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FallCon at GobFest

This year started out with an idea. That idea was to take our FallCon crew on an adventure. GOBFest (Games On Boards) in Edmonton has modelled themselves after what FallCon does every year. They even state it on their website. This year we took a small contingent of 3 FallCon Ambassadors up to GOBFest. Paul Saxberg, Morgan Cox (my son) and myself Michael Cox departed in my yellow mini cooper with a small hand full of games and great enthusiasm Friday evening. We arrived at GOBFest in Edmonton held in a fairly large community hall, not unlike our roots at the Marlborough Community hall. We were initially greeted by people we’d only met online but we welcomed into the fold as one of their own instantly. Along with a library of games, that equalled my personal collection, displayed for all to see behind them, made us feel at home. The hall had 4 rooms for everyone to play in. The large area held 4, yes I said 4, different vendors selling games in each corner of the room. The selection was cause for me to drool whenever I walked past. This large room was where the snacks were, 2 samsosas for only $3 was the highlight, oooh they were good. Here in this room was where all of the tournaments and most of the hosted gaming was happening. Paul was able to acquire a table of his own to put up his Roxley gear. Steampunk Rally, Super Motherload and eventually a prototype mock up of Santorini appeared. This main room held almost everything. The secondary gaming space was a gymnasium with round tables and was designated for open gaming. The last 2 spaces to play in was the room with giant 3 foot tall cards for a fantastic exercise called Dutch Blitz. A set of foam blocks for Giant Bandu lived here as well. The final space was a lounge type area with soft comfy chairs / couches. All in all a great location for a couple hundred people to descend on tomorrow. Everything was already setup and ready to go so we headed out shortly with our host Alison and John.

Arriving at Alison and Johns’ home we were greeted by 2 cats. I happen to have acquired some extra strength Reactine so I could survive the weekend. Their house had room for about 4 gaming tables and otherwise was a lovely house with great people. A copy of twilight struggle on the downstairs table was mid game. A room that the cats were not allowed in was given to my son and I. Paul was given a very comfortable couch upstairs. We sat and compared notes about our respective volunteer activties and conventions for the next couple hours. Alison was busy trying to throw together the last few slides of her slideshow for the convention tomorrow. Something I threw together last minute as well before our last FallCon. Note to self update slideshow sooner this year.

1am to bed, The 6am wakeup came way too quickly. We were upstairs, dressed and ready in minutes and everyone else was still groggily collecting themselves. We left for the convention by 7:30 with some honey nut cheerios in our bellies. Stopping at the 7 Eleven for drinks before heading the 5 mins down the road to the hall.

Entering GOBFest we found ourselves at registration and were promptly turned into guinea pigs to test their registration volunteers.

Paul was pre-registered and had a name tag ready to wear. He was then ushered over to the Meeple draw. Reaching into the bag of multi-coloured meeples Paul didn’t find an elusive white or black meeple. He was however able to keep his coloured meeple and pick anything out of the last bin on the table. This bin was filled with gamer bits and trinkets. He eventually chose a cross style elastic band which happens to fit over most boxes and boardgames very well.

Morgan and I had tried to register too late and had to be manually entered into their system. Which meant a Sharpie and blank name tag. Morgan then pulled a Black meeple from the meeple bag. This got him a small game from the 2nd bin on the table. Pixel Tactics 3 looked like boss monster and that got him excited. I however was a bit more fortunate and pulled a white meeple. This meant I could pick from the pile of games which happened to now include a copy of Orin Bishops’ Steam Punk Rally. Already owning a copy of the best prize in the pile I chose a copy of Innovation and it’s blue box expansion for my prize. What a start to our day already we are all winners.

Paul headed over to his table and finished setting up in preparation for the droves of gamers. Morgan and I checked out the unusual game library. There were about 50% of the games in the library that we recognized. Strange how games collections in other cities are so vastly different. After opening the doors we had an hour to kill before the first tournaments started. An early gamer was looking for a game to play so we offered to teach him and Morgan Tichu. We each got to deal a hand before the hour was up and all quite enjoyed the game. Our gamer friend took his leave and went off to his hosted event.

Morgan hung around the registration desk and library for the next few hours waiting for people to teach games to. He found the library volunteers needed some stimuli and taught Red Dragon Inn, 7 wonders: Duel, learned parade, and generally won. I found myself a couple of non-gamers and reeled them in with a quick game of Ticket to Ride. They were hooked. More, need more games… We presented 2 games next to this couple but after hearing the words “Pandas” when we described Takenoko she didn’t even want to hear about the second game. Our third adventure together involved more cute animals in the game Zooloretto. Their friends were done playing their tournaments by this time and decided to get some lunch and regroup.

