Here in Columbus, OH, I am awash in gaming opportunities. I host a weekly game night at my house. That is nothing special. But, in addition, there is a weekly game night at the local game club, Columbus Area Boardgamers. (CABS, for short). Huge library of games you can play that day, and even check out to take home. Couple hundred plus members frequent the club. Lots of game stores that have their own thing, as well as a couple game cafes where you can get together with friends. On top of that, Origins is here in Columbus, and just a few weeks later, Gencon is a mere 3 hours away in Indianapolis. Even more, there are those smaller privately organized weekends of games, with friends and friends of friends.
All of these opportunities are great. During the weekly events, we all get in our cadences of our favorites, or the hot new things. At my house, we play almost exclusively 4 player games, but at CABS, sometimes the bigger or smaller games happen. Looking back at a year of plays, you can see where we get in a rut of Gloomhaven, or start exploring all the Essen releases. At Origins and Gencon, the focus is more on seeing all the new shiny. Some playing of games might sporadically happen, but the focus is elsewhere. All is well, and no complaints to be had…..
Sometimes you want to go somewhere different to play games. Sometimes you want there to be lots of gamers, some that may be outside the regulars, new people to meet. You can introduce new things to them, and them to you. Sometimes you want to camp out in a conference room, and just play games all day, with no one having any obligations to take them away. But, you want access to all the games, too. With maybe a small event here or there to entice you to play something different. Maybe there is a consignment shop, where you can turn your unloved games into something different that might just get to the table. And you want this all to be not that far away. And inexpensive. Without any huge exhibit hall to get lost in, or have to text your friends to find out what aisle they are in. Just tables, games, friends, new friends, games, and time to play them.
Looking back at the past few years, some of my best experiences in gaming have come at this local con, where we plop down and game. New games. Older games we find out that the people you are hanging out with love the same games you do. So you get it from the library, which is extensive. And you play games with your friend Bill who is raising money by playing games for 24 hours via Extra Life. And you run into Dale and James Nathan. And you introduce the new funny word game to some people and lose some hours to that as people get added and subtracted from the game as you go. Someone teaches you a game that you had never heard of, and it is great. And when you break for lunch, or dinner, or people start actually going to bed, you realize that the time has flown by, and you don’t want the distraction-free gaming to end.
In full disclosure, last year I was invited and given a free badge by the organizers. I was flattered. But, I have paid to go, and will continue to. It is simply the best local gaming experience for me, and would drive to it were it not local. BGF bills itself as the “Friendliest Boardgame Convention in Ohio.” And this is true. Everyone is there to meet new people, play games, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a long gaming weekend. I’m heading there now.