There are going to be a fair amount of Gnomes/ex-patriot Gnomes at Gencon this year. We’ve got a lot of things going on: Eureka being distributed through Studio 2 Publishing (Booth #320), The Cooking Up Adventure Plots with Gnome Stew seminar, The Ennies Dinner, running various games, and ritual Halfling murder. So finding us to say hi (we don’t bite above the kneecap) won’t be too hard. There are 2 guaranteed events where you can find almost all of us to say hi or get your Eureka book signed.
We Gnomes have a few ideas about Gencon ourselves, so in alphabetical order by last name here are our tips for Gencon.
If you haven’t gotten registered for games, don’t fret. Walk around the areas where gaming goes on as there are usually open games or people looking to throw down for an impromptu game. You’ll probably find a lot of nifty games you hadn’t thought of trying. This holds true for bigger events as well. If you don’t mind not being with your group, True Dungeon sessions usually always have one opening or a few no-shows that they try to fill.
The VIG is a great way to go if you can. It is expensive but provides a lot of extra options.
Don’t forget to get stuff signed when you are at booths. It goes like this. You pick up a book at a table and say that looks nifty. You talk to a guy behind the table about it and have a good conversation. You realize halfway through this person made the game. You buy the book and forget to get it signed. I always get wrapped up in conversations with game creators and forget that I’m talking to a game creator. I’ve got so many books from people I know on a first name basis but don’t have them signed, and that seems like a pity. The same holds true for art in the Artist hall. My office walls are covered with art from artists I’ve worked with and am friends with, but very few are signed. The artists and creators are flattered when people ask them to sign stuff, but at the same time few creators push their fame and won’t mention signing a book. They are just happy for the sale. Remember, get stuff signed. The creators love doing it.
When I drove, I usually parked in the lot in front of Conseco Fieldhouse. I preferred the Circle Center parking garage, but you have to get up pretty early in the morning for a space.
Eating for me is catch-as-catch can. Circle Center mall has a decent food court and India Garden has a great lunch buffet but is several blocks away. There are plenty of restaurants in the area.
I’m not sure about weekends, but there are food street vendors outside the Convention Center on weekdays. If you’re just looking to grab a hot dog or drink then you’re probably better off there than inside the Convention Center.
The dealer hall is only open from 11-6. If you want to spend time there, then you probably don’t want to load up on back-to-back morning and afternoon events.
Don’t get suckered by the Skyway. While it may seem convenient, if you’re trying to get from Point A to Point B quickly then you’re better off going outside.
Head a couple blocks from the convention center for breakfast. Get over by the war memorial, and you’ll find the same inexpensive breakfast options minus the giant lines. Avoid Einstein’s Bagels.
I like passing by the war memorial because it’s a very cool plaza, but apart from that I’ve seen very little of Indy — which is too bad, because it seems like an awesome city. Sorry I can’t help with this one!
This will be the first year I’m not parking at my hotel, as I’ll be staying with DNAphil and his posse. He knows all the sexiest parking spots, though, so listen to him.
I prefer to stay at the Embassy. Never underestimate the power of a good breakfast.
The food court at the convention center is a last resort. If you can make it to the mall, you’ll have a better selection and value.
The Claddagh is still one of the best pubs I’ve ever been to in or out of Indy, although the Ram supports Gen Con more. Claddagh’s menu, beer selection, and (Irish) whiskey selection rock.
The pizza joint by the CVS was surprisingly good; can’t remember the name now. The CVS deserves a mention, if only for getting drinks and snack food at near-normal prices.
Buca di Beppo is a great place to take a crowd; the servings are massive.
The entrees at the Weber Grill underwhelm me every year, but the deserts keep bringing me back.
The sushi place near the Ram was decent, and was mostly empty during an afternoon.
Parking — The lot connected to the convention center is the most expensive and fills up quickly, but it is very convenient in terms of getting to you car during the day. If the lot connected to the convention center does not work, then the Circle Center Mall parking is the next spot, as it is also connected to the convention center, though just a bit farther to get to.
Caffeine Intake — If you have the Caffeine monkey on your back, you are in luck. There are a number of places to get coffee. I favor the Starbucks in either the Marriott or the Westin. Here is a money saving tip. There is like a $3.00 difference between Iced Latte and an Iced Coffee.
Food– Stake ‘N Shake is always packed at lunch, so expect to wait on line for a burger. What is not as well known is that they also make a good and inexpensive breakfast, and not nearly as busy.
I do most of my eating at Circle Center. It’s close, and you can find a good variety of food. Seating can be tricky, so its best to find a table first, and then get a meal. Kind of like college all over again.
Also, PF Changs (if you like it, I do) has take out. So call it in and then take it somewhere else. We do that typically at night, for our open gaming. Get a table, call in an order to Changs, and then eat while playing.
Things To Do At The Con– For $5 you can get an auction tag, and bid on items in the auction. The auctions are pretty hit and miss, but I have seen some incredible things come up for bid. I got a first edition Whispering Vault book for $5.00. Plus its also fascinating to watch what items people will bid on. After some time in the auction room, look at the auction shop, where there are marked down items, without the bidding. I have never left the auction shop without something in hand.
Hopefully these tips are helpful to attendees. If you’ve got any tips for Gencon, drop them in the comments section. We would love to hear them.