There are few things that get a gamer as excited as a good old fashioned board game convention. It’s a chance for gamers to come together and share their hobby one with another. I for one am a huge fan of conventions, but are they for everyone? Let’s cover the basics.
Most board game conventions are scheduled on an annual basis. And while this to us gamers may feel like an eternity to wait between cons, this is almost always necessary after all the hard work that volunteers and event planners go through to make these events enjoyable. Undoubtably, hundreds of hours are committed well before any of us even walk though the lobby doors. Thanks to all this hard work behind the scenes, we are all free to show up and have a good time.
All of this time and effort is dedicated to allowing gamers like you and me to have a weekend all about board games. Conventions offer opportunities to play not only our own games but those from a libraries full of games to barrow. A convention wouldn’t be a convention without some tournaments and the chance to win a new game or two, possibly through a play-to-win library. Regardless of what type of games you like, there should always be something to play and gamers to play it with.
Most board game conventions feature a good number of other activities as well. Role playing games like D&D are almost certainly going to be happening. As well as large miniature games like Warhammer 40K. I’ve even had the opportunity to participate in a giant puzzle hunt that had players teaming up and working their way through a series of puzzles like those you would find in an escape room. Not to mention some have flight simulators that put you in the middle of the action of your favorite sci-fi movies as you fly and fight your way through space. In short, even if board games aren’t your thing there is almost always something interesting for you to try out.
Let’s take a quick minute to look at some of the various pros and cons of board game conventions.
More Gaming. If you feel like you don’t get enough gaming each week attending a convention is a real way of fixing that. I almost always feel like I’m not doing enough gaming, but after attending a convention normally I feel like I need a week or two off from gaming just to recover.
Big Games. Cons are a great chance to get some of those larger games played that you just never have time for. It is often quite difficult to find an entire Saturday to dedicate to a game like Twilight Imperium, but at a convention you have your choice of 3 or 4 days to dedicate to something of that magnitude.
Grail Games. Many of us have “grail games” that we’ve either been dying to play or dying to own. At a convention you might just be able to either stubby across someone playing that game or possibly even selling it. Most conventions have some sort of flea market where gamers can sell and buy used games at more than reasonable prices. So if you’ve got a couple of dusty titles taking up your shelves, why not find them a good home and get yourself something in the process.
Friends. There are a lot of friendships to be made. You aren’t the only one who like your favorite game. Set it up and throw up a “players wanted” sign and you’ll have a few new friends in a matter of minutes. It’s also possible to put up a “teachers wanted” sign and you might find a new friend to teach you that new game you just bought or pulled out of the library.
Vendors. If you are the type that likes to go to swap meets or county fairs, then you’ll have a blast just strolling through the vendor hall and looking at all the games and things for sale. Most vendors offer special deals for the duration of the convention. There’s no better feeling than feeling like you got a great deal on a great new game.
Expensive. Conventions badges cost a pretty penny and some may find it hard to justify spending more money to play games when you are free to play those very same games at home or a friendly local game store. Don’t forget to factory into the cost any food costs and the optional hotel room. I feel like this is a first time hurdle though, after attending one convention it should be an easily justified expense.
Social. Not everyone enjoys going out of their way to meet new gamers. If you’re like me, you might find it uncomfortable to join a bunch of strangers at a table to play a game that’s unfamiliar to you. It may require you to venture outside your comfort zone. It’s just important to remember that everyone there share a common goal, have fun.
Crowded. It can get very busy inside the convention hall. Saturdays especial will fill up with people who purchased one day badges. Parking lots will be full. Tables will be occupied. And you may find yourself becoming frustrated at the sheer number of people you have to share your weekend with. Just remember to be kind and courteous to everyone, no matter how packed it may get.
Exhaustion. The convention halls are usually open for gaming 24 hours. You will be tempted to stay out late and get up early. It’s very easy to become exhausted, and not to mention dehydrated. If you aren’t careful you’ll end up miserable with a headache, and we all know there is no worse combo than a heavy euro and a throbbing headache. Trust me on that one.
Why is it that I decided to write about board game conventions this week? Well, the moment the article is published I am currently at SaltCON. This is Utah’s largest board game convention held annually in Layton. It may be too late for you to attend this year, but hopefully you have decided to mark your calendars for next year. Check back next week for an article full of pictures and a full overview of my experience at the convention.