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Report from LorGenCona 2023: Lines, Auctions, Theft, and Balloons

by W. Eric Martin

Gen Con 2023 has transformed into two shows of roughly equal size: Disney Lorcana and everything else.

Attendees hoping to get Disney Lorcana — a collectible card game from designers Ryan Miller and Steve Warner and publisher Ravensburger that’s debuting at Gen Con 2023 while at the heart of a lawsuit filed by Upper Deck Entertainment — organized their own waiting lines ahead of the opening of Gen Con 2023, then security told people to fill whatever space they could, then the doors opened and people rushed toward the Ravensburger booth, only to file out empty-handed moments later.

As Shannen Michaelsen explains in her article “Organizational Failures Lead to Dangerous Mob at Opening of Gen Con 2023 and Disney Lorcana Release” on WDW News Today:

It turns out that while attendees had been crowding to go through the main doors where they were initially directed, Ravensburger had set up a separate line elsewhere. So the guests who had been waiting all night were suddenly forced to go to the end of another line.

Several attendees told us they had been among the first 200 people waiting, but the disorganization caused them to end up at the back of a much larger crowd. They did not make the cut off for purchasing Lorcana today.

On Facebook, Chris Leder from Calliope Games, whose booth was two aisles away from Ravensburger and almost directly in front of the entrance that attendees initially entered, wrote:

There was a total lack of process for this TOTALLY EXPECTED demand. The doors flew open, and it was like all those old Black Friday horror stories, with people shoving, trampled, pushing, screaming…and then the line just sat there for 25 minutes.

I saw a mom crying because she and her baby were being crushed. I saw an old man in a scooter wheelchair angrily trying to get through while the crowd nearly pushed him over. It was really disappointing to see, and it put a damper on the fun and flow of our booth.

I hope they get serious and enact a better plan for the rest of the show.

Ravensburger had refused to sell Lorcana to exhibitors during the one-hour period prior to the opening of Gen Con 2023, but once the doors opened, several people with exhibitor badges rushed to the Ravensburger booth and were the first to buy product, compounding the disappointment of many attendees who had waited outside the exhibit hall.

In case interest in Lorcana hadn’t already been high enough ahead of its Gen Con 2023 debut, just before the show opened Ravensburger announced that the game would include cards of “a previously unannounced sixth rarity”, with “enchanted cards [being] an extremely rare type of card featuring exciting alternate artwork of some of the cards found in The First Chapter”, that being the title for the first wave of released cards. Anyone opening an enchanted card was encouraged to share it on Twitter so that Ravensburger could verify the card and invite its holder to a special Sunday afternoon event during Gen Con 2023.

Within hours of the show opening, Lorcana items were being listed on eBay for, let’s call them, eye-boggling amounts of money:

Image: Chad Roberts

By the time day 1 had ended, Gen Con announced that it would set up stanchioned lines to allow people to start lining up at 6:00 p.m. — that is, the moment the exhibit hall closed — in order to enter through Hall F at 10:00 a.m. on day 2.

Here’s the line in place around that time, stretching all the way from the doors of Hall F to the exterior doors on S. Capitol Avenue…

And down the avenue for a line that stretched in total, by my estimate, about a quarter of a mile (~1,200 ft.).

Amazingly — or perhaps ironically — when I passed the Ravensburger booth in the late afternoon, the line had cleared out by that time and the publisher still had Lorcana items on its shelves for sale, so while the massive line was necessary due to the huge number of people who wanted the game and were willing to queue for it, the line was also unnecessary because folks could have spread out their purchases throughout the day…but who knew that at the time?

I’ll mention as an aside that Disney Lorcana is scheduled to debut at hobby stores on August 18, with a mass-market release on September 1, so (in theory) people could have just waited for the game to be available locally, but (in practice) those locations will also likely be swarmed by eager buyers — and those locations might not have buying limits in place similar to what Ravensburger did to try to make the game available to as many people as possible.

•••

In other excitement, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was called to the Indianapolis Convention Center where Gen Con is located to investigate the theft of more than $300,000 worth of “gaming cards”. From an article by Joe Schroeder from the local Fox affiliate station:

“The alleged theft took place [Wednesday] before the opening of events in the downtown area and while vendors were setting up their displays at various times,” the IMPD release read.

Now, with Gen Con events in full swing and lasting throughout the weekend, IMPD detectives are asking the public for help in identifying two people “possibly involved” in the theft…

Images from IMPD

Anyone with information regarding the theft, the people pictured above or the stolen cards is being asked to contact IMPD by calling 911. You can also contact CrimeStoppers of Central Indiana at (317) 262-TIPS to remain anonymous.

Speculation online is that based on the labeling of the boxes, they contain Magic: The Gathering Commander Decks.

•••

To end on a positive note, the balloon sculpture this year is phenomenal! This moon lander sculpture by Banzi Balloons seems way more detailed and varied in terms of balloon sizes and techniques than sculptures done in years past.

On Sunday, day 4 of Gen Con 2023, people can bid for the right to be the first to destroy part of the sculpture, with the proceeds going to charity, then children are allowed to swarm the sculpture and wreck the whole thing.

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