The Gencon events list goes live on Sunday, May 14th at noon Eastern time. This means an excel spreadsheet comes out with a list of events and the Gencon site goes live so you can build your wish list. On the 28th of May, also at noon, you click submit and your wish list goes into a ferocious blender with the rest of the wish lists. Gencon processes wish lists sequentially and totally. So, if you want 4 seats to “Adventures of the GoBots RPG” and only three are available, then you get 3. Once your wish list is processed, it moves on to the next in queue. Bear in mind that by setting up “friends” in the system you can buy tickets for other people, or they for you. Remember though that the system will not let you double book yourself in the same time. It does not matter if someone else is buying the slot for you or not. All that said, I wanted to put up some “commandments” to live by that will help you on the Gencon events registration day. Ignore these at your peril.
Thou Shalt Rise Early
Despite whatever carnage wrought upon you Saturday night, you must rise and be online to click the button at exactly noon Eastern. You may hear stories of Gencon event registration taking hours, which is true. However, that is just processing all the wish lists submitted to the system at noon. Basically, you click “submit wishlist” and cross your fingers you get a low queue position. You get your queue number/position back in a few seconds, but it might be two hours before your number comes up and you find out what events you got. Clicking “submit wishlist” at 12:15 is the equivalent of saying,”I have no interest in attending a high-demand event (e.g. True Dungeon).”
Thou Shalt Bow Before the Lord of Chaos
Remember that “queue number” I mentioned above? The one that determines if you get first crack at the pool of events or sometime after Hell freezes over? You have no control over it. Hit the “submit wishlist” button and then start making sacrifices to whatever deity you like. High queue number, low queue number, it is all the same to the Lord of Chaos. Abandon hope of any control of the situation. Just sit back and relax because what will be, will be. Low queue numbers are worthy of celebration. A high queue number is not the end of the world though, see below.
Thou Shalt Prepare Plan B
The wishlist system priority is simple. The system reads the event in position one of your list, grabs what seats it can and then moves on to two and then three, etc. The maximum is 50 events per wishlist (multiple seats if you are buying for other people per event). Assuming you really want to play “Thundercats-The RPG” on Thursday at 0800, you put that in position one. However, I will warn you that unless the event has hundreds of seats (eg. The Killer Breakfast) even obscure games only running once at Gencon fill up. That said, my solution is just to place another interesting event further down the list. Place your highest priority items in the top 15 slots and the secondaries after that. Order does not really matter for the secondaries because the system will not let you doublebook the same slot (there is an exception, see below). If the primary fails, it tries the secondary. I have even done two secondaries for events/slots that are likely to sell out before my queue number comes up.
–Exception: I got accidentally double booked one year because I had a tournament event as a secondary and the tournaments, because you may or may not play in that slot do not appear to have the same restriction. Not sure if this is still the case. That said, not a big deal, just got a refund. FYI
Secrets Shall Be Revealed Later
The Gencon events list coming out on the 14th is not a complete list. Updated event list versions appear up to the week of the convention. Re-submit your wishlist! Wait a few days and do it again and keep doing it until you get something you want. Also, remember events get returned or attendance cancelled. Checking on available events daily is sure to reveal something you want to play.
Over-scheduling is a Sin!
While it is possible to book Gencon events for every minute of the day in advance, I advise against it. Primarily because you need time to socialize, shop, eat and generally do other necessary things like sleeping…occasionally. Build in some down time for other activities and pick-up games you discover and want to play.
Failure is non-lethal
Despite all the hype about getting events, remember that even if you bought no tickets in advance YOU WILL FIND GAMES TO PLAY. It is Gencon! If you cannot find a game or event that interests you at a convention with 70,000+ gamers and nerds you are not trying. Between pick-up games, random stuff in the hallways, the game library, demos and a dozen other things you convention will be filled with gaming joy. Trust me.
If you have some hint or trick to make this process easier, post it in the comments. I need all the help I can get.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer