It’s super duper early Saturday morning in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, and a neon-pink sign in the church parking lot that says “Sellers” points people toward a building on the back of the campus. Outside the auditorium, another sign greets you: “Welcome gamers!” Today is Arizona Con.
Arizona Con is a twice-a-year event hosted by the Arizona Games board game community, which is based in the Phoenix area. The con is a giant board-game garage sale where people can buy and sell games, plus there’s open gaming afterwards. Sellers reserve table spots, and buyers come out hoping to find a good deal on new and used board games.
About 200 people RSVP’d for the event, and gamers from all over Arizona — some as far as Tucson — came out for it. The event was set to start at 9 a.m., but by 8:30, there was already a lot of foot traffic wandering the auditorium, looking at the games on display.
Attendees were greeted by Susan Lawver, one of the main organizers of the group. Name tags and buttons were also displayed at the informal check-in table. Arizona Con was Susan’s idea.
“I grew up in the Midwest, where we would play games in the winter when we didn’t have anything to do. So, I’ve always had a passion for gaming,” Susan said. “And it wasn’t until I found a game group in Arizona, and wanted to bring families and friends together until one roof where they can sell and buy games, and stay after and play games. The Arizona community of gamers is super friendly, and I’m super excited about this event.”
The Arizona Games group is Meetup Group that has various board-gaming events throughout the Valley. The group has over 3,700 members. Attendance in the group really took off when Susan took ownership of the group three years ago. It was actually one of the the Arizona Games members who volunteered his church, The Groove in Chandler, to host the event.
“We’ve been here two years now, and we’ve had to upgrade our space every year because more and more people come out. He volunteered. We have, how many square feet this is, at least 5,000 square feet, and it’ll be filled to the rafters with gently used games. And there’s games for everyone in this room. There’s kids games, war games, board games, euro games, hidden-role games. There’ll be at least, I’d say, 3,000 games in this room when we’re all done,” Susan said.
Rob from Buckeye is one of the sellers today. He hosts a podcast about board games on youtube called Huff-N-Stuff Podcast and lives way out far West Valley in Buckeye.
“I’ve got kids so I try to buy family games or something that’s a solo type of game because I have girls that have special needs, My wife and I were trying to get them more social interactions, like taking turns, what it is to lose,” Rob said.
Gamer Sean Russell of the Arizona Gamers group talked about one of the rare games he was selling called Magic Realm from 1979 and how he had managed to acquire a complete version of it.
“Oh, I have a gem of a game that’s almost impossible to find: Magic Realm. It’s an old, old Avalon Hill game, old school. It’s like before Dungeons and Dragons time. It’s a fantasy game, and it’s modular, so you go on quests. And it has a rulebook that like 120 pages long,” Sean said.
By now, the auditorium was in full swing. Rows and rows of tables filled half the auditorium (the other half is reserved for gaming), and piles of boxes were neatly stacked on those tables, all tagged with a Post-It note or sticker indicating how much they were selling for.
There’s wheeling and dealing — some tables offered discounts depending on how many games you purchased. And people were walking back and forth to their car to unload their new acquisitions.
Some non-board gamers have asked, why would somebody want to sell their games? There are a whole host of reasons. Sometimes people’s gaming tastes change, sometimes you love a game but can never get it on table, and other times, you simply run out of room. This gaming event is a good opportunity to clear out some bookcase space, make some extra money (to buy more games, of course) and ensure that your game goes to a good home.
As for me, I did a little shopping as well. I purchased a brand-new Scandinavian copy of Lost Cities for $8 and found a brand-new game that’s been on my wishlist for the past three years: Merkator, designed by my favorite board-game designer Uwe Rosenberg. Lastly, it was great seeing and catching up with folks from my multiple board-game groups all in one place.
Oh, and save the date, the next Arizona Con will be on Dec. 2. Come check it out! For more information about Arizona Gamers, visit them on Meetup,com.