Gaming Convention Review

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SCARAB 2015 – Columbia, SC

After a long hiatus from gaming conventions I managed to attend the SCARAB gaming convention in Columbia, SC for the Saturday sessions last year. See my review of last year’s convention here: http://thegamerscodex.com/index.php/scarab-2014/

This year I once again ventured down for Saturday. Again, registration online was easy. Last year I was told that all game registration was done on the Warhorn website. Knowing this ahead of time made it easy to schedule games, and I even managed to get into a game with people I knew from the local gaming group.

From the greater Rock Hill area it is an easy drive to the convention. Having attended last year I knew where to turn off to get to the Medallion center where the convention is held. The sun is right in your eyes as you turn off the highway. If you attend in the future, beware of that. It’s not far off I-77 at all. Turn right just past the Waffle House and you’ll be good.

This year I arrived about 15 minutes early. The doors were open and no one was in line at the registration desk. The very pleasant young lady looked through a box full of badges and found mine easily. No wristbands or looking up names on a phone this year. Looking around the desk I did not see anything resembling a program. Not a huge deal. It is mostly a gaming only convention. I was on my way towards the gaming room with time to spare.

I was there to play a few Pathfinder Society games. Once again PFS seems to be their most popular attraction. The PFS games were in the larger room just to the right of the lobby. Last year the tabletop wargames were in the large room and the PFS games were in the back room. This room is not square shaped and sound did not seem to resonate as much as it did in the other room last year. The tables were spaced out a little more. There was room to get past pretty much any table. Only when people were sitting very far from the table or had large bags or boxes behind their chair were there any issues. I looked for familiar faces to find my table. Once I found them I was pointed to the helpful poster on the wall with a list of scenarios and table numbers. I have to admit that was probably on the wall last year and I just never saw it.

My first session was a mid level scenario with two players from the group I occasionally play with in Fort Mill. It was a fun and challenging game. We finished a few minutes early as SCARAB has five-hour slots for the PFS games. A group went out for lunch so I did not partake in the in house food. I did see several people who did and the food looked and smelled good. I did purchase a drink and snack there. The prices were the same as last year. Not bad for convention food at all. They had a nice mix of water, sodas, coffee, snacks, candy bars, cookies and more.

Back before the second slot, I took a tour of the convention center. One room held the kids track. I walked by it a few times and it seemed to be relatively calm and managed nicely. One large room held general gaming and the vendors. Several game store vendors were selling their wares along with a jeweler and the fun people from Geek Forge. The next large room held RPG tables and the wargame tables. As last year there was a lot of gorgeous terrain. I watched a few minutes of a game or two. I have to admit to being an ex-40K player who enjoys watching the extreme opposite battle of Tau versus Tyranids. This room was probably ¾ full all day. Walking past the lobby and across from the PFS room, there was a room for Anime and video games. The several times I walked by some group games were being played  – DDR, rock band type games and such. Around the start time of the last slot of the day a costume contest was held in this room. I saw around 10 contestants and some pretty darn good costumes. I checked their site to see who the winner was. I hope it was the young lady who came dressed as ‘Mother of Dragons.” Her Game of Thrones inspired costume was wonderfully accessorized by her two daughters dressed as dragons. The back room (where PFS was last year) held the LARP games. I saw maybe six to ten people here off and on all day. At either end of the building were the bathrooms. I did notice that the bathrooms and trashcans were cleaned more than once during the day.

My second session was with a bunch of people I did not know, but that’s part of the experience. A low level PFS game this time, lots of fun. The gamemaster really got into character with his NPC’s and obviously enjoys doing so. Once again the session ended early. I walked to an outside establishment for dinner. When I came back I saw several people with what looked and smelled like delicious Chinese food from the concession area.

For the last slot I decided to not venture into the PFS special. I did witness the muster and it seemed to go better than last years. Apparently the decision was made kind of last minute to move the other PFS games into other gaming areas. We were sent to the general RPG room but had no trouble finding a table. It was another great game, a good scenario with fun players. The last slot started at 8:00 and we were done a little after 11:00. I looked into the main room and it appeared that the special was still in full swing.

Compared to last year the few scheduling and management issues I noticed were pretty much cleared up. For the price it is definitely a fun gaming convention. If you are near Columbia, SC and are into PFS, look them up. Even if you are not, it looked like quite a few other games made their tables. Maybe next year I’ll go for more than one day…

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