I buy everything online to save money, but at Gen Con, we're in vacation mode. Bringing home a big pile of games, unloading the games, and stacking them up in the living room is just a lot of fun.
It's sort of like a gamer's version of Christmas. At Christmas, we buy a bunch of stuff for each other, usually not paying too much attention to price, because, well, "It's Christmas!" Same with Gen Con.
That said, I do feel a wee bit guilty when making purchases at Gen Con at MSRP when there is not a free promo being offered with purchase. So we tend not to do too much of that, unless it's a small studio that doesn't have much (if any) product in distribution.
This is the first year that I'm considering preordering some of the Gen Con releases online before we leave (like in a day or two). We could save a bucket of money that way, but it seems less magical. Which is kind of a stupid reason to pay a lot more money.
We certainly don't spend money at Gen Con because we need more games. Because, really, we don't!
But this is one of those rare golden ticket times where if there's something a little more pricey I want to get I can pickup without the wife getting too upset.
I don't like buying stuff online that much so and what I buy at Gen con is usually things that my flgs doesn't carry like miniatures from small or obscure miniature companies or something out of print or hard to comeby that I find a good deal on.. Sometimes I'll buy a game if if I really like the demo or the booth had a great sales pitch, not often though, space is often a premium as we carpool down. I definitely don't spend hundreds and certainly not thousands but that may mostly be that I really don't have that kind of disposable income.
Mainly, the stuff I'm looking to buy at GenCon falls into one of two categories:
- stuff that's not at the FLGS yet, and
- stuff that's too old for the FLGS to carry
I generally spend at least a half-hour each GenCon combing through the bookshelves at a vendor, whose name I can't remember, but festoons the shelves with signs exclaiming "Buy 1, Get 3 Free" -- it's a good way to find those out-of-print RPG books that'll help inspire your next dungeon or other project.
Also purchased older boxes of D&D Miniatures that haven't been in the FLGS since 2010.
This year, I'm hoping to visit one of the board game vendors and see if I can find a copy of SPI's "Freedom in the Galaxy", and also an original Star Fleet Battles boxed game with counters. I might be able to find those sorts of things on e-Bay, but I feel better being able to see and handle the thing I'm looking to buy rather than relying on photos.
Just my $0.02US.
MY FLGS mainly caters to MtG and other similar games. I prefer non deck based games. The next closest one for me is an hour away. I shop for the unique "I need it now" fabulousness. Last year I was able to buy my kids, my boyfriend, and my best friends their Christmas gifts and be done. This year, I have a list of games to try and maybe purchase for our gaming potlucks.
I also am trying to locate expansions I know are coming out.
The actual miniature companies won't have discounts typically but, keep an eye open and you may find some unique looking stuff. There are a lot of interesting companies that come.
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The one thing I always shop for at Gen Con - art and books.
I love to support smaller, independent writers and I always come home loaded down with books. Most of them are really good!