s not so hard to hitch a ride with someone who does have a car.

Speaking of Eating

Your convenient options are limited. There’s the hotel, which is good but expensive. And Denny’s right across the street, which is… Denny’s. My meals typically go something like this.

Breakfast – This is coffee, Danish, and fruit from the Starbucks stand in the hotel lobby. Not too expensive and holds me over till lunch. Most important it’s quick quick quick. No delay to my gaming time here.

Lunch – Typically this is Denny’s. It’s a compromise between quick (because you just walk across the parking lot), cheap, and disgusting. I’m not a big fan of Denny’s fare, but I didn’t want to spend the time in the middle of the day for something else. The hotel is acceptable here also.

Dinner – By this time I was typically ready for a break and invited others to hop in my car and go out (about 5 miles down the highway there’s a bunch of restaurants). Typically, it was easy to get a group of 8 or so to go to dinner together.


THINGS TO DO (AND DON’T DO) AT BGG.CON

DO – Play games from “Off List”

We all come to BGG.con with a list of games to play, either physically written down or in our heads. These are the hottest new Essen games, the holy grail monster games, that game in the top ten you’ve never played before, whatever. And, invariably our list is longer than the time available to actually play. At best, if you maximize your effort to be playing games at all times, you’ll get in maybe 35 short to medium length games over the course of the con. Fewer if you throw in a couple of monster games.

My recommendation is that somewhere in the middle of relentlessly scratching games off your list you pause to play some game you’ve never heard off, or dismissed already. There are a lot of surprises out there. At some point during the con you’ll be approached by a stranger to join them in a game that’s not on your list. Accept the invitation.

The biggest surprise for me at BGG.con was playing “You Must Be an Idiot”. A party game of all things. What a waste of a precious hour to play a party game! Well, I didn’t regret it. It was one of the most fun games at the con that year. Now, it doesn’t always work out (see Geominoes), but trying an off-list game is definitely worth a shot.

DON’T – Learn a game at the table

The worst experiences at the con for me come from a situation in which everybody means well. A few times I’ve joined up with a group intending to play a game, but nobody knows the rules. So we proceed to sit down and try to learn the rules “together”. Stop right there. This is a recipe for disaster. If nobody at the table knows the game, and you can’t find some third party to teach the game. Don’t play the game.

All that happens is that the rules end up being read out loud and neither you nor the reader are able to effectively internalize them. People interrupt to ask questions, even if you make it through the rules you generally get something wrong, it’s just a headache waiting to happen. If you HAVE to play that game, then the thing to do is to let the best rules explainer at the table have some time to himself to learn from the rules at his own pace. I can generally learn most games by reading through the rules, and maybe manipulating the components a little bit. All I need is a half hour uninterrupted to concentrate.

The rest of the table should go play a filler, or get something to eat, or whatever, until the rules learner is ready to teach the game. Seriously, it’s likely to be even quicker this way anyway, as my experience is that the “learn as a table” approach doubles the amount of time needed to correctly learn the rules, and starts everybody off in a frustrated mood.

Another good idea is to check out a game overnight and teach yourself the rules in your room or some other quiet place so that you’re ready to go after a short refresher the next day.

DO – Teach somebody the rules to a game

A consequence of the “don’t” above is that you should make every effort to teach a game that you know, even if you’re not going to play in it. If you see someone setting up a game and trying to learn the rules, or if someone politely asks you to teach a game, do it. This small favor really “greases the wheels” of the con. And with any luck you’ll get the favor paid back at some point.

This is just a courteous thing to do. It’ll make you feel better, it’ll make the players happier. It’s win win.

DO – Get enough sleep

It’s tempting, oh so tempting, to trade sleep for game time. I recommend against it. It’s ok to push your sleep to lower levels than you’re accustomed to, but don’t push it too far. You might end up getting more “time” at the con, but it’s not quality time. Each year I’ve gotten more sleep than the last, and each year I’ve enjoyed myself more. In both of the first two years I had a “bad day”. Typically it was Friday, after very low sleep nights on Wednesday and Thursday. Two nights of almost no sleep makes the next day – not fun.

