Brian Lenz: Wizard
My name is Brian Lenz, and I am the Wizard of our GrandCon party. My passion for gaming started at the early age. I remember sitting in on games of Euchre and Monopoly with my family as they did their best to teach me how to play. Albeit the concepts were unclear to me in my early years; the pretty colors, shapes, and the din of dice being rolled were attractive enough. It was later on in my adolescense that I knew I had an affinity for gaming and it for me.
I eventually expanded my passion for gaming when I founded West Michigan Tabletop Gamers (WMTG) in 2011. WMTG has grown to be one of the premiere tabletop gaming groups in all of Michigan. The group continues to be a shining star for most gamers in the local area including GrandCon itself. And, WMTG was the catalyst that brought about the creation of GrandCon.
GrandCon Gaming Convention is now held annually at DeVos Place Convention Center downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. It will forever be Michigan's premiere tabletop gaming convention for our surrounding local communities. Come Play with US!
Clay Case: Monk
Hi, I’m Clay Case, I assist with the show, and I am the Monk of the GrandCon party. I've been gaming in one form or another for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest gaming memories include playing Trivial Pursuit, Labyrinth, and Rummikub with my family. I was also introduced to card games like Euchre and Hearts early on, and in my teens my friends and I would meet at the local pizza place for Euchre tournaments. A few years ago I was shown just how amazing hobby games can be through games like Ticket to Ride, Citadels, and The Resistance. It wasn’t long before we were diving into bigger games such as Arkham Horror. Soon after I discovered Grand Con. I met so many nice people and played a lot of great games, and I was amazed to see how many people shared my love for gaming.
As a married father of three, I appreciate that tabletop gaming brings people closer together. Gaming has become one of our favorite family activities. It is a hobby that we can all enjoy together, which is a rare thing to find when our children’s ages range from 6 to 16. I’m excited to be a part of such a great hobby and an amazing event like Grand Con! Come Play with Us!
Tim Bierema: Cavalier
My name is Tim Bierema, I assist with the show, and I am the Cavalier of our GrandCon party. I have been gaming for as long as I can remember. My first gaming memories include playing Candy Land with my younger brother and sister. We eventually moved up to some more strategic games like Sorry, Monopoly, and one of our favorites, Risk. We could play risk for hours and have some epic battles.
As I grew older I found Hero quest. That game changed my life. It was my introduction into, what I didn’t know at the time, was something called hobby gaming. This is when the addiction began. At 15 I discovered Magic the Gathering. I don’t even want to know the amount of hours and money that I have invested in that game. During the mid 90’s there was an explosion of collectible card games due to the success of Magic. My friends and I would play 7th Sea, Legend of the Five Rings, Doomtown, and WWE Raw Deal to name a few. It’s a funny thing to see how cyclical it can be as we now see some of those long out of print games have been coming back. In the early 2000’s I was introduced to games like Settlers of Catan and, as they say, the rest is History.
I am now a Father of three amazing kids that I have had the privilege to introduce to this passion that I have and bring them into the gaming fold. My kids have grown up in gaming and it is amazing to see all the positive benefits that have helped influence them and their growth.
I’m a current member of West Michigan Tabletop and have been for over 4 years. I currently hos our Wednesday meet up at Out of the Box Kentwood.
I have attended other gaming conventions both local and abroad but Grand Con is by far my favorite. This will be my fifth year in attendance at Grand Con. I have been actively involved with the convention behind the scenes in some capacity for several years. I am very honored and proud to a part of the Grand Con team. Come Play with Us!
Jeff Henders: Tavern Keeper
My name is Jeff Henders, I tend to look after the volunteers of the show, and I am the Tavern Keeper of the GrandCon party. As a child, I played games like Dark World, HeroQuest, and Dragon Strike. As I grew older, RPGs and more complex strategic board games found their way into my collection. As the culture of board gaming expanded, so too did my interest in it. Both mechanically and socially, board games are exceptional. Few other mediums have the ability to bring such a diverse group of people together to pursue a common goal. I began attending conventions like Origins and GenCon in high school and have been attending them ever since. When GrandCon was announced some years ago, I could not have been more excited to have a show so close to home. Come Play with Us!
