Pretty crazy, huh? That’s just how it goes at Tri-Con. Organizers have made sure to cram as many fun and diverse activities as possible into the convention’s three-day stay at Delta Hotels by Marriott, formerly the Marina Inn Hotel & Conference Center in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
The bi-annual gaming convention features a slew of different games for every visitor to enjoy. What kind of games you ask? Well, we spoke to Tri-State Gamers vice president Chuck Themm to breakdown the types of gaming events guests can indulge in at Tri-Con Spring 2018:
Siouxland’s established card gaming communities ought to be very familiar with these types of games. Themm said both Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh are very popular card games.
“Those are collectible card games, which means you go and buy booster packs and you open them hoping to find rare cards,” he said. “You can then make a better deck and compete against people. When you win in tournaments you get prizes.”
It’s not uncommon for members of card gaming communities to travel out of town (or out of state) to attend tournaments, which can help them qualify for further tournaments in bigger cities. Compared to the other gaming activities at Tri-Con, card games are inherently more competitive.
For a more cooperative experience, role-playing games (RPGs) might be just the ticket. What separates an RPG from something like a card game is that the player assumes the role of a character in a fictional setting. Dungeons & Dragons is the most obvious example of a tabletop RPG.
“The GM – that’s the game master – he controls the world and story,” said Themm. “The players work together to try and complete the goals.”
The scale of adventure is significantly bigger, leading to longer game lengths. As such, RPGs can go on for as long as they have to. And as time goes on, players keep enhancing their characters and advancing their storylines.
Mixing both cooperative and competitive gameplay elements in a tabletop setting are board games. These are some of the more accessible activities at Tri-Con. But don’t expect to play board games like Sorry! or Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders at this year’s convention. The evolution of board games has grown significantly since the days of Stratego and Risk.
Board games have become a billion-dollar industry, which means there is plenty of new stuff to choose from. Most titles at Tri-Con are multiplayer games and encourage group interaction and socializing. In contrast to RPGs, most board games have an end point to reach – although reaching that end is more complicated than moving your game piece from one end of the board to the other.
“With a board game, you can play it in about two hours and then you’re done,” said Themm. “We put it away and it doesn’t carry over. Once you play it, it’s done.”
Also known as miniature wargaming, this incorporates small figurines and modeled terrain into play. One of the most popular tabletop miniature wargames is Warhammer 40,000, which has its users assemble (and sometimes paint) individual figures to use has game pieces. Simply put, the goal is to fight battles.
Whether it’s a fantasy, futuristic or modern setting, players use these dynamic miniatures as more complicated chess pieces to win the battle. Individual games instill distinct rules and regulations as to how these miniatures come into play. So, no, it’s not just one set of miniatures testing the structural integrity of other miniatures. It’s doubtful you’ll see two players bashing their painstakingly painted miniatures together. That would just be silly.
“It’s just cool to move little guys around the map and blow up the other guys,” said Themm with a laugh. “It’s fun. They’re all fun but they scratch different itches I guess you could say.”
Who doesn’t know about video games? Everyone knows what video games are. Players either use controllers or a keyboard-and-mouse to direct what’s happening onscreen.
“They have the same differences that the board games and card games,” said Themm. “Some games are role-playing games. Some games are just dudes on a map and you’re moving your forces around.”
Like card games, there can be a sense of competitiveness, depending on the game. At Tri-Con, games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, Madden NFL 2018 and WWE 2K17 will be utilized for tournaments. Others, like Super Mario Maker, ask players to tap into their creative side to generate their own levels.