First time attending!
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Posted by alittleparrott

Hello! 

This will be my first time attending Gencon. I'm trying to gather as much information as possible, and I'm just curious about everyone's favorite activities, presenters, booths, etc.

Any information is good information. Thanks in advance!!

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Posted by trace_sl

Welcome to the forums :)

I try to do things I do not do at home, new games or just different activities but always try to set aside down time.  The dealer room is HUGE, so, no favorites. 

Just enjoy yourself, play and make friends. 

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Posted by alittleparrott trace_sl

trace_sl wrote:
Welcome to the forums :)
I try to do things I do not do at home, new games or just different activities but always try to set aside down time.  The dealer room is HUGE, so, no favorites. 
Just enjoy yourself, play and make friends. 
thank you!!!

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Posted by mhayward1978

You have good timing - this year, being the 50th anniversary will be special.

Important things to know:

1. Assuming you don't live in the atea: The housing lottery - getting an "in block (e.g. heavily discounted)" connected/nearby hotel is great, be sure to get your badge before the lottery sets times, and be sure to be there by a computer when your time comes up so you can have a chance at a nearby room.

2. Events: While there will be lots of events that are available all through registration, many popular events sell out within seconds of registration opening.  I recommend you spend some time with the event guide (once it's published), pick out some things you'd like, and add them to your wishlist.  And be online exactly when event listings go live.

3. Attendance - Thursday is by far the lightest day of attendance, and is a good day to see the dealer hall.  Friday is busier, and Saturday even more so.  Not as much happens on Sunday (it's more of a 1/2 day).

4. In terms of signature Gen Con stuff, here are some highlights:


  • The dealer hall - hundreds of booths of every sort of gaming / geek related product imaginable, demos of games, artists, etc.
  • True Dungeon - An immersive / interactive full scale D&D style role play experience where you walk through a "real" haunted house style dungeon, fight monsters, solve puzzles, etc.  This tends to sell out pretty quickly every year.
  • Hickman's Killer Breakfast (usually Saturday morning) - author and DM Tracy Hickman hosts an improvisational, rotating gaming session with songs, games, audience participation, etc.. (This longstanding event was absent at Gen Con 2016 - it may or may not return)
  • Costume Contest / parade - Gen Con has some great cosplay, and there is an official parade and contest on the schedule
  • Events - thousands of RPG, board game, CCG, minis, and a dozen other categories

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Posted by alittleparrott mhayward1978

mhayward1978 wrote:
You have good timing - this year, being the 50th anniversary will be special.
Important things to know:
1. Assuming you don't live in the atea: The housing lottery - getting an "in block (e.g. heavily discounted)" connected/nearby hotel is great, be sure to get your badge before the lottery sets times, and be sure to be there by a computer when your time comes up so you can have a chance at a nearby room.
2. Events: While there will be lots of events that are available all through registration, many popular events sell out within seconds of registration opening.  I recommend you spend some time with the event guide (once it's published), pick out some things you'd like, and add them to your wishlist.  And be online exactly when event listings go live.
3. Attendance - Thursday is by far the lightest day of attendance, and is a good day to see the dealer hall.  Friday is busier, and Saturday even more so.  Not as much happens on Sunday (it's more of a 1/2 day).
4. In terms of signature Gen Con stuff, here are some highlights:

  • The dealer hall - hundreds of booths of every sort of gaming / geek related product imaginable, demos of games, artists, etc.
  • True Dungeon - An immersive / interactive full scale D&D style role play experience where you walk through a "real" haunted house style dungeon, fight monsters, solve puzzles, etc.  This tends to sell out pretty quickly every year.
  • Hickman's Killer Breakfast (usually Saturday morning) - author and DM Tracy Hickman hosts an improvisational, rotating gaming session with songs, games, audience participation, etc.. (This longstanding event was absent at Gen Con 2016 - it may or may not return)
  • Costume Contest / parade - Gen Con has some great cosplay, and there is an official parade and contest on the schedule
  • Events - thousands of RPG, board game, CCG, minis, and a dozen other categories

wow, that all ccertainly helps a ton. 

