Nerd Culture

Here's Your Guide to This Weekend's Crit Hit Gaming Convention in Phoenix

The con's official dice.
The con's official dice. Courtesy of Crit Hit
Dust off your d20's, fold up your GM screens, and grab a couple of liters of Mountain Dew. Crit Hit is back.

A local conference devoted to tabletop gaming, Crit Hit shines a spotlight on role-playing games (RPGs) and board games. While many cons offer people-watching and cosplay voyeurism as their chief selling points, Crit Hit emphasizes play. It's not a con built for wandering around and ogling booths all day. It's an event designed for players to come and become part of the action.

Considering the record-breaking heat spells happening outside, there's no better time to hunker down somewhere cool and spend the day rolling dice with friends and strangers alike. Here's what you need to know about attending Crit Hit this year.

When: Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16. Games on Saturday run from 10 a.m. to midnight. Games on Sunday run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: The Hilton Phoenix Airport Hotel, 2435 South 47th Street

What You Should Bring: First and foremost, dress comfortably. You're going to be sitting for hours at a time, playing board games and dungeon-crawling. Bring bottled water to stay hydrated throughout the day. RPGers, don't forget to bring the tools for your trade, including character sheets, pencils, pencil sharpeners, and dice. Pro tip: Get colored dice that are uniform in appearance. It'll make it easier to keep track of whose die is whose as you hop from table to table. Some boxed die will be available for purchase at the con, in case you want a con memento or forget your dice bag on the way over.

How Much Does It Cost? This is where things get pretty interesting. Crit Hit is a Pay What You Want con. The way the con itself works is with a coin system. There are three tiers available: copper (a penny to $35), silver ($42 and up), gold (available to GMs and Kickstarter donors). Silver and gold coins are good for the whole weekend, while copper coins are good for only one game.

Wait — What? How Does This Work Exactly? In lieu of sign-up sheets, the con runs games using a rounds system. Every few hours, a new round of games starts up. This is called "The Call to Adventure". When a call comes up (about 15 minutes before the next round of games begin), the type of coin you have determines your ability to sign up for a new game (since space for each game is limited). Gold coin holders can basically bypass the line and get first dibs on any game. Silver coin holders are in the runner-up boat. They get second pick for games. Copper coins grant holders third-place dibs for any game.

The advantage of this system is that if you're a more casual gamer, you don't have to drop $40 or more for all-day access. You can spend a couple of bucks, grab a few copper coins, and get to play a few games for the cost of a Polar Pop and a candy bar. Not bad for a few hours of entertainment.

Are There Vendors? It wouldn't be a con without vendors. Crit Hit will have vendors onsite selling their wares. If you're looking to buy some new guidebooks, miniatures, board games, or other ephemera to spice up your game nights, bring a few extra bucks and browse the Crit Hit marketplace. There's also going to be an open table available for folks to sell their own stuff at. So if you've got some old Rifts sourcebooks you're looking to pawn off on someone else, this is your lucky day.

What Kind of Games Are Available For Live Play? In terms of RPGs, the con will be running a mix of classic games and new systems. Games of D&D, Star Wars, Firefly, Fiasco, World Of Darkness, Beneath The Inverted Church, and Deadlands are among a few of the games on the schedule. More could be added soon, so check back to see if perennial fan favorites like Shadowrun and Call of Cthulhu get added to the mix.

As for board games, a schedule for what board games will be available for live play hasn't been posted on the Crit Hit site as of this writing. But it's safe to assume that old staples like Settlers of Catan, Diplomacy, and Risk will be on hand. And there's a good chance that popular card games like Munchkin, Illumanti, and Cards Against Humanity will also be happening at the con. We're pretty sure that if a game of Munchkin didn't happen at a con, it would violate a core nerd commandment.

Con Guests: This year's panel of guests include a who's-who of influential game designers, including:

- Shane Hensley,  CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, author of Deadlands
- Ross Watson, game designer for Warhammer 40,000 and Savage Worlds
- Sean Patrick Fannon, game designer for the original Star Wars RPG; creator of Shaintar; and author of The Fantasy Roleplaying Gamer's Bible.
- John Wick, but don't get too excited. It's not Keanu with two guns. It's the game designer for 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings.

After-Party: Looking to blow off some steam after a long day of die rolling and rules lawyering? The con is hosting a comedy show at 11:45 p.m. on Saturday. Billed the Roll & LOL Stand Up Comedy Show, it'll feature local comics Mason Pipes, Matt Storrs, Hattie Hayes, Brian Kearley, Dick Strangler, Moe Urban, Joe Gangemi, and Steve Marek.

Crit Hit is happening on July 15 and 16 at the Hilton Phoenix Airport Hotel. Gold, silver, and copper coins are still available for purchase.

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Ashley Naftule