Wellycon 2012


Last Friday I headed off to Wellington, a quick and hassle-free flight away across the Tasman strait. There I was picked up by a relatively new friend of mine and his son; he’s a boardgamer and designer I met online and who has dropped over to visit once in Sydney, and apart from us having those two interests in common, he left the city life in Melbourne to live in New Zealand some years ago and was a bit of an inspiration for our move.

I haven’t been to Wellington before and it seemed quite a happening city; we went for a wander down Cuba Street and went to an Indian restaurant for dinner, then along Courtenay Place by the waterfront, which was buzzing with people packing out the busy bars and restaurants. At the end of the street is the Embassy Cinema, which hosted the Australasian premieres of the first two Lord of the Rings films, and the world premiere of the third, The Return of the King. A strange tripod movie camera creature—from Weta Studios, naturally—towers over the square opposite.

The next morning we embarked on two days chock-a-block with boardgaming, 10am to 10pm, at two rooms in Massey University—the 5th annual Wellycon boardgaming convention. Tens of tables over which hunched groups of figures, alternately sitting in intense silence or erupting into gales of laughter, frustration or elation. People standing around discussing esoteric points of boardgaming lore. Tables of games to buy or borrow.



I immediately went straight to the Seriously Board retail table and snagged myself a copy of Lords of Waterdeep, and within seconds I was at a table ripping off the shrinkwrap and settling down to an excellent game with some total strangers.

I got in games of Lords of Waterdeep three more times over the weekend, along with Jaipur, Mage Knight, The Resistance, Blood Bowl: Team Manager, and Santiago de Cuba, with only occasional breaks for lunches and dinners supplied by the organisers.

On the Saturday evening I joined an informal ‘industry panel’ made up several attendees involved in the creation and publishing of boardgames. I chatted about some of the processes behind creating graphic design for games, notably Tales of the Arabian Nights, and some questions were asked and answered about the frustrations and satisfactions of getting boardgames to market.

The main thing you take away from an event like this, however, is how people are brought together by a shared interest. To my surprise, I didn’t have to endure one crack about being an Aussie, and everyone I met was happy to hear how much I was enjoying living in their country. On Sunday night after the convention shut up shop, my friend and his son headed back home, and one of the organisers was hospitable enough to put me up for the evening at his house, where we relaxed with a few beers and covered a huge range of conversation topics until the small hours. The next morning he even drove me back into town to catch my flight home.

It was a great weekend and a nice chance to get away by myself and meet some new people in our new country. People from all walks of life enjoy the fun and challenges of boardgaming, and it’s a remarkably sociable activity. There’s no doubt that Wellycon is only going to get larger and large each year.

My fav for the weekend? Definitely Lords of Waterdeep. Award for the worst game ever? Mage Knight.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jason
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 19:48:21

    I’m glad you had a good time. I seem to miss the “boardcons” in the UK but hope to get to one soon enough.

    I absolutely love Lords of Waterdeep (LoW). I’ve introduced two completely new board gamers to it and they really enjoyed it. The one now wants to join me for a game of Descent the next time we play…

    What’s up with Mage Knight? I have been intrigued by the popularity on BGG but have kept away as I already am playing Descent and don’t fancy another long game to play just yet. LoW fits the “shorter” slot nicely for now.

    Just about to print off your WotR player guide. Got a game tonight (CE version) and am really looking forward to it.


  2. universalhead
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 07:45:51

    I think that new gamer is going to get a bit of a shock moving from Lords of Waterdeep to Descent! It might be a good idea to hold off until FFG release the new version, as I think they have streamlined and improved the game so it’s no longer a 4-hour-plus slugathon.

    It’s a complete mystery to me why Mage Knight is popular; I thought it was atrociously boring and frustrating. But obviously it appeals greatly to a certain type of gamer. That’s fine of course, but I find it jarring that it’s proporting to be a thematic fantasy adventure game when the mechanics don’t fit the theme. Like Dominion, which I played once and felt the medieval theme to be completely tacked on. The mechanics couldn’t make it feel less like a fantasy adventure, IMHO; and it’s certainly nothing like the dungeon-bashing of Descent. It’s about hand management and card combination puzzles, and I felt like the game was fighting me at every turn to stop me doing what I wanted to do – have fun and get immersed in the atmosphere.

    BTW note that my guide hasn’t been updated for the second edition of WotR – I’m waiting until the 2nd edition expansion is released. Will be fine for the Collector’s Edition though, which is truly a spectacular way to play! 🙂


  3. Pierzasty
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 08:04:48

    OK, when I saw the “mage Knight a bad game” verdict I was surprised, but OK, different tastes and so on. But reading in the previous post that you actually like Mansions of Madness… WTF? Can you explain what exactly is even remotely enjoyable in that game?

    And pity you don’t like MK, I was looking forward to a cheat sheet 😉


  4. universalhead
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 08:23:42

    Getting into a discussion with a boardgamer about ‘theme vs mechanics’ or ‘Eurogames vs Ameritrash’ is like a Christian and an Atheist sitting down for a friendly fireside chat, so it’s pointless really. But, since you ask, I think Mansions of Madness (and I’ve only played it twice) is a fun, atmospheric, luck-fuelled laugh-fest, and an infinitely preferable way to pass the time than sitting down for 3+ tedious hours working out card combinations in your head over and over. Truly, playing Mage Knight was like getting my wisdom teeth slowly extracted without anaesthetic. Except the latter isn’t a waste of time.

    Well, you asked! 🙂 Don’t hold your breath for a MK cheat sheet, I’d rather get my wisdom teeth … etc etc.


  5. Pierzasty
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 23:21:44

    I haven’t said anything about the issues you speak of. I’m mainly an AT-gamer and I love theme. And Mage Knight was the only deck-building game that I actually enjoy, normally I don’t touch those (or CCGs/LCGs) with a pointy stick.

    I’ve played MoM twice too and I had an experience radically different from yours. The first time the scenario was so broken that the players simply could not prevent the evil GM from winning, no matter what cards/options he/we got. I decided to give the game a second chance, maybe I just got the worst scenario. Basically the same thing happened. I don’t see myself playing it ever again, it was an exercise in frustration. I’d rather play Descent (which makes me even more surprised that FFG actually had a working engine and managed to break the game regardless). Unless Call of Cthulhu’s theme is “the Investigators lose”, then I suppose the game stays true to its roots. But I don’t find masochism enjoyable 🙂


  6. Tommi
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 23:53:26

    Hi there!

    I just popped by to congratulate you on a great site and ask a simple question:

    Is it, by any chance, possible that you´ll be doing a sheet on “Vampire – Prince of the city”?

    Keep up the good work, by the way!

    /Greetings from Sweden.


  7. universalhead
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 06:45:49

    Glad you like the site but unfortunately, no plans for a summary for that game. Sorry about that!


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