Your Morning Head: This Cheap Bastard’s GenCon Purchasing

gencon swag
Here's what I bought at Gen Con

I didn’t buy a whole lot at Gen Con. Three games.  That’s it.

This is really weird for me.

Sure, I only picked up a few things at Fear the Con, but that was an awfully small convention with only one dealer.  Even so, I bought almost as much there as I did at Gen Con!  When I go to a larger affair, such as Wizard World, I pick up a ton of stuff!

So why only three games at Gen Con?

It wasn’t the economy.  I was prepared to drop as much change shopping in Indy as I do at any con I’ve attended the last few years.  And it surely wasn’t selection (for the most part).  I mean, Gen Con is sick with selection.

So what was it then?


ipr boothThere were very few deals to be had at the con.  I paid full retail on each of the purchases I made.  I always feel like a chump when I pay full price.

Usually at a con, you find tons of bargains with discounts on new and used books, deals for larger purchases, hand jobs for every $20 spent, you name it!

diceSure there was the one vendor offering three gaming books for $30.  Of course, they had tons of crap.  And I mean that.  Crap.  The best book they had was Terra Primate – a game I’m interested in – but it uses the Unisystem, which is rather meh, in my opinion.  TP’s cover price is $30, so getting that plus three other books for thirty bucks is great… but there was not one other game in all the many choices the dealer offered in which I was interested.

pinnacle boothAnother guy was offering 50% off some older books – and I do love some RPGs from the days of yore – but he didn’t have anything I was interested in.

None of the publishers present offered anything other than cover price.  I understand not wanting to compete with your brick and mortar distribution.  I’d like to point out, though, that not all of us live in the midwest where game shops are a dime-a-dozen.  No, I live in Texas where the best I can hope for is a comic shop that sells dice, DnD, and Warhammer.

I would have been happy with cover price plus something cool.  A game aid, a Gen Con exclusive, a Luke Crane reach-a-round.  Something!

There was no incentive provided to me at Gen Con to make an impulse purchase.   I was provided no motivation to buy there versus buying online from the publisher or finding a better deal on ebay.  So, I pretty much kept my money to my self.

I went to Gen Con seeking four specific games:

  • The Day After Ragnarok – I’ve been in love with this setting since checking out the preview material prior to release.  I have the PDF already, but I sure do prefer a print book with which to work.  I’m gonna be running a lot of this game, so book was needed.  I picked it up directly from Atomic Overmind’s el Heffe himself, Hal Mangold.
  • Zombies!!! – I played this boardgame at Fear The Con 2 and have wanted to own it ever since.  None of the local shops sell it and I’ve been too lazy to order it online.  I can’t wait to play it with my wife and friends.
  • Jihad – A supplement for The Burning Wheel, Jihad is very much a setting in the vein of Frank Herbert’s Dune.  And by that, I mean that it is Frank Herbert’s Dune. I love Burning Wheel.  I love Dune.  This one’s a no-brainer.
  • Dogs in the Vineyard – Fail.  DITV was nowhere to be found at Gen Con.  I am sad beyond my capacity to express.  I’ll probably buy this one online.  The only thing keeping me from doing so now is that the word at the con was that a new version is about to be offered.  Gotta dig into that.
  • InSpectres – I think this is an awfully nifty game (I’ll be writing more on this later), but at $20 for such a slim book?  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I am very pleased with my purchases at Gen Con.  I just wish I had discovered some new games that I liked enough at the right price to bring home with me.

9 comments on “Your Morning Head: This Cheap Bastard’s GenCon PurchasingAdd yours →

  1. I was surprised by the lack of deals, as well. Sunday’s supposed to be Crazy Giveaway Day! and it didn’t feel like anything was different. I got some deals on a few board games, and someone told me they paid $70 for the Cthulhu I got for $45, but all my RPGs were list price with no bonuses.

  2. @Aron & @Elizabeth – If I may…

    It’s Complicated was created after there was a cry for “I want the Pushing Daisies RPG.”
    Mist-Robed Gate is the game where you stab a character’s sheet when they die.

    Usually those statements do the trick. 🙂

  3. A shame. We weren’t at GenCon this year. 2SP likes to offer some swag with purchase. If you feel like buying the It’s Complicated PDF or a copy of Mist-Robed Gate, we’ll hook you up like a faux con special.

  4. This is interesting but it could be a powderkeg.
    I don’t mind paying full retail at the con, but con-exclusive incentives are highly welcomed and are apt to tip the scale in terms of purchasing there or later.

    Case in point, last year’s deal on Starblazer Adventures: $60 got you the softcover, the PDF and the hardcover mailed to you later. My buddy Josh got the softcover, we both got the PDF and I got the hardcover. Even though I just got the book in the mail two weeks ago, it was THE BEST deal at GC 08, period.

    (oh, and please install the Subscribe to Comments plugin, with a cherry on top)

  5. Zombies is always great fun, and worth picking up (even if it is for full price 🙁 ).

    But not to have discount books and accessories is just wrong. The whole point of a con is to bring the audience to the dealers, discover things you didn’t know about, and get some great deals on stuff you can’t find (or be bothered to go on-line for… sometimes you want to touch it first).

  6. I definitely wanted to pick up Rogue Trader, Fantasy Flight’s new 40k rpg, but 60 bucks is a bit much. I bought 7 books for approximately $80. I agree that if they had thrown something neat in (nifty dice, an adventure module, something), it would have been a lot easier to splurge on it.

    That said, I understand that they released it there and they expect to make full retail price. Doesn’t mean I picked it up though.

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