Nova Open is canceled due to COVID-19, Gen Con and PAX Unplugged still on the calendar

Organizers behind another significant tabletop video gaming convention revealed the cancellation of their 2021 occasion on Monday. The Nova Open, a staple in the minis wargaming circuit, won’t be occurring this year. It was set to occur Sept. 1-5 in Arlington, VA. Organizers mentioned the ongoing unpredictability surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After months of careful planning, consideration of available data, and communication with our partners and attendees,” the company stated 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 kept in mind that its partners — which were to consist of Games Workshop (Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, Warhammer 40,000), Corvus Belli (Infinity), and Dream Flight Games (Star Wars: X-Wing Minis Video Game, Star Wars: Legion) — were not able to dedicate resources provided the unpredictability surrounding the pandemic. Additionally, its location had no clearness on “what large event restrictions will or will not be in place.”

The cancellation has likewise put the occasion’s monetary stability in concern.

“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 occasion going.

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

A drone view of the food carts at Gen Con in Indianapolis.

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 stated it would have a statement soon as to the future of this year’s occasion.

Two additional high-profile tabletop occasions 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 occasion has actually put tickets up for sale. Polygon has actually connected to both companies for an upgrade.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.