I grew up in Phoenix and still have deep roots there, and I have no problem at all shilling for good conventions regardless of where they’re at.
Conflagration: June 22-24, Tempe Mission Palms Hotel. They advertise 24 hour gaming, and their little flyer says: role-playing, card games, miniatures, board games, LARP, dealer’s room, used game auction, tournaments, prizes, hospitality suite. Sounds good to me! Sadly I think I’ll be in Milwaukee at that time, maybe I can make it next year if there will be another.
Phoenix ComicCon: May 24-27 (Memorial Day weekend), Phoenix Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency. Man, I cannot count how many sci fi cons I attended at the Hyatt in the 80’s and 90’s! Good times. Phoenix ComicCon has been around for 12(?) years! They started small, three or four years ago they moved to the Phoenix Convention Center and I understand they’ve been doing great. This year they’re having most of the crew of Star Trek: Next Generation, they’re also having William Shatner! Should be great. Sadly, once again, I’ll be on the road. I think I’ll be in Denver or en route somewhere else about this time.
Flying Buffalo Con: July 20-22, Scottsdale. Flying Buffalo is one of the oldest game companies in existence. Period. Rick formed it as a play-by-mail (PBM) game company over 40 years ago while he was in the army. He ran games out of shoeboxes. PBM games are simple in concept but can be amazingly detailed and nuanced. Take, for example, Star Web (SW). In SW, you’re building a stellar empire, and so are the other dozen or so in your game. You play different types (berserkers, empire builders, merchants, etc.) which have special abilities to help you carve out your empire and do battle. You get a printout every turn showing the status of every fleet and world that you control, every where you can see or probed, and the results of battle and merchant actions. You write up an order sheet, send it in, and on the due date everyone’s orders are processed at the same time. New printouts are generated and sent out, and the process repeats. And this is just one game that they offer.
The annual Buffalo Con is a hyper-accelerated game event. Games are processed as soon as everyone gets their orders in, so you can have multiple turns an hour. You’re also battling face-to-face, so diplomacy and conspiracy are definitely in play. It’s pretty cool.
Flying Buffalo is also the publisher of the fantasy role-playing game, Tunnels & Trolls. It’s been in print for pretty much as long as Dungeons & Dragons, and its nigh uncountable editions, have been around. Also published by Buffalo is the Nuclear War card game series, the Lost Worlds combat book series, the creator of the Death Dice line, and the publisher of Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes (MSPE), one of the first espionage/spy RPGs, published around 1983.
And this is where I come in. I’ll be running MSPE Saturday night at the convention. I was there two years ago and ran a mission that was a lot of fun for all involved, hopefully this year will also be a blast. I’m not running straight MSPE, I have some additional rules that increase survivability. (MSPE is an incredibly lethal game).