Gamers, last week was the inaugural GameHoleCon in Madison, Wisconsin and let’s GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY right off the bat: yeah, “GameHole” is an awkward name with some wildly ambiguous connotations. Hey, you know what’s NOT awkward or wildly ambiguous? HOW GREAT THIS CON WAS.
This thing is put together by a group of gamers SO HARDCORE they built their ultra-deluxe gaming space ABOVE A BAR. Every session LITERALLY starts with “you all meet in a tavern.” These guys believe in the FINER things and it shows in the way they put together their first Con.
Let’s start with the line-up of guests:
Old-school, new-school, WHATEVER your school you were getting an ADVANCED DEGREE at GameHole Con. You wanted to delve into the pre-history of the Temple of Elemental Evil? Ernie Gygax, Jim Ward, and Frank Mentzer were there to share their wisdom. You wanted to pry details on D&D Next from the IRON TALONS of WotC’s Chris Perkins? He had not one but TWO panels to talk about what’s happening with the next iteration of D&D. Or MAYBE you just wanted to hang out with Jen Page between her game of Call of Cthulhu and her screening of Geek Seekers.
If you’re like me, YOU GOT TO DO ALL THREE.
Of course I wasn’t just there to be Jen Page’s footstool. I ran my own session of Ask the Bastard LIVE and squeezed 20 different gamers through my Insurmountable Gauntlet of DOOM. And I only killed ONE character the whole weekend! Apparently WISCONSIN MAKES YOU SOFT.
(Hey, GameHole guys, I’ve got a new slogan for nex– SCRATCH THAT. BAD IDEA.)
Speaking of gaming, whatever your particular predilection for geekiness IT WAS THERE TO BE INDULGED.
Chris Perkins ran special demos of D&D Next:
The Pathfinder Society area was packed:
You wanted to indulge in some Castles & Crusades? DONE.
They even had a dedicated area sponsored by The Game Crafter for you to try out prototypes of unpublished games. (If you like co-op play, look for a cool game called The Captain is Dead in the near future. It was described to me as “the last 15 minutes of any Star Trek episode, except something has gone horribly wrong and the captain is dead.” SOLD.)
So. Great guests and tons of gaming. But what about those OTHER con essentials? Eating, drinking, and shopping. AGAIN, the GameHole guys had THOUGHT IT THROUGH: $3 beer specials every day from 3-11 during the con and, JUST as important: food trucks.
The Sheraton was a great venue (top notch service from the whole staff) but it’s a bit on the outskirts of town so having those food truck vendors there with quick, hot meals was a real godsend.
Finally, what con is complete without some sort of dealer area? Four different local game stores were represented in the exhibitor area to fix all your last-minute dice emergencies. Albion Swords had a great booth with some cool swords and armor, TPK Games was there with a full load of Pathfinder supplements, and best of all — fantasy legend Jeff Easley himself was there signing and selling prints.
I scored a BADASS pile of loot:
Let’s take a trip around the treasure pile:
- Those potion tokens come in both metal and poker-style varieties. They are currently available (AND FUNDED) on KickStarter, with just 12 days left to go in the campaign.
- That chainmail dice bag is BOSS. It’s from the fine folks at CritSuccess and I’m impressed with how spacious and sturdy it is. (If it looks small in this photo keep in mind: that’s on OVERSIZE d20 on top. GAME BIG OR GO HOME. This thing could easily hold 50-60 average sized dice.) The bag pictured is a prototype but expect a KS in the near future.
- FATE Dice from one of the FLGS booths. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH DICE. Also: FATE.
- Gloom from Atlas Games. Another pick to help support the FLGS’s. Do you wish Edward Gorey had invented a card game where the goal is to murder all of your PCs in the most tragically sad fashion possible? YOUR WISH HAS BEEN GRANTED. Also: tons of fun. Besides: Cthulhu Gloom. NEED I SAY MORE?
- Finally, atop the Gloom game there is a d20 spinner ring ALSO from CritSuccess. I have several of these fine rings from backing their Kickstarter, but NOTHING says NERD CRED like sporting the functional equivalent of a 20-sider on your finger. Except maybe the dual band alignment ring that says CHAOTIC NEUTRAL on it.
Right now you are probably saying to yourself “Wow, Dungeon Bastard, you really are raving about this. WHERE IS THE RANTING??”
Gamers, I’ve got nothing to rant about.
This was a solid, well-organized convention. The GameHole guys really impressed me with the amount of thought, effort, and investment they put forth to make this a weekend to truly indulge your nerditude. These guys love gaming and they put on a con gamers will love.
If you live near the Midwest, mark your calendars for November 7-9, 2014. They’re already planning the NEXT one!