I’ve written a recap of Gen Con on my blog that mentions things like food, travel, not-hotel, and *gasp* other games.
I had Traveller events on Sunday only. This worked well for my schedule as Sunday has no overlap with the primary things I do at Gen Con. It does mean that there’s only a limited Traveller presence at Gen Con just as there was at Origins.
For 2020 conventions outside of the Bay Area, we can consider a less limited presence. I would encourage volunteers to run events at these larger conventions (or others), by which I mean we can look to compensate someone’s time and effort more than for a local event.
I scheduled two, two-hour intro/demos. I ran them at 10AM and 2PM. This didn’t make a lot of sense. If one of my friends could watch my stuff, I could run to get some food or whatever, but it would have made far more sense to run the two blocks back to back or even do something like three, two-hour blocks back to back.
Both sold out in prereg. Eight players did attend the first event. Five attended the second, though a couple of people came by who wanted to visit and/or pick up some swag.
For the demos, I did Marava on one side of table, SubMerchant on other, before that Scout on one side and Beowulf on other. This kept differences intact. Everybody started out at the same time. There were simplified phase handouts and I used my cardboard counters/tokens. Everyone played on playmats and could take a playmat when finished.
The first demo was actually easier. Because I wasn’t a player, I could hover over people with malice and forethought … answering questions as they came up. One thing about two hours is that games don’t always end within two hours with the intros. Not sure that that’s worse than having half-size demo decks and playing to 10 or whatever – there’s some advantage to players opening up product they get to keep. I suppose I could build half-size decks out of starters and have the balance of cards sitting to the side for the players to take with them.
Between demos, it was cold. The hall was kept well air conditioned and I wasn’t moving around much. Also, as the last day of Gen Con, even though I got to start later on both Saturday and Sunday than I normally do, I was likely fading energywise.
The second demo was more difficult not just because I filled in as a player, dividing my attention, but because there was less CCG familiarity on average with the second group. It *really* helps in picking up this game to be used to CCGs. Also, the more complicated Marava and SubMerchant decks (more permanents, fewer staple effects like Bwap Advisors and Consultant Call) may have contributed. I guess this is another reason to look at prefabricating demo decks that are cut down versions of starters, just to simplify for players who are going to find the concepts less familiar.
I was able to cut some volume/weight by giving away 14 playmats, at least 14 ship decks, various promo cards, some Trouble on the Mains/Aliens of the Imperium. Besides showing up for swag, which is a completely understandable thing to do (I used to do it for games), I do hope that players found the experience worthwhile, even if it was just to decide that maybe this wasn’t quite the game that the attendee was hoping it would be.
I do find it interesting that the only person I can recall (may be wrong about this with local cons) ever asking me to sign a card was someone I used to play Babylon 5 with, where we got cards signed by actors, artists, and/or others associated with the game back in the day. Actually, I have signed both Gerontocracy and Megalopolis for the B5 CCG as I had specific design credits for those. Just don’t expect me to remember to have a suitable pen on hand.
Having enjoyed the the back and forth with you guys twice at DunDraCons, I can attest that you absolutely put on a wonderful ‘come and play’ demo environment. And YES to the idea of creating demo decks. The concentrated play from less cards might even lead to a quicker second round where the newbies can try lessons learned – which will hook them better as they buy into the whole process.