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GnomeCon games it old school

Tabletop fun, cosplay and more March 3-5

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YOU CAN keep your Pokedex and Twitch livestreams; Alex Moreschi wants to play with actual cards and hand-maneuvered game pieces.

The ordained minister and game aficionado prefers analog over digital when it comes to the rules of engagement, exploring the world of fun and fantasy with groups of like-minded warriors.

“When people think tabletop gaming, they think Monopoly or something, but these days it allows for so much more creativity and collaboration,” says Moreschi of bestselling games like King of Tokyo, which uses dice to save the world from destructive monsters.

He heralds tabletop gaming’s old school interaction as an intergenerational bridge and plans to win over cronies of all ages as the official game librarian of this year’s GnomeCon, taking place March 3-5.

The annual gathering of all things geek returns this weekend with its signature mammoth game library, supplemented by private collections and Morningstar Games on Montgomery Cross Road. Folks can choose from a literal wall of options and play into the night, no charger required.

“Board games are the central core that GnomeCon was founded on because everyone can play,” explains Sheala Bacon, GnomeCon’s second-in-command. “There are games for people of all skills and ages and interests. And we have hundreds of them.”

As the game librarian, Moreschi’s role is to curate the best playing experience, catering to each individual or group’s particular tastes and skill levels—a board game sommelier, if you will.

“Settlers of Catan is always a classic, so if someone’s new to gaming, I often suggest beginning with that,” muses the self-proclaimed “nerd of nerds.”

“I also recommend Red Dragon Inn—it’s easily accessible and has a fun thematic feel. Ticket to Ride is great, too. I play with my family; they don’t like board games but they love geography and maps.”

In addition to his librarian duties, Moreschi will also oversee the convention’s Magic: The Gathering tournament, another GnomeCon staple. Other role-playing games (RPGs) like Dungeons & Dragons will claim their usual territories for loyal followers.

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Of course, GnomeCon is more than just fun and games at the table: The giggle-inducers of the Odd Lot Improv troupe are bringing back the laughs to the stage, and past attendees can redeem themselves from last year’s brain fog with the Professor Fear’s Trivia Game Show. Knowledge of all manner of nerdery will be tested at the Zombiewalk Family Feud and Monster Movie Trivia Drag Race.

Even the most seasoned players should be prepared to leave their comfort zones when paranormal lovers Jim O’Rear and Scott Tepperman screen their new film, Nightblade. Stuntman and special effects make-up artist O’Rear—who has appeared in Star Trek 4 and Stephen King’s The Bogeyman—will share the stage with Tepperman, the star of the Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters International for a Q&A before the show.

Also shaking up the gnome house this year like a poltergeist on too much coffee is a new chamber—one which players are challenged to find their way out of, if they dare.

“Escape rooms are the new hotness,” says Bacon of the latest addition to the schedule. “You take some friends, get yourself locked into a room that’s been set like an interactive stage and then spend the hour trying to puzzle together the clues and find the keys you need to get out of the room.”

Don’t worry; the gnomes promise to let you out whether you solve the puzzle or not, though the befuddled may want to hide their shame with a costume. GnomeCon welcomes family-appropriate cosplay and accoutrements, and prizes and keys to the kingdom are doled out for the most creative and best constructed attire.

Light saber training, storytelling and art projects will keep the wee ones busy at this G-rated affair, and there are plenty of vendors and artists offering up steampunk collectibles, comics and more to fill the shelves at home.

Bacon reminds that proceeds from the weekend go to local literacy organizations including Live Oak Public Libraries, since “all geeks start with a good book.” That’s another testament to the hands-on character of GnomeCon, now in its sixth year of gathering geeks in Savannah.

“This is where you can get immersed in nerd culture and be comfortable,” says game librarian Moreschi with a laugh. “Come roll some dice and check it out.”

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