Another major tabletop gaming convention cancels its 2021 in-person event

Organizers behind another major tabletop gaming convention announced the cancellation of their 2021 event on Monday. The Nova Open, a staple in the miniatures wargaming circuit, won’t be happening this year. It was set to take place Sept. 1-5 in Arlington, VA. Organizers cited the continued uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After months of careful planning, consideration of available data, and communication with our partners and attendees,” the organization said in a newsletter, “including the hundreds of individuals that contributed to our surveys over the last few months, the Executive Board has made the difficult decision to cancel NOVA Open 2021.”

Organizers noted that its partners — which were to include Games Workshop (Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, Warhammer 40,000), Corvus Belli (Infinity), and Fantasy Flight Games (Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game, Star Wars: Legion) — were unable to commit resources given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Furthermore, its venue had no clarity on “what large event restrictions will or will not be in place.”

The cancellation has also put the event’s financial stability in question.

“The Executive Board is faced with a significant challenge as we readjust our resources and imaginations to remain solvent until a March 1, 2022 registration launch,” organizers said in the email. Multiple ideas are on the table, including merchandise sales, to help keep the event going.

The decision to cancel the largest wargaming convention on the United States’ east coast calls into question the viability of the tabletop industry’s other remaining marquee events, some of which still have tentative dates on the calendar.

The food cart pavilion outside the convention center at Gen Con 2019.
Image: Gen Con

Gen Con is the longest-running and the largest tabletop gaming convention in the U.S. with a peak attendance of more than 70,000. Christened in Wisconsin in 1968 as the Lake Geneva Wargames Convention, the event was originally hosted by Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. It’s now privately owned and held each year in Indianapolis, IN. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced it online.

Gen Con announced tentative dates for its 2021 convention in December, pegging the event for Aug. 5-8. It noted, however, that a “variety of factors need to come together for a physical convention to be feasible.” So far, it has declined to sell badges or register guests for hotel rooms. Reached for comment on Tuesday, Gen Con said it would have a statement soon as to the future of this year’s event.

Two additional high-profile tabletop events with tentative dates on the calendar are PAX Unplugged, currently set for Dec. 10-12 in Philadelphia, and BGGCon, currently slated for Nov. 17-21 in Dallas. Neither event has put tickets up for sale. Polygon has reached out to both organizations for an update.

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