We have been to other cons before  (dragon*con, comicon, leakycon, etc). I'm excited to see how this one differs from them. Thanks so much for your input!

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Posted by andrewj.rager

Last year was my first Gen Con. We did not register for lots of events, but that was OK. We found plenty of games to play. Mayfair has a huge demo section & you can even get free stuff or discounts. Also Rio Grande has a pretty decent room of free games to play. For a first time Gen Con-er I recommend both of those. Also just pace yourself. You can't do everything, so just do what you feel comfortable doing. Lots of events are $2-4 so very reasonable. Just walk around the halls, you will find plenty to do. Take advantage of any sales if you are interested.

Also either get your event tickets mailed to you or come earlier on Wednesday. The will call line can be huge, though goes pretty fast for how long it was.

Most importantly, just relax & have fun!

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Posted by father bloodlust

Best advice I can give is don't overbook yourself. There's only so many hours in a day, and unless you're Judge Dredd you have to sleep sometime. Give yourself some time to just look around or do whatever.

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Posted by remnant

Welcome hope you have a blast this year.  I have no idea what you'd be interested in and this might be information overload but here's the event listing from last year if you wanted to browse through by time or category there's a lot. 

http://gencon.highprogrammer.com/gencon-2016.cgi/

 

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Posted by alittleparrott remnant

remnant wrote:
Welcome hope you have a blast this year.  I have no idea what you'd be interested in and this might be information overload but here's the event listing from last year if you wanted to browse through by time or category there's a lot. 
http://gencon.highprogrammer.com/gencon-2016.cgi/
 
oh that's fantastic! Thank you!!!

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Posted by presslerms father bloodlust

father bloodlust wrote:
Best advice I can give is don't overbook yourself. There's only so many hours in a day, and unless you're Judge Dredd you have to sleep sometime. Give yourself some time to just look around or do whatever.

Way too true.  I screwed up one year and booked way too much.  Last year, I scheduled a few games, RPGS and my friends and I went to an IMAX of Suicide Squad release.  

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Posted by helenbb

Welcome, Alittleparrott! I was in your shoes 2 years ago, so I still feel like a newbie compared to a lot of the people here. Like you, I was very familiar with other pop culture cons, such as SDCC, WonderCon, NYCC, etc. GenCon is set up a little differently.

The big difference is that at Gencon, you book your events in advance. There is almost no 'lining up' to get into panels or events, because everything is ticketed beforehand. If you have a ticket, you get in. So everything is all planned out in advance. Instead, the 'lineup' happens in May (this year, on Memorial Day weekend) when everyone goes into an online waiting list to try and buy the event tickets they want.

Keep in mind that the event tickets usually cost extra, Some panels/seminars are free, most games are $2-$8 each, but bigger events can cost between $10 and $30, while True Dungeon is $50+ per play. For us, when we looked at the total cost of buying badges and event tickets for 4 days of GenCon, it was comparable to the cost of a 4 day + PN badge at SDCC.  That's including 2 of those expensive True Dungeon sessions each. 

I second the excellent advice you got earlier to do things at GenCon that you can't do at home. For this reason, we generally don't just sit down and play board games, because we do that every weekend at home! We play D&D every month, so we don't feel a pressing need to play at GenCon (although I am a big fan of NASCRAG, which is a special roleplaying tournament which focuses heavily on playing your character and minimal dice-rolling). At GenCon we like to LARP, see the big events (like Killer Breakfast, mentioned above, of Gamers: Live, based on the Zombie Orpheus films), play True Dungeon, and attend seminars. For example, I have attended miniature painting seminars which were insanely valuable in terms of the information and help imparted. I love to write, and the writer's seminars are not only free, they are extremely useful for anyone interested in getting their work published. If you GM, the ability to go to a panel and speak with other GMs, discussing issues in running games, is extremely fulfilling. 

