Gaming Convention Review

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StormCon 2013 – Southern Gaming Redefined

July 12-14, 2013 marks the first weekend of a new con in the Carolinas – StormCon.  It took place in Summerville, SC and was formed by a group of veteran gamers with a common desire to put on a good gaming con.  I attended the full weekend and have to say that it was definitely a great experience.

img_20130713_200214_151Arrival was dampened not only by rain but also bad traffic into town because of a sink-hole.  But that aside, once I settled in and cleared my head, the positive energy of the con took over.  This con is a fine example of a small con with a lot of potential and a good future.  The people behind it are good people.  You are immediately greeted by some of the friendliest people – some of which I regret not getting their names.  I know Barry Lewis, Keith Mageau, Shane Runkle, and C. Patrick “Pat” Daily.  All these guys gamed or worked at the Green Dragon in Charleston and have a lot of gaming experience between them.  They are the primary leaders behind StormCon and worked their butts off to make this con what it is.

These guys – Barry, Keith, Shane, and Pat – had worked on other projects, individually and together, in the Charleston, SC area for some time.  Among them are the Gathering at the Park – a gaming event at a park, Non-Con at The Green Dragon game store and BROGfest.  Collectively, all of their experience and passions have built up to form StormCon.  They all have various gaming interests – from board games and role playing to war games and card games.  The con reflected their experience and good mix of interests.

My weekend started by sitting down with my 5-year-old son and playing the new Star Wars X-Wing minis game by Fantasy Flight Games.  I used to be a diehard Star Wars fan, running many RPG campaigns in the classic d6 and d20 versions.  Although my fandom of Star Wars has severely diminished since the prequels, my son’s interest in it has brought me back into the fold.  Aaron Cox was demoing the game and did an excellent job dealing with my son who was probably too young to play.  Once my son got tired of it, we gathered a couple of new players and had a serious dog fight.  I have to say that the game is amazing.  Based on the Wings of War mechanic (also by FFG), the game is simple and elegant.  The game system is easy to learn and just plays really well.  It is a great game.

That evening, I ran a Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition adventure from the Blood Brothers supplement – Uncle Timothy’s Will.  What I love the most when playing a game like this is people grasping the characters really well while at the same time displaying that understanding in the subtle ways they role play them.  I have had players grasp the character concept well but overplay the characteristics, and that can be funny at times but get old fast.  These players did very well.  I had a lot of fun.

The rest of the evening was spent talking shop with friends.  Overall it was a good evening with a lot of fun.  It was a great way to start out a weekend at a con.  First impressions at a con are very important and this con really did well in that area.  Despite the fact that it had a small footprint – two rooms totaling about 4000 sq ft – their first impression made up for it.  It can be a real downer to come to a con and see limited space to game in.  However, StormCon easily overcame that by utilizing the space very well and scheduling a good variety of games throughout. Couple that with a very positive and friendly staff and they nailed the good first impression test.

The remainder of the weekend was spent either chatting with the staff about cons and gaming, or gaming.  My Saturday could have been full of gaming but I ended up sleeping late and then missing my game that I signed up for in the afternoon (my own fault).  Saturday night, however, I got to play in the illustrious Clint Black’s Savage Worlds: Deadlands Hell on Earth game which was phenomenal.  The weekend ended with a great game of Game of Thrones with a full table (and then some).  That’s a very popular board game these days.  I wonder why?

The entire weekend was very busy for everyone.  I can’t really guess how many people attended but what I can say is that the rooms were always packed.  There were times that the RPG room was not as packed at it could be but the main room where miniatures, war games, board games and card games were played was always busy.  They definitely have a good base of gamers to build from and will need more room next year.  They already were talking about a new location when I spoke to them.

My only criticism is that they need to nail down a good game registration system – online and onsite.  They used Warhorn for the preregistration, which has its issues, and they did not really have anything on-site.  The nice thing was that their layout was small enough that they did not really need onsite but they are going to need it in the future.  The tables will need table numbers, they are going to need some means to display the schedule other than Warhorn and a good on-site sign up system will be needed.

One key part of the con to anyone is the cost.  This con is worth the money, for sure.  Preregistration was $30 with an at-the-door price of $35.  The rooms were a good price, too, at $80 per night.  Overall, it is a very good value for your money.  Couple that with a 30-minute drive from the beach, you can come up early Friday and enjoy the beach in the morning.  This makes for a great value.

The extras they had at the con were also nice.  They were raising money for charity – Camp Happy Days – and had a raffle for several very cool items donated to the con.  They also had an interesting play-to-keep feature where you can play certain games (and they would demo the game for you if you asked), and get your name on a list for a chance to win it.  All of those were given out between game slots on Sunday. Other little extras were the free pencils and sharpener in the RPG room, donated sweet tea in the rooms, and Dunkin’ Donuts Saturday morning free with donation to the charity.

Like I said before, StormCon has a lot of potential.  It has a lot of passion, energy and good gaming atmosphere.  I would highly recommend it to any gamer.  They have all it takes to become a large local con and I look forward to seeing them grow into the amazing con they will become.

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