Seeking advice from experienced PokeParents about Nationals

Discussion in 'Conventions' started by kevstoy, Mar 19, 2008.

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  1. kevstoy

    kevstoy New Member

    Hey PokeParents and anyone else interested in chiming in.

    This is our first full year of TCG tournament play and my daughters (both juniors) and I are considering attending Nationals for the first time. I was curious if other PokeParents and even Nats convention veterans would share their experiences, tips, good/bad things to help us get a glimpse of what to expect. I did look over a number of the pics from last year's convention so that was great.

    The main thing I was concerned about was that it'll just be my kids and I attending so if all of us play (my daughters and myself) what is the environment like in the likely case that they finish games before I do. For our states tourney which seemed huge to us, but I'm sure will pale compared to Nats, it was nice to have family/friends nearby to help out.

    Anyway, thanks for anyone willing to share their experiences and tips. Hope to see you all in June!
  2. Big Daddy Snorlax

    Big Daddy Snorlax Administrator

    The environment in the TCG hall is family friendly, mostly because Pokemon occupies over 70% of the hall. Still, it can be an intimidatiing experience for Junior players, especially if you are playing as well and they finish at a time that finds you buried in a crowd of 400+ Masters players.

    A few things to consider;

    1) Pokemon families are the BEST people in the world. It may well be that you will make friends with someone who can help with kid supervision while you play.

    2) Have a hard and fast rule that the kids are NOT to leave the TCG area unless they are with you or someone you have specifically approved. While the Pokemon area is pretty tame, there are places at Origins that might alarm a kid.

    3) Plan for something to keep the kids occupied between rounds. There is League play going on, but if they get maxed out on Pokemon (not sure if that's even possible) you should have a fall back plan.

    4) Don't bring a huge amount of stuff to the TCG area that will have to be watched by the kids. The whole tournament experience is a wonderful magical time for a kid (even a 54 year old one) so don't design in a bunch of boring chores like watching 2 bags, 5 decks, a video player and 14 board games.

    5) Have a food and beverage plan. Food can be expensive at the Convention Center, but worse than the cost are the lines when 1000 players get a lunch break at the same time. Not drinking enough fluids throughout the day leads to dehydration and that means less fun for all. Remember though, plenty of fluids also requires periodic visits to the restroom, so plan how that will be handled.

    6) Finally, you should have at least considered what you will do if one or both kids say, half way through the tournament, "I've had enough, let's go do something else". I have actually watched distressed parents try to figure that one out on the fly. I guess the thought just never entered their mind that the kids wouldn't stay all day.

    There's so much more, but I'll give some others a chance to chime in. And in case you are wondering, no, I don't have young children. They're grown up now and have moved away from Pokemon as their game of choice, but I've been to Nationals, hanging out in the play area all day long for a few years.

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  3. ShadowCard

    ShadowCard Active Member

    kevstoy, I can show you pictures next time we're at league. I think there's some pictures around Pokegym as well.

    On thigns to do between rounds, the TCG hall lets you borrow board games to play. You have to give them your license during the time of borrowing. Time For Pain had an interesting time trying to hit my ships in Battleship last year.

    On things to do when a Pokemon event isn't in progress, besides having lunch, a lot of us also hang out in the Looney Labs area.
  4. taurik

    taurik New Member

    I went to Nats last year with my daughter, first time for both of us. In addition to Big Daddy Snorlax's comments, here are some of my thoughts:

    1) Be prepared for a long wait before the tourney. Deck registration took about 2.5 hours.

    2) Each age bracket has a different line for deck registration.

    3) It's very helpful if you have your decklists printed out ahead of time.

    4) The rounds don't always start/end at the same times for all age brackets, so your kids might be in the middle of a game when you have your break between rounds.

    5) There is a nice waiting area off to the side where they had the juniors/seniors tables, so your kids could wait there while you're in the middle of a match, or you could wait there in between your rounds.

    6) Definitely figure out food. I brought some small snacks in my backpack for my kids in case they got too hungry before/after lunch. There typically is a lunch break between rounds of like an hour; I brought a cooler and kept it in my car, since we weren't staying at one of the hotels.

    7) If you're going to be at Origins for more than one day, you can play casual games pretty much any time there is no major tournament going on, and win common/uncommon cards.

    8) General convention hint: make sure to get plenty of sleep, and don't forget to eat! (Although I'm sure your kids will remind you about the eating part)
  5. Lawman

    Lawman Active Member

    I will be the HJ @ Nats in the JRs. If you have any Qs on site, ask me or another staff member for help. It is very important that the kids understand where to wait for you, if you are playing. They will not be allowed to come into the MAs area to see you. It is best to find a table where other Poke-familes are gathered, preferably on the JRs side of the room, and set up camp there. Dont bring too much stuff there, bc there can be thefts in the hall. Not everyone there is there for pokemon. It really is best if you know other families that will be there or meet someone new, that if one parent, grandparent etc that isnt playing...have them sit at the designated table and the kids check in there.

