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.