As I write this, one of the largest wargaming conventions in the United States, if not the world, is wrapping up.
No, I didn’t attend, unfortunately, though I’ve followed the news and events via the miracle that is social media.
What all this has done, however, is made me somewhat wistful for the times I’ve attended gaming conventions, both large and small.
Conventions are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they’re a fantastic way for gamers of all stripes to get out, meet other gamers, and play the games they love. They’re frequently an opportunity to discover new games, as there are constantly teams of folks there with tables of products to preview, demo and sell.
It’s also a great way to, well, treat yourself to buying a lot of gaming products. They can also be exhausting.
My first real taste of a gaming convention came at the venerable DragonCon in Atlanta several years ago.
DragonCon is billed as a “pop culture convention” but among the panels, intricate cosplay, and room after glorious room of unique vendors’ tables, there was also quite a bit of gaming going on.
While I wasn’t into wargaming at the time, I did play a game of D&D (a word to the wise – a group game where there are 40 different players, and a round takes the better part of an hour, should be avoided), placed in a Magic: The Gathering tournament (the first and last time I’ve ever done that), and was utterly destroyed during the event I was really excited about, a tournament of the long-defunct Star Trek: The Next Generation Customizable Card Game.
It ended up being an amazing opportunity, because I got to meet a wide variety of people and get gaming experiences I normally didn’t see.
On the downside, by the time I headed home after five days of gaming, panels, celebrity sightings, trekking through a bunch of hotels, and so forth, I was completely exhausted and it literally took me about a month to feel like I was back to normal.
The last few years excluded, I’ve also been an attendee at a gaming convention put on by a local university. While I started coming in order to play Magic, I’ve increasingly diversified my gaming interests at the convention, which has featured a wide variety of things. One of my favorite games was “Ebentop,” a massive dungeon exploration event, using the Reaper “Warlord” wargame rules system. We played on a huge dungeon board made of plaster tiles. An absolutely beautiful monument to the love of gaming.
In the last couple of years, I’ve also started to attend a small (by which I mean, probably 100-200 attendees tops) wargaming convention at a historic military site nearby. Held in a small conference room, it’s always tightly-packed, but I’ve found it to be a blast, with gamers of all ages trying out all kinds of games. It was there I was introduced to Bolt Action, and where I played an awesome game involving World War I soldiers holding off Martian tripods from War of the Worlds.
With that last con, I usually only stay a few hours, and that’s a perfect amount of gaming for me. But it’s also enough to recharge by gaming batteries and get me excited for the hobby again.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube
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