A little late, but better than never - An AAR for TriaDCon 2007
Finally! Wal*Mart found my missing pictures CD. I was hopping mad!
And yes, there were silly hats...
I bought a little disposable camera on the way to the convention on Saturday, having conveniently forgotten my digital one. For some perverse reason, I bought a black and white .. hadn't taken a b&w picture in years, and thought it might be interesting. Due to getting stuck behind an accident scene and running late, I paid for a garage place, as I figured I'd be there almost all day. I was right. Fortunately, I have switched GMing philosophy from bigass, heavy grandiose concept games like Le Grand Cirque to small, portable, fun games like Gladiator Fighting, and Tavern Brawl games, and Lilliput, and the Tibetan Corpse Racing Olympiad, all of which can be toted up hills in the heat without having a coronary. Parking is an issue with TriaDCon, which was just as sticky this year as last.. however, this time we had signs up, and got the word out well in advance about Parking, what's free and what's not, and the risk of ticketing at U-Md. Point taken for next year.
I got to the convention around 930 that day, and the crowd was already quite good, considering a large portion of the floor space was behind a construction curtain, You can see the new "Mongolian Barbecue" construction space on the left in this picture.
and to the right in this one:
As you can see much of the space is taken up with boardgaming of various genres. One element I added this year, as the miniatures scheduler, was the three "Island" tables on the left, above. You can see Hal Dyson's wonderful AERODROME game in the center of the three "Islands" in the picture above.
I noticed that no matter what was being run on an island table, that guy usually had a full house for players. point taken for next time.
Mr. Goon's resurgence of the Go teaching opportunity (below) was once again welcomed. I'm not sure if it drew many outside players or not, but I did take the time to bombard many of the local Go email lists for this area, and I think I even emailed the IGF. We definitely had a nice stream of players, so I hope he returns for next year.
One element definitely new to the convention was a roleplaying track. We had (I think) four events and some discussion panels. We were a little light on space for discussions and hosted them in the Gazebo Room. Oddly enough for a first time event, these were a bit of a draw and we had some dedicated players. Point taken for next year.
Here we see Mike running his Serenity Role Playing Game. I'm not a huge RPG fan (not having done much in the genre) but I loved the look and detail of the RPG Mike was running. He did a fine job and his players enjoyed themsleves.
It's always nice to see Joan and David Wendland of Blood and Cardstock games. She was the silly hats vendor, having gone to the annual Toy Fair and picked up a lot of truly silly hats cheap. Joan is a very talented designer and I sat in on a playtest of her new game in the works called.. something something pie fight. The game is ostensibly about monsters shuffling around and having a pie fight, with magickal pie-flinging spells which tickled my fancy.
Whatever it was called, it was silly, involved pie, and was nicely balanced. Nice job, Joanie!
I ran a gladiator game early in the day, mostly with Curt and Grant Daniels. We had a fourth player, but he wussed on us after one turn because his pals were signaling for him to play Die Macher with them or something. Too violent for a Euro Player, I guess. Hey, who am I to complain, he bought my copy of GALAXY by GMT.
Seems like we had some of that magical marketing Synchronicity left over from WBC and Historicon this year. "The Great Convergence" (wince) was on display at TriaDCon, too! Many wargamers played Euros, many miniatures game players played RPGs and board games.
Some conflict sim fans playing Napoleon's Triumph, the new Austerlitz block game in the series that began with Bonaparte at Marengo (above).
Games Club of Maryland was there in force and contributed greatly to the success of the convention. I would like to extend our thanks for the wonderful job done by Mr. Keith Levy and all the tournament organizers he assembled for our humble little convention. Thanks, guys.
We made use of the right side foyer more this year than we did last year. We moved registration up there to provide more floor space below on the main floor, and held several events up in the rightside foyer. Above you can see what a nice mixed crowd we had, of all ages. I personally think the OTHER foyer, on the left, may be a loser. People just don't know it's there and any event held there was ill attended by HMGS convention standards.
Here was a very interesting game concept being put on by Jonathan Miller. It's a naval battle between the Bismark and the Prince of Wales, but the focus is not on moving ships and comparing armor to broadside weight. The real game is about keeping the ship afloat after it starts to take damage, and how you allocate damage repair resources. A fascinating game idea that would make a brilliant boardgame.