Last year I typically headed up to the room at about 1:00 or 2:00 AM. Although, I would be so wound up that it would take me awhile to fall asleep. Then I’d get up around 9:00 AM and head back down. This schedule seemed to keep me fresh enough to enjoy the entire day without crashing.

DO – Eat out with strangers

The draw of the con can be almost drug like. You begin to begrudge every moment not spent on the floor either playing in a game or actively trying to get into a game. Taking time to get something to eat will be seen as a major imposition, necessary but wasting valuable game time. Something to be done as quickly as possible.

The rush through meals is inevitable, and not even a bad thing, but I do recommend slowing down for at least one meal a day. At this meal, typically dinner for me, go out to a leisurely sit down restaurant with somebody or a group of people. Maybe with people you know from last year or maybe with strangers, it doesn’t matter, but mix it up each time. Have a normal adult conversation with these people that drifts away from the topic of games games games.

Often the easiest thing to do is just go out to eat with whoever you just finished a game with right before meal time. Usually one of them will have a car. Sometimes you’ll make arrangements to meet somebody for a meal at a certain time. However you do it is fine, just take advantage of the opportunity for a little social interaction. It’ll be worth the time spent.

DON’T – Take the games too seriously

I’ve been kind of surprised to observe that games at BGG.con take about 50% to 100% longer than at my local game group. People just plain play slower at the con than I’m used to. I think part of it is that every game generally is new to most of the people at the table. But, I think the main thing is that when playing with strangers there’s a certain unconscious desire not to seem “stupid”. That is, people at the con seem to more carefully consider their moves, and take more time to make them, than I see in other settings. It’s not bad sportsmanship – I’ve never seen that at BGG.con – nor is it some ultra competitive desire to win the game. I think it’s just some natural human psychology of wanting to validate your “gamer creds” in front of strangers who are your peers.

The thing that helps to keep me moving is to realize that at BGG.con every game is a learning game. In almost every case there will be someone, usually more than one, new to the game at hand. When it’s someone’s first game at the table then I automatically consider the whole game to be a learning game. I don’t mind allowing take-backs, maybe discussing in general an obvious missed move, and just plain playing faster, things I wouldn’t want to do with experienced players. When I realize that every game is a learning game the pressure to impress is off so to speak, and so is the pressure to over analyze. The game can speed up and be a little looser.

I know some people play slower than others, and I’m not saying anyone should change their inherent style. I’m just asking that you watch out that you don’t slip into slower play than you usually would otherwise. It seems easy to do at the con. Don’t take the game too seriously, that’s all. It’s a learning game.

DO – Play games more than once and play oldies but goodies

I used to think it was my duty to only play “new to me” games. Any game that I had played before was a wasted game. Now I realize that playing a game I liked more than once is ok, even a benefit. Last year I played AOEIII twice, and both games were significantly different affairs. Playing it twice really raised my estimation of the game.

I also now make a point to get some old favorites to the table against some fresh blood. Power Grid and T&E are two games I try to play every year just because they benefit from having some new thought at the table.

The main purpose of the con for me is definitely to try out new games. I use BGG.con as my buying guide for the rest of the year. I look to it to keep me from buying games that I wouldn’t end up liking. And if I didn’t play a game at BGG.con chances are I won’t be buying it. But it does turn out to be worth it to throw in a repeat game now and again.

DON’T – Keep games checked out of the library when you aren’t playing them

This is just a common courtesy to your fellow gamers, and it applies mostly to the new hot games. Of course, when you see this year’s hot game sitting in the library, but you currently have plans to play another game, you want to check it out and “reserve it” until you can play it later. But please don’t do that. The goal should be to keep these games in constant use, not sequestered by someone not playing them at the moment.

It’s less of a pressing issue for other games. I don’t think anybody’ll mind if you check out Elasund and keep it for later. But Stone Age? Agricola? Please play ‘em or return ‘em. Thanks.

