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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette From left, Ben Menard, Jason Flowers and Jared Anderson, all of Columbus, Ohio, play Robinson Crusoe during Sunday's Winter Fantasy at Grand Wayne Center.

  • Bryan Lademann of Chicago meticulously paints custom game pieces Sunday for the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Lorelyn Gores, 2, from Fishkill, New York, plays a game of Connect Four during Winter Fantasy at the Grand Wayne Center on Sunday.  

Monday, February 12, 2018 1:00 am

Fantastic event at Grand Wayne

Gaming family reunites

450-500 players from around US renew friendship

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

David Christ calls Akron, Ohio, home, but for a few days each year an event in Fort Wayne evokes a homecoming of sorts.

Winter Fantasy – a five-day show where the game Dungeons & Dragons reigns – offers attendees a chance to meet up with distant friends, such as old high school or college buddies, over food, drinks and games, he said.

“They're coming home to their gaming family,” said Christ, whose company, Baldman Games, owns Winter Fantasy.

The annual event wrapped up its 10th consecutive year Sunday at Grand Wayne Center, a venue Christ returns to for multiple reasons. He not only loves the convention hall but also the relationship he has with the downtown Courtyard Marriott and the city's affordability, he said.

“I love the people in the area so much,” he said, adding it's “not worth moving.”

Winter Fantasy marked its 42nd year with about 450 to 500 participants who traveled from near and far, Christ said. He noted attendance has grown despite a dearth of advertising.

Although Dungeons & Dragons was prominent, Christ said the fantasy role-playing game wasn't the only one attendees could play. The event offered a selection of more than 2,000 board games.

By midafternoon Sunday, players occupied only about a dozen tables, squeezing in one more game before the event's official 4 p.m. close.

For David Chappell of Boston, the weekend marked his return to the Fort Wayne event after many years' absence.

He previously attended when he lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he said, crediting that positive experience for his willingness to come back.

At the Summit City, he met up with friends from Atlanta and happened upon another from New York, he said.

Andrew Hindenburg, who has played Dungeons & Dragons since childhood, traveled from Chicago to run eight four-hour games throughout the weekend.

The experience was tiring but fun, he said, noting the players he encountered seemed to have a good time.

“At least I hope so,” he added.

asloboda@jg.net