Bob McDonald ran his somewhat famous FOUR MACGUFFINS game, a pulp adventure/skirmish using the Chain Reaction rules (above). Many thanks, sir, you were tireless at this.
Some Historical and not-so Historical games...
My friend Ben Pecson considers a move at what looks like DBR from this angle..
(Above) The folks from WADBAG start setting up De Bellus Vashingtonium, our annual DBA tournanment. A big thank you to the folks who set this up, you provided a lot of fun for a lot of people for a lot of hours!
DBV is always welcome at TriaDCon, never fear!
Lastly, we did have a bring and buy flea market event, and it was stellar. I sold about 90 dollars worth of games that I wasn't going to play any more, and promptly spent the money buying NEW stuff...
Free Enterprise at its best
I did run a game on Sunday, Return to Lilliput. Said game is detailed elsewhere.
Financially, we did not loose our shirts this year. The convention actually paid for itself, and grew attendance, although not as much as I would like.. maybe only about 20 to 30 above last years' figures, but that's not at all bad for a local convention.
Facilities: There were issues with the site location, and many of them aren't going to be easy to overcome. The big one is parking. Parking is some distance away from the dining facility and drive up access is very limited. We have tried to negate this by being johnny on the spot with handtrucks and the freight elevator. Secondly the facility is not exactly handicap friendly. It's possible to maneuver around it, but it takes some effort. Some of our game space was taken up with construction this year. We were told they would be finished in time for TriaDCon, but this did not prove to be the case. I don't sense it had a huge impact on the show. The separation of the far left mezzanine from the rest of the con was a problem, even with signage and helpful people giving directions. It just isn't a starter. Conversely, adding some miniatures events directly to the main floor was very good for the miniatures games. It's all about location. The big plusses to the site location is limited free catering that comes with it (free, giant cookies that cost and arm and a leg elsewhere, and soda), and being located next to a nice cafeteria. It's not the Four Seasons, but its' better than just about any food I ate at the Eisenhower during Fall In (not knocking that convention, at all, I just don't like the hotel's caterer).
Vendors-- it would be nice to have more, but really, we are about maxed out on the available space. We appreciate the local support for our Con! We even gave up the reg table to add another one in. At this stage, I'd rather see smaller, local guys like Blood and Cardstock over a mega vendor, but heck, we'll take what we can get.
Price: We had to pay a little extra for insurance.. and had to cover the cost, so we knocked it up a buck or two. I think our price is a pretty good bargain for a convention held inside the DC Metro area (inside the beltway!). We did offer a few incentives here and there that some people took advantage of (special prices for GMs and Boy Scouts). We can't afford to give anything away on a massive scale at the moment, but we can at least do the right thing for GMs and scouts.
Staff: Much better this year.. and I mean by LEAPS AND BOUNDS. Many, many thanks to the stalwart lads of the Southern Maryland Partizans, who showed up in force to help schlepp tables, stand a watch at the front desk or flea market, and generally help by being helpful and unfailingly polite and cheerful about it. To give you a good idea of HOW helpful these volunteeers where, we were at the convention until 9 or 10 last year, breaking down tables. We got out by 7 or so this year.
Advertising and ROI: Last year, we were a brand new convention relying on strict word of mouth and postings on the Internet. This year, we tried to put in a much better effort. We placed adverts in Wargames Illustrated, the Historicon and Cold Wars Program books, the NoVaG newsletter, spammed various forums and yahoogroups repeatedly, and dropped fliers in all the stores. We didn't see a hoarde for our efforts, but we held last year's numbers easily and have even grown somewhat. At least I can feel that we did what needs to be done in this regard.
In closing, many thanks to the many, many people who contributed their time, effort, volunteerism, and creativity to putting on TriaDCon and contributing so much to its success. This is not just the GMs and Volunteers and the Convention Cabal (the closest thing we have to a board of directors), but also anyone who took the time to attend. We have worked hard to return the concept of a good, old fashioned local convention with a mixed format to the DC region, and we just might be suceeding due to your efforts.