March 21, 2012

Board Game Convention: Let's Play!

I'm getting deeper and deeper into the gaming world.  Oh, it all started out innocently enough as a young child with family games.  Harmless games like Candyland, Monopoly, Wahoo, and Yahtzee were popular in our house.  Then I played my first games of Risk and Stratego in the 5th grade.  Very soon after, in middle school and high school, my friends and I plunged into the Milton Bradley GameMasters series and even delved into Avalon Hill and SPI behemoths (often drowning).  It was in high school, too, that I broadened my scope of traditional card game knowledge, thanks to both sets of grandparents teaching me pitch, euchre, spades, hearts, pinochle, and cribbage.  But college and early married life was a desert of gaming experience.  Only fond memories remained.

That changed about two years ago.  On a whim, when visiting my parents one weekend, I decided to break out that old, 1975 copy of Risk to teach my two boys (both age 7 at the time).  I figured it was a pointless exercise that would send them crying and running the moment a legion of plastic pieces stormed through their bastion in Ukraine.  However, to my delight, they took to it like a mathematician to a Knizia game and wanted more.  We hit garage sale buys of Axis and Allies and Samurai Swords.  Heading to the internet to look for more of the old games I used to know, I came across the most intimidating web site I've ever seen not ending in ".gov" -  BoardGameGeek.  I'm still not sure I even know of everything that this resource has to offer for the hobby and enthusiast, but that's not for lack of spending time in browsing it's mind-numbing array of pages.  Needless to say, what a discovery!

After way too many nights of reading reviews and watching videos, I began browsing new-to-me online stores such as Troll and Toad, Boards and Bits, and Cool Stuff, Inc.  With research conducted and cross-testing prices and showing wishlists to my kids, we bought our first "Euro" game, Citadels.  Soon after that, I used birthday money to make my first bulk purchase - you know, those ones to reach the "free shipping" threshhold.  Then I officially joined the Geek, began logging all of our plays, started this blog, and just recenlty joined the online gaming community Yucata.

And as for the "next step" into the hobby, I've made plans to attend, and have passes reserved for, my first gaming convention!  It was actually my brother-in-law that tipped me off to the inaugural Let's Play Green Bay.  The 3-day (March 30-April 1) gathering will host venues and events for board gaming, CCGs, role playing, and miniature gaming.  There will be publishers and designers, casual and official tournaments, demos, sales, and open gaming.  A few highlights include a Settlers of Catan North American championship qualifier, the world's largest Monopoly collection, several official CCG tournaments, and a meet/greet with the reigning Pokemon world champion.  Presenting sponsor Gnome Games will be offering a great deal of assistance in planning and logistics.  This friendly local game store is knowledgeable, helpful, well-connected with the community, and offers a wide selection of products and support in all genres of the hobby.  They are missionaries sent forth from the gaming fold.

There's tons more.  Pat Fuge, the head gnome at Gnome Games, promises a refreshingly different kind of convention focused on social gaming and attracting new gamers.  I'm looking forward to this experience and sharing it with my two boys.  It should be a nice fit for our first convention.  On one hand, they have a lot of activities with some big name participants.  On the other hand, there should be under 2,000 attendees which, combined with the focus on social gamers, should make for a more relaxed and family-oriented atmosphere that is not intimidating for first-timers.  Of course, these are merely my initial thoughts.  Because of the six-hour drive to Green Bay, we're only able to attend Saturday; but I'll definitely be there from open to close.  Blog posts and photos are sure to follow with our exploits and my observations!


  1. Thanks for introducing me to Yucata...I'd never heard of it before, but now I can't wait to try it out.

  2. You're welcome! Though you may not want to thank me after losing lots of sleep from late night gaming! :-) When you get set-up, invite me to a game, if you like. My username is 'spielemitkinder.' I've recently used the site to learn Stone Age, Sobek, Vikings, Firenze, Roll Through the Ages, and a new, quick German cardgame that hasn't gotten over to this side of the pond, yet - One-Eye. Still lots more to learn!