DO – Say thanks to the staff

It clearly takes a lot of work to put this show on, and the people who are doing it for you are volunteers. They’re giving up their own precious game time so that you can have the best experience possible. At some point, when you get a chance, just say thanks to one of them. If everybody does that little bit they’ll know their efforts are appreciated.

DO – Come back next year

In fact, I think that once you’ve experienced BGG.con you won’t be able to stay away!

Well, that’s all I can think of for right now. I hope this was valuable to some of you.

See you at the con.

Updates for 2009
Updates for 2010
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Dave Eisen
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
You left out: Game with Marshall. A gentleman and a tough gamer.
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Paul
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Excellent post! I have not been to BGG.CON yet...this is great information, most of which can be applied to other gaming conventions too.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Great post!

"Games. Don’t bring any."

Another reason to bring a game is if it's a prototype for an unpublished game.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Great advice, Marshall.

Makes me wish I could afford the time and money to go. Some day, perhaps (Euro BGG con?)
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Fantastic post Marshall! Thank you so much for taking the time to write out all this great advice!
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Good stuff Marshall. Except for the Sleeping part. Bah! I'll sleep when I'm dead. There is gaming to be had!

Remember there's a Starbucks on site!
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Steve Duff
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Heh, I had a chuckle at the sleeping section as well. "The normal everyday 7 or 8 hours sleep a day seemed to keep me fresh..."

Like, woah dude, how can you get by on so little sleep?

Phenomenal post, should be handed out at the Con in the goodie bag.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
DON'T- Believe Derk When...
...his hand "slips" into your back jeans pocket when you're standing next to him observing a game of Kingsburgum.

"I was looking for my wallet" he says.
"Why is your room key in my pocket, Derk?" says I.
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Don't.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
See you in a couple months Marshal. cool
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Excellent post Marshal! Now I'm looking forward to this more than ever. Thanks for the information.

Do they still employ what I've heard referred to as "game explainers" for popular new games?

Also, I noticed that there were pictures of a lot of dexterity games permanently set up in another room. Did these games have rules available to read, or were you dependant on someone knowing the game?
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Heh, I had a chuckle at the sleeping section as well. "The normal everyday 7 or 8 hours sleep a day seemed to keep me fresh..."

Like, woah dude, how can you get by on so little sleep?


Heh. Yeah, that does sound funny when you put it that way. In reality I was sharing a room with three other people. So when I get back at 2:00 AM I was the first one there and I would take a shower, lay out clothes and otherwise get ready for the next day so that I could pop up and be out of the room quickly without disturbing anyone. Add to that the fact that when I laid down my mind was racing a mile a minute from all the stimulation that I never fell asleep before 3:00 AM. So that cuts it down to less than 6 hours really.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Great! This gave me a better feel for what it's like to be there than anything else I've read.

I do wish I could go... 'course if I buy tickets, it'll probably get canceled. (long story)
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Marshall P.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
fehrmeister wrote:

Do they still employ what I've heard referred to as "game explainers" for popular new games?


I think maybe not officially, but it was much easier to find game explainers for the new games than for the older ones. If a vendor was carrying the game you could usually find someone near their stall to explain it (Valerie served this purpose for RGG). And somehow, even though Agricola was brand new and only existed in two pasted up copies, it wasn't hard to find a teacher for that game.

I've also heard some rumblings that they're going to set up a permanent "hot new game" area. Where the games are perpeturally set up instead of checked out of the library. I assume game explaining would be part of this. Sounds like a good idea to me, I'd like to hear some more official details.

Quote:
Also, I noticed that there were pictures of a lot of dexterity games permanently set up in another room. Did these games have rules available to read, or were you dependant on someone knowing the game?


Yes, I forgot about that. Dexterity games are permanently set up in the common area. Crokinole is ever present as is Tumblin' Dice and Spin ball. There was some hyper popular magnetic hockey game last year but I never played it.