We do occasionally book a board or card game or RPG, but usually it's something we haven't tried before, and we use GenCon as a way of checking it out, to see if it's something we wish to pursue later on at home. 

I think you've already gotten some good advice about hotels.

If you have other questions about things, please feel free to post more and ask. I know this forum was very helpful to me 2 years ago.

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Posted by alittleparrott helenbb

helenbb wrote:
Welcome, Alittleparrott! I was in your shoes 2 years ago, so I still feel like a newbie compared to a lot of the people here. Like you, I was very familiar with other pop culture cons, such as SDCC, WonderCon, NYCC, etc. GenCon is set up a little differently.
The big difference is that at Gencon, you book your events in advance. There is almost no 'lining up' to get into panels or events, because everything is ticketed beforehand. If you have a ticket, you get in. So everything is all planned out in advance. Instead, the 'lineup' happens in May (this year, on Memorial Day weekend) when everyone goes into an online waiting list to try and buy the event tickets they want.
Keep in mind that the event tickets usually cost extra, Some panels/seminars are free, most games are $2-$8 each, but bigger events can cost between $10 and $30, while True Dungeon is $50+ per play. For us, when we looked at the total cost of buying badges and event tickets for 4 days of GenCon, it was comparable to the cost of a 4 day + PN badge at SDCC.  That's including 2 of those expensive True Dungeon sessions each. 
I second the excellent advice you got earlier to do things at GenCon that you can't do at home. For this reason, we generally don't just sit down and play board games, because we do that every weekend at home! We play D&D every month, so we don't feel a pressing need to play at GenCon (although I am a big fan of NASCRAG, which is a special roleplaying tournament which focuses heavily on playing your character and minimal dice-rolling). At GenCon we like to LARP, see the big events (like Killer Breakfast, mentioned above, of Gamers: Live, based on the Zombie Orpheus films), play True Dungeon, and attend seminars. For example, I have attended miniature painting seminars which were insanely valuable in terms of the information and help imparted. I love to write, and the writer's seminars are not only free, they are extremely useful for anyone interested in getting their work published. If you GM, the ability to go to a panel and speak with other GMs, discussing issues in running games, is extremely fulfilling. 
We do occasionally book a board or card game or RPG, but usually it's something we haven't tried before, and we use GenCon as a way of checking it out, to see if it's something we wish to pursue later on at home. 
I think you've already gotten some good advice about hotels.
If you have other questions about things, please feel free to post more and ask. I know this forum was very helpful to me 2 years ago.
thank you! I think the "no line" aspect is by far the biggest difference I'm seeing from other cons. I'm very excited to see how that works out. 

We are very excited to see and try new games. We love playing, and are thrilled to be able to get exposure to alternative games. We're from Alabama, and there's not a huge board game scene here, so we're very excited.

Fortunately, we have family in the area, so we won't have to mess with a hotel. Very thankful for that.

I'm also seeing so many people offering advice, experience, and help. That's another big difference from other cons.

Thank you for your input! It defidefinitely helps 

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Posted by aldctjoc

I'm going to thirdeded ;) the advice about not overscheduling yourself. Seriously, I'd recommend taking at least one afternoon to just wander and soak in the atmosphere, and join things spur-of-the-moment (there are many things that'll take last minute generic tickets, and a surprising number of things that don't even check for them... which surprises me). Some of the best discoveries happen spontaneously when you're just wandering. 

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Posted by soulcatcher78

Fourth'd: Don't over schedule.  There's a large segment of our tribe who feel that every nano second of Con time must be scheduled.  If you fall into that group, I wish you well but even they will tell you that the schedule rarely survives its collision with reality.  Prepare some flexibility in your scheduling (travel time between events, FOOD, sleep, etc.) or you will spend more time stressing about what you're missing then enjoying what's in front of you.

