[Gateway 2023] Is You Buffed?

September began with the third of the three yearly Strategicon events.  Gateway was held at the LAX Hilton in Los Angeles.  Three floors of the Hotel were used for this tabletop event.  There were games running all four days at all hours of the day.  In addition to that, there is a game library for those who want to try something out or introducing other players to a more obscure title that deserves more play.  With three floors of gaming there is quite a bit for tabletop players of all levels to enjoy.

The lower level was primarily used as the “Adventure League Basement”.  While it did have other large rooms for tabletop play there was a very large area for those who want to run a character through the official D&D gaming league.  There are plenty of tables and gaming running for players of all experience levels (both as a player and as a character).  If a player began with a level one hero on day one, by the end of the con, if you gamed enough, you’d have a very powerful character to bring into other games.  It is completely possible to lose yourself playing games with pro-DMs all weekend.

On the first floor of the hotel was the home of the vendor hall and the miniatures room.  The vender hall isn’t very impressive compared to larger events, but despite the humble size it does offer a good variety of wares.  Many tables offering various tabletop games, cards, or gaming accessories.  If you are looking for a sourcebook or a beginner box then you will likely find what you are looking for in that room.  However, booths selling minis weren’t as common as one might expect, there weren’t many indie game vendors, and the aisles were a bit too narrow to easily navigate.  There were also a few booths outside the vender hall, some of which showed off different games and s variety of gaming goods.  Overall, the shopping experience didn’t seem as good as previous Strategicon events.

The miniatures hall was one of the largest rooms in the entire event.  The room featured over 30 tables each with a game ready to go for those who love miniature mayhem.  From Lord of the Rings to BattleTech to Warhammer to Star Wars Legions there were plenty of games to watch or play.  This was in addition, to the occasional tutorials that were also offered.  The floor was filled with maps and tiny terrain for armies to battle.  There were some amazing tables that are worth looking at even if you aren’t interested in miniature gaming.  Beyond that, there is also the painting table where you can paint a free mini.  The painting table is a first come, first served location with no sign ups.  If there is an empty seat you get to sit down and work on a mini with assistance or on your own.  If you sign up for a game or two and take the time to do some painting it is easy to lose a day in this one room.

The second floor has much smaller rooms, but still provides some interesting things for attendees.  It should be noted this is also where registration is held, there isn’t much space for a line, but the staff does give out badges pretty quick.  Beyond that, the second floor also has the games library filled with more games than you can count.  The upstairs also had plenty of tables set up for gaming of all kinds for those who just want to play with friends or people they just met.

This area also includes the Family room for those who want to do a quick game of Candyland as well as the very small video game room, which mostly functioned as a daycare for kids who went to the event with their parents.  Beyond that, they had an RPG room for non-Adventure League D&D adventures as well as other group based RPG fun.  For those who want to stretch their legs they had a LARPing room, filled with people in costume having a great time.

The most active room was the War Gaming room were players set forth to conquer each other on the battlefields of history.  Games of Commands & Colors, Fall of Rome, and Axis & Allies were all set up.  More than that, they had extra games ready to go for those looking for historical combat.  For those curious about this type of tabletop gaming this is a great event to get acquainted with this style of game.

There was one room that needed to be remained and that room is the Collectable room.  While it might sound like a room to show off or sell rare merchandise from different fantasy and tabletop worlds that is not the case.  This is the room for Collectable Card Games such as Yu-GI-Oh, Magic: The /Gathering, and Transformers: The Card Game.  This room also included indie card games like Grimpath, where the creators can teach new players about their games.  It is good to know there is a dedicated room for card games, especially since most cons do not do that, but the name feels a little misleading.  Calling it the CCG room or Card Game room or something like that might help prevent confusion.

The most amazing part of the upstairs area was a room set up for a game of Artemis.  This is a cooperative video game where each person plays a crew member of a starship that explore space and battles enemies. There is a big screen for those who want to watch the action, while each player has their own console to do their job controlling the ship.  This is a nice room to relax in if you need a social break, but the more exciting part is joining the game.  If you go with a group of friends who love space adventure stories then this will be one of the best group experiences you can have at Gateway.  They run the game at all Strategicon events and it is one of the games that makes this convention worth the trip.

Gateway, and the other Stategicon events, are not your typical conventions.  This is not the place to cosplay, unless you are LARPing, this is not the place to get autographs from your favorite celebrities, nor is this the place to watch several panels on the history of tabletop.  Instead, it is an event to discover new games, meet new players you might want to game with in the future, take on card tournaments or the painting contests, and generally have a great time with others who love tabletop games of all kinds.  The staff is friendly and helpful in addition to that, it is free to look at the displays and shop in the vender hall.  The badge let you play the games and take things from the game library.  This event will not appeal to everyone, but to those who love RPGs, war games, and LARPing this is a wonderful event where you might just meet your new adventuring party.  If you love tabletop gaming then the Strategicon events are a must, even if you just go for one day to check it out you will have a great time seeing the maps, playing games, and doing a little shopping.   

Written by Jared the Greek
Email: jaredjgriego@gmail.com
Twitter: @JaredTheGreek
Insta: @JaredTheGreek

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