Gateway 2018: A Journey into the Heart of Los Angeles Gaming (Part 1)

Gateway 2018: A Journey into the Heart of Los Angeles Gaming (Part 1)

September 5, 2018 Off By Ruel

Gateway 2018, which we previewed here, was another huge success, as players packed the LAX Hilton for a games-filled Labor Day weekend. Gleeful shouts and dejected groans filled the air as dice were rolled, cards were flipped, and tokens were moved on tabletops throughout the hotel and convention areas.

For me, I look forward to connecting with friends, both old and new, at Strategicon (the organization hosts three yearly conventions on holiday weekends at the LAX Hilton: Orccon, Gamex, and Gateway). It’s always fun getting to put a face to those I’ve only interacted with on social media.

Ben O’Steen is one of those familiar-yet-new faces that I had the pleasure of meeting and gaming with for the first time. A recent transplant from England, O’Steen enjoyed his initial Strategicon experience. “The highlight was absolutely the people and the friendliness,” he said. “The way it was run was happy and welcoming, even to a stranger like me.”

The first game on my Gateway docket was Chaos in the Old World, an older Eric Lang design that’s been out of print for years. I was fortunate to acquire a copy recently and enlisted my regular gaming buddies Oscar and Jeff to break it in. We met up with Board Game Babylon maestro E.R. Burgess, who live-streamed our game.

We took a break halfway through our game to attend the math trade and virtual flea market. I rushed over there with my stack of games, happy that I sold and traded 28 games while only getting 7 games in return. Both events were jam-packed with gamers wheeling and dealing and I spoke to the virtual flea market organizer, Todd Geller, who said this event was the biggest ever, with nearly 1,400 games listed on BGG Geeklist before the meetup on Saturday.

“My biggest challenge is that the Flea Market has outgrown two spaces already,” he said. “In the current space we had people in the hallways lined up to get into a very small room.”

Geller noted that over 40 percent of the games listed on BGG were sold, also another record for the event and, although he’s only been involved with the event for a few years, Geller appreciates how it’s grown from its humble beginnings. “About 8-10 of us would show,” he recalled. “We used to meet in the lobby to pass the games off.”

Like most Strategicon events, Geller is a passionate volunteer hoping to make an event run smoothly and successfully. “My goal is to get it over 2,000 games with a 50 percent take,” he said.

After the market, I returned to finish my game of Chaos in the Old World. Although we had a few hiccups during play (expected since we were all first-timers), the game proved once again why Lang is my favorite designer. He has a knack for putting together mechanisms that work smoothly together as part of a bigger gaming experience. The asymmetrical factions in Chaos meshed well, with each player’s character having their own personality and playing style.

Next up: Walking the main hall and gaming with Twitter peeps.