Meeple Mountain

Looking to attend a board game convention? Our guide to board game conventions can help you decide what to pack, play, and pass on!

Event calendar last updated: December 16, 2021

Click here for an up to date list of worldwide board game conventions

The board gaming hobby can be quite overwhelming for a newly budding board game geek. With thousands of new games coming out each year, it can certainly be hard to jump in head first. Maybe you’ve started your own gaming community, but you want an opportunity to meet even more gamers? Maybe you’ve started to build up a collection, but you want to get to try some of the new hot games before they come out? Checking out a board game convention might be the next best step for you!

If you’re still trying to get a grasp of the hobby, that’s totally fine as well! Go ahead and check out our previous article, So you like board games… What now?, before jumping head first into the convention scene.

If you are ready to take this next step, read on! It’s the perfect time to jump aboard since we are just kicking off convention season!What is a board game convention anyway?Origins 2017 – Renegade Games booth

Board game conventions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small intimate gatherings where people marathon through games, and some are weeklong events with large dealer halls and lots of gaming events. We’ll mostly be talking about larger conventions, but before we jump in too deep, let’s take a look at what the difference is.Small Con vs. Large Con

For the most part, gaming conventions can be put into two categories: either small conventions or large conventions. Of course, small and large can mean different things to all people, so we’ll try to distinguish that a little more.Small/Local Conventions

Small conventions are often also called “Local Conventions.” The reason for this is that most of them simply attract a local crowd instead of drawing people in from all over the country. These conventions usually host anywhere from 200 – 5,000 attendees. Usually, they are more focused on bringing people together just to play games and often lack an exhibitor hall.CMON Expo 2017

Personally, I love these kinds of conventions. With their small size, you often feel like you get to know a lot more people, especially if you come back year after year. We have a local convention called Tennessee Game Days that has grown to about 700-800 people over the years. Now that I’ve been coming for the past few, there are so many familiar faces. I even have friends in other states whom I only get to see at the convention each year. The small intimate feel is a huge perk to these local cons.

Meeple Mountain also runs Nashville Tabletop Day, a single day event in April. It’s small, but growing, with attendance nearing 500.Large Conventions

The big conventions are always huge, vibrant, and exciting events. These can be hard to categorize because their attendance is so high in variance, but usually they host between 15,000 all the way up to 200,000 people. Most conventions that break the 15k mark of attendance will have a large dealer hall where you can buy games directly from the publishers and large event halls where you can sign up to play specific games or in tournaments. There is often not an emphasis on just playing games all day, and instead are focused on the shopping aspects, events, panels, etc. Large conventions can be quite overwhelming, so hopefully this article will help you understand them!Gen Con 2016Online Board Game Conventions

Online events are on the rise! As bandwidth becomes cheaper and more reliable, more gamers are looking to save money on travel and lodging by attending online board game conventions (also called impian board game conventions). Their numbers are small, but growing, and you can expect to see more in the coming years. If you’re not sure what to expect then make sure to check out our tips for attending an online board game convention so that you can get the most out of one. Then when you’re ready, check out our listing of online board game conventions in our master list.Why should I go to a board game convention?

There are lots of great reasons to go to a convention! Everyone gets something different out of their experiences, but here are some prominent reasons that a board game convention might interest you.

You want to:play a lot of games.try the hot new games before they are released.meet your favorite designers, authors, artists, publishers, or media personalities.compete in large gaming tournaments.find really cool stuff to buy and take home.berita umum lots of different board games from different publishers to find something new that you might like.meet other gamers with similar interests.hear talks and panels about topics in the industry that interest you.get ahold of exclusive promotional cards/pieces/expansions for your favorite games.

If any of those interest you, then giving a gaming convention a shot might be right up your alley! In all honesty, there is so much more to do at conventions, but these are a few of the cool things that really stand out.Ok! I want to go! Now what?!

Good question! The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on whether you want to go to a smaller or larger convention. For many people, location will be a big factor in this decision, while others may be willing to travel long distances. Let’s take a look at some of the options available. Most of these will be “large” conventions, but there are some smaller ones that squeak through based on popularity.Most Popular Board Game Conventions

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of gaming conventions. There are hundreds of game conventions each year, just in America, so it would be quite difficult to cover them all. The selections below are all either significant because of their pure size or following. Some may be “smaller” conventions, but they are still very prevalent in the board game industry or even run by a large publisher or media outlet. Check out the bottom of this article for an up to date list of worldwide board game conventions!Small to Medium ConventionsLarge ConventionsI’ve picked a convention, how do I prepare for it?Buy your badge

First things first, you’ve got to purchase a badge. Some conventions only last a day or two and only have one badge option, while others will allow for you to purchase a badge for individual days or just the weekend. Since most conventions run through both weekdays and weekends, you’ll need to decide what works best for your schedule. Purchasing a badge is usually simple and can either be done online or at the door. Be careful, though! Many conventions sell out ahead of time!Find housingWe got lucky with a beautiful airBnB at Gen Con in 2016!

Housing can be one of the most frustrating parts of prepping for a gaming convention. Each con is a little different, but most are infamous for making this a true pain. If you buy your badge as early as possible, you should receive some sort of communication before the hotel sales go live. This can be a tricky process as some will have a “queue” system and others will have a “whoever can get through” set up. Either way, for larger conventions these websites will often become bottlenecked and crash. Honestly, there is often just a lot of luck here. Make sure you’re online the second they go live!

If you aren’t interested in a hotel or you weren’t able to get one, there are still lots of other options! I’ve used airBnB a couple times for this and it has worked wonderfully. You might have to walk a bit farther or drive to the convention center, but you also might save some money and tertekan, so it’s often worth it for many people.Register for events

Each convention will have a long list of events that you can attend. These can range from talks/panels, gaming tournaments, game demos, and more. Some events will cost while others will be free. Most conventions open their events up to pre-registrations and many events fill up. Each convention website should have a portal that you can log into to find and register for each event. If you miss out on registering in advance, sometimes you can still make it into them, though! Most large conventions will offer “generic tickets” that you can purchase and spend for events. If it isn’t full, you should be able to spend these “generics” to jump in. If a “full” doesn’t have all of its registered attendees, you might be able to jump in with generics as well!Make a plan of attack

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