Tim Latshaw: Cleric
I am Tim Latshaw, the Cleric of our GrandCon party (because robes are comfy and freeing).
Having moved to Michigan from New York, I joined local board gaming as a way to meet new people. Like others, my experiences had been restricted to the "classics" at the time. I certainly didn't expect to find so many new and different worlds in games, and have been drawn into the worlds of ideas designers are constantly dreaming up!
The hows and whys of gaming are as interesting to me as the games themselves, and that won't be stopping anytime soon. It's likely the journalism background in me. My favorite games include the Arkham Horror Card Game, Tokaido, and Pandemic Legacy. I have attended GrandCon from the very first year and am happy to be a part of the crew as we forge ahead. Come Play with Us!
Jessica Fountain: Sorceress
My name is Jessica Fountain, and I am the Sorceress of Social Media of our GrandCon party. I played board games when I was younger, but the true world of board gaming wasn’t revealed to me until after I started college. Disney Monopoly and Clue were my favorite games as a child and as I got older, I also came to love Risk and Chinese Checkers, but I didn’t realize that there were so many other games to play until I started college and fell in with the nerdier crowd. Catan and Ticket to Ride were my gateway games, but once I became friends with the man who is now my boyfriend, I learned there were many more games to be played. Pandemic is my favorite game and I tend to favor legacy games such as Gloomhaven and Pandemic Legacy, but I also love simple games like Escalation and Maximum Throwdown, and RPG’s like Pathfinder and Starfinder.
I have attended GrandCon for the last three years and it has been a blast. I’ve never seen so many games in one place before, all for me to play! I am very excited to become part of the GrandCon team and help even more people come together through gaming. Come Play with Us!
Eric Wisniewski: Rogue
My name is Eric Wisniewski, I assist with the show, and I am the Rouge of the GrandCon party. I’ve been in love with board gaming since the 90’s, when my parents gave me a copy of HeroQuest for Christmas. Everything about it was interesting: the killer miniatures, the exploration, the odd dice, the spellcasting, all of it. It opened me up to a world outside of the Hasbro/MB tentpole classics. In the intervening years, I’ve played a copy of Catan to pieces (literally), walked through GenCon with a garbage bag full of games, and survived a 46-hour gaming marathon.
I joined the GrandCon party as a mid-level rogue as we trek deep into the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. I’ll be here with the rest of our crew helping you make discoveries in the ever-expanding GrandCon game library and raiding the treasure hordes of DeVos Hall. I look forward to the fellowship with friends old and new that this gathering always brings. Come Play with Us!
Jason Kornoely: Bard
My name is Jason Kornoely. I am a volunteer extraordinaire for GrandCon. I have been playing games of all sorts since I was eight-years old. Being the youngest of five children I was eager to be included so I would play whatever hit the table. We loved to play Risk, Fortress America, and Axis and Allies. We also enjoyed playing Monopoly with custom boards. Marathon games of Trivial Pursuit were often our Saturday night ritual. When my older brother was around, we would roll up D&D characters, lay waste to orc tribes, and liberate treasure from twisting and perilous dungeons. In my adult life, I married a wonderful woman who is patient with my passion for games. We have four children. Two of them are old enough to play games; which we do nearly every Friday night over pizza. We mostly play Dixit, Sushi Go, Machi Koro, and Sleeping Queens.
I love how games bring families together.
I am a teacher at Pine Ridge Elementary in the Forest Hills school district. I have created a board game club at my school; which has been going strong for the past past three years. I also organize family game nights. It is so gratifying to watch kids and their families enjoying quality time together. That is why I am thrilled to be working with the good folks of GrandCon because they believe in the power of games and the magic that they weave among family and friends. Come Play with Us!