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The Ultimate Guide to Board Game Conventions

If you're a board game enthusiast looking to take your passion to the next level, attending a board game convention is a must. These events offer a unique and exciting opportunity to connect with fellow...

If you're a board game enthusiast looking to take your passion to the next level, attending a board game convention is a must. These events offer a unique and exciting opportunity to connect with fellow gamers, try out new games before they hit the market, and meet your favorite designers, authors, artists, publishers, or media personalities.

Board game conventions come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from small local gatherings to massive weeklong events with thousands of attendees. In this guide, we'll explore the different types of conventions and help you navigate the world of board game conventions.

What is a board game convention?

At its core, a board game convention is a gathering of board game enthusiasts who come together to celebrate their love for the hobby. These events offer a wide range of activities, from playing games and attending tournaments to shopping for new additions to your collection and discovering upcoming releases.

Small Con vs. Large Con

Board game conventions can generally be classified into two categories: small conventions and large conventions. Small conventions, also known as local conventions, typically attract a local crowd and focus on bringing people together to play games. These events are usually more intimate, with fewer attendees and may not have a dedicated exhibitor hall.

Large conventions, on the other hand, are grand affairs with diverse offerings and a higher attendance rate. These conventions often have a bustling dealer hall where you can purchase games directly from publishers and participate in various gaming events and tournaments. While playing games is still an essential component of large conventions, they also offer opportunities to attend panels, workshops, and other industry-related activities.

Why should you go to a board game convention?

There are many reasons why attending a board game convention is a great idea. Whether you love playing games, want to discover new releases, or wish to interact with industry professionals, a convention has something for everyone. Here are some of the top benefits of attending a board game convention:

  • Play a wide variety of games.
  • Get a sneak peek at upcoming releases.
  • Meet your favorite designers, authors, artists, and publishers.
  • Compete in thrilling gaming tournaments.
  • Discover unique and rare games to add to your collection.
  • Connect with like-minded gamers and make new friends.
  • Attend talks and panels on topics that interest you.
  • Get your hands on exclusive promotional cards, pieces, or expansions.

If any of these reasons resonate with you, it's time to consider attending a board game convention.

Preparing for a Board Game Convention

Now that you're convinced that attending a board game convention is a fantastic idea, let's look at how you can prepare for the event to make the most of your experience.

Choosing the right convention

The first step is to decide whether you want to attend a smaller, local convention or a larger, more prominent event. Consider factors such as location, duration, and the specific activities and amenities offered at each convention. Research different conventions and read reviews from previous attendees to help you make an informed decision.

Purchasing your badge

Once you've selected a convention, the next step is to purchase your badge. Some conventions offer different badge options, with choices for daily passes or weekend passes. Make sure to buy your badge as soon as possible, as many popular conventions sell out quickly. Check the convention's website for information on how to purchase your badge online or at the door.

Arranging accommodation

Housing arrangements can be a challenging part of convention planning, especially for larger events. Some conventions provide information on hotel options and offer a reservation system. Be prepared to act quickly, as hotel rooms can fill up fast. If you're unable to secure a hotel room, consider alternative accommodation options like Airbnb or nearby hotels.

Registering for events

Most conventions have a range of events and activities that you can register for in advance. Take the time to explore the convention's website and identify events that interest you. Some events may require additional fees, while others are free to attend. Registering in advance ensures you secure a spot in popular events and workshops.

Creating a game plan

With so much happening at a convention, it's essential to create a game plan before you arrive. Research the exhibitor hall and make a list of booths you want to visit. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the convention to optimize your time and avoid getting overwhelmed. Prioritize the booths and game demos that you're most interested in, as some games may sell out quickly.

Packing essentials

When attending a convention, it's essential to pack a few essentials to make your experience more enjoyable. Here are some items to consider:

  • Hand sanitizer to stay clean in a crowded environment.
  • Snacks like granola bars or trail mix to keep yourself energized.
  • A water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Portable phone chargers to ensure you're always connected.
  • Small card games to play while waiting in lines or during downtime.

Explore the city

If you're traveling to a new city for a convention, consider taking some time to explore beyond the convention center. Visit local attractions, try out local cuisine, or find a board game cafe. It's a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and make your trip even more memorable.

Popular Board Game Conventions

While there are countless board game conventions worldwide, here are a few of the most popular events that attract gamers from all over the globe:

  • BGG CON (& BGG SPRING) - Dallas, TX
  • CMON Expo - Atlanta, GA
  • Dice Tower Con - Orlando, FL
  • Geekway to the West - St. Louis, MO
  • UK Games Expo - Birmingham, UK
  • Origins Game Fair - Columbus, OH
  • PAX Unplugged - Philadelphia, PA
  • Gen Con - Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Essen Spiel - Essen, Germany

These conventions offer an incredible array of activities, from gaming tournaments to panel discussions and demonstrations.

Conclusion

Attending a board game convention is an experience like no other. It allows you to immerse yourself in the board game community, connect with other enthusiasts, and explore the latest releases. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you'll be well-prepared to make the most of your board game convention adventure. So go ahead, mark your calendars, and get ready for an unforgettable experience!

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