    Hope to see ya there! You and the kids will have fun!

  6. M_Liesik

    M_Liesik Master Trainer<br><font color=green><i>Keeper of t

    As a parent myself, my biggest concern is losing track of my kid. Therefore:

    Designate a place to meet. Find some landmark in the hall, and agree that if you get separated, you'll meet there. If you kid waits for you at the meeting place and you don't show up in a timely manner, tell them to go to the main stage and ask them to call for you. We may not make an announcment for one buddy to find another so that they can cruise the hall looking for cute chicks/guys, but we'll always make a call for a kid looking for their parent.

    Have a way to communicate. If you and your kid each have a cell phone, bring it. Reception isn't great in the hall, but its better than nothing. If your kid doesn't have a cell phone, give them something that has your name and cell number on it so that if they get lost, they have your number handy, or if they need help from the staff, they can easily contact you.

    Origins is a big place, and a lot is going on. Having this kind of communication is the easiest way to relieve some of the stress of the situation.
  7. meganium45

    meganium45 Active Member

    The best thing to do, if you do intend to play, is hook up with other Pokemon people so that your kids have a "home base" to go back to.

    Make sure you all get a good night sleep before the big event on Saturday. Nothing worse than a long day and no sleep. You will feel pressured to stay up and do things, and keep playing, but keep the curfew early for the little ones. It will pay dividends later.

    Bring a backpack full of snacks and juice boxes or the like. Stuff they like. Yogos are our favorite. Not candy, but things like Rice Crispy Treats, Granola Bars, even a couple of fruit snacks (maybe). Otherwise their diet become fried food and soda...not good for a full day of play.

    There are some great fruit smoothies in the hall, and HUGE ice cream cones in the food court area. If you have a chance to sneak over to the international market (1 block or so from the convention center) DO. The food choices are great for kids and big people too!

    Bring a DIFFERENT game to play between rounds or at lunch. Pokemon Yahtzee is a favorite. I also have a group that plays APPLES TO APPLES before the event. Great non-pokemon games ease the stress, and get kids to meet each other.

    Stress the fun. Going 0-4 or 4-0, the kids should still have a fun event. When losing, stress the friends they get to play against, the cool stuff they have seen, the other stuff that Origins has to offer. Heck, even going out to Dinner or getting a picture with Dav Schwimmer of PUI can be the highlight of a trip!!

    If they make the elimination rounds of day 2....make SURE you get a decent dinner, get the kids playing down in bed early, and have breakfast waiting for them when they get up. They will most likely be nervous and may only get a bite or 2, but it is something.

    Have an "explosion plan". If a kid gets sick, or goes flying off the handle, know what you are going to do.

    Introduce yourself. Make some friends. Poke people really are the BEST!

  8. pokeirv

    pokeirv Member

    I pretty much echo what everyone else has said but here's my 2 cents:
    We (my son and myself) went for the first time last year and a key was to not bring too much to carry or keep track of. We started off with binders and such and after the second round, we ran to the car to stow everything but our decks, dice, snacks,and his nintendo ds.
    Pick a place for your child to wait for you and is easy to see them if you're still playing. Definitely stress that they go there and stay there. If you can't trust them to do that, then you probably can't play.
    Remember that the hall is not just Pokemon people.
    And if you can swing it, stay in a hotel attached to the convention center. That way you can get to the event early to register and avoid the lines and you can stay late without worrying about driving.
  9. The Gorn

    The Gorn Active Member

    I've got some pictures of a bunch of nerds playing Dungeons and Dragons. Want to show him some of those?


    A few suggestions....

    My daughter and I attended 2003 Gencon, 2004 Origins, and 2005 Origins and we did nothing but Pokemon. It was great, but we decided that there were so many other things going that we had to try them.

    So in 2006 and 2007 we decided to limit our Pokemon to only Saturday (and assumed that we would not make it into the 2nd day cut). We've discovered and played so many different games its ridiculous. Pokemon will always be the reason we attend Origins, but I cannot imagine limited myself to JUST Pokemon.

    Origins will make a spreadsheet of all their events available in early May. There were 4400 events taking place last year. You really owe it to yourself to explore all your options.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  10. ShadowCard

    ShadowCard Active Member

    :eek: Oh no you didn't! err... I mean, he doesn't need to see those :rolleyes:
  11. Spirit Of Mew

    Spirit Of Mew New Member

    Okay I'm not a parent (I'm only fourteen) but I have been to nats twice so far.

    I'm part of a pretty big pokefamilly it's my mom, my uncle, my brother, my friend, and me of course. I also normally meet with other people.

