Gen Con 2018 - A Retrospective
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Posted by andrewj.rager

So its been 2 months since Gen Con 2018. Seems like its been longer hasn't it? Well in any case now that I've had time to simmer, look at the insane amount of games we acquired, and collect my thoughts; I wanted to put fingers to keyboard as I procrastinate doing actual work. THIS GOT LONG! lol Sorry in advance.

1. 2018 was a big transition year for my group. (Wife, friend, myself) It was our third Gen Con. 2016 - Outside Indy hotel, very little events, no idea where we were going. Spent most time at Mayfair and doing Puzzle hunt.
2017 - DT hotel from forums, 1-2 events a day, still getting used to Indy. Still spent most time at Mayfair and Puzzle Hunt. 2 month old baby as well.
2018 - First time VIG and DT hotel 2-3 events on Friday and Saturday. Left Thursday and Sunday open. Finally felt like we knew Indy, the ICC, and Gen Con as a whole. 1+ year old stayed at home with Grandma. :)

Going into 2018 we were not sure what we would do. Mayfair was gone, so was the Puzzle Hunt. That was legit 80% of our time at the Con. My Wife and friend wondered if we should even go. I convinced them to buy tickets and told them I had entered the VIG lottery. None of us thought I would get picked, and I didn't. Well not at first at least, I was reached out to later, after the other VIGs had already gotten hotels. But that was OK because we got the hotel we wanted. This really gave us new life. While things we liked were gone, we knew there was so much more to do. And to be honest we didn't even scratch the surface.

One thing we found that filled a huge hole left by Mayfair was the BGG Hot Games Room. A big plus was that it was in our hotel. Played until midnight and then went to bed. Yes it was busy, and yes it cost money, but this was the place to be when the dealer hall wasn't open. I understand why it isn't 24 hours, but it would be amazing if it was.

With the extra time we had I thought for sure we would be able to really go through the dealer hall with a fine tooth comb, and I thought we did. We did not. In the two months that have past, I've seen so many games that were available at Gen Con that I didn't even see. Its insane how much is there.

I did VIG early entry for the first time. Talk about a rush. I was so concerned about time. An hour seems so short in the hall when everyone is in there. But for VIG early entry its like time is stopped. I went to 10 vendors. Talked and bought at each other, and carried bags of games like a pack mule. I went a little overboard, but its only your first time once, right? For any VIGs who are looking for advice, just pace yourself and hour is plenty of time. That being said, I did not go to FFG or CMON. That would take up your whole hour. Also don't worry about getting to the VIG line early. I got there 20 minutes before they opened and got in at 9:02. Yes the line is long, but you get it so fast.

After about 45 minutes of buying games I camped outside CSI's booth to watch the rush of people into the hall. This was really fun. A very cool "insider" experience. I also had to carry bags of games somewhere. I thought my group would meet me at VIG, so as I dragged myself that way, little did I know that they came down the steps and went into the hall to find me at a different door. I finally texted them once I got to VIG. My exact text was "The Ring is heavy Sam" to quote Frodo. I literally felt weary from how many games I had bought and I know I got side looks from other VIGs. Its cool. My group caught up to me and helped we get the stuff to the hotel. We didn't go back to the con, and decided to get an early lunch while everyone else was occupied. This was a great idea. We got to walk around DT Indy and find something new. We found Burger Study right when they opened for the day, and wow was that good. After lunch we spent the rest of the day in the dealer hall.

Speaking of VIG. I think almost everyone truly wonders if the VIG experience is worth it. It is a lot of money, and I want to make it very clear. VIG is a luxury. Just like a dedicated gaming table in your home, or a leisure vehicle. These are not something that everyone can afford, and do not feel bad if you cannot. However, if you can afford it, and are lucky enough to get it. It is indeed worth it. Every one at Gen Con is nice, but the people who work with the VIGs are the best. They are like the Men in Black - Best of the best of the best, Sir! I walked into the lounge on Wednesday, said I first time VIG and they took care of me. I heard them answer everyone's questions with a great attitude, though I'm sure they answered the same question 20 times before. The lounge was a great escape. Picking up badges was a breeze, getting tickets was simple. They made our Gen Con. 2018 will always be remembered at VIG Con for us. It was special.

We did more gaming events in 2018. We did a Mammoth Floor Catan that was on my gaming bucket list, I did a Lord of the Rings LCG event, we played HP Hogwarts Battle hoping for more promos, but they were the same as last year, we demoed Fireball Island, played Terraforming Mars for the first time. My friend immediately went to Stronghold to buy it, but they didn't have the base game. He bought it from Amazon minutes later. He did get the expansions they had, and bought the broken token for the game at Gen Con, all before receiving the base game. That is how much he liked the game. He still loves it.

My Wife and I wanted to try the Gen Con dance this year, though we didn't really know what to expect. We got there early and explored the train station. It is really cool in there, and if you haven't taken the time to read the history, I implore you to do so, it is worth your time. Well we had tickets and got it towards the front. We stayed for about an hour, but very few people were dancing. It seemed like a bust. Though during this time we explored the Grand Hall. It is also awesome. There are a bunch of really cool side rooms to explore and just get different views. I saw pictures of the dance that made it seems like it was hopping, so maybe we left too early, but we decided to leave and go back to the BGG room. We might try it again next year. At least it was an excuse to get my Wife to wear a dress, which she rarely does. Interested to hear others experience at the Dance.

In closing, these are what we plan to change or do the same for 2019.

Thursday was just about perfect, and plan to do the same again. VIG early entry, take games back to hotel and get lunch, then return to the hall after the initial madness. The evening will be mostly the BGG room. We really enjoyed the BGG room this year with the two sessions we had, and will get more next year.

Friday and Saturday will leave space for any must play events for games we either need promos for like the LOTR LCG is, get new product. I'd rather play in the LCG event than wait in line at FFG as I do not buy much from them. But I think we are going to limit our specific events to leave more time to wander and maybe happen upon an event. We know there is still a ton of stuff at Gen Con we have not done.

Sunday is left open as well. This is to go around and look for sales. Some places don't put on sales, but some do. This was another sad moment with Mayfair gone, because they always had great Sunday sales. Iello was the big sale place we found, and got a good amount of Iello games at a great price on Sunday. Sunday always feels a little sad though. As Gen Con feels like a battle. The sounds of drums and horns as Monday -Thursday escalate to massive chaos only to die with little more than a whimper on Sunday afternoon. It just feels sad when leaving. I really wish there was some sort of "GRAND FINALE!!" to leave on a high and not a low.

Sorry that got so long, but if you made it though, let me know your thoughts. Make suggestions, ask me questions, and get it on the conversation. It a quiet time here, but the gaming never has to end. We acquired over 60 games. Some for us, some as gifts, other might be sold. But these games will last us all year until next Gen Con. We may have opened 5 so far.

Thank you very much for reading!

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Posted by austicke

Great recap! Thanks for sharing.

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​​​​​​​Alec Usticke, Fans of Gen Con Facebook Group

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