With our recent trip to Dallas, Texas for BGG Con the thought of what games are good to travel with, especially to a board game convention has been at the forefront of my mind. I know with conventions like GenCon and Spille in Essen, the goal of these conventions is to buy new games. These Cons are a great place to buy newly released games and to flood social media with covetous pictures of new board game hauls. However, with conventions like BGG Con, and Salt Con, the convention is more centered around playing games. This is not to say there is no game play happening at these other conventions.
When a convention is focused on gaming they usually have some sort of game library. Just as not every personal game collection is created equal, neither are all convention game libraries. Which is all a very long winded introduction into the idea of what games to take when traveling, and specifically when traveling to a board game convention where there may or may not be a game library. I am going to compare two thoughts. One, going to a convention that is close to home or one you are driving to. And two, a convention you are traveling to via an airplane flight.
Driving, or going to a local convention, allows me to pack and include more games that I am hopeful to get to play. I can be far more liberal in my packing attempts, I can take a few larger games and even plan for several epic games that are full of expansions and content bursting the shrink wrap. Even if I do not get to play these games, I can bring them in hopes to play. This also allows me to not fight trying to find and check out the game(s) I want to play from the game library at the convention. I know, or at least I hope I know, all of the components are there, and the game has been packed and stored to my preferences and to my specifications. All of these are huge perks to bringing my own game to a convention table. Plus if you are really crazy, you can also pack your Game Toppers, and or Topper mats to enhance not just your home game experience but also enhance your convention experience.
Once you decide to go to a convention that you must fly to, all those freedoms and options are thrown out the window and are left on the runway because the amount of space you have in your bags quickly becomes very limited. There is only so much that you can pack in your suitcase. And, depending on how many checked bags you are willing to pay for, brings that space into laser focus. You also have to factor in the value of bringing a game to the cost and risk of damage that packing a prized game with you to your gaming convention. The questions to consider are:
Does the convention have a game library?
Does that library have the game I want to play while I am there?
Some conventions do have their game libraries publicly listed and allow convention attendees to view what is in that library, and some conventions even have ways to list what games are currently checked out and when they were checked out.
I know that both SaltCon and BGGCon both have libraries, and I know for sure that BGGCon Has a way to display what games are checked out and when they were checked out. For us traveling to BGGCon, we had to pack light and plan games we wanted to play around what was available in the BGGCon library. I love my spreadsheets and had created a sheet and asked those of us in our group what we were wanting to play. And then, when we had that list created, it had to be checked against what was available in the library and then plan on those games to play. Yes, we overplanned for sure. We did not get to 75 percent of the games on our list. However, we were able to have a list of games, and when we visited the library we always had the option to refer to our list of games when trying to figure out what we would be playing next. Often, if there is not a plan, so much time is squandered (much like Nathan Tenney’s first turns) with the eternal debate, “What do you want to play?”, “I don’t know. What do you want to play?”, debate.
With our road map of games we wanted to play in our hands we could supplement what games or expansions that were missing from the library. For instance, we were planning on playing Shadows of Brimstone, but Logan wanted to ensure that we had one expansion that he very much wanted to include, so in place of bringing all of the content for Shadows of Brimstone, Logan packed everything he needed for his character, plus what would be needed from the expansion that we had back home. Andy also brought everything his character might need. The rest of us simply used what was there.
Both SaltCon and BGGCon offer scheduled events that you can view before getting to the convention and planning on participating in those. Meeple Nation hosts several games at SaltCon and they are all free to sign up for. These ideas are a great way to keep your convention packed with amazing gaming experiences. Whether your convention is local or one you are flying too, I would strongly suggest planning ahead and finding some options of what you are going to play.
What are some options you use when planning your traveling gaming options?