While the brawls for Black Friday deals may have been epic in their own way, one group of people spent their post-Thanksgiving weekend engaging in different kinds of quests: those only found within tabletop games. GobbleCon returned for its second year, and with it came players there for board games, card games, and of course, role-playing games.
GobbleCon ran the weekend of November 24-26 in the Hyatt Regency, Burlingame, and was organized by the team behind Kubla Con. It was dedicated to tabletop games of all kinds, with a wide open-gaming room, tables for game designers to show off their works in progress, and a massive room for organized RPG play.
The first thing one saw after getting their badge (which consisted of both a badge on a lanyard and a wristband) was several tables made for oversized games. If you’ve ever felt that “King of Tokyo” too grand a game for the small scale of the board, perhaps seeing it on a massive playmat would change your mind. Beyond that were several tables where the GobbleCon staff would hold demonstrations of their favorite games of choice, so people could learn and perhaps find a new favorite.
The open gaming room was filled with rows of tables, made to host whatever games attendees felt like playing. Many had sign-ups in advance, but there were still plenty where attendees could sit down and make new friends (before promptly hating them for finding new ways to cheat at “Munchkin”).
Saturday night, the open gaming room also held a flea market. Those who purchased spots could sell their old and well-loved games, gaming books, miniatures, cards, or anything else they had to spare, and anyone in attendance could stop by and find a buried treasure at affordable prices.
Outside that room, several tables were set up for “ProtoSpeil,” where up-and-coming designers demonstrated the games they’ve been working on. It presented a rare opportunity for both designers and players alike, so designers could reach new people and a wider audience, and attendees could try out new games before they hit the market and add their input to the games’ completion.
However, the biggest draw of the con was undoubtedly the organized play room. Both Pathfinder Society (and the new Starfinder Society) and Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League had multitudes of tables set up, and all of them were full at any give time. The games drew players from all over Northern California, who could bring their characters from table to table and go on adventures deep in the jungles of Chult, or up among the stars on a spacefaring journey.
As part of the organized play, the D&D players got to participate in a multi-table event called an Epic. Over a dozen tables, each with their own players and Dungeon Masters, all had to work together, undertaking a variety of challenges to complete their tasks. One table’s success could provide another a boon, while another’s failure could penalize them all. Dice were rolled, characters were killed, and ghost pirates were fought both on the tables and in their minds.
If you’ve never participated in an Epic before, it’s something that every D&D player should experience.
In the same room was a library of hundreds of games, which attendees could borrow and try out at their leisure. Both classics and newer games were in stock, from longtime favorites to lesser-known gems, so anyone wanting to sit down and try something new could find it there.
One thing that GobbleCon didn’t have was a dealer’s room, so anyone looking to spend outrageous sums of money (as one tends to do during Black Friday) would have to go elsewhere. That said, there are plenty of game stores and hobby shops in the area that are well worth supporting, and the flea market still presented some shopping opportunities, so its absence was not detrimental.
Food-wise, the location provided a few options. A Japanese restaurant right across the street offered sit-down or take-out for those who either wanted to get away from the crowds or grab their food quickly and get back to gaming. A little further down was Max’s Diner, which was somewhat more expensive, but also quite good. Of course, the Hyatt Regency had its own restaurant and snack bar, which charged the typical prices one would expect of a hotel.
Last year, the only badge option was a full weekend, at discounted prices for volunteers and game organizers. This time, GobbleCon offered a wider range of options, so volunteers could get a discounted Host Pass, or on-site attendees could buy a one-day pass for $25-30, allowing them to enjoy a day at the con without needing to pay for the full weekend. Of course, for those who did go the whole weekend, it was worth it.
Overall, GobbleCon provided a great weekend of gaming. There were plenty of games to enjoy and try, and hours upon hours of role-playing games to join, all run by active and experienced dungeon masters. For those looking for a way to sit down and enjoy a plethora of games and fantasy adventures as they digest their Thanksgiving meals, GobbleCon is a fine choice.