GrandCon, Archon, and Gamehole Con
Hello everyone, today’s topic is the conventions I have attended recently or will be attending soon. Specifically, I will look at GrandCon, Archon, and Gamehole Con. As always, my goal is to provide useful information to help you determine whether it is the right convention for you.
Where – Grand Rapids, Michigan
When – early – mid September
Size – medium, probably around 2,000
Hotel Cost – moderately expensive, $150 – 170 per night. We stayed at a Double Tree about 10 miles away.
Content – Board games and RPG’s
Last week I attended GrandCon for the first time. I was quite happy with how the convention was presented and ran. The organizers did a great job, especially for the 1st time in a new location. They had outgrown the hotel from previous years and held it this year in the Devos Convention Center. It is definitely a gaming convention, minimal cosplay and most panels were focused on game design and development. It wrapped up about 10pm each night. GrandCon is a newer convention, only in its fifth year, but it already has more than 2,000 attendees and a great cast of speakers. In talking with some of the artists who had vendor booths I found many of them have worked on major projects including art for Pathfinder and Dominion. In addition to notable artists, game designers Richard Launius and Paul Peterson were in attendance, makers of Arkham Horror and Smash Up, respectively.
There are numerous good reasons for attending GrandCon. First, there is a large selection of vendors (30-40), many are independent artists and small game companies. In addition to great vendors, this convention had an entire section dedicated to prototype and unpublished games for people looking for brand new games. Along with the prototypes came plenty of scheduled RPG and board games for those looking to learn an established game. The last avenue for gaming at GrandCon is the GrandCon games library, where you can check out a game from their moderate selection of popular games. We left them a copy of Legends of Draxia. It was very family friendly – I saw more families and young children than I think I have seen at any other convention. The atmosphere reminded me a lot of Gamehole Con (see below). In general, if you consider yourself a gamer or have kids who like to game, I highly recommend attending GrandCon.
Where – Collinsville, Il
When – late September
Size – medium, probably around 2,000-2,500
Hotel Cost – unsure, primary hotel filled fast, months ahead of the convention. Lots of moderately priced options nearby
Content – General Sci-Fi / Fantasy
I am getting ready to attend Archon for the first time and am pretty excited. From what I can tell Archon is one of St. Louis’s main nerd culture conventions. This year marks its 41st anniversary. Archon appears to have a little of everything: cosplay, panels, gaming, masquerade, a wide variety of vendors, even convention-sanctioned room parties for those over 21. Between the game room open 24/7 and the after-hours events, staying in the primary hotel is nice if you can get in.
I will go into greater detail about Archon after I have attended it next month. I expect Archon will be an exceptional convention. It is a good sign when every room in the primary hotel is sold out months in advance, and other nearby hotels are also booked solid.
Where – Madison, WI
When – Early November
Size – medium, probably around 3,000
Hotel Cost – moderate
Content – Board games and RPG’s
I will give you greater details on Gamehole Con 2017 next month, but I wanted to give a heads-up promo about this particular convention. Gamehole Con is one of the top gaming conventions in the Midwest, and one of my personal favorites. If you’re an RPG player or board gamer you owe it to yourself to go to this one.
While the website doesn’t mention it, there are a bunch of notable people who routinely attend. You will see tons of the original TSR group, (the guys who wrote the original Dungeons and Dragons) and other industry icons. Probably the crown jewels of the convention are the events that feature Ed Greenwood, the creator of Elminster and the Forgotten Realms setting. I look forward to seeing some of you there!