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Saturday, November 14, 2015

PentaCon 2015

I like to think that our blog is a tiny corner of the internet where we provide helpful information to other tabletop gamers and enthusiasts everywhere.  Hopefully this segment will be another one of those instances, because the most important thing is that the readers receive the truth.  Whenever a gaming convention is put on, there is supposed to be a sense of pride in the air.  There should be a feeling of confidence that the surrounding people really put in a lot of hard work and preparation to represent their city and state.  This convention ended up not being what we had expected at all.  Read on to learn about this unfortunate event.

The first thing to look at was their website, which was more than an embarrassment for their convention and the content presented such as pictures and events was last posted in 2006 so it's grossly out of date.  The website actually looks like it was made in 1995 and only small portions of content such as pictures and text have been added since then.  This was a big concern for me because I know the importance companies and events properly marketing themselves and a website will really tell the consumers how much passion they have for their event.  I read over their information that was posted and I chose to believe that the event had significantly grown in the last 10 years…….how wrong I was.  There's a real sense of frustration based on unethical practices for this event.  The first piece of inaccurate information on the website said that there is a gaming library for $1 per game.  When we entered the ballroom, we were troubled to see that there was almost nothing there.  We asked registration where the gaming library was, and they said that for the last few years, the man who was providing the library had stopped doing it.  For some reason, they are not removing this from their website.  Another area on the website said there would be 24 venders at the convention.  When we arrived, there were only two.  Turns out a lot of those were not going to show up either. All of this is really wrong.  If something like the game library is no longer being offered, or if specific venders aren't going to show, the people in charge of the website need to remove this content immediately.  It really reflects poorly on the people running the event and displays very little passion (if any) on their part for a board gaming convention.  
This picture is an example of their outdated content, and when I clicked on the galleries, I was even more appalled.  The quality of the photos was just absolutely atrocious.  Even the formatting and how the pictures were positioned inside the galleries was just so unprofessional.  I saw such a lack of passion for the event, everything was just so poorly executed.  We still really wanted to believe in them though, that the event had grown the way they said it had on their site.
Their contact page consisted of names that were associated with event roles and tasks with various emails, but after reaching out to them considerably further in advance with a couple of inquiries, we never received any response back.  After hearing from another party that tried reaching out to them with no responses either, we figured the email addresses provided were no longer in use, or no one felt our questions were important.  Either way, it's another aspect of their website that is very misleading and completely non-functional.  We had no idea we were supposed to bring our own games.  We were looking forward to playing new games with new gamers, but instead saw a crowd of maybe 20 people including ourselves.  The people who did attend were much older than us and appeared to be meeting with other friends and groups that they already knew for a long time, which made the environment very unwelcoming, awkward, and uncomfortable for us. 
We were expected to pay 20.00 per person for only a single day pass, which we were definitely not going to do.  Unfortunately this is the worst experience we have had with a convention and we chose not to stick around, so the 4 hour round trip was treated as a nice drive to view the vast empty corn fields of Indiana.  I guess it was nice to get out and go for a drive though.  We just wish that our road trip was actually going to be worth something.  Do not be fooled the way we were!  Trust your gut when you visit their website.  It has not evolved the way we had hoped, and even the information that is provided is entirely false!

For all of the right reasons, this convention is not for us, and we will not be returning to Pentacon again.  Hopefully they will eventually see the need to either update or remove the website in it's entirety because it will only further confuse and mislead others who are looking for a joyous event of board gaming.  Farewell Fort Wayne!

Disagree or have other thoughts? Leave a comment below.


  1. Nope - I think you nailed it perfectly. I had attended 4 of the last 6 years, the 2 previous years consecutively. The convention seems to be attended by a small group of regulars that attend to play the various long running games. This year I decided not to attend because in September, they still had not had any hotel information officially posted and the lack of events that were scheduled. To come in from out of town and spend a night in a hotel was just not a good investment anymore as the convention has degraded over those 6 years. The Circus Imperium game is top notch...the people are friendly enough, but very clicky.

  2. No doubt that Pentacon is not the shining jewel it once was. A con that attracted 1000+ people and multiple vendors is down to, oh, 100-200 people and a couple of vendors. Not that being small is a bad thing per se. I attend some very small cons (less than 100 people) and have a great time. But as you point out, the pictures are dated and do not accurately represent the con.

    Personally I almost did not go this year since there was a severe lack of board games in the pre-reg list and my wife had another event to attend during the weekend. However one of my friends said "let's meet at Pentacon" so I carved out Friday to attend. Had a great time but -- this goes along with your post -- it was because of friends rather than meeting new people or trying out new games.

    All that said, my friend John Jones and I are determined to bring board games back to life at Pentacon. Next year we will bring our extensive library of games and set up a 'board game central' where we hope to meet new people and play lots of games all weekend. So that picture of a table of games that you see on the front Pentacon page ... it will be accurate. Stop by if you have the time.

  3. Pentacon had been going for 31 years. It used to be great (around 2000 it had about 1000 local gamers attend) but has suffered horribly from lack of advertising, lack of local store involvement, lack of local game support. Basically the people that still attend are the people that do it from a sense of tradition and not much else. The people that run it are very nice people but they aren't from the area and aren't savvy or up to date in their convention acumen. The aren't plugged into fort wayne gaming, they don't know the people or the stores. They took their lumps for a few years when the event list wasn't even published until 2 weeks before the con.

