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Find L.A.’s Gateway to Gaming at Strategicon

With Labor Day approaching, Southern California gamers are primed for the final Strategicon event of the year. Gateway, the third of the yearly trifecta of conventions hosted by Strategicon, offers four days of round-the-clock gaming for enthusiasts and the curious alike. 

Thousands of gamers take over the LAX Hilton every few months, with tabletop experiences from RPGs to board games, LARPs to video games, and more. It’s a cornucopia of gaming, seemingly non-stop throughout the long weekend.


The last Strategicon event, Gamex (Memorial Day weekend), was filled with memories galore for yours truly. As we close in on Gateway, let’s take a look back; it’s the best way to preview what’s in store for the last big gaming con of the year in Los Angeles.

For me, gaming conventions are all about the people I meet, along with the great games I experience with them. Every Strategicon event I’ve been fortunate to meet at least one new friend and Gamex proved to be no exception. 

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I was thrilled to meet David Guthrie, aka Gameylannister on Instagram, and help him with his gaming goal to play the Top 100 BGG games in 100 Days. We played a three-player game of Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition with Ben O’Steen, aka boardgamingblues on the Insta. While I prefer the full six-player game of TI4, the three-player version wasn’t too bad. It’s like the old saying goes: Three-player Twilight Imperium is better than no Twilight Imperium.

Speaking of Ben, he always introduces me to games I’ve never heard of and this time it was Desktop HEBOCON Battle Kit, a wacky and fun mashup of Patchwork and Robo Rally. The components included actual nuts like you’d find in your toolbox!

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Ben and I also got to play games with Steph and Amanda, as we played a whole bundle of games from DIG to Arboretum. I’m grateful to have met such good people through our shared love of the hobby and I had a wonderful time playing games with them. 

I joined the Brothers Murph, Shea Parker, and friends for a six-player Viticulture Essential Edition game with the Tuscany Essential Edition. This was one of my favorite plays of Viticulture; for a full six-player game it went by quickly. It remains a top 10 game for me and it confirmed that Nick and Mike Murphy are two of the nicest guys in the industry.


It’s always a treat getting to hang out with my local gaming buddy Jeff. He never misses a Strategicon event and this time he taught me Fuji Flush and Tricky Tides. I especially enjoyed Tricky Tides, which used the trick-taking mechanism as a way to move your ships around the play area. 

Thanks to Eric Burgess, Ta-Te Wu, and Beth, I was able to play my most recent Kickstarter arrival, Gentes Deluxified. I always get a kick out of playing with game designers because they’ll often talk about and dissect the mechanisms during game play. It’s like having my own personal game design class.

With all of the terrific gaming experiences I had at the last Strategicon event, it all boils down to one thing: the people. I’m happy to call many of them my friends and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with a few of them outside of the con. I can’t wait to do it all again this coming weekend. 

Gateway runs August 30th to September 2nd at the LAX Hilton. More information can be found on the Strategicon website:

Ruel Gaviola is a regular contributor to Geek & Sundry, The Five By, iSlaytheDragon, and other sites. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can find him talking about board games on Twitter or Instagram.

Trust Me, I'm a Superhero

About Ruel Gaviola

Ruel is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes for Geek & Sundry and iSlaytheDragon, podcasts for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

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