Housing and travel are the biggest things to get used to but with family in the area you should have that wrapped up.

Engage the community.  As you can see there's no end of opinions and advice available here and on the Facebook group.  Once the Con goes live (Housing reg day and forward) the Facebook group will erupt with activity.  The forums usually dry up a few days before the con (travel time) and don't get another big boost until the day after.  There are no silly questions and you're better off asking in advance so you don't spend time wandering in circles.

Organization is probably the biggest thing you will notice being different from your other Con experiences.  Once you've done this you'll wonder why everyone else doesn't do it the same way.  I'm all for a queue when it's a limited item or service but this is my vacation and I will avoid any unneeded lines.  Knowing where and when you have to be somewhere (in small doses) can provide the structure needed to keep you on track.

Welcome to the tribe!

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Posted by unglitteringold

5th'd!! When booking events remember that you have to travel from one event to the other. While most games try to wrap up early and you have a 15 min grace period at the start, it's still a hassle to race. Also, performances and the like tend to start right on time. What I did was printed out maps of the spaces and put them in a binder with the locations of events circled and labled so that I could figure out how to get where I needed to go quickly. And feel free to ask for help! The con volunteers are great, and if they aren't close, just look pathetic and ask the next person you see ^_^

Also - food. You have to schedule time to eat, or you just won't. (Well, at least that's a problem I have.) It takes about an hour to get food from the meal trucks and eat at busy times, so I suggest eating a little earlier or a little later than regular meal times to save time in lines. I've also found that a box of protein bars or something are essential to getting through the day - and sharing with a group that seems to be having a sugar low can really turn a game around! (And be sure to stop by Flying Cupcake at some point - those cupcakes are AMAZING!)

Last but not least, research the event registration process. It's kind of amazing, but very different from other conventions. The wishlist and priority thing threw me for a loop the first year I registered for my own events. An excel spreadsheet (or google docs) can be helpful!

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Posted by neonrhino

I hope you have the best first con ever! I've been going a few years now, and this is what I passed on to some friends that are going this year for the first time as well!
 
Vender Hall: I definitely recommend taking at least a day in order to check out the dealer hall. Thursday is the least crowded, and you have the best chance at getting that must-have game from the con :) The hall is simply enormous, and as you are wandering there is a fair chance that something will catch your eye; a demo, some amazing art, a celebrity. Just be prepared to be on your feet for a solid afternoon at least if you want to see everything, and prepare your back (and your wallet!) for all the games that you'll have to haul back to your room or your car if you plan on doing any shopping. If you want to save your wallet some grief, you can occasionally get some great deals from the vendors on Sunday, but its a gamble as to what’s going to be left over.
 
Food and Water: I generally just pack a small (small! really!) bag with enough to last through the day and try to find a restaurant for a larger meal either around 3:30-4:00 or from 9:00-midnight. I find that 3:00-4:00 generally works out the best. Remember that anything you pack you have to haul around all day long and you need to remember to keep an eye on things. For water, I would bring a small water bottle along and refill as needed. There are many, many fountains about and water this way is free. If you buy a bottle of water (GenCon rates may make you cringe!) hang onto it for refills :)
 
Speaking of a small pack to bring: aside from some light snacks and water it can also be useful to pack a mild painkiller for anyone that gets a head or back ache (Aspirin, Tylenol and the like) as well as HAND SANITIZER. There are going to be just a ton of people everywhere in various states of health and it helps tremendously to have some hand sanitizer to use before you sit down and after you get up. After my wife made this suggestion I've been con-plague free. Others will be grateful to see that you’re using it as well. I would also recommend a little bar of deodorant, breath freshener, and a fresh t-shirt and socks in your pack to round things out. Something I don't recommend bringing is a cell phone charger that needs to plug into the wall. Instead one of those battery-pack refill things are great for the con. Plugs are hard to come by and root you to a single spot for an hour. The refill packs hopefully will keep you topped off enough that you can keep on con'ing and will free up outlets for others. 
 
