Adventuring at GenCon
by Dane Leitch · Published · Updated
GenCon is an adventurer shredding module unlike any dungeon ever conceived. It is no coincidence that the founder of GenCon also wrote the original Tomb of Horrors (none other than Gary Gygax himself) which had a 66% chance of killing you before you even walked through the correct entrance. While your odds of avoiding Save vs Poison or Die traps are significantly better, time is running out to be ready. Only one week remains before the Best Four Days in Gaming ™ begins, last minute plans must be made, convention necessities must be purchased, and poor saps like me are scrambling to finish painting miniatures. This monster of a quest is not to be taken lightly and if you are just now thinking, “maybe I’ll try to go to GenCon this year,” you are in for a rough time. It is not too late though. Well… probably not. Better check badge availability because it might sell out again this year. Enough dark news, let’s get to some tips.
Last Minute Plans:
What McGuffin motivates this adventure? Literally thousands of different activities are possible. Not being certain what to try to catch is the road to a stressful weekend. Take a look at the online Event Finder and play with the filters. Hours of browsing will help find the perfect activities, but don’t go overboard! My first four-day GenCon had two days of back-to-back events and the beast ate me alive! I was exhausted and stressed, literally the opposite of the goal. Find your must-attend events (which are sold out by now, an ongoing theme of GenCon) so that you know what to catch early next year, or show up with Generic Tickets and hope someone was eaten by a grue. If all else fails, all four days could be spent in the Dealer Hall without much difficulty. It really is that big.
What about food? Eat or be eaten. Bring snacks or pack lunches for at least one meal a day and you will save a bunch of money. More than 20 food trucks will be available along the impossible to miss Georgia Street and Indianapolis has hundreds of downtown restaurants. Be prepared to wait. You are unlikely to be able to “squeeze in” a bite between gaming sessions. Give yourself at very least an hour if you try to hit a sit down restaurant. Remember that most places have open seating at the bar itself, but not at tables in the bar area. Adventuring solo? Make friends! Most of your fellow adventurers will let you sit at an empty spot if you ask.
Where to sleep? I will be blunt, if you do not have a plan for sleeping by now, try again next year. You can learn the “joys” of the Housing Lottery. Thanos might give you a 50/50 shot, but RNGesus is nowhere near as benevolent.
Planning and forethought are required to succeed in this quest. I am a tabletop war gamer. On Thursday, I will have my army tray and tourney bag slung over my shoulder. Invaluable tools for ensuring that my tournament experience runs smoothly. Con tourneys are not like local events. Dice will roll on time and no one will wait for you to finish fishing out your 200 dude infantry spam army. Have ALL your stuff and be ready! For that same reason, Thursday would not be a good day for me to visit the Dealer Hall. A massive bag and tray are unfriendly items to drag through the roiling masses. Crowds at GenCon are monstrous and you will feel the Save vs Icy Stares or Die leveled your way if you push a shopping cart through. I cannot be held responsible for what may befall you there.
Speaking of the Dealer Hall, a beast unto itself, think about what you want to play, buy, and do and what you need to transport the loot. Almost every booth will offer free demos. Take them up on the offer! Most of those teaching games are volunteering their time or are the actual designers! If you are a zealous participant in gaming capitalism you may find yourself with more purchases than expected. Be prepared to make multiple trips back and forth to your hotel room (if you were lucky enough to get into a connected hotel) or car (if you were lucky enough to park less than a mile away). I have found that arriving between 6am and 7am usually gets you premium parking in an adjacent garage for $22 per day. Trust me it is worth it. Trekking from a mile away? Have no fear! FedEx is onsight to pack and ship your newly acquired loot so that when you arrive at home you will have boxes waiting to unwrap like Christmas in August!
SuperSecretConTech! Buy body glide. My only gain from that link is the knowledge that somewhere, someone will make a life-changing decision that I played a small part in encouraging. It took me too many years to discover body glide and it will ever be a must have.
GenCon may be a monstrous adventure, but it can be defeated! These few little tips are words of arcane wisdom I wish I heard before my first trip. Above all else: Try new things! Meet new people! Branch out! I love meeting game designers and fellow players that are just as or more passionate about these games as me and that is a special and unique attribute worth building new friendships on! Be careful at GenCon, for HC SVNT DRACONES.
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