At the end of my first post we had finixhed up with how our first Mini-Wellycon had impacted our gaming lives. We were now in expectation of our first full Wellycon, a two day event, gaming 12 hours a day. Thankfully we had learned many lessons from the one day mini-event, and we would be prepared.
There is no substitute for a good water bottle of the sipper variety. Safe on the table or floor, and always handy to keep the fluids up. Gaming is very dehydrating over 12 hours, so a mix of water and other fluids keeps you going. Snacks of the non-greasy variety are good, something your fingers don’t have to touch so you look after other peoples games is just courtesy. Take one decent meal break each day, your body wil thank you for it, and the fuel you put in will keep you going strong all day.
A personal lesson was that not everybody is great first thing with a big new monster without some kind of warmup game, short and sweet, just get your brain in gear. Its always a rush to get to the new games, and you have all weekend to do it.
Anyway, the great weekend arrived with much anticipation, we had been planning this for some months, I had taken leave from work and said not to call in an emergency. The weather was not inspiring, and our drive uneventful, except for the chatter of what we were looking forward to, what new games might be there, etc. Gaming is exciting, and I try and share that, thankfuly the family understand and get excited a bit as well.
I had checked out Google Earth and Maps to check out the venue, the same one this year. The Massey campus gives good off-street parking near the door. Up the stairs we carried our games and bags. Andrew as always was manning the door, and we were earlybirds again, and not the only ones. After name badges were quickly stuck on, a swarm of people started to enter, you could tell this was going to be a bigger event.
The gaming area is much larger than Thistle Hall, and a smaller yet equally sizeable are off to the side witha basic kitchen enabled even more gamers to fit it. The games library was larger, and many people came with games as well.
Before I knew what was happening, Michaela had spotted and Endeavour tournament later in the morning. Despite never having played before shewanted to enter. As the only family member to have played I said she better learn fast, grabbed a copy from the library and we setup a game. The learning curve was steep, yet she ended with a respectable score. Now for the tournament. Ten players had entered, Michaela was at the table with what were considered the best players. I told her to play hard, don’t have high expectations, and ask for rules help if she needed it.
While Michaela settled in for a very toug competition, the rest of us broke into groups and started meeting new players and playing all sorts of games. Somewhere in the day I was able to get an American and a German player to play Acquire. We had quite a memorable game, the players became shrewd, the gamers cunning was evident. The mergers and takeovers were all happening, yet in the end it was my Ann who pulled out and incredible victory.
Michaela finished her game, I had been wondering about her having glanced over several times and could see she was having a hard time against experts. To her credit she was not last, and although placed fourth, she had done very well being close to third. She was happy, yet two big games in a row were taking its toll.
I remember playing Seven Wonders for the first time with Minty, a local legend of sorts. Caching a table of six newbies is no easy thing, yet this is the spirit of Wellycon. If you know a game you often find that a liitle coaching advice to newbies can make the experience more satisfying.
Not that Wellycon was short of some dedicated, hard core, nevr say die groups. There are small and saome larger groups that come to the event who want seious competition. I also noticed that many of these hang out with the same crowd. I don’t know, some people do not mix well, like our eldest daughter Sarah. Yet it seems a shame that some just treat Wellycon as a games library for them and their mates, it kind of wastes the opportunity of the whole event. Groups like this are to me the down side of Wellycon, a great big event to meet new people, play old and new games with them, and somewhere within it all we make connections. For me some of these are fond memories now, some have open doors to new people to game with, and even for gaming groups to connect with each other. When you don’t do this it seems like wasted opportunity.
At this Wellycon I meet Peter Noble or Board Game Rentals. Peter is a great man, we share many similar ideas, especially about gaming and families, and reaching out to the wider public. That first meeting may have been insignificant in itself, yet it opened up a connection that has been growing. Peter helped out with some games for a holiday games program for us in Kapiti, we have rented some games, purchased some games, and we have visited his games group. I hope his group can come out to us some time. Until then we shall probably visit his group again, most likely the next one the weekend before Wellycon.
Day two of the event saw me doing one of the things I most wanted to do at Wellycon, test out a game of mine. I played four games of it that day, two the previous. It is a frantic game, and playing so many games of it left me very tired as each game was very intense. That said I was happy that the game came through so well.
As the day came to an end, we were all very tired, not gamed out, just the physical fatigue from two long days plus all the energy of talking and playing games. It was amazing to look back on so many games played, all the interesting and some truely great people we met. Their generosity to teach, the invites to share some cool games, introducing some rarer games and my own game, the contacts and relationships that started and have followed us to the next convention.
Speaking of which, Mini-Wellycon 2012 seemed like a long wait. The venue was in the Hutt near Taita, at a Bridge club. As usual we were all hyped up, and getting their early was a good thing, off-street car parking was limited. Another regular early bird was Eric, another quiet legend locally. I had played Eric in a game I can now no longer remember, then he taught me Endeavour. Ann and Laura met Eric when he taught them his brand new Mansions of Madness at the last con. Now Eric offered to introduce us to another game, Glen More, a game about making ends meet and making some whiskey.
After a very interesting start with Glen More, Eric and I teamed up to teach one of my favourite games, Airlines Europe with three newbies. What I like about Airlines Europe is all in my review of the game. This game reinforced my belief in the game, and I can remember the constant tension, and then laughter as the game rocked along with the greatest of fun. OK, I remember it well also because I pulled off a great win from some clever play. Without those people it would have been nothing.
Being a one day event we all tried to cram in the games, I found myself more a teacher that day, first with Carcassonne: The City, a very intense game that developes over three phases of increasing depth. My students were all friends, and well experienced in the original. It was great to watch them grasp the game and come to grips with the increasing challenges.
An other game I ran was Carson City, a very cool game set in the old west, where gunfights can happen, yet the focus is on developing the town and your income, plus gathering some points on the way. This time only one player had played before, and the competitive play was intense. Resourses were feircely fought over, most players had a gang and the firepower was bought to bear on crucial points of play. It was the most hectic game of Carson City I had played, and the friendly rivalry left us all with laughs.
I have to say the venue was rather good, the lighting superb, the kitchen all you could want and then some, the chairs, the feel, and even the proximity to various food options within 100m (KFC, a Chinese and Malaysian takeaways, fish & Chips, a great hot bread shop. Gamers exist on more than a diet of cardboard, and this place was a great venue in so many ways.
That night at the end of play, we were invited to discuss the merits of the Bridge club vs Massey for the next Wellycon. It was a very interesting discussion, with many pros and cons for both venues, Massey was not winning overall except in one key area, parking. And I think in the end that is what settled the issue, Massey had it in spades.
So as I close this second part of my road to Wellycon 2012, I find myself thinking of what I want to play this year, or what games would I like to bring to share and teach. I see on the NZ forum at Board Game Geek that many have posted their lists already, some with games that sound interesting. Might have to research a few at BGG first I think, 2011 was not a year that I really was inspired by the releases, so off to watch some video reviews.
And now I remember, its not the games that make Wellycon special for me, its is all the people I play the games with.
Coming soon, part 3, my plan this year.