This weekend I attended my first ever tabletop gaming convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Unpub 5 was an amazing experience and I am so glad that it was close enough to me that I was able to go. During the two days I spent there I got a chance to play a ton of unique games and I can honestly say I would have bought pretty much all of them there on the spot. What games did I play? Well in case anyone is interested I got a chance to enjoy Attack on Wolford, A Goat Too Far, Chaos of Cthulhu, Macrocasm, Shoot ‘Em Up Spaceships, Mole Majority, Rym, RAMpart, Phobos, Hobokon, Rolling for Amusement, Milkman, and Wartime.
I’m going to try and post more information about all of them and Unpub in general over the next few days, but I do want to encourage people to go out and try this if you’ve never been. It was a wonderful experience and I think it will be even better next year. I also wanted to share a few tips that I found useful as I was making my way through Unpub.
Fives Tips for People Attending Unpub
1) Don’t set out to play certain games. I wandered the convention for the entire weekend and jumped in wherever I saw and open seat. I’m not saying you can’t have some favoritism for a few games, but I think the best way to experience the most that Unpub has to offer is to try things as spots open up.
2) Fill out the feedback forms. There’s no charge for attending Unpub as a playtester and part of the reason for that is because it is an opportunity for designers to get an enormous amount of feedback from those in attendance. There’s an app, and a form on the Unpub website, and they even made computers available for people to fill feedback form if they lack a smartphone. They held raffles throughout the convention and each time you filled out a feedback form you were entered to win three game, I was actually one of the people who won the final raffle.
3) Don’t be shy. As a rule games tend to be pretty introverted and approaching people they don’t know can be difficult. Some of the designers are going to approach you and try to draw you in, but many of them aren’t. More often than not I had to push aside my introverted personality, walk up to a table and introduce myself, and express interest in whatever game was on offer. Just do it, pretty much every designer lit up like a chandelier as soon as I told them I thought their game looked interesting.
4) Save your convention booklet. As soon as I got signed in I was given a little red bag filled with all sorts of swag. There was also a booklet in there with information on pretty much every game on offer. Save that thing and flip through it when you get a chance. I know I said don’t aim to play certain games, but you might want to check this out all the same. The reason being that there might be a single thing that really catches your eye. I mostly used it to keep track of notes on games and such.
5) Bring some extra cash. Seriously even though it is a free convention you will run through some money if you attend. For one thing there are a ton of games being sold, and you’re probably going to want to pick up something. Parking and eating can also be pretty costly. I bought a bag of chips and a soda in the convention hall because I didn’t want to step out and miss out on any game time, it cost me five dollars.