Must do's: So, there are two different schools of thought on GenCon must do's. For the ‘completionist', I would recommend you visit any panels put on by any names you recognize (this can change from person to person, for me its Shut Up and Sit Down). If you see a name you like having a panel, jump on in! The other 'big' events that stand out to me are the True Dungeon, AEG Big Board Game Night (you get to go home with a free box of games that more than make up for the cost of the event), The Killer Breakfast (Not sure if they'll be doing this in 2017), Drunk gaming at the RAM (best part about this is getting food and a table at the RAM, which is nearly impossible to do at GenCon otherwise), and NASCRAG. Others I'm sure will fill out the blanks.
 
But here's the thing...
 
In my personal experience, the best thing to do at Gencon is to book one, maybe two things that you want to do a day and then to make new friends and find new events to go into. To get into most of the 'big' stuff you'll need to be at home on event registration weekend (and this year that’s Memorial Day, May 28th) and mashing the 'refresh' button on your browser and hoping that you get low enough in the que that you'll be able to successfully get into these events. It can be stressful and there are no guarantees that you'll come in fast enough to get registered for everything. So I usually just say go with the flow.
 
I hope you have the best Con ever and remember it for years. The only other thing I'd like to add is that GenCon tends to attract a hugely positive, welcoming group of people compared to other Cons. If you ever want advice on the next thing to do, ask an excited looking stranger and see where they're going! I've found so many amazing events I'd have never known about using this method, and I have been repeatedly grabbed by the arm and told "You've gotta see this!" and whisked away. Welcome to the community!
 

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Posted by divachelle

Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but the room or event ribbons can be a great value; they give you a fallback plan. I think iello offers one and I know that Mayfair does. It's a buy-once, play-all-weekend sort of deal. The Mayfair one gives you entrance to a Mayfair mixer deal with snacks and gaming after 9PM Friday evening.

Immerse yourself in the experience. It's about so much more than gaming! The people watching is superlative; the costume parade, Cardhalla, and all of the off-site things happening are mind boggling. There are crafting classes and yoga and and and...I think you get the picture.

My best advice is do something different, something out of your normal comfort zone. Last year, I decided I was signing up for at least one-to-me game a day. It was GREAT! 

Make a schedule and stick with it. Schedule time to get from place to place, eat, sleep and shower as needed. Gamer funk is a real thing.

And the food choices - so many yummy places to eat! You have to try Scotty's Brewhouse, the RAM, Giordano's, and the list goes on and on. This year we are planning to check out the Spaghetti Factory and the Irish pub.

Some of the best times I've had have been just talking with other gamers from all sorts of places. The first year I went, I played Dominion in the Rio Grande room. I was a bit nervous, but was paired with a couple of gents from England who completely made my morning! So friendly, and their dry, Brit humor set my con off exactly perfectly. And I trounced them, which never hurts. Additionally, I've loved the pickup games we've played at our hotels each year.

There's truly something for everyone. Take it all in, live in the moment and enjoy yourself!

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Posted by andrewj.rager neonrhino

neonrhino wrote:
I hope you have the best first con ever! I've been going a few years now, and this is what I passed on to some friends that are going this year for the first time as well!
 
Vender Hall: I definitely recommend taking at least a day in order to check out the dealer hall. Thursday is the least crowded, and you have the best chance at getting that must-have game from the con :) The hall is simply enormous, and as you are wandering there is a fair chance that something will catch your eye; a demo, some amazing art, a celebrity. Just be prepared to be on your feet for a solid afternoon at least if you want to see everything, and prepare your back (and your wallet!) for all the games that you'll have to haul back to your room or your car if you plan on doing any shopping. If you want to save your wallet some grief, you can occasionally get some great deals from the vendors on Sunday, but its a gamble as to what’s going to be left over.
 
