The Con Game: a guide on how to do the big cons
Con season is ramping up, and for veterans of big cons, small cons or for gamers new to the experience, there are some things that you should keep in mind as you gear up for three to four days of solid gaming:
1) Pre-register – many conventions require you to preregister for special events. There’s nothing worse than getting to the convention specifically for some type of battle interactive or convention-only season special, only to find out that you needed to buy a ticket or sign up three weeks ago. Take a few minutes right now to make sure that there is nothing that you need to do in order to play the games you NEED to play. GenCon, for example, usually offers earlybird registration. It may cost a few bucks more but it’s worth it if you feel there’s something that you feel you MUST play to be a success. that said…
2) Don’t Plan Everything – it’s a common mistake to only try things that you are very familiar with at a convention. Cons are a great opportunity to try things that you cannot play at home. If someone is running Teenagers From Outer Space at a big con, chances are they love it and they are going to share their love for that game with you in an impressive way. Try things that you can’t play at home, and who knows, maybe you’ll discover your new favorite game.
3) Meet People – several times, my friends and I have traveled four hours and spent money on hotel and food only to play the game that we could’ve played the following week in my basement. People go to cons, then play games side-by-side with the regular gaming group, also sometimes playing games that are available anywhere and anytime. Granted, it can be hard to get the number of tables at home that you can get an icon, but with such a unique opportunity to play a variety of games, don’t waste it by simply duplicating your home game somewhere else.
4) Food planning – some cons will not provide for breaks between slots. This can lead to you either gorging on junk food all day (DC 15 Fort Save vs. Garbage Gut ) or starving all day until you finally get a decent break. Protein shakes, nuts, dried fruit are all healthier alternatives that travel well and will fill you up until you can get to that extended break.
5) Pack Light – For some reason, a lot of gamers feel compelled to bring a lot of books to a con. Some games require you have the book for your class/race/etc with you. If that’s really a must, bring it but otherwise a PDF is just the thing for ‘must have’ data. You’ll want to have the flexibility in case you hit the dealers room.
6) Plan on Splurging – You will be seeing at least one thing you can’t live without. I’d recommend $200 for spontaneous purchases if you can swing it. There are things at convention dealers rooms you’re never going to see again (internet be damned).
7) Don’t overdo it – Don’t let yourself become a slave to the con schedule. If you want to sleep in, to hell with it, sleep in. Being rested is a good way to ensure you enjoy yourself. I just about died last year at SCARAB when I showed up with a cold and then proceeded to avoid sleep for three days. You will not regret this decision.
8). Plan for next year now – Remember that con hotel registration starts to get lined up not long after the con ends. If you had a good time, start planning for the next year while everything is fresh in your mind.
Everyone has a few tips for cons that they live by. Share yours with us!