BASHCon’s 26th year could be its biggestWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don’t know your LARP from your FPS, BASHCon can teach you.
The 26th annual gaming convention set for Feb. 18-20 at the University of Toledo will offer chances to experience live action role-playing (LARP) and first-person shooter (FPS) games.
BASHCon is fun for serious gamers and beginners alike, said Qusai Al Shidi, president of UT’s gaming organization, UT-BASH, which has more than 160 active members. Last year’s BASHCon drew more than 900 people to the main campus student union, Al Shidi said.
“If no one has experienced a gaming convention before, I would urge people to come,” Al Shidi said. “I don’t think people should be intimidated by these sorts of games. It will take a little bit to learn if you aren’t familiar, but then it’s really fun. You can be taught while here. It’s good to meet new people. It’s fun if you come alone or with other people.”
UT-BASH members enjoy video games, card games, board games and role-playing games, said Al Shidi, a junior physics major, who mainly played video games before being introduced to other types of games through the club.
LARP games like “Eaten Alive,” featuring zombie fighting, and “Dagorhir,” featuring medieval fighting using foam weapons, should be popular, Al Shidi said.
Video game tournaments will include FPS games — where the player experiences the game from the vantage point of the onscreen character — like “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and “Halo: Reach” as well as “Super Smash Bros.”
The largest card game tournament will be “Magic: The Gathering.”
“We’re going to have almost half a room full of people playing it. We’re expecting just a little bit less than 100 playing,” said Al Shidi, who said there will also
be plenty of “Pathfinder Chronicles” action, referring to a role-playing game similar to “Dungeons & Dragons.”
There will be a painting contest for miniatures, which are used in games like “Warhammer” and “WARMACHINE,” Al Shidi said.
“They usually come with miniatures that aren’t pre-painted and you paint them yourself, which is kind of the culture of miniature games,” Al Shidi said.
When BASHCon says board games, it doesn’t mean those in children’s toy chests — more like Dominion and Settlers of Catan, Al Shidi said.
“You can find Monopoly if you look really hard, but you won’t find Candy Land unless you bring your own and play with people,” Al Shidi said. “I’m sure you could find people to play with.”
UT junior Halah Mohamed is not a gamer but attended last year’s BASHCon with some friends. This year, she is returning as an exhibitor.
Mohamed, who writes and illustrates an original Japanese manga-style graphic novel series called “Kurokenshin” under the name KO_Okami, said convention exhibitors typically fall into two categories: dealers and artists.
“I’m an artist and I didn’t expect to have artists there at BASHCon, but they did,” Mohamed said. “It was bigger than I had expected and there was a whole bunch of stuff going on. I was under the assumption it was just a gaming convention, but there were lots of booths to go through and they had a variety of interesting things.”
Bob Kindel, owner of The Light Trading Company, is one of four vendors who has attended every BASHCon.
“We call him the dice guy,” Al Shidi said. “He has all sorts of dice. If you name the die, he has it.”
Kindel said his motto is, “Here to meet your gaming needs.”
“I pretty much try to carry anything that’s made and if I don’t have it, I can get it,” Kindel said. “There’s some dice that only one person in a thousand will want, but if that person is at the Con, they’re happy.”
Freelance artist Tony Steele of Steeleworks, who will be back for his eighth year as an exhibitor, said BASHCon has all the elements of a bigger convention, but with the intimacy of a smaller one.
“It’s one of my favorite shows,” Steele said. “There’s certainly nothing lacking and I actually find I like the smaller shows because some shows just get so big, you get lost in the shuffle. It’s a nice little show and it feels like there’s someone there that might give a crap.”
Steele and Kindel both said they are always impressed at how organized BASHCon is despite having its student leadership switch every few years.
“That’s the thing about the show; they’re always changing up, doing new stuff. I never go there knowing exactly who’s going to be there each year. It’s always a little bit different. I never get bored with it,” Steele said.
Steele said he likes to watch from his table in the middle of the action as the gaming area fills up with people.
“Aaron Williams, who is a comic book guy of some note, usually sits next to me and we spend most of the time nerding out with each other,” Steele said. “Even after the vendor portion closes, it goes well into the night for as much gaming as your little eyes can stand.”
BASHCon hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Feb. 18, 9 a.m. to midnight Feb. 19 and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 20.
Admission is $10 per day or $15 for the weekend. UT students, faculty and staff get in free with ID. Tournaments carry a nominal fee. All ages are welcome, but kids must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information and a complete list of activities, visit www.bashcon.com.