We were all getting hungry now and Morgan wanted Wendys’ burgers and fries. So off we went. Our GPS found one 6kms away near the university. There was one closer but we weren’t familiar enough with Edmonton to worry about which one we chose.

Returning to the convention we found ourselves being pulled in different directions again. I left Morgan playing Giant Dutch Blitz and Giant Bandu, while I took another couple under my wing and taught Hive & 7 Wonders:Duel.

Next we pulled out the big guns. 2 Rooms and a Boom appeared in the lounge with us gathering 18 players. We utilized the dutch blitz room (that was now empty) and the lounge to make our 2 rooms. We had a literal blast and made plenty of friends playing this fun game. Many wanted to play again but their tournaments were about to start again.

Paul found a friend at the playtest alley and was also teaching steampunk rally many times over. He was in his element of fun. Morgan found 2 female tiny human friends (kids his age) to play regular bandu with. I found myself wandering looking for people to help learn games. Everyone was in games. I engaged the vendord in healthy conversations about both our convention and this one.

I found myself teaching a game of Coup to a table of volunteers including the ringleader herself Catrin, and Special guest Roberta Taylor designer of Octopus Garden also joined us. Of course if you teach Coup, expect that they will target you as you are a threat. I lost both games quickly.

Roberta Taylor then started her game design workshop and Morgan was eager to join this event in the Dutch Blitz room. She taught it like a teacher teaching students and made them think about how to change existing games and create games using a deck of cards. Morgans ideas were very well received.

Sometime after this I found myself in a very competitive game of Splendor and then the fun started. Players were needed to fill up the ranks of the Carcassone tournament. If they got enough players the winner would qualify for nationals. Paul and I both signed up and found ourselves having a very enjoyable time with a very simple game. The rules were simplified for tournament play (no farmers). After 3 games I was ended up tied for 4th place with many other players. The final game was 2 players that I played against and lost to. They had 20 seconds per tile to play the tile and place a meeple if needed. Kyle ended up winning and rightfully so, he was good. The girls Morgan was playing with earlier were having fun with their family members and getting right into the games of Carcassone. One of them even won her first game by a very large margin. My final game was against one of these Tiny Humans and thats what I called her all game. We had so much fun.

Morgan found himself playing several games of One Night Ultimate Werewolf and then two quick games of Deadwood. He had alot of fun with both. Samosas for dinner and the evening was winding down now/ Paul and I pulled out what we thought was Blokus. Turns out its a very good knock off copy called “The strategy game for the whole family”. We played this with Morgan and a regular FallCon attendee “Hung”.

Midnight came and we all cleaned up and went to home to bed.

Toast for breakfast and we’re off to the hall, this time it was a bit later as we didn’t quite need to be there as early. The tournaments started quickly and we found ourselves player-less. Morgan decided Russian Railroads needed to be played. We had brought it from home and it wasn’t in their library. Out comes our large game with the German Railroads expansion and we pulled out a looking for players sign. One of the volunteers that wasn’t on shift yet found us and we threw him into the deep end of worker placement games. We all ended with 10 minutes to spare for his 11am shift and with our best scores ever. I still haven’t quite cracked the 500 point barrier yet but 494 is close enough.

Still having not many players that needed my skills I found myself being pulled into Dominion Fight club. (I can’t talk about Dominion Fight club because thats the first rule, but I will break that rule for you reading this). Hexagon Cafes staff were not super busy so they pulled a small round table into their booth and Alison, John, Randy (hexagon) and myself began playing 3 back to back games of Dominion in probably under an hour total. It was insane to watch and to play. By the time you had picked up your next hand of cards it was your turn again.

Morgan found himself a few players to teach games to then joined me in the “back room” of hexagons booth. We pulled out the fake blokus again and played 2 more games. For lunch we had a couple more samosas and then put together 3 more games of 2 Rooms and a Boom. We played this until the day was done. We gave everyone we interacted with FallCon cards and had many of them express interest in coming out this year.

5:30 came way too quickly and after hugs and goodbyes from our new friends we headed home. The trip home was largely uneventful, stopping for dinner at the Wendys in Ponoka. Taking one final selfie of the three of us cemented a friendship that was already great. We arrived in Airdrie just before 9pm and dropped off Morgan. I then drove my friend Paul home to south Calgary and had finally had some quiet time to reflect on the drive back home.

Thank you GOBfest for taking us into your home and letting us be special guest volunteers for your excellent convention. It was wonderful.

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