    Fort Wayne hosts a bunch of conventions during the year. All of them are radically different. For instance Winter Fantasy was D&D Experience, that convention draws almost no locals, in fact 90% of it's player base is people that drive or fly in. I'm from fort Wayne and I only reconize 2 or 3 people at it. It also has zero local involvement. What's strange is several local gamers have never heard of it and it was once a convention sponsored by WotC for 2 or 3 years in a row.

    On the other hand 3con was an up and coming convention that drew 200-300 locals in it's first 3 years, it featured the chessex dice booth this year and regional game designers but they had to cancel this fall so it's up in the air if it'll return.

    I guess what I'm saying it Fort Wayne has a large, very large player base, but people have been burned on the Pentacon. The sheer cost of reserving the Grand Wayne for 100 players is absurd. There are other local venues that would be a fifth of the cost and you could even cut gamers a break at the door and come out WAY ahead. The grand wayne center is the MOST expensive facility in town.

    Winter Fantasy or 3con could be great cons, if WF could tap the local crowd (which they don't seem willing to do) or 3con could continue it's growth without constant venue and time of the year changes. There are soooo many games stores here, this area could support 1 or 2 1,500 player cons a year. That is, if they were done right.

  4. Pentacon was a convention form by a local gaming organization called Northeastern Indiana Gaming Association. This organization was the driving force of local gamers that decided to form a convention setting for all people to gather and enjoy gaming. Those responsible for this original mindset and the creative drive to form Pentacon, are no longer associated with it. During sometime of its long history of 31 years, N.I.G.A. merged with Pentacon due to the fact no active members of the gaming organization lived in Fort Wayne, yet the people who wished to continue the convention legacy kept returning yearly. During the early 2000's, Pentacon was at its largest, with a very diverse selection of games. Circumstances between attendees and the staff began to wane badly shortly thereafter and many long term local gamers were put off by negative attitudes and opinions by convention staff. During the conventions recent years, the staff had a complete shuffle and the entity that is Pentacon/NIGA was sold to the one remaining family that did not want to give up on the conventions legacy. Sadly, the old opinions and past issues still run deep as some sort of grudge that does not allow the rift between the local gaming community and the current convention staff to heal. I keep coming back every year in some capacity, hoping that this will be the year when all those bad feelings are forgotten and everyone can sit down and enjoy some games together.

    1. PentaCon was started as a private venture of Five individuals who when they burned out passed to NIGA ( northern Indiana faming association. With the sudden death of the leading member and continued burnout and the failure of NIGIA it became a private venture. what I noticed 2 years ago was a greying out of attendees.
      When there was only one game store in fort Wayne the con served as a great place to get needed stuff and games. we have 3 or 4 now . The con to survive needs to reinvent its purpose.

  5. I was actually thinking of attending Saturday and Sunday, but I was really relieved that I chose not to after reading this post! That would have been a terrible waste of time and gas to drive all the way up there for this. This segment is getting some buzz on the Facebook front too. After coming back here to read some more of these comments, it really is sad to see it head down hill as much as it has apparently. However, that is still the fault of the organizers and the people in charge of this event should be held accountable for their actions and not properly removing out of date information. It's like you said in your post, these are unethical practices and that's completely unacceptable on their part! It's wrong for people to mislead others with venders, game libraries and other events if they haven't been offered for a while. I'm glad you've called them out on their mistakes and I completely agree with you, hopefully they will see the need to improve.

  6. To all who are wanting to post comments:

    I've noticed several comments trying to come through that are much more aggressive and inaccurate in nature. I will not publish any comments that cross this barrier. I will also not publish any comments that are wrongfully trying to mislead other readers with inaccurate information and suggestions to perform that otherwise do not exist. This is wrong and I will not tolerate it on this blog.

    If you wish to comment, that is perfectly fine, we welcome it, but we will not allow cheap shots, and childish, aggressive behavior that is otherwise only designed to stir people into a negative mode of thinking.

    The information in this post is reflective of our experience. My wife and I struggled on the website with registration, and I could not get through to anyone on the contact page after multiple attempts. When we arrived to PentaCon, everything was accurate as I had written about it. As with our regular reviews, we do not attempt to "flash our badge" so to speak, we do not expect special treatment and attended this event as anyone else would so we could accurately reflect a typical experience.

    The PentaCon website is very poorly made, and the overall event has completely plummeted. Nothing that I have said has been inaccurate in any way. I have provided the readers with the truth based on the experience that my wife and I had when we arrived to the convention. It's a very poorly run event that needs serious help because it's drowning. That's not only my opinion, but apparently that of many other attendees.

    If you have insightful, honest information, and want to have an adult, professional conversation, then leave those comments below, otherwise I will not approve anything else that I see that is inappropriate or questionable.

  7. I really respect and see the points that were made in this post. I've gone to pentacon multiple times in the past, but I've chose not to for the past few years because it's just been continually heading downhill year after year. I feel that it was somewhat better over 10 years ago, but even in that span of time, the hobby of tabletop gaming has grown so much it's just different now. The organizers of the event have just lost the desire to promote the event. I think the time has come for whatever is left in the flame of the torch to be passed to the next group of people who can rekindle the flame and make it better.