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RailCon's New Format

Spring 1997/Vol 4, no 1

As many of you will be aware of by now, Mayfair Games fell on hard times in the last of the quarter of 1996 and, for a variety of reasons, closed its doors under the Bromley banner in February of 1997. This event caused consternation among train gamers everywhere. No other mass-market game manufacturer was seen to be able to take Mayfair's place as a producer of train games and a supporter of train gaming in North America. Happily enough, Mayfair is reopening its doors under somewhat different management (see Feature Article this issue).

The TGA had been aware zof these developments for some time and had been making contingency plans to deal with the loss of revenue and general convention support if Mayfair Games went out of business. One of the issues that fell under heavy discussion was what to do about RailCon?

As you know, RailCon was originally conceived to be a convention which moved about the country to allow access to it by as many interested train gamers as possible. The first RailCon took place in Denver, the second in Lancaster, PA. The third was bid out and the Worcester, MA package won. We were very excited about this location and it breaks our hearts now to have to say that RailCon `97 will not take place in Massachusetts. This development is not because of any problems with the site or our liaison there but comes out of financial necessity.

RailCon is an expensive proposition. In the last two conventions we have either lost a few hundred dollars or broken even. It has always been a concern of ours that RailCon not cause financial harm to the TGA if it should fail. Such an event could break the TGA which does not have large coffers. During RailCon's inception, the people at Mayfair guaranteed to the TGA that they would underwrite any losses that were incurred by the convention--not because they wanted RailCon to be a mouthpiece for their products but because they wanted to support train gaming and this enterprise seemed the best way to do so. With Mayfair no longer able to make this guarantee to the TGA, we have had to rethink how we will stage RailCon.

A number of factors went into the reshaping of RailCon `97. We wanted the convention fees to stay at the same level for our attendees (in fact, the convention fees will be less than last year), while maintaining a high level of professionalism. We wanted to keep the site up to the standards we had set in our previous conventions and yet, we needed to reduce expenses and reduce risk of loss to the TGA. We decided the best way to do this would be to find another convention which would act as an umbrella convention and could take up much of the cost of operating overhead. In this way, RailCon `97 would receive the benefits of the host convention such as lower rental costs, lower sleeping room rates, better pr and better advertising without taking much of the risk.

We looked at several conventions including GenCon, an LA convention and TactiCon in Denver. GenCon was ruled out because, at the time, we didn't know if GenCon would exist and because we didn't think it would be easy to work with convention management. We decided against the LA convention because it was on the West coast. This narrowed down our choices to TactiCon which meant bringing RailCon back to Denver. This decision made a lot of financial sense to us. One, it had the advantage of being local for the convention organizers which cut down on shipping and transportation costs. We also knew that we could work with the TactiCon organizers who are eager to have RailCon become part of their convention. There are other advantages for RailCon attendees, including:

? Convenient, frequent and fairly inexpensive airfares into Denver
? Inexpensive room rates
? Access to an extensive Exhibitor Area
? Access to a games auction which will include a train games section
? Fairly inexpensive catering prices to keep the cost of the Annual Banquet down

As an added advantage, you will be registered with TactiCon as well and may participate in the larger convention in addition to RailCon if you wish.

How will this work for you? You can register for RailCon `97 in one of two ways. You may preregister with the TGA and we will make all arrangements with the convention concerning badge and event fees. If you wait until the weekend of TactiCon to register, you will have to register for TactiCon and RailCon separately. That will include a $25 registration fee for the convention and a $15 event fee for RailCon. As a way of ensuring that the high level of competition that RailCon attendees have been used to experiencing at our con, we have worked out with TactiCon organizers that no individual tournament fees will be charged, only the $15 event fee for RailCon. This decision ensures that we will not attract gamers only interested in participating in one train game the entire weekend and guarantee, we hope, a high level of play.

After you have registered for the convention, you will proceed to the RailCon `97 area and we will handle all tournament registration and organization from there on in. Nothing could be simpler. Of course, the easiest process, is to simply preregister now and let us do all the interface with TactiCon for you.

So, for now, RailCon will become attached to TactiCon. This decision will make RailCon a more stable convention whose added benefits will create a better gaming environment while enhancing all the aspects of RailCon that makes it the premier train gaming experience of the year.


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