No, rules aren't available. I messed around with Spin Ball a bunch of times before someone explained the rules to me. You'll have no problem getting the older dexterity games explained though. Everyone knows how to play them by now.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
mdp4828 wrote:
You might want to bring more clothes than you’d normally anticipate. Last year I had to buy a T-shirt at the gift shop because I ended up changing more often than I thought I would (super-long gaming days often require a “freshener” shirt mid way through, and sometimes you spill food on yourself). Do us all a favor and keep yourself tidy.


People change their clothes at BGG.com?!!! I'll have to think about going next year...
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
If you are a wargamer, you probably DO want to bring some games. The selection (although not terrible, and with signs of evident effort to improve it) is not robust. If there's a wargame you want to play, you need to bring it.
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Matt Robertson
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
You sir, are a generous soul for typing this out. Thank you for taking the time to articulate a handy guide. As a first time attendee, I think this is a great list. Allow me to honour you with a pint of good libations at the con for your efforts.

Cheers,
Matt
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Brad Andrews
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
domcrap wrote:
People change their clothes at BGG.com?!!! I'll have to think about going next year...


Some people apparently didn't last year, at least it seemed so in the later evening. surprise

I would probably support a requirement to shower and change clothes at least once a day.

Brad
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Great list, Marshall. Spot on. One addition, we will have a 'hot' game room this year. These games will not be checkout-able, and will remain set up on tables. Last year, we almost did this with Agricola. The idea is reduce frustration. If you want to play a certain game, then you'll need to wait for it. No sign-up sheets, no holding places, etc.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Some more things to bring:

- Bring a water bottle with a cap, like a Nalgene Bottle, that cannot spill. Better yet a wide-bottom spill-proof mug. Dehydration is a real risk.

- Fun whilst gaming and sobrity have an inverse relationship. Also note Irving County's beer-only sales policy, so pack your own whisky.

- Tylenol.

- Bring swim trunks. The hotel has a pool... on the roof!!

- Bring a sweatshirt or sweater - the A/C in convention areas was sometimes too cold.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
mdp4828 wrote:


DON’T – Learn a game at the table

The worst experiences at the con for me come from a situation in which everybody means well. A few times I’ve joined up with a group intending to play a game, but nobody knows the rules. So we proceed to sit down and try to learn the rules “together”. Stop right there. This is a recipe for disaster. If nobody at the table knows the game, and you can’t find some third party to teach the game. Don’t play the game.



This is a difficult one to keep away from. With a lot of the Essen games which may have only been out about 2 weeks by the time they hit the CON, no one to very few people are going to truly know those rules.

Out of the over 600 games I've played, I found I don't really mind learning games for the first time at a table(Some people have a really hard time with that statement). I think it's all up to your flexibility. I wouldn't suggest that with really rule heavy games. But I don't think you should avoid learning new games with others at the same time. YMMV.
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
derk wrote:
Great list, Marshall. Spot on. One addition, we will have a 'hot' game room this year. These games will not be checkout-able, and will remain set up on tables. Last year, we almost did this with Agricola. The idea is reduce frustration. If you want to play a certain game, then you'll need to wait for it. No sign-up sheets, no holding places, etc.


That's good to hear. I think that will be a definite improvement.
 
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Fantastic post Marshall!!

See ya there
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
edit: Inspired by Marshall's update, I have also added a some new remarks. Please see the end of this post for a link to my additional notes for this year

Good stuff...

I've been to all three and plan on making it to this one unless a major calamity (worse than Hurricane Ike, which has made my life interesting these past few weeks, but not unbearable) prevents me.

A couple of additions and comments and one question.

mdp4828 wrote:
Clothes. You may need to bring more than you think...


Being from the area, I will tell you that the weather in Dallas can be a bit hard to predict. You can see temps in the 90s and temps in 30s in November. If you have room, a couple of sweatshirts or a windbreaker is not a bad idea. Also, when the rooms at the con are not filled with gamers, they can be overly air-conditioned. If you are cold sensitive, you might keep that light sweatshirt or windbreaker handy.

mdp4828 wrote:
Games. Don’t bring any. Seriously, in most cases you won’t need to.


