MACE 2017 Gaming Coordinator Report

I have a lot to process in my mind one day after the convention, and the best way I can do that is write them down.  There are usually two sides to my approach to MACE – as the gaming coordinator and as a gamer/GM/fan.  I like to post my report to the latter on my personal website.  Let’s just say that side of me had a great weekend.  The gaming coordinator side also had a great weekend but also has a lot to sort out for next year.

Early on, we knew that MACE 2017 was going to be a challenge when the hotel came to us asking for a favor.  We had gone through it before, so we thought it would be easy again.  However, expanding the dealers room was going to add new pressures for space and allocating to everything that was requesting game tables.  We tried our best to allocate that space accordingly, based on flow and demand in the past, but as we all know, with time comes change.  And that was evident as well this year.

Part of my job in general is to make sure each facet of gaming has the best location for what they want to do.  Some want a set of tables and never have to move.  Others want flexible tables for open and free-form gaming.  Others want a huge amount of tables space for their epic sized gaming.  Others want to be in the middle of traffic as best they can.  Coupling that with the bigger client coming in on Sunday, taking up more than half our space after 2 pm, and that really challenges us.

First to go was the dealers in the hallway, which in turn mean we had to expand the dealer space.  This of course meant less gaming in Lakeshore.  Lakeshore was where I used to put a bulk of the tabletop board/card games – open demos, schedule games and tournaments.  Well, losing half that space was costly and most of the games had to be moved elsewhere.   Open demos moved to the space the hotel called the Gallery.  That turned out to work really well.  Scheduled board games were moved to Lakeview, which worked reasonably well.  However it was not what I would prefer to do with them.  The two tournaments on Saturday I did have in Lakeshore – X-Wing and Mage Wars – did really well, but on Friday and Sunday that room was fairly slow.  I tried to funnel open gaming in that way on Fri and Sun, but there was not as much demand those days.

Every year, I try to leave room for open gaming tables but this year was difficult.  More and more gaming demos, Kickstarter pre-releases events, and playtests wanted space and slowly but surely, Saturday began to fill up.  Open gaming space, especially on Saturday, was the second sacrifice in the overall process.  I even posted that fact on the social media, which in turn did scare a few of our regulars away.  However, I did get many asking for open gaming space.  I gave them space where I could but I could tell that many took my advice to check the table signs and use the games when nothing was scheduled.  I am glad that part seemed to be working.   It takes a little extra effort but you usually can find an open table for what you need if you just look at the table sign.

Pre-registration was crazy.   OGRe is at a stable-enough level now that more and more people are able to use it.  And they did.  Many of the games filled before the convention.  Many who arrived at-the-door expecting open space at games, were sadly disappointed.  I can only do  so much.  I hope everything at least got to play in one game they wanted to.  This ended up making the posters hard to update but I did my best.  I working on other ideas to improve the process, but in the end, online is the best way to check the accuracy of the schedule.

As for each facet of gaming, I have to say I was pleased overall.  Tabletop board/card gamers adapted pretty well to the new layout, whether it was their 10th time at MACE or their first.  RPGs (non-organized play and Organized Play) did really well.  Non-organized play or one-shot RPGs had a several last minute cancellations, so some rooms were a little slow at times, but overall, they did well.  I’ll get into the miniature game room later, but needless to say that it was a disappointment.  Changes will be made.  I was very pleased with everything else, however.

Early estimates do indicate that we were down a little – about 10%.  We had about a 2% growth last year, so in many ways, this is not a surprise.  Neither Jeff or I are concerned in anyway.  All we care about is people having fun.  As long as everyone had fun, we are good.  Much of the drop can be accounted for in the miniature room.  We’ll make adjustments for next year and concentrate more on what works and less on what doesn’t.

The major disappointments are from the last minute drops, the no-shows, the underwhelming performance in some areas and the lack of space for open gaming.  Most of those affected the miniature game area.  The major reason why those tables were empty was because of the first three.  On paper, that room was full of games all weekend.  But with cancellations, and no shows, it was dead.  I do not want to take anything away from those that made a strong effort on their parts of the miniature game room, the overall performance of miniature

I’ll say it again.  Changes will be made.  I can’t leave rooms nearly empty like that.  That space will have to be allocated to other aspects.

I posted something on Facebook that speaks to a major disappointment this weekend and one I had a gut feeling was going to happen.

There are 3 types of GMs …

  1. Those that stay committed, show up on time, and run their games just fine. I like these GMs a lot.
  2. Those that cancel ahead of time. While those cause a little trouble especially if they cancel after I print the posters, I totally understand and appreciate the heads up on their situation.
  3. Those that do not show up, never let me know ahead of time they can not make it and leave a bunch of tables with players wondering what happened. I do not like these at all. I see this as very unprofessional and expect more from adults. This is the easiest way to get on my sh*t list.

There have been many occurrences of type 2. I hope to have a lot of type 1s, and no type 3s. I can only hope.

 We had a couple of #3s and I am highly disappointed in them.  One in particular was supposed to be running kids games.  That is the lowest of low as far as I am concerned.  They are off my list.  I won’t mention them by name as I will give them time to give us their excuse.  Hopefully, they will. In most cases, these cases are because of either poor planning or poor communication.  I am sure it is one or the other.

The crafting and DM Scotty aspect of MACE this year was awesome.  I love this new enhancement to my favorite hobby and loved meeting DM Scotty.  He had a great time and I do look forward to hanging out with Scotty again.  I did enjoy the terrain contest and winning it.  I was the only entry, which was disappointing and I am not entirely sure my creation was really award winning, but I am glad I won.

Lots of things did not return for the 21st annual MACE.  Artemis, the starship bridge simulator was one of them.  Cool Minis or Not did not return.  Both absences were noticed.  Unfortunately, life happens and things change.  There is nothing more consistent than change.  This is the cases for both features.  MACE has not really had a feature or special event last more than a few years.  It’s just the reality of it.  We are probably transitioning to new ones soon.  Perhaps an escape room, or a new crew to run Artemis, or something else.  Stay tuned.

 Barring another football team coming through (which is unlikely), there will be a lot of changes and adjustments next year.  I will probably reduce the miniature game room and expand the tabletop board gaming space.  The Gallery will remain for open demos and playtests but Lakeshore will return to its larger glory for other board games and card games, including tournaments.  I am thinking of allocating all of Lakeview for open gaming space, which will be about 15 to 16 tables.  Nothing scheduled will go in there.  The game library will go in there.  Organized Play will stay in Glenwaters and I will flip-flop University, putting RPGs in B through D, more tabletops including large games, war games, etc in E and miniatures in A.

The 20th anniversary was the largest crowd in MACE history so it is no surprise we had a slight dip.  Both Jeff and I believe that whether we have an up or down year, all that matters is that people have fun.  MACE will return in 2018, stronger than ever.  Star tuned to Facebook or Twitter or our website for updates.