Pros and Cons: HASCON

We didn’t know what to expect from HASCON, which took place in Providence, RI last weekend. My entire family are veteran congoers, so we were skeptical if HASCON would meet up to my ten-year-old son’s and seven-year-old daughter’s expectations. We were pleasantly surprised.


But first, the bad. This was the inaugural HASCON, held across the street from Hasbro's headquarters, so a lot of “new con” issues cropped up: poor communication about events, running out of food at the con center, parking costing $15 no matter how long you’re at the con, a clumsy events app, mismatched booths (the Nerf booth kept firing foam bullets into the little kids at the Hanazuki booth on the other side), and a general sense that all of HASCON is there to sell stuff – which most cons are guilty of, it’s just that at this con there’s only one company to blame.

That aside, misgivings about the con evaporated as soon as Optimus Prime welcomed us to HASCON in the parking garage. The voice of some bored guy pleading with us to press a button and take a ticket was replaced with special guest Peter Cullen’s voice welcoming us as Optimus. It was glorious and my kids talked about it for days afterward.

Hasbro owns half the toy universe, so there’s booths (Hasbro insists on calling them “brand experiences”) on just about everything you could want. For my daughter there was Baby Alive, Furreal Friends, Hanazuki (a cartoon series that hasn’t even launched yet but that my kids love already), Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony, Sesame Street, and Trolls. For my son there was Nerf, including a full Nerf arena where you can fire foam bullets at all your friends. They both enjoyed Beyblade (enough to realize it wasn’t for them) and the Play-Doh workshops. For my wife there was Marvel (she’s Team Iron Man) and Star Wars. And of course, I was there for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.

I wrote recently about how D&D seems to be on the rise in Hasbro’s estimation, and the proof was in how D&D was treated at HASCON. There were VIP passes for games spanning all three days of the con as well as pickup games and family-friendly games. Magic was definitely bigger, but D&D was represented with its own large brand booth.

Speaking of D&D and Magic, evidence that the two teams now play nicely together (a far cry from the infighting that kept a D&D/Magic crossover from happening) was on display in the panels. The first panel was “D&D Monster Building,” where we built a spidershark that spits toothwebs and I got to ask Mike Mearls when we can expect a Gamma World supplement for D&D (he responded with a well-thought out answer that makes me think this has been discussed by WOTC). The harmony was even on more display at “Building the World’s Best in Fantasy Gaming” which featured M:TG staff (Matt Danner, Cynthia Sheppard, Jeremy Jarvis) and current and former D&D staff (Richard Whitters and James Wyatt). Both groups clearly share best practices and value each other’s’ contributions, which was great to see.

There were plenty of vendors, nearly limitless activities for the kids and adults, and of course opportunities to buy merchandise, including con exclusives: Transformers Optimus Prime Converting Power Bank (for my son), Transformers Generations Titans Return Arcee Special Edition Set (for my daughter) and Dungeons & Dragons My Little Pony Dice Tin for my D&D/MLP campaign.

With $15 parking, $165 for an adult 3-day pass and $75 for kids, HASCON ain’t cheap (Groupon had single day tickets at half-price). I spoke to someone who bought the VIP tickets ($600 for adult “superfans” of certain Hasbro franchises, including D&D and M:TG) and they felt the perks were not worth the price. But judging by my daughter’s tears as we drove away, this con was the best she’s ever attended. If Hasbro can smooth out some of the issues and bring the price down, we’ll definitely be back next year!

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Spookyboots

Explorer
It is both a boon and a bane that it went well, haha. We always play in the adventure league at PAX west and WOTC was absent this year, save Perkins being apart of a panel. It was odd since they have been there every year that I have gone. It was very disappointing though.
I am glad that it went well and Hasbro will continue to support the brands though.
 


Zarithar

Adventurer
It is both a boon and a bane that it went well, haha. We always play in the adventure league at PAX west and WOTC was absent this year, save Perkins being apart of a panel. It was odd since they have been there every year that I have gone. It was very disappointing though.
I am glad that it went well and Hasbro will continue to support the brands though.

Indeed. I was one of those that was deeply disappointed by a lack of D&D (or Pathfinder for that matter) at PAX West this year.
 


Spookyboots

Explorer
Indeed. I was one of those that was deeply disappointed by a lack of D&D (or Pathfinder for that matter) at PAX West this year.
Of all of the years I have gone I thought last year was the best for tabletop gaming. I thought it could only get better. This year reaper, paizo and WOTC were missing.

Did you get any goodies for playing in the D&D games? I heard they were giving out adventures and more.

From what I read on the ticketing page you had to pay to play in the league on top of your ticket price. You were then given items for playing. The whole thing seems weird. I hope you could play for free and just not get items.
 




ccs

41st lv DM
But first, the bad. This was the inaugural HASCON, held across the street from Hasbro's headquarters, so a lot of “new con” issues cropped up: poor communication about events, running out of food at the con center, parking costing $15 no matter how long you’re at the con, a clumsy events app, mismatched booths (the Nerf booth kept firing foam bullets into the little kids at the Hanazuki booth on the other side), and a general sense that all of HASCON is there to sell stuff – which most cons are guilty of, it’s just that at this con there’s only one company to blame.

So my take away from this is that;
1) You're unfamiliar with how paid event parking works.
2) You failed your perception/sense motive check concerning Hasbro's motives. "Nah, a convention hosted by & featuring ONLY the products of the giant toy company (headquartered right across the street!) couldn't possibly be a live-action advertisement aimed at selling us anything...."
In the immortal words of our favorite Admiral:
View attachment 88819
 
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