By Andrew Dodson on July 23, 2014 at 10:39pm
This past weekend, MonsterCon awoke to spend three days celebrating popular film, television and games, and all those fans that make such a thing possible before it was finally lulled back to sleep. Set in Greenville, S.C., MonsterCon strives to be a convention created for fans and by fans - and that's exactly what they do. With a small focus on the horror genre, MonsterCon 2014 attracted such celebrities as John Dugan ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), Ricou Browning ("Creature from the Black Lagoon"), and Butch Patrick ("The Munsters"). They had panels that attracted fans of many different fanbases and interests - Olivia Mears of Avant-Geek, a past Player Theory interviewee, hosted one of the panels. The vendor room was stocked with rare collectibles, t-shirts, comics, and just about anything that you could imagine, and of course, MonsterCon had plenty of exciting performances happening every day.
And it would not be a convention without plethora of gaming opportunities.
While Player Theory was not able to personally attend this year, we have friends and eyes everywhere. Hobert Campbell is MonsterCon's newest Gaming Director, and he was happy to answer some of our questions about the con and what exactly someone in his shoes has to do.
Player Theory: How did you get involved with MonsterCon?
Hobert Campbell: I was one of the first people to hear about the revival of MonsterCon about 6 months before it opened back up in 2013. At the time, I was hanging out with Dave Harlequin, the Programming Director, and he was excited and worried about the whole idea. It was one of those “You can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink” situations in his head, but I was eager to convince him otherwise and volunteered to help run security for the gaming room. During MonsterCon 2013, I was only a volunteer and there were a lot of problems we were facing as we were kicked out of our previous venue and forced to search frantically 2 weeks before con for a new venue. Out of all of the gaming that was scheduled for our gaming room only our Steve Jackson Games Affiliate was present, the main staff had overwhelmed themselves with duties that volunteer coordination fell flat, and there were barely enough people on the floor to help every vendor’s problem. So I went around basically doing everything I could to get things in order, if I didn’t know how to help I would do my best to find someone who could. Over the course of the con, I was given to field promotions from Volunteer to Volunteer Coordinator to Logistics Coordinator. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I got a Facebook message from Dave Harlequin saying I had been unanimously voted Gaming Director and was brought on as a paid member of staff.
PT: What are your primary responsibilities as Gaming Director?
HC: I am responsible for the planning of the gaming schedule, the recruitment and assigning of GMs to games and tables, and I overlook all gaming activities while the convention is being run.
PT: What game companies were represented at MonsterCon this year? Any games being tested or cool announcements made?
HC: Our gaming sponsor this year was Steve Jackson Games, but we also had a wide array of other games in our library for people to free play. "Magic: The Gathering" was another a big name in our room, as well. This year we had two games being premiered for the first time ever for live play testing: The first was The Specialists, a cooperative heist style board game where you’re fitted against time, guards, and security systems to steal all you can and get out uncaught, and Otherworlds, a pencil paper RPG set in a world of high science and planetary exploration with an impressive class/race system.
PT: What games seemed to be the most popular at MonsterCon this year?
HC: Our two premiered games, "The Specialists and Otherworlds," had great attendance, as well as our "MTG" free booster draft, which always brings people in. "Munchkin Deluxe" had a constant table that our SJG affiliate, Violet, ran almost all weekend.
PT: Have you ever been to a "MTG" tournament before?
HC: I have never been to an official "MTG" tournament before, I have competed is some local booster drafts at my local game store, Game Theory. I don’t have the skill and resources required to play on a higher level besides booster casual.
PT: What kind of decks were people running at the tournament? Was any color or deck-type overly represented? What kind of deck ended up winning?
HC: Actually, there were a good amount of splashed colors being played this year, but the number of White/Green, Blue/White, and Blue/Green decks were high in both tournaments. Our winners were Richard Roach, using a Green/Blue, I believe, and writer John Hartness with a mono Red.
PT: How did the tournaments at MonsterCon go? Did you feel like you had everything handled?
HC: The tournaments went well. With the style of tournaments we run, we have to be patient with inexperienced players for the first two rounds of play, but it goes much quicker as the tournament progresses. There was some difficulty finishing the first tournament in time for the second, but it worked itself out with minutes to spare. I had issues with getting everyone at their chairs and ready to go on time by myself and getting the less experienced players set up for play. However, the more experienced players jumped to my aid and everyone had a great time.
PT: Did any issues come up that you did not expect?
HC: I knew that with only me running the tournament, I could not be in all places at once. The players did a good job of keeping up with everyone and reporting problems and match results. My greatest issue was that our previous card shop sponsor from last year did not attend and I spent a good amount of time scrambling to get enough lands to supply the tournament so we would not run out - which ended up happening anyway, as Blue was a popular color to run and splash. Once again, the players jumped to my help and ripped spare lands out of pre-constructed decks they had on them. Some ran to their vehicles for their land spares as well. Each player that helped in this way was given extra packs to show my appreciation.
PT: How long have you been playing "Magic: The Gathering?" What is your favorite deck to run? What is your favorite "Magic" card?
HC: I learned how to play Magic in high school; a buddy of mine gave me a VHS and the two introductory decks that came with it to learn. I hop in and out of the game as my funds for hobbies come and go. I play Aggro decks the best and find myself playing Red Burn or Goblins and White Weenie the most. As far as favorite card, that’s a hard question to answer as I’ve come to enjoy a lot of cards for their artwork, abilities, and personal enjoyment from Magic throughout the years. However, my favorite would have to be Goblin Grenade as it was a small meme of mine in college among my peers to solve most of my problems by blowing it up.
PT: On to your other responsibilities as gaming director, what types of games were you finding GMs for? What do you look for when you're finding and placing GMs for an organized event?
HC: When I was planning out the game schedule, I put out an all-post bulletin to all people on the MonsterCon Facebook page, as well as word of mouth from our crew. MonsterCon is for the fans by the fans and I wanted to keep with that for my gaming room. As long as the game is something that can be played in a decent period of time and the fan base is there, I will accept it into my gaming room. Most of the time, the GMs are messaging me with the game they want to run so I don’t have issues finding GMs.
PT: If you could give any advice to a new player that wants to GM or play in a convention event, what would you say?
HC: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t it drink.” This saying is the only thing I can say that fits this question the best. People at conventions want to do things in a specific order and gaming is usually the last thing on the list. No matter how much you advertise, display the game, or try to drag people over, they have to be willing/wanting to play.
PT: Did you get the chance to play anything? What did you enjoy?
HC: I didn’t have a lot of free time to play anything, but on Sunday evening, as we were starting to slow down and clean up, I had the chance to play 'Leviathans,' which is an airship miniatures game played on a hex grid and where all calculations are dice rolls. The game caught my attention as it had the feel of naval warfare, but also caught the steampunk interest in me. I played the British and loved their heavy armor and heavy hitting gun array. My downfall was that my opponent was playing the fast-moving French and kept getting behind me so I couldn’t broadside him with my main guns. I would love to pick up that game and learn the full inner workings of it.
If you're interested in attending next year, stay tuned to their website. While MonsterCon sleeps again until next summer, the good people that work there are not! Check out the Superhero Thanksgiving on November 8th in Greenville, SC which is a single-day trade show event with a focus on games, comics, cosplay and tons of art items. We want to thank Hobert Campbell once again for talking to us about his first-year experience as gaming director at MonsterCon and Player Theory looks forward to enjoying the convention next summer!
Official MonsterCon Website MonsterCon Facebook