Over the past weekend, I played over 30 hours of Adventurers League at Gamehole Con. It was the first time since the season 8 rules have come out that I have played in organized play, and a large portion of that was because it is one of the main things to do at Gamehole Con. I wanted to take a closer look at how this convention runs Adventurers League, and also discuss a some of the modules we played in that are Gamehole Con specific.
The convention attracts a lot of Adventurers League players because many of the admins and staff of Wizards of the Coast attend this convention each year. Beyond that, I think that many players enjoy the affordable and organized system that Gamehole Con uses for their games. Unlike many other conventions, at Gamehole Con players are assigned DMs and tables when purchasing tickets which makes mustering for the vast majority of the events very simple. Players know where to go, and know who their DM will be as soon as they purchase tickets. The only problem players tend to have with this system is when they do not get into the same table with whomever they are attending the convention with. Most times players are willing to switch tables, but I have seen it cause conflict.
The only events that are not mustered this way are larger events such as Epics or the Open. While the smaller events were mustered in a way that was organized and easy to follow, the larger events were anything but that. Players seemed to be very confused about where they should be going and could not hear the admin to ask for clarification. It was hard to figure out where different tiers should be and players were not sure where they would be seated or who their DM would be. In the future it would be nice if larger events were mustered in the same way that the smaller ones were so there would be less confusion. It would probably save the admin’s vocal chords as well, since they wouldn’t be trying to yell louder than the 60 tables worth of players.
With that exception, I felt the events were run very smoothly and that the convention was one of the most organized I have been to. In addition to the smooth mustering, it is clear that more preparation went into the space this year as well. I was pleasantly surprised to find carpet in the Hall with D&D. It helped keep the noise level down so that players could easily hear DMs. It was also nice to have a concession stand and bathroom in the D&D area, especially while playing the open and other longer events. The events themselves were a blast too. The Dungeon Masters were very well prepared and seemed to know the rules and modules very well. After a few years of attending Gamehole Con players get to know the DMs because they are generally the same people year after year.
Despite not being a huge fan of the changes made to the rules in season 8, I did enjoy the modules, two epics and the open that I participated in. My favorite event was the open this year. Our DM was wonderful and engaged well with the role play tasks presented. The open itself was unique in that players only played with pre-gens and it was entirely role play based. We didn’t purposely kill anyone during the entire 10 hours of playing. We ended up doing terrible, but we had plenty of laughs throughout.
I also enjoyed both epics, though they were very different. One being The Red War which obviously focused very heavily on combat and the other being the Season 8 Epic which was more role play based. Both were enjoyable and had a nice amount of interaction between tables. The cooperative nature between tables for Epics is one of the reasons I like playing at conventions. Beyond the experience itself, we also were able to get some pretty cool swag from the Adventurers League team this year included an inspiration token, a patch, and a custom D&D fan. While these things were small they made the experience even more memorable.
Beyond the larger events we also played two of the Gamehole Con specific modules titled Into the Border Kingdoms and The Tithes That Bind. Both were well paced for the time slots allotted. They also provided enough challenge that players did not feel as though they were breezing through the adventure, as I often do at convention games.
It was interesting to see people interact with the Season 8 Rules. Many players had not played Adventurers League since the last convention they attended like myself, and many people were confused by the new rules so it made tallying experience more time consuming. As people adjust to the new system I am sure that will become less of a problem. It was pleasant however to not have people fighting over magic items. While I still am not a fan of the changes overall, I did see the benefit in that change.
Overall I enjoyed the convention, and the D&D. It is our only convention a year that my husband and I attend annually that we focus solely on D&D. Mostly because of the organization and quality of DMs present. It is nice to see the convention continue to grow and include more of the community each year. We look forward to attending next year and are continuously pleased with the attention played to the community by the convention itself.