Out and About: Local Cons

Fall is coming, and that means the local gaming convention season is upon us once again. While GOBFest is the delightful outlier, running in May, the other gaming cons have clustered in September and October. This means you can pack in a bunch of gaming before the temperatures drop, and enjoy your gaming convention purchases over the long winter months.

I’ll be running games at all three of the events coming up, to a greater or lesser degree. So if you’d like to throw some dice with me (or at me), these are the places to find me.

KefCon (September 1-2, Queen Mary Park Community League)

The first of the fall cons, KefCon, is back for a third time to bring you board gaming goodness. Packed with games new and old, and a slew of local game designers besides, KefCon also features a game auction on the Saturday night. So if you’re looking for a game on the cheap, or want to clear some space on your shelf, this is the time to do it! My exact schedule is a little up-in-the-air for the weekend, though I’m pretty sure I’ll be running a table of Shadows Over Camelot at some point.

Game-a-Lot (September 29-October 1, St. Albert Kinsman Banquet Centre)

Seventeen years and counting since Game-a-Lot first started in a corner of Mission: Fun & Games. Now it’s all grown up and filling up the St. Albert Kinsman Banquet Centre. Not much needs to be said about the event; it’s three days packed to the gills with games! If it isn’t being run, it’s probably not worth running, and if it is, you can likely snag it from the gaming library and find some players. Plus there are door prizes, plus many of the sessions have freebies for the players, and the weekend also helps support a great local charity, the St. Albert Family Resource Centre. Fun for a good cause, hard not to love that.

I’ll be there mostly on the Saturday, running a plethora of games as Edmonton’s one and only Cheapass Games Demo Monkey . And if you miss me on Saturday, Red Deer’s Demo Monkey and good friend, Dave Chapman, will be up Sunday to demo games. It’s going to be a good time regardless, so we’ll see you there!

IntrigueCon (October 13-15, Queen Alexandra Community League Hall)

Edmonton’s only convention dedicated to role-playing games, IntrigueCon is an excellent opportunity for local gamers to try on a new RPG, or roll some dice on an old favourite they haven’t played in a while. Or maybe you’ve wanted to GM that sweet new game you found, but you aren’t ready for a full campaign. GMing a one-off session is a perfect way to take it out for a spin and have fun, without a huge commitment. And it all takes place a few blocks from a 7-11; it doesn’t get much more gamer friendly than that.

I’m currently slated to run two games (which should be on the site soon), both original scenarios of my own devising. The first is for Kobolds Ate My Baby!, and features the kobolds trying their hand at the adventuring life. The second centers around a company retreat in a way that only The Laundry RPG could manage. I may add a third to the schedule, or I might keep the rest of my time for playing, we’ll see.

Hope to see some of you at the upcoming cons!

Get in the Con Game!

cropped-brent-chibi-96.jpgGen Con started today, with tens of thousands of gaming nerds gathering in Indianapolis to celebrate the hobby they love. Sadly, I am not among them this year, though I have made the pilgrimage to gamer mardi gras in the past. If you have the means, I highly recommend attending Gen Con at least once in your lifetime. The experience is like nothing else.

But even if you can’t get to Gen Con this year, there are likely plenty of smaller gaming conventions just waiting to entertain you. There are regional and local cons held all over the world, run by nerds who love the tabletop hobby as much as you. Sites like Upcoming Cons and Game Convention Central can help you track down nearby cons. Most local cons will advertise where the gamers hang out, so check out your FLGS or game café for posters and/or flyers.

I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and we have a number of local cons which feature gaming. It wasn’t always the case, of course, but with the general rise in popularity of tabletop gaming came an interest in sharing that experience with others. Even five years ago you could struggle to find something year-round. Now, I’m actually staggered a bit by choice. For those living in Edmonton (and the rest of Alberta, if you want to make the trip) here are some upcoming gaming cons happening in our fair city.

Edmonton Expo (Sept 23-25, 2016) – While not a gaming con per se, the Expo is a big convention and has a little bit of everything. In the last couple of years the tabletop gaming area has expanded and improved, and the Expo has introduced hundreds of new people to the hobby, as well as showing off new games to the veteran players. Full disclosure, I’m the Tabletop Gaming Team Lead for the event, so I might be a touch biased. But we try to make the tabletop gaming area as welcoming as possible, with an eye toward getting folks around a table and playing something. Because playing the game is the fun part, right? This year I’m excited because we have a number of local game designers and companies demoing their stuff, and folks can come try out games which are fresh on the market.

