Hello! I’m back to talk about conventions again and in this post I’ll be discussin Flatcon, which is a small convention in Bloomington, Illinois. It’s actually been running for 16 years. They hold the convention at the McClean County Fairgrounds in what is basically a really, really big barn. It’s clean, and well-lit and very open, but it is still in essence a giant metal barn. The convention I’m fairly certain began its life simply as a gathering to play RPGS like Dungeon’s & Dragons but quickly grew to encompass many other genres of games from Board Games to Miniature War Games. The best part of the convention is its price and central location. At least for me. A weekend badge is only $25 and that gets you through the door. Once inside there are a plethora of things to do. I don’t believe the con has a library of board games but it is possible that I’m incorrect on that account. Frankly I don’t usually go to the con to play board games but instead to play miniature games, I’m sure that’s a shock to you.
The con usually works with local area food trucks to provide food close by although there are a number of fast food restaurants within a few minutes’ drive as well as a Wal-mart. There are also a couple of hotels nearby with pretty decent room rates which is great when you’re looking for a budget friendly convention. One of the best things about smaller conventions is that because of the lower cost you’re more likely to get some random vendors and games showing up. One of the coolest games I’ve seen in recent memory was a giant version of the Gale Force 9 game Tanks! Being played on the floor with giant WWII tanks made of Lego’s. It was pretty fantastic just to watch. You also get a lot of crafty vendors making everything you can imagine in terms of geek swag. Pint glasses, keychains, tchotchkes of all types are there for your perusal. Of course they also garner support from local game stores who bring in a selection of inventory for you to buy as well.
I will say that FlatCon is predominantly filled by the RPG and Board Gamers but there is usually a couple of Miniature Games running as well. The tournaments tend not to usually attract more than 10-12 players but that usually provides a nice environment. Not saying that you won’t run into someone who plays the game differently than you who will irritate you but I’ve never walked away angry and have always managed to have a good time. Predominantly these tournaments have been centered around Warhammer 40K, Age of Sigmar and I believe last year there was a Guildball event as well. The convention does a lot to raise money for charity having door prizes and auctions. They used to do a large flea market as well but did not do this last year due to the lack of volunteers to help run it.
Sometimes events have sign-ups that you have to register for. These don’t always cost money, but some (like the miniature tournaments) do tend to charge anywhere from $10-20 to help provide prize support for the players. I’ve never participated in any of the RPG’s but I have played some various strange one off games and I’ve for sure sat around playing board games late into the night before. All in all I usually spend 2-3 days at this convention for under $100 all told. Now I have friends in Bloomington I stay with, but I imagine if you were going and staying at a hotel you could probably still manage to escape under the $300 mark depending on how likely you are to purchase things at the convention. I’ve always enjoyed FlatCon and highly recommend you give it a try if you’re in the area come October.
You can check out their website at www.flatcon.com