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GenCon 2016 – The Best Not Quite Four Days in Gaming

The Crazy Vendor Hall, GenCon 2016, Image Nicole Wakelin

The Crazy Vendor Hall, GenCon 2016, Image Nicole Wakelin

GenCon 2016 was not my first GenCon, but it was without a doubt my most grueling. There was the usual chaos of travel and hotels and gamers, but this year we had to pack it into less than the usual number of days. It had a lot to do with the real world getting in the way of all our fun, but we were determined to make it work. We started off doing something we’d never done before and it probably wasn’t the best idea.

Living in New Hampshire leaves us a good 14 hours of driving time to get to Indianapolis. This is something we usually undertake over a two-day road trip and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. We even have our favorite places to stop for breaks like Buffalo, New York for the requisite buffalo wings. They also have a killer donut place there called Paula’s Donuts that you must try.

This year, we decided we didn’t have enough time for a leisurely two-day drive each way. Instead, we made the trip in one day and in what can only be described as the most epic fail of our convention planning ever, we made the drive overnight. We started off thinking we’d just get a few hours in and then get a hotel, but just like that game you plan to end early, we were still going at four in the morning. This had us arriving on Wednesday around noon in need of toothpicks to keep our eyes open.

Tired Family Ready to Game, GenCon 2016 Image Nicole Wakelin

Tired Family Ready to Game, GenCon 2016 Image Nicole Wakelin

That was a bit of a mistake and led to a very sleepy family. Undeterred, we charged off to meet our friends and get the gaming started early on Wednesday. It’s the Best Four Days in Gaming and we were technically there early so why wait? Games were played. Food was consumed. Plans were made. It was a good day, even though we were all exhausted.

GenCon officially gets going on Thursday and we were ready. Trusty badges swinging from our necks and bags to carry loot at the ready, we headed off to the vendor hall. They said it was bigger this year and they weren’t kidding. Not only did it cover more space, which my feet can attest, but it felt more open. This could have been a trick of my bleary eyes, but the crowds weren’t quite so squashed into the vendor hall as I recall in years past.

Elderwood Academy, GenCon 2016, Image Nicole Wakelin

Elderwood Academy, GenCon 2016, Image Nicole Wakelin

One of my favorite things to look at are the booths with accessories. Many of the games, although out early, will be available in my local game store in the coming months. GenCon is a great opportunity to play them, but knowing the game will be out at home makes it easy to hold off unless there’s some incredible deal, which is often the case.

What I won’t find in my local game store are accessories. Those booths are like gold because they’re often your only chance to see these products in person. My favorite this year was Elderwood Academy. They make wooden dice boxes with leather covers that make them look like spell books. There are a variety of colors and images and you can even have one personalized if you’re willing to pay the extra cost. Foam inserts to organize your supplies are also available. My girls each picked a box and were much envied at their next DnD session.

The Dragon and Flagon, Stronghold Games, Image: Nicole Wakelin

The Dragon and Flagon, Stronghold Games, Image: Nicole Wakelin

We also got a chance to demo lots of games and ended up purchasing a few, including The Dragon & Flagon from Stronghold Games. This is a quick and fun game that lets you have a barroom brawl complete with little mugs of beer and chairs and tables, all of which can be used as weapons against your fellow brawlers.

Much as our GenCon started off with an unplanned overnight, we also had to leave earlier than usual. Our departure was the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, so we pretty much packed all four days into roughly two and a half. It was no less fun, but much more exhausting. We still enjoyed our annual GenCon adventure, but next year. We’re taking a whole week off for the adventure and getting in every last minute of the Best Four Days in Gaming.

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