FallCon (September 30- October 2, 2016) – Not a local con, but definitely close by when compared to other cons you could travel to, FallCon happens every year in Calgary, AB. Currently in its 29th year of operation, it is currently the province’s longest-running gaming convention. And it shows; every year FallCon is a well-run weekend of fun for boardgame enthusiasts. Also a great con to help get an idea of what it’s like to travel to a con, if you haven’t done that yet. Think of it as the start of your training regimen for attending Gen Con.

IntrigueCon (October 14-16, 2016) – Locally run by Hazard Gaming, IntrigueCon is an annual role-playing convention. Its attendance is growing nicely, with a wide variety of both new and classic RPGs for local gamers to try out. The staff and volunteers are great, and the times I’ve managed to get out and run a game have been a blast. Edmonton gamers, if you’re looking for a great con experience while still being able to sleep in your own bed at night, this con’s for you.

Gamealot (October 21-23, 2016) Yes, that’s right, you can get in two back-to-back gaming conventions in the space of a week. One of the Edmonton area’s longest running gaming conventions, Gamealot used to be run out of Mission: Fun and Games’ store every September. This year they finally acknowledged that the store could no longer contain all the gaming goodness, and have moved to a much larger off-site venue. But in true Gamealot fashion, the weekend is shaping up to be just as packed with boardgames and card games as ever. And this is definitely the place to go if you want a boardgame palette cleanser after your IntrigueCon RPG experience. You’ll likely find me there running some Cheapass Games and the like.

KefCon (November 19-20, 2016) – An acronym for “keeping evenings fun”, KefCon is brand new boardgaming convention just entering its second year. No dates are announced for the next one, but they seem to be trying to run a single-day event every six months (the last was in mid-July). I haven’t been myself yet, but friends have told me it’s a good time, not unlike spending a day at your friend’s house playing boardgames. You know, if your friend’s house was the size of a local community hall. Update: They’ve picked some dates in November, and have expanded to two days. Tickets are on-sale now!

GOBFest (April 8 & 9, 2017) – Organized by local group POGOB (Players of Games on Boards), GOBFest is a wonderful two-day boardgaming event. Went to KefCon and you’re ready for something a little heftier? This is for you. Not only do they feature scheduled games and tournaments, but they have an impressively large library of games you can borrow for open gaming. Not to mention a number of “life-sized” games, for when you want to be the meeple. I’ve run games and played games at GOBFest, and had a blast doing both.

Okay, that’s my list of Edmonton gaming cons available for your enjoyment and titillation. Did I miss one? Did I get something wrong? Drop a note in the comments. And for everyone not living in my city, get out there and see what’s going on near you. You’ll be surprised at what you might find with just a bit of digging.cropped-brent-chibi-96.jpg

Like to game a lot? Come to GameAlot!

glbannerYeah, okay, time to let one of the other multiple personalities write blog titles for a while. But in all fairness the title says it all: if you like games and you live with reasonable distance of St. Albert, you need to be at GameAlot this weekend.

GameAlot is the annual in-store gaming convention run by Mission: Fun and Games in St. Albert. Held over the weekend after Labour Day, the mini-con is a three day celebration of gaming in all their incarnations. It has been an annual tradition at the store for as far back as I can remember, and one I look forward to every year even if I don’t always make it out to play.

For me, GameAlot epitomizes what a gaming convention is about. Playing games? Natch. Getting together with old friends around the gaming table? Check. Meeting new people and trying new games? Double check. And if you like the game you just played…well, you are in a game store. The only issue might be getting a copy before they run out.

I can’t recommend GameAlot enough, so come by and roll some dice. This year it runs September 6-8, starting Friday at 10am and running during store hours (though games go to midnight on both Friday and Saturday). Admission is cash or food donation to the Food Bank, and there is a list of needed items on the store page, along with recommended amounts per day. But if you’re going all weekend, just $20 in food or cash gets you all the games you can play, and entry into the many prize draws that happen.

I’ll be there all day Sunday running tables of the new Cheapass Games, so feel free to stop by and join me. We’ll game the day away, as one should!