Looking Back on GenCon 2019 and the 2019 Tournament Circuit

Hey hey! GenCon 2019 wrapped up last month, thus concluding the Double Exposure 2019 Tournament slate, and I wanted to get my thoughts on this event, and on my first year of being the Tournament Director for Double Exposure, written down before they slip away…

GenCon is the biggest gaming convention in the US and it is amazing. Its big, really big. Its filled with excitement, amazing things, cool people, and literally tons of board, card, and tabletop games, accessories, and peripherals. This year I hosted the 2019 US National Championships for 9 different games (Diamonds, Orleans, Wordsy, ICECOOL, Nevermore, Pyramid Poker, Dimension, New York Slice, and Skull King). This was a brand-new experience for me – I’ve been hosting state and regional championships for the last 10 months or so, but the Nationals were a step up and I learned a lot – more on that a bit later. I started off light and easy on Thursday with a 12-ish hour day teaching people select titles from the tournament slate. Then I launched into two back-to-back 17 hour days, kicking off a new tournament every three hours. Then I wanted to crawl into bed and die.

It was really neat to again see players from state and regional championships I hosted over the last year. These tournaments are set up to be open to new players as every level, but state winners are automatically advanced to regionals, and regional winners are automatically advanced to nationals. As I said earlier, I learned a lot from this experience and during the 2020 tournament slate I want to improve a few facets of the tournament facilitation. I also want to be more intentional about keeping fun in focus; these are tournaments, and while they are somewhat casual, I can still get caught up in the seriousness of the responsibilities of hosting, facilitating, and judging the tournament games. A few moments of pure fun stood out to me over the course of the 2019 US Nationals and they helped me to remember that these tournaments should be fun –  players should be able to enjoy their time at the table, playing these games, and I can help make that happen.


Speaking of fun, I had Sunday off and I used my free time to look through the vast exhibit hall – this is one of my favorite things to do at conventions and at GenCon the effort is well-rewarded. The exhibit hall is HUGE. Hundreds of publishers, retailers, artists, and artisans set up booths filled with all kinds of wonderful magic and I love to pour through every inch. Here are some photos of things that caught my eye.

I enjoyed getting to meet so many of the “industry people” whom I frequently contact while carrying out my professional duties; I got to put so many names to faces and networking with so many of my colleagues all at once was awesome. I also got to say hi to many, many friends and acquaintances, and introduce them to my husband, who doesn’t normally get to attend shows with me. We did do a little bit of shopping, but limited ourselves to things we can’t get from our friendly local game store – a book by Ignacy Trzewiczek (look for a review later this year), the storage solution for Dragoon, BGG goodies, pins (pins! I love pins. If you do to you might want to check out SOCMOM’s Traveling Pin Trading Emporium)…something that was really neat for me was that so many publishers recognized me and gave me games, promos, and other goodies from their booths.


GenCon Goodies!

I want to highlight Grandpa Beck’s Games here for just a second – they gave us a copy of every single game in their lineup. It was so generous and so appreciated. They were also really fun to work with – their game Skull King is one of the tournament games I host and Grandpa Beck and his son both attended the tournament, Grandpa Beck in full Skull King cosplay. They engaged players and had fun hanging out with us during the tournament. Brent Beck showed players a new game he has been developing. All of the publishers of our tournament games provide incredible prize packages but I was impressed by the creativity shown in the offering from Grandpa Beck’s – in addition to hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards they also provided some fun, thematic extras like a crystal skull mug, a keychain featuring one of the characters in the game, a tricorn filled with treasure (candy), and a silly, cute little parrot.


GenCon 2019 was an exhausting, rewarding, and interesting learning experience for me and I so enjoyed perusing the exhibit hall and meeting and making friends. I am looking forward to the 2020 tournament circuit (which begins next month!) and every show, player, friend, and game I will meet along the way! Check out my Schedule of Appearances and let me know if we might bump into each other over the next year. I’ll leave you with a few photos from my travels while on the 2019 tournament circuit.

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More info and future con dates here: https://www.gencon.com

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