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MAGFest 2016 was held February 18th to 21st at the National Harbor in Oxen Hill, MD
This was my first time at MAGFest for the whole weekend. It's different from the anime conventions that I typically cover. There's quite a bit of cosplay here but not on the scale that you'll see at Katsucon at the same place. This year MAGFest was a week after Katsucon so for many attendees it was part of a whole week of fandom. I myself was unable to get an atrium view room (highly recommended) like at Katsucon the week prior.
What people were saying about MAGFest being a different convention at night is true. As a dedicated gaming convention the game room is far bigger than you'll find an anime conventions and is open all weekend around the clock. There's enough variety of games to keep you occupied all weekend and indeed that's what I did while not shooting pictures. Going in the very early hours of the morning is when the room is most open. Great if you're looking to try games on your own but less so if you're looking for players for the many card and board games. Though I didn't go to many panels, I did see a few lines for bigger ones. So even if you don't want 72 hours straight of games, there's plenty of panels and music events, too.
The only downside of the whole weekend was bad service at the hotel bar. I've usually gotten very good service in years of going to the Gaylord so this stood out. The lobby bar, while a bit overpriced, is very convenient and I've gotten good service there in the past. Yet this year, after sitting down to order drinks (and I made it clear "lots of drinks") while chatting with a friend over chess, I was told we couldn't play there. Oddly, the staff didn't mind us sitting there for an hour without ordering anything. But a chessboard (at a gaming convention) was too much. Oh well. If that's the worst I deal with at a convention I leave happy.
For better or worse I don't feel I have all that much to write about MAGFest. It's in the same location as Katsucon, and has been for a while. The crowd and atmosphere are definitely different but refreshing from the typical anime convention crowd. They're more mature, but only by a bit. It is definitely a party convention. You can go during the day for games, or at night for parties, or do the whole weekend for both. I'm glad I did that last option.
MAGFest 2017 will take place Jan 5th through 8th at the National Harbor in Oxen Hill, MD