Lessons from BGG.Con 2014

BGG.Con was big and busy. Instead of a normal convention wrap-up, I just want to hit a few highlights. Here are some of the things I learned from my visit.

Registration opens at 9, not 8. I arrived late on Thursday and got up early on Friday to make sure I avoided the registration line, but was actually an hour and 10 minutes early. But one of the BGG.Con staff was incredibly helpful and helped me get my badge. Thanks!

Good location doesn’t equal good publicity. The Proto Alley run by UNPUB was given good placement, right outside the games library, but that didn’t seem to bring a ton of traffic to the tables, as most people were rushing between the library and open gaming, rather than looking for games there.

The Ship’s Log in-spansion I’m testing for New Bedford still needs work. Besides the fact that some of the log pages aren’t even balanced, it seems to tip the scales away from town building in favor of whaling. Card balance is easy to fix, but strategic balance is tougher. The solution may be a mix of positive cards that are optional and negative effects that are mandatory, to keep the overall risk of whaling while mixing it up. That also addresses some of my personal concerns over the Ship’s Log having too many options for directly attacking other players.

I can’t eat ribs like I used to. Hard Eight. ‘Nuff said.

Saturday is much less busy than you’d expect. Unlike cons with open attendance, the fixed attendance and single ticket option means that people want to make the most out of it and arrive earlier, so you don’t get the huge crowds on Saturday. Combined with all the events on Saturday (especially the flea market), it was pretty easy to find a table in the main hall.

Raffles are disappointing, unless you win a marriage proposal via Crokinole board. But not winning anything is still better than winning a Munchkin prize pack.

I am an awful Spy. I got to play Spyfall a few times, and it is a terrific but intelligent party game, with the potential for hilarity. That’s going to be super popular for whoever brings it to the US.

Nobody cares what happens in Rhino Hero, and that’s a good thing. It’s like building a card tower plus Uno. In fact, that’s almost exactly what it is. Games are short, tense, and fun, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.

BGG.Con is worth visiting for at least one more day. I wish I had been there Thursday or all day Sunday to get more gaming in. Maybe both. I spent most of Friday and Saturday doing New Bedford Demos, but didn’t get to play many new games, or even old games I was interested in, and BGG.Con is a great opportunity for that because of the games library. On a related note, I need to start a list of games I simply want to play, In addition to games I want to own.

Finally, I’m going to need a bigger suitcase if I return next year. My bags were just barely big enough to fit 3 days of clothing, my prototypes, and the one game I bought. If I needed another day’s worth of clothing, or actually wanted to buy some new games or take my own,  I won’t have enough room.

I don’t know if I’ll be back next year. BGG.Con is expensive, from the plane ticket, to the convention ticket, to the hotel room for 4 or 5 nights (even if you split the room, it adds up), and all the food, it’s a big expense. And then there’s all the games to buy. I escaped with only the one game I intended to buy and some bits I was planning to buy from Meeple Source anyway. But there was a lot of temptation. Overall, it’s a great opportunity to meet publishers, designers, artists, and friends I’ve really only met and talked to on the internet. I’m definitely happy I went. We’ll see what next year holds.

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