As one other person has mentioned, there are some exceptions. Prototypes are one of these. If you have one of the hot new games from Essen or a grail game (though you might want to take a look at the library list on the grail - Marshall is right about the size and scope of the library), it wouldn't hurt to have it handy, especially if you're willing to lend it. Finally, if you have a game that you know you'll want (with 100% certainty) that you're going to play at a specific time, it might be good to bring it along. You probably do not need to bring the hot game from the previous BGG.con (this year, that would be Agricola) - there will be plenty of copies.

mdp4828 wrote:
How to Get Into a Game


Marshall's advice here is great, but I thought that a word about the other end would also be useful: invite people to join in games at your table. If you've got the room and someone looks interested, make an effort!

mdp4828 wrote:
Flea Market


Marshall has missed these, so let me fill you in. There's typically a line that forms that is similar to the registration line. Inside, you'll find a vast range of deals - from the insanely good to the merely insane. Of course, tastes vary, but I was able to find several games at both of the flea markets I have attended (I missed it at the second convention).

mdp4828 wrote:
Treasure/Puzzle Hunt


I have to agree with Marshall on this one. I participated in this the first year it was offered and will not do it again. I know that some enjoyed it, but it not enjoyable for me.

mdp4828 wrote:
Poker Tournament


A lot of people participate in this one, so, if you're not interested, this is a great time to skip out to grab dinner or arrange for a game with people who you know are also not going to be involved. Poker is not my thing, and I feel no regrets in skipping this every year.

mdp4828 wrote:
Math Trade


While chaotic, this is a great event.

mdp4828 wrote:
Prize Drawings


In spite of what Marshall says, you can safely miss these. Trust me. In fact, you can just give your tickets to me. devil

mdp4828 wrote:
Eating


There are some really good restaurants within about ten minutes of the
con, and I recommend taking a little time out from the con to unwind and have a good meal.

mdp4828 wrote:
DON’T – Learn a game at the table


I recommend reading the rules to as many games as you can before you get there. Last year, I printed out the rules to most of the games I knew I wanted to try and was thus better equipped to teach them. You'll find that the vast majority of publishers are putting their rules on-line these days, and making use of that resource is a wise investment of time. Reading the rules may give you a much better idea of whether a game is a waste of time for you or possibly a surprise hit. I had little interest in Galaxy Trucker before I read the rules, but I played it more times at last year's con than any other game.

mdp4828 wrote:
DO – Get enough sleep


Amen. Everyone has a grumpy, unhappy person inside of them that a lack of sleep will allow to escape. Caffeine can just make things worse. Give yourself (and those you game with) a break. I should have done it a couple of times last year, and I hope that, by not having an hour commute to the con this year, I will avoid it this year.

mdp4828 wrote:
DO – Say thanks to the staff


Amen! Having run and worked on large events before, it truly makes your day a little brighter when someone acknowledges your efforts. Let the folks who put on this gem of an event know that you appreciate them!

Okay, my bits of advice that Marshall did not cover:

DO - Take care of yourself

Well, Marshall hinted around this, but I will state it explicitly. It is a temptation to push at the con, not eat, not sleep, not take the medicines you normally need to take, and so on. Don't succumb to that temptation! While some flexibility in routine is a good idea, remember to take breaks - don't overdo it so much that you're sick or have to sleep through to Thanksgiving (unless you can get away with that sort of schedule).

Try out some of the funky and odd games in the lobby

I'm assuming that the dexterity games will be in the lobby again this year... Some of these are games that have a fairly hefty price-tag, and knowing whether Wey-Kick or Spinball is the game for you is a good thing before you shell out the money to track them down. On the flip side, trying a game and finding you like it may prove expensive, but it will be better to find it now (while it is still somewhat readily available), rather than later.

Plan on having a good time. I hope to see all of you there!

Link to new remarks for 2009
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Re: Tips on BGG.con from a Veteran
Pretty useless catalog of don'ts--you left out "don't go all in against Cranky's suited connectors." Oh well, since I won't be there this year it's all good.
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