Food and Water: I generally just pack a small (small! really!) bag with enough to last through the day and try to find a restaurant for a larger meal either around 3:30-4:00 or from 9:00-midnight. I find that 3:00-4:00 generally works out the best. Remember that anything you pack you have to haul around all day long and you need to remember to keep an eye on things. For water, I would bring a small water bottle along and refill as needed. There are many, many fountains about and water this way is free. If you buy a bottle of water (GenCon rates may make you cringe!) hang onto it for refills :)
 
Speaking of a small pack to bring: aside from some light snacks and water it can also be useful to pack a mild painkiller for anyone that gets a head or back ache (Aspirin, Tylenol and the like) as well as HAND SANITIZER. There are going to be just a ton of people everywhere in various states of health and it helps tremendously to have some hand sanitizer to use before you sit down and after you get up. After my wife made this suggestion I've been con-plague free. Others will be grateful to see that you’re using it as well. I would also recommend a little bar of deodorant, breath freshener, and a fresh t-shirt and socks in your pack to round things out. Something I don't recommend bringing is a cell phone charger that needs to plug into the wall. Instead one of those battery-pack refill things are great for the con. Plugs are hard to come by and root you to a single spot for an hour. The refill packs hopefully will keep you topped off enough that you can keep on con'ing and will free up outlets for others. 
 
Must do's: So, there are two different schools of thought on GenCon must do's. For the ‘completionist', I would recommend you visit any panels put on by any names you recognize (this can change from person to person, for me its Shut Up and Sit Down). If you see a name you like having a panel, jump on in! The other 'big' events that stand out to me are the True Dungeon, AEG Big Board Game Night (you get to go home with a free box of games that more than make up for the cost of the event), The Killer Breakfast (Not sure if they'll be doing this in 2017), Drunk gaming at the RAM (best part about this is getting food and a table at the RAM, which is nearly impossible to do at GenCon otherwise), and NASCRAG. Others I'm sure will fill out the blanks.
 
But here's the thing...
 
In my personal experience, the best thing to do at Gencon is to book one, maybe two things that you want to do a day and then to make new friends and find new events to go into. To get into most of the 'big' stuff you'll need to be at home on event registration weekend (and this year that’s Memorial Day, May 28th) and mashing the 'refresh' button on your browser and hoping that you get low enough in the que that you'll be able to successfully get into these events. It can be stressful and there are no guarantees that you'll come in fast enough to get registered for everything. So I usually just say go with the flow.
 
I hope you have the best Con ever and remember it for years. The only other thing I'd like to add is that GenCon tends to attract a hugely positive, welcoming group of people compared to other Cons. If you ever want advice on the next thing to do, ask an excited looking stranger and see where they're going! I've found so many amazing events I'd have never known about using this method, and I have been repeatedly grabbed by the arm and told "You've gotta see this!" and whisked away. Welcome to the community!
 
This was really well put together. I really wish I knew about the forums last year which was my first con. Well written, & our new friend here will have no trouble at all. I as well hope you have a blast this year!

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Posted by waxahachie

Last year was my first GenCon, and I had a blast. I found a lot of the Angry GM's advice to be terrific: 

http://theangrygm.com/how-to-even-gencon-the-complete-noob-guide/

One thing I wish I had done that I didn't is to find some things I was interested each day and signing up for them (Tip 13). I only signed up for one event last year, and had more free time than I knew what to do with.

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Posted by rhone1

Not sure what you typically like to do in the evenings but with the dealer hall closing late in the day and local restaurants being very crowded our group likes to have a game scheduled every night.  We usually have 1-2 ticketed events in the day and 1 in the evening.  The rest of the time we spend in the dealer hall, playing in pickup games, going to seminars and just hanging out as a group.

I would strongly recommend buying a few generic tickets and showing up to games that you want to play.  Last year I showed up to Gen Con with no events scheduled at all and ended up getting into every game I wanted to play.  You'd be shocked how many no-shows there are for events.

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