This GenCon report comes courtesy of Keith Done, our Club President. Enjoy!
I arrived at Gencon around 3.00pm after stuffing the station wagon to capacity with games from the club library. The trader’s hall was being set up and was out of bounds but the games area was open; the RPG and Board game zones occupied a sizeable area, sandwiched between a seminar room and the anime theatre. The miniatures area lay beyond that toward the rear of the pavilion. There were already about fifty people wandering around the area at this point and several RPG groups busily delving down dungeons.
The Board Game zone had about twice the space and tables as 2008 and the hall had a few internal ‘ticket booths’ this time where people could buy generic tickets to enter tournaments, without having to go back outside to the front door (this was a problem last year and Gencon has obviously acted to fix it).
I borrowed a flat-bed hand cart and unloaded the games (in four trips) and deposited our games collection in the centre of the area, along eight tables. Within a few minutes people started gathering around the games and started ‘oohing and aahing’ at them and even taking pictures. I posted our signage in the area and, once people realised they could play the games for free, people began to settle down into games and by 7.00pm there were approximately eighty people at our tables.
I ran a ‘Lord of the Rings’ mini-tournament and awarded a small trophy to the winner. I went home at 8.30pm and left the control of the area to Kevin Brake, who had volunteered tho help (Kevin’s from Critical Mass).
There was a ‘Ra’ Tournament scheduled for 11.00 am. A more sizeable crowd wandered in around 9.00pm, including many familiar faces from LXG, who were acting as volunteers. By midday there were 150 people in the area all playing favourite games or learning new ones. I awarded the winner of ‘Ra’ (Danny Frahm from LXG) his trophy and his $50 voucher from Mindgames and talked to a lot of people and gave out a lot of LXG cards.
I ran the ‘Blokus’ tournament that evening and the game zone had a real exiting buzz by that stage with everyone enjoying themselves. I found some spare time to visit the trader’s hall. I chatted with the guy from the ‘Campaign Coins’ stand and checked out the stall that makes and sells custom built ‘gaming tables’ with lots of drawers for books, terrain and dice.
I cancelled the ‘Magic: the Gathering’ Grand Melee as there were only four takers. All our other events were well attended. Not sure why the Melee was a no-show – are we the only guys who like playing in a Melee? It may have something to do with us not being in the CCG area.
I played Battlestar Galactica with people from all over Australia and even found a few rules I had been doing wrong.
Saturday was by far the most hectic day. I ran “Ticket to Ride” for 25 competitors (our biggest event) and was pleased to see the “Twilight Imperium” tournament get enough people to run. It was a marathon event that went from 1pm to 7.00pm. Alas, David Morton, who was our LXG entry did not win!
The games area was at absolute capacity at lunch time, with over 400 people present – we had to acquire more tables from the Miniatures area to cope. Although the numbers died down a bit by 4.00pm there were still at least 250 people still there when I left at 8.30pm.
I thought Sunday would be quieter but it was just as busy as Saturday. Ben Small ran the “Puerto Rico” and “Settlers of Catan” tournaments for me and I got to play ‘Battlestar Galactica” again, as well as “Memoir 44: and “Scrabble” (with Jane Houben).
Around 3.00pm, Ian Houlihan, the Gencon director asked me to choose $500 worth of games from Games Paradise, as they owed the convention that amount for a banner that the store requested to be hung in the traders’ hall. Ian thought it appropriate that LXG be rewarded for the amount of traffic we brought to the convention. Thanks Ian!
At 5.00pm it was time to close shop and many willing helpers packed the games library into my car. Excess games were taken away by Kim Hinze (thanks Kim!).
I don’t have the official figures but the convention definitely felt as thought there were more people in attendance this year. Certainly the traders hall was bigger and our games area had doubled in size but was at capacity on Saturday.
I thought the miniatures games looked under-represented. LXG gets more in its WHF Legends tournament. One of the comments I heard was that miniatures players don’t want to pay $40 entry and $30 to enter a contest. This view is obviously something not shared by other gamers so I’m not sure how we work to get more miniatures players on board. Perhaps a one-day event running 10am to 9pm and get the prizes provided by a sponsor for free? That would mean an entry fee of around $30 inclusive of entry and game fees.
Quality of food from the caterer was good but expensive. It cost $10 for a burger, chips and drink combo. Most people who did not want to pay this visited Subway, across the road from the convention centre.
I have attended and run quite a few tournaments over the past 20 years and can honestly say this was the best run and most enjoyable event I have been associated with. There were no problems that I encountered during the convention and problems from 2008 had been addressed. Reading the forums, this sentiment is being echoed by many others, Obviously there were some problems that others encountered, the main one being a mix up with people being able to collect tickets and enter the games arena on Thursday. Ian Houlihan has been quick to accept blame for the error and will rectify that for next year. And I believe he will.
To sum up, I had a great time and look forward to 2010.