I should have blogged about this a bit before now, but … well, it happens.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to head to a board game convention – ConnCon, held in Stamford, Connecticut. I went in with an open mind, but had my doubts. And why?
Well, in the past when I had thought about cons like this, all I could think about was a bunch of people dressing up like their favorite comic characters or something else and just … well, general geekery.
My first gaming convention — ConnCon!
I had wanted to go to one of those cosplay style conventions in the past for photo reasons, but I was going to this one because I wanted to play games. Was I going to be disappointed? The person who leads our local game night assured me different – this is a gaming convention with gaming as the core. It would be fine.
He wasn’t kidding.
From Friday through Sunday afternoon, we gamed. Oh did we game. I met some wonderful people (and, to be fair, a couple that made me shake my head, but that’s to be expected) from all walks of life. There were people who might fit the “board gamer” stereotype a bit more than others and then some you might have thought “he plays board games?”
Stumbling into starting to play modern-day board games was almost accidental for me. Two of us were on a way to an event and the other noted he was missing a night at a friend’s house. A weekly board gaming night, to which he noted it might sound dorky. I said … “so you guys play Monopoly and such?” He then explained the modern games and by the end of the night, the leader of this group had invited me. Outside of a chunk over last summer and such, I’ve been a pretty decent regular and have gotten into it.
I’ve enjoyed the aspects of gaming (including my personal collection of games continually growing), so when the idea of heading to ConnCon came up, it seemed like a no-brainer.
I’m glad I went.
We began Friday morning, before the convention “officially opened” by three of us who traveled down playing a game in the open area. Bora Bora is one I had wanted to play and we broke it out. We pulled in somebody who seemed to be looking for a game – Norm – and he had actually played said game. Norm joined us on several games throughout the weekend.
And to use Norm as an example – he was “common” through the weekend, and by that I mean the friendly, easy-going, want-to-play board games sort of person.
That game of Bora Bora, which we started at about 9 a.m. or so, was the beginning of a weekend where we didn’t sleep a ton and played a whole heap of games. Going to bed between 2-3 a.m. was normal for the next two nights, followed by getting up by 7 a.m.
I’m not as young as I once was, though.
Still, I was home by 6 p.m. on Sunday, which was nice.
Anyway, back to the weekend. I played 33 different times during the convention, including 27 games. That was the best part.
I had signed up to fill each slot scheduled at the Con with a game. The slots were four-hours long, so that still gave a lot of time for some open gaming.
I also ran the gamut of gaming with some really deep ones to the quick and easy ones. Some games took 10-15 minutes, while others went several hours. Of all the games I played, only one had I previously played.
The experiences are far too many to list here, but I’ll share a few.
First, one game I’ve wanted to play for a while is Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice. It’s a neat-looking game and I saw some people playing it. Turns out the owner of the game, Steve, is a wrestling nut – much like myself. We talked the squared circle a bit and agreed to get together to play later in the day Friday. When I went and found him later, he was deep into a game and leaving for the night soon after – so he told me to borrow the game for the evening, which I did.
Steve setting up for some Luchador! action!
This should tell you something about the Con – trusting somebody you have just met to borrow a $40 game. Now, I think most people there wouldn’t be running out of the building with a game, but still. In fact, if you looked around the main room, there were a lot of places where people had their games so people could use them. Trusting and friendly are two words to describe the bulk of the people at this Con.
Anyway, I got in three games later with the game and enjoyed it. The next day, Steve and I had the chance to play and we did the tag-team setup, on opposite sides. The game is quick, easy to learn and a lot of fun to play. In fact, it’s now in my collection as I ordered it via Amazon a few days later.
Allow me to also point you to Steve’s blog where he talks about gaming and games. He also has a solid podcast that is in its infancy and worth giving a listen to.
My Saturday late-game slot was taken up by a game I had purchased via an auction – Dice Brewing.
Playing Dice Brewing!
As a home brewer, I’ve decided I want to get as many brewing games as I can, so this fit the bill. In the end, it was one of my favorite games I played all weekend.
I had purchased the game through an auction of Maciek – and it turns out he taught the session we played. And what fun. He taught the game and we had a good time with it. He even cracked out a Polish beer for us to have while we played. The beer, too, was very solid.
I am glad I added this one to my collection though as I think it was a lot of fun. I like the mechnisms, and how dice is used in the game. It’s different enough from Brew Crafters to make it a definite keeper. Plus, the session we had at ConnCon was awesome.
I also added another beer game to my collection — Goldbräu. This also will show you how great gamers are. I had been playing games with a few gentlemen and we talked about beer games. Being a home brewer and such, I want to have as many decent beer games in my collection as I can. One of them had won this game in an auction but thought I would get greater joy out of it and offered it to me. I ended up giving him what he paid for it — plus a buck (need a profit!), even thought he had only wanted to gift it to me. That’s good people right there.
I also had the chance to test a few games out, which was a lot of fun. A few of the games were still on Kickstarter (Between Two Cities, Bad Medicine, Bottom of the 9th), which was cool. Two of them I had already been backing, the other one I opted to back. There were a few games, too, that weren’t yet to Kickstarter (Puppy Dogs from Space and The Networks) that aren’t quite on Kickstarter yet, but are ones I’ll likely back once they reach there.
I look forward to The Networks going on Kickstarter as it’s one I will definitely back.
The fun of Bad Medicine and The Networks, as well as Puppy Dogs from Space, was playing with the designers. Gil Hova designed the first two and it was a pleasure and a lot of fun to play those games with him there (he played Bad Medicine with us, and taught The Networks).
John Dermody is the creator of Puppy Dogs and he was there playing along with his crew. They were a hoot to play with and his game was a lot of fun, especially when I found a way to pull out the win. What was nice was being able to give a few thoughts about the games etc. As somebody who writes and works with photography, I can understand it might not always be easy to hear what people think about your “baby,” but at the same time it allows you to grow. Anything said was taken well and it was fun to see how the designers think about games. What a process!
I can’t say enough about the organizers, designers who were there, and the gamers at this convention.
The organizers I spoke with were friendly and helpful. The designers were awesome to deal with and they gave you insight into their games and the process. The people were just incredible. I met a lot of people and look forward to seeing them at future events.
This is one convention I plan on attending each year. I think the only thing I’ll change is to actually bring my actual camera out to take photos. There’s a lot to capture and I’d like to do that instead of relying completely on my phone. There is also a fall convention held by the same people, and I am going to plan that one, as long as it’s on a weekend where I don’t have any work I need to do. Kudos to everybody at ConnCon and I look forward to the next one.
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