Sunday, February 23, 2014

Total Con - A retrospective

So this weekend, I ended up attending four days of a local Massachusetts game convention called Total Confusion (Link).  It's a long running (this was the 28th year) game convention focusing on board games, miniatures and table top/rpg games.  I figured since this was my first time, and it was a bit different from the other conventions I have been to in the past, a small review/write up might be in order.  If anyone reading this has been to the con as well, feel free to correct anything I may say or agree/disagree with me on some of the finer points.

So the convention runs four days total in a hotel in Mansfield Mass.  It has your standard registration options (pre-registering will be cheaper, and you can get a pass for four days or for each day, depending on how long you plan to be there).  Once your registered, this is where it gets a bit different then other cons I have been too.  At the major cons I go to (PAX and Anime Boston) once your registered you go into the con, and can participate in any panel, game or event going on, as long as you arrive early enough to get into the line for said event.  At TotalCon, you are able to be in the free game room, panels and other places as much as you want.  IF you want to play a scheduled game, be it card, miniature, board or rpg you need a ticket.  If you purchase an actual ticket for an event (say pathfinder at 3:00 pm on a Friday) you are guaranteed to get into the game.  If you want to play a board game at a given time, you can get a board game ticket for a certain block of time, and if you arrive and there is space in the game, you can play.  Finally there are generic tickets, which can get you into anything, but are last in the order.  So if you show up to a game with a generic ticket and an actual ticket holder shows up, you will have to give up your seat at the table.  Unfortunately for myself and my friends, we were not aware you could pre-register for the events, so we were unable to get into some of the games we wanted to try.  We did end up purchasing a few tickets for games though, along with a few generics.  It should also be noted, that generics can be returned for your money back, event tickets cannot be returned, unless the game does not run for any reason.

So we ended up arriving Thursday night, and looked around the con, getting our bearings and seeing what was going on.  The free game room was mixed with the regular board game and young gamers (games meant for children).  The vendor hall was different then others I've been too.  It was all local, small game stores, with very good selections and very knowledgeable staff.  I ended up purchasing various games from the different vendors, including some nice jewelry for my girlfriend (It was a dice bracelet made with tiny dice.  It can be found at Link ).  There was also a gamer cupcake bakery located outside the vendor hall.  The bacon maple cupcake was divine.  The con staff I ran into were all nice and knowledgeable, with a few small problems with some of the games encountered (mostly double booking tables, games running late and missing others, along with some games not having locations until the last minute so we had to look around to find where our game was being played).  Not sure why this happened a few times, but I'm guessing from the number of people there this year it may have been a new found growing pain.

I ended up playing quite a few games.  I joined the PathFinder society, played the Dr Who RPG, tried out some Call of Cthulhu.  Played some board games, including Zpocolypse and Triasic Terror (a copy of which now adorns my game shelf).  There were also other card games and such I played, but as can happen it blends together a bit, so it can be hard to say what ones I ended up playing overall.  One of the nice surprises of the games were the prize tickets.  Either by winning or being voted best gamer at the table, you could win purple prize tickets, which could be redeemed for dice, board games, shirts and various other nick knacks at the con.  It was a nice surprise, and definitely made me want to plan out my gaming session for next year.

I did have a few gripes though.  The ticket thing did throw me for a loop, and being unable to redeem specific event tickets was a bit of a downer, since due to games running late or late food, I missed a few games I wanted to try.  Now that I've been to the con, I've got a much better handle of how it works, but for new people just getting started there, it can be a bit daunting.  Also the board game tickets was a bit weird.  Today actually we signed up for a game, and were unable to play it because the tickers were for any board game at a given time.  We did wind up playing a cool game called Chroma Cubes (Link), so it worked out in the end, but I worry some people may purchase board game tickets for a group and be unable to play together.  Overall I ended up having a ton of fun here, and look forward to going again next year.

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