    Like others have said make freinds with people and meet after every round. Make bathroom trips TOGETHER the convention center can be a dizzing area if you're not paying attention.

    Try to pack food. While the food court is more convenient it is also more crowded and more expensive. It is so much easier to bring a packed lunch and eat in a quieter area.

    Go to the events desk at the begining of the day before you do anything else and get your spot reserved in nats.

    Walki-talkies/cell phones are a great way to ind eachother. The cell phone service is pretty bad there so I would go for the walki-talkies.

    Most important of course is to have fun.

    I'm glad to answer anymore questions if I can so feel free to pm me.
  12. Heatherdu

    Heatherdu New Member

    I agree with what everyone has said. While Nats is fun it can be a bit scary for a parent - different lines for deck checks, tables on the opposite ends of the hall, etc. But there are TONS of great people and the hall is set up well. There are bathrooms down at the end where Pokemon is located and there is not too much else in that hall to distract children or bring in non-Pokemon players. Definitely set the rules and try to connect with some other parents before the big day. And while Nats is awesome my kids love the league play and side tournaments that happen on the other days too. They are much friendlier and they won so much stuff!
  13. Professor Dav

    Professor Dav Master Trainer

    You expose yourself as a liar here Vince, you know as well as anyone that a picture with Dave Schwimmer of PUI can be harmful to your children's health. ;)

  14. meganium45

    meganium45 Active Member

    Dave, it is spelled "LAWYER" .... not "LIAR"

    I know, when you say it fast it sounds the same...

    Just be careful when using flash photography around Dav...


    (Is there ANY doubt at this point why I am playing and not judging...:tongue:)

  15. Team Cook Mom

    Team Cook Mom New Member

    LOL. A bit of an understatement, there, huh BDS? :smile:
  16. ProfDW

    ProfDW New Member

    I'm not precisely a PokeParent yet (my daughter Emily is not yet two), but we
    did have her with us at last year's Origins. I'm the PokePlayer; my wife KT is
    less than enthusiastic about the game. Last year's Origins was my third one
    and my wife's first; but we've been to multiple anime conventions before this,
    so we're veterans to the con scene.

    That said:

    1) Don't bring anything unnecessary that needs to be monitored. Theft is always
    a concern at any mass gathering of people, and not everyone in the TCG Hall is
    there for Pokemon.

    2) Definitely have a way to contact one another, with a place to meet up as a
    failsafe plan. Cell reception can vary by location in the convention center,
    so be aware of that--we had to use our agreed meeting place twice last year
    because we couldn't get through on the phones.

    3) Bring your own food and drink. Break times aren't always convenient between
    age groups, and the cost of food at the center's kiosks are just south of exorbitant.

    4) Check out the rental games if the kids get bored, as previously suggested.
    The Mayfair booth in the dealer's hall is also a fairly kid-friendly place to try out
    new games (I suggest "Hey, That's My Fish"...who doesn't like penguins?), and
    the staff there is very pleasant and helpful. If you couldn't tell, I'll be there
    quite a bit myself over the course of the weekend...

    5) There is an absolute TON of other things to do besides Pokemon--make the
    time to do as many as you can. It's a very dizzying, but very fun and varied
    rest of the convention (yes, there's more to life than Pokemon!)

    Any other questions, feel free to PM me, and I'll see if I can help.
  17. Prof Clay

    Prof Clay New Member

    In a room as large as the one we will be in and the huge number of players you might try something I did with my daughter at World's 2004. I think this is an old amusement park trick too so you don't lose your kids as easily.

    Have your kids wear something that makes them stand out to you... bright T-shirts or something.

    My daughter wore a purple bandana with a white pokeball symbol that I could look out across a sea of players and spot from a mile away. She still wears one for good luck. It definitely helps you find your kids quickly.

    The pokemon families are the best. If you leave the event without making friends with any of them, you were probably at the wrong event.

    Good luck and see you in Columbus :thumb:

  18. Heatherdu

    Heatherdu New Member

    Yes, good point! I usually dress myself and the kiddos in bright obnoxious tie-dyes. And at Nationals almost everyone will be wearing the t-shirt that we get as a promo so something different definitely stands out. Hats work well too.
  19. Big Daddy Snorlax

    Big Daddy Snorlax Administrator

    Hey, I have one of those too. I wore it at Nationals in 2005 I think. I guess you probably won't mistake me for your daughter though.

    BDS :biggrin:
  20. Mystery Thing

    Mystery Thing Administrator

    I remember that :thumb:

    If you can find time to go as a family, don't be afraid to take the long hike to the food court, rather than the one that's inside the TCG hall. As convention food goes, the one inside the hall isn't bad, but the prices are painfully horrendous. The food court has a pizza place, a Subway, and one that resembles a take out diner that has AWESOME breakfasts, along with four or five other places.

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