There’s a lot of time between now and August, but don’t let that distance keep Gen Con off of your radar. Individual event registration for one of the world’s largest gaming conventions starts this Sunday at noon, so get your badge, and get ready to plan out your perfect con weekend.
Gen Con runs a bit differently than most geek conventions, where a badge gets you in the door and you are free to experience all the con has to offer. Since many games require significant prep time and are dependent on the number of players, Gen Con sells tickets to specific games and events. In total, there are almost 7,500 entries in the schedule, so how’s a con-goer to decide?
Before we get to the games themselves, it’s worth plugging some of the special events that could only happen when 30,000 geeks take over a city. First, there are not one but two gaming-themed burlesque shows, as well as a D&D-themed improv comedy show. Publisher AEG is also throwing a party to celebrate the 10,000th card in their long-running Legend of the Five Rings CCG. Of all these events, I’m willing to bet that tickets for speed dating, with its very limited seating, will be gone in a heartbeat.
Perhaps the biggest event at Gen Con is part game, part spectacle though. True Dungeon is an annual LARP experience that can only be described as a fully interactive fantasy haunted house tour. Except it’s a dungeon, not a house. And you roll dice. You get the point.
True Dungeon separates itself from the LARPs that are the subject of parody and derision by having off the charts production value. There’s a reason it’s been running for so long, and why many attendees make it the focal point of their con weekend. An impressive 6,000 tickets available, yet they still sell out fast! To kick things up another notch, True Dungeon is expanding from a 20,000 square foot ballroom into a 45,000 square foot slice of the convention center.
As far as traditional board/card/roleplaying games go, there are a few specific types of events that you should expect to fill up fast. The first of those are the small-press RPGs, where the demand is high but the player counts are low. Of course, if you can’t get a ticket for the RPG system of your choice, there is always the Games on Demand crew waiting to whip up a one-shot for you.
Along those same lines is miniatures wargaming, where players may be interested in a specific scenario rather than just any instance of the game system. Warmachine, Battletech, and Star Wars dominate the listings here, so players interested in more niche systems will want to buy tickets ASAP.
Board and card games are no slouch either. They’re big at Gen Con. Literally big. Mayfair Games is bringing oversized editions of practically every game they publish, while other publishers get in the mix with giant versions of Rise! and Robo Rally.
For those gamers seeking true competition, Gen Con also offers a host of national and world championship tournaments, ranging everything from Ascension to Catan to Pentago. Reserve your seat early if you want a shot at the prizes.
Lastly, let’s not forget the expo hall. The main attraction for many, Gen Con’s expo hall is gigantic, with practically every hobby gaming company present. Plenty of games will be sold for the first time when the door open, such as Android: Netrunner, Smash Up, and Ascension: Immortal Heroes, so get in line early if you plan on snatching up a copy.
Descent 2.0 under glass as seen in last year’s Fantasy Flight Games booth at Gen Con. Perhaps this year, you’ll actually be able to get your hands on it! Photo by George Holochwost.
There are also countless more games that nobody even knows about yet. Some companies choose to use the spotlight of Gen Con to make major product announcements, revealing demos and prototypes at their booths. Last year’s big splash was the Fantasy Flight Star Wars line. What will be this year’s big surprise? We’ll just have to wait to find out.