Official Forge Midwest 2016 Post-Mortem

Official #forgemidwest Post-Mortem Post

This year was the biggest, longest, and dare I say, bestest Forge Midwest yet.  I want to thank everyone who showed up, ran games, and played games.  I just get the room and put everyone together- you are the people who make Forge Midwest awesome.

I was surprised at the number of people coming up Thursday night- I wanted to set up a dinner and maybe some casual gaming, but we kind of dropped the ball on this.  Tim and I picked one of our favorite Madison restaurants, but we didn’t count on the fact that it was downtown and people who had just driven many many hours to reach Madison might not want to brave the twisting streets of the Willy Street neighborhood.  Megan had the much more sensible idea of just going to TGI Friday’s.  Next year I hope to organize this better, so a pre-Forge dinner might become a tradition.

In years past, people have filtered in one or two at a time on Friday, and there’s usually not a real crowd until the afternoon or even evening session.  Not so this year- we had enough for two games at the 10 am session.  Turnout was huge- Tim counted 54 raffle tickets for one of the giveaways, so I’d estimate total turnout at around 65-70.

Success is also a curse: we were really bursting at the seams for space.  Shari opened up her room across the hall, and some people ended up taking games up to their private rooms.  And that was on Saturday, when we had the third room.

I’m really thrilled at the variety of games we had this year.  Experimental playtests, small and large LARP events like Conclave and Sparkle Baby, (I passed by the solitary confinement LARP and watched for a few moments and it was absolutely heartbreaking), games you’ve probably heard of like Urban Shadows and the Warren and Apocalypse World, games you probably haven’t heard of like whatever it was from the ’80s that Ron brought, boardgames new and old, a Magic: the Gathering cube draft of (badly) AI-generated cards, weird video games about bomb disposal, and a 20+ hour longcon event of D&D’s The Curse of Strahd ran by the wonderful Renee.  There were many timeslots where I lamented the fact that I could only play in one game at a time.

I had fun coming up with the Hangman puzzle and I hope you all had fun trying to solve it.  Congrats to Megan and Jeremiah for figuring out the last two answers, XXXXtreme Streetluge and Juggernaut.  I still don’t know who the clever people who got Holmesworld and Left Coast were.  I’m already pondering a bigger, harder puzzle for next year.

With the size of the turnout, I am starting to have concerns about the pitch session system.  I know how hard it can be to go up there in front of everyone and talk- I do it every session!  I think we had enough games every session, although sometimes I had to call for another volunteer.  Pitches still seem like the best system we’ve had so far, and I think the character of the con would be vastly compromised by going to something like an event calendar & sign up system.  I am especially looking for feedback on this- what was your experience pitching and/or mustering into games.

The timeslots seemed pretty good this session, but I think they might use just a little more tinkering.  Maybe 10/1:30/7/11 next year?  The dinner break seemed long enough for me, but I mostly felt pressed for time around lunch.  Meals are as an important part of the social experience as the games are.  Again, this is an area I am particularly open to feedback: if you felt particularly pressed for time, or if you felt there was a chunk of the day that was wasted time where you were waiting around to play something, let me know your thoughts.

The prize giveaway is another event that we seem to be outgrowing- handing out raffle tickets every timeslot became pretty time consuming.  Doing the raffles this year seemed very fatiguing, and not a very good return in terms of energy spent on my part to enthusiasm generated.  I think next year we’ll do one ticket per person and have you keep them- it will be easier to track total attendance and we won’t have to hand out tickets over and over.  I felt that people were less impressed with the prize quality this year- +I’m Board! Games & Family Fun was incredibly generous to donate some prizes, but in retrospect I don’t think they were a good match for the event.  Next year I’ll ask for fewer, higher-quality prizes, and we can probably crowdsource this some more and ask people to donate prizes- the first prizes to go were the ones that Shari and I had donated out out of our closets.
But maybe I’m wrong.  If you thought the raffles were totally awesome, let me know.

(I’m Board still a really really great game store and you should totally go there.  Kelley knows what I’m talking about.)

Anti-harrassment has been a growing concern for me as Forge grows and we have new people.  So far we have gotten by without an “official” harassment policy, and a simple culture of being an adult about things.  I wasn’t called upon to deal with anything, so as far as I can tell, the system is working.  But it’s a concern that’s on my mind, and I know that just because I’m not aware of a problem, doesn’t mean there’s not a problem.  If you have concerns about anything, please don’t hesitate to send me a private message.

Everyone cleaned up after themselves really well, which was great, because last year Tim and I got stuck with cleaning up a lot.

I didn’t get food poisoning like last year, so that was cool.

Sorry to anyone who was awaiting the crowdfund dungeon this year and missed getting to play.  My enthusiasm for it had really flagged this year, although once I saw the stuff you guys put on the board, I did regret not being able to run it.  We’re going to have a contingency next year for someone else to run it if I become otherwise engaged.  People asked me all Sunday when I’d run the crowdfund dungeon, and the answer was the always same: once Strahd was dead, which always seemed to be juuuuust around the corner.  We wouldn’t kill Strahd until 9:30 PM.  But we got him.

I had multiple people ask me if there’s any chance I’d run another Forge event of some kind.  I’ll need to research this more to see if it’s feasible (fall is a little tougher on hotel space than spring in Madison, go Badgers), but now that I know someone other than me thinks its a good idea I’ll look into it more seriously.

If you had a great experience, I want to hear about it, because I love hearing about people’s great gaming experiences, especially when I’m responsible for them!

If you had a bad experience, or even an experience that could be made better, or a suggestion for how something might be improved, I want to hear about it too, because I want to make my convention be the best possible convention there is.

Thanks again to everyone who showed up and played games.  YOU are the reason Forge Midwest is the best!