That Board Gaming Thing (aka TBGT) is a local invite-only convention held in Brier Creek, just minutes from my home. I’m just a few days away from this year’s event and I can’t wait. It’s basically five days of gaming with friends (Wed through Sun), where we get to take advantage of a massive library comprising of a small con-owned selection, supplemented by the huge array of games brought by attendees displayed on shelves & tables surrounding the main room for anyone at the con to grab & play.
Essentially 99% of the con is just all-day open-gaming. The conference rooms open whenever the first person arrives each day, and close when the last person leaves and asks the staff at the front desk to lock the door to secure the games inside, presuming of course that they’re not leaving so late that the next morning’s early-bird gamers have already shown up. This year I’ll be able to make 4 of the 5 days: I couldn’t get coverage at work for the Friday so I’ll have to miss most of day 3, but I’m sure I’ll still get plenty of games played.
As well as non-stop gaming, there are various events throughout the five days if you’re looking for something different. The most time-intensive event is the puzzling: attendees during registration let the event organizers know how interested in participating they are, and then those who’ve expressed interest are assigned to puzzle teams. There are a series of puzzles related to the year’s theme; these are made available prior to the start of the event & teams have until Saturday evening to work on them. At that time, the puzzling finale is held, where the final puzzle (that the other puzzle answers should help with) is revealed and the first team to correctly finish wins. I don’t take part, but for those who do, it’s a fun time.
After the puzzling finale on Saturday, they usually attempt to cram everyone into one room for speeches, tons of giveaways, the Play-to-Win resolution, and the presentation of the Bobbie McRae Award, given in honour and memory of a past member of the local gaming community. There’s usually free cake, and so it’s a quick(ish) stop for laughter, tears, and free stuff, before we all get back to more gaming.
Of all of the events, the one I actually pay attention to is the Flea Market on Saturday morning. It’s a great opportunity to cycle some games out of your collection, and potentially find something to replace them with. Last year I got a couple of good deals, and still managed to leave with fewer games than I started with. This year I’ve got a bunch of games to sell, so here’s hoping people are in a buying mood.
Speaking of acquiring new stuff, over recent years the con has featured a few vendors. Cape Fear Games are returning this year, and so are Top Shelf Gamer & Board Game Innovation. Cape Fear Games are an awesome FLGS located in Wilmington, NC, and they actually host their own event every year during the last weekend of April. For TBGT (and its related events throughout the year), they offer a 10% discount on any orders put in ahead of time, plus they bring a TON of games, old & new, with them for those of us who aren’t so organized ahead of time. Every year I say I’m not going to buy anything from them, and every year it gets harder and harder to resist their selection.
Top Shelf Gamer specialize in inserts, acrylic overlays, and other accessories to pimp out your games, carrying products from Insert Here, The Broken Token, Board Game Innovation, and many others. They’ve also announced a 10% discount on their products for attendees, so I may be taking a look at their website, just in case. Board Game Innovation produce acrylic overlays for various games; I may eventually pull the trigger on their Terra Mystica or Eclipse player board organizers, but until those games get played more, I can’t justify the expense at this time.
Why I Attend
TBGT is consistently some of the best gaming I get in each year. Despite living close to the event, I stay in the hotel in order to enjoy every minute of the event that I can (and to allow for the partaking in delicious delicious adult beverages). It’s a must-attend for me; a chance to sit in a room with a couple of hundred others who just want to have fun, play games, and tend to be willing to share and teach games I haven’t managed to play yet. This post on my old blog recounts the numbers from last year’s events, and probably say as much about what we all get up to.
Invite-only? But I Want to Play…
Yes, TBGT is invite-only, and yes, that sucks if you’re only just finding about it. When I first learned, the invite process was super easy and I will be the first to admit that it’s a little more complicated to wrangle an invite now due to capacity issues. But if you’re interested for 2017, here’s how it works:
Someone who has already attended a TBGT (and has already registered for the current year) fills out a nomination form for you. After the nomination period ends, a set number of nominees are selected at random & sent invitations to register (this registration invite also extends to immediate family and/or significant others). As long as a nominee pays for their registration by the deadline, they are guaranteed a spot. Nominees who didn’t get selected are randomly ordered & placed on a waitlist; after the deadline passes, if there is still space, then they may receive an invite until registration is at capacity.
And if you’re looking to game in the Triangle area, don’t forget their other events, the Whose Turn Is It Anyway cons. They hold two of those each year, one at the beginning of the year and one in early Summer. The first 2017 Whose Turn will be held January 26th-29th, with registration opening soon. To get an invitation for Whose Turn, make an account on the site and mention a previous attendee’s name as your reference. The only condition is that that person would be comfortable inviting you to a game day in their home; so hopefully, you meet that criteria! Your invitation automatically extends to you partner/kids so they can also be registered once your account is approved.