Guide to conventions, and MidCon
in particular, is now available
Let's start with the basics: what is a games
convention? Well, at its simplest it's no more
than a gathering of people, either in someone's
home or in a hired room, playing board games. It
will be a non-profit venture, organized by a group
of people who are doing it because they enjoy it,
and who will have put a lot of time and effort
into it for no financial gain.
All convention organizers do their level best to
be as professional as possible, and will try to
sort out any problems that occur: but they are
unpaid volunteers who are doing this in their
spare time, so be a little tolerant.
What do you mean by 'board games'?
We mean 'adult' board
games (though we are not averse to the odd silly
game, particularly late at night!), that range
from simple through to highly complex and from a
few minutes to five or six hours playing time (and
sometimes more!). If you look at the top ranked
games on Board Game Geek then that
will give you a pretty good idea of what we play
but if you are in any doubt please ask one of the
convention organizers when you send off for
details. Don't worry if you've not played these
sort of games before - most are easy to learn, and
people will be more than happy to help.
How long do conventions last?
The typical convention starts on a Friday
afternoon and ends on Sunday afternoon, though
some are longer (Thursday to Monday is usually the
longest a convention will run). You can choose to
attend for only part of the time, or at some
events you can even extend your stay before or
afterwards if you wish.
How much does it cost?
You will normally be asked to pay a registration
(or convention) fee of £ 15 - 25 which covers the
cost of hiring rooms for the convention and the
general expenses of organizing the event. There
may be a special daily rate of around £10. In
addition, accommodation will usually be available
on-site: the organizers will have negotiated a
special rate which can be a substantial reduction
on normal prices.
Student accommodation is around £40 per night
and hotel rooms range from £35 to £50, which is
good value for money. Prices will almost always
include a full breakfast, but there is usually a
modest single room supplement. The normal
arrangement for booking rooms is that up till
about 4 weeks before the event all bookings are
made through the organizers, and thereafter you
must deal directly with the hotel. The main
exception to this rule is
Manorcon, where all bookings must be made
through the organizers. Obviously, you are under
no obligation to use the accommodation provided.
What do I do when I get there?
There will be a registration desk somewhere
obvious near the entrance, and this is where
you'll pick up your badge (so that other people
know who you are) and programme booklet (with
details of what's happening when and where). There
may also be lists for tournaments or other events,
and it also tends to act as a central information
So what happens at a games convention?
This varies from one convention to another, but
there are normally some organized events and
plenty of opportunities to play games of all
sorts. You will find that the other people are
very friendly, so you shouldn't have to wait very
long for someone to announce that they are looking
for players for a game: they will normally be
happy to explain the rules to you. Of course, if
you bring a game that you want to play, you could
ask for other players. You will also find that
people will lend you games that they aren't using
(as long as you ask nicely!). There may be a
tournament and other organized events such as a
quiz or a trip out to a nearby restaurant,
providing excellent opportunities to meet other
These days, with social media - such as via the MidCon
guild on Boardgamegeek.com -
you can often arrange in advance a session of a
What facilities can I expect?
The hotel bar at MidCon with
lounge off to the left
This varies quite a bit, but at the very least
there will be plenty of tables and chairs.
Depending upon licensing laws, you will also find
a bar close to the area where you're playing games
- if the convention is in a hotel the bar will
probably be open all day and late into the night.
Food (of some sort) will be available on-site so
that you can carry on your games without having to
leave the hotel. Additionally, the organizers will
normally provide a list of the local eating places
if you want to venture further afield. Some
conventions have 'games libraries' from which you
can borrow games, and some have games on sale. The
exact facilities vary from event to event, so
please check the convention details elsewhere in
What do I do next?
If you want more information about any of the
conventions, write to the relevant address. If you
have specific questions (however stupid they might
sound) please ask them when you write - the
organizers will do their best to help. Once you
have decided that you'd like to go to a particular
games convention you should register. You do this
by sending your registration fee to the address
shown, and filling out the form to indicate which
events you are interested in and the accommodation
you require. For Manorcon you pay for your
accommodation in advance; for the others you pay
when you check out at the end of the weekend.
A word of warning - if you book accommodation and
subsequently decide not to attend, you may be
liable to pay for it anyway. However, as long as
you inform the organizers and/or the hotel in
reasonable time they will probably be able to find
someone else to take your place and you won't have
You should receive something to confirm your
registration, and there may be 'Progress Reports'
to keep you up to date with the plans for the
event (if you receive one of these it normally
means that the organizers have received your
booking). At the very least you will receive
instructions on getting to the venue and a
provisional timetable a week or two before the
convention. If not, contact the organizers! If you
decide to attend at short notice and want to stay
in the hotel (this does not apply to Manorcon),
you should contact the hotel directly and book
accommodation, mentioning the name of the
convention . You can then register for the
convention when you arrive. Of course, if you want
to try out a convention by visiting for the day,
you are very welcome (note that if you arrive
after the first day you may need to seek out the
organizers to get your badge and program booklet -
just ask around). Most conventions have a special
daily rate for such visitors.
Is there a catch?
Not at all. There are no hidden charges, and
no-one will force you to buy anything else. Some
conventions have stalls selling commercial games
(often at discount prices), and games inventors
may be there encouraging you to play their games
in the hope that you'll want to buy. However,
they're really there for the fun of it rather than
to make money!