My Day at WellyCon 2016

WellyCon is New Zealand’s premiere board gaming convention. Hundreds of avid gamers come together, bust out their cardboard cartons and plastic meeple and play board games with each other for two days straight, some even playing into early Sunday morning before returning the next day.


I had never been to WellyCon before, but others had told me about it a few years ago. Only three weeks before the event, I saw it advertised in the ComicCon New Zealand flyer. Apparently all the big NZ geek events were running on the same weekend: Queen’s Birthday weekend.

The bigger, more well-known geek event, also running Queen’s Birthday weekend was Armageddon Expo, the annual entertainment and pop culture event. I’ve been to Armageddon many times (even cosplaying as Gordon Freeman and Axe Cop), but found it less and less to my liking, as it focussed on cartoons, television and cinema, and less about video games and board games.

I asked my lovely wife for the privilege of going to just the Saturday of WellyCon, leaving her with our daughter. Lucky is the man whose wife lets him go to WellyCon without her!

A Community Mindset

Because I was going by myself, I wondered how games got started at WellyCon. It turns out that there’s a very large game library at WellyCon. It’s full of games brought along by other attendees and left to be played by others. You can rustle up a group, choose a game, claim a table, set up and start playing.

I wasn’t expecting to know many people there, and I wasn’t going as part of a group, so I decided to only join games looking for extra players. As it turns out, they have these big signs you can put on your table to make it easy for players like me to find your table.

Turning Up

There was plenty of parking at Wellington Girls in Thorndon, if you knew where to find it. I circled around before I found the tiny WellyCon sign leading in to the parking field.

Once through the door, I walked around the busy atrium, admiring the magnificent stack of board games, and spotting one of the signs, and jumping into a game of Star Wars Carcassonne.

Star Wars Carcassonne is a lighter version of the original Carcassonne where cities are asteroid fields, roads are trade routes, no farms (space is empty) and cloisters are planets, and a fun planet-conquering mechanic which lets you roll battle dice to steal them. None of us had played this variant, and one of us had never played a Carcassonne. We read the rules, and learned how to play, and enjoyed ourselves very much. And I won, which is nice.

Family Jewels

Half-way through the first game, I got a text message from Adrianne, one of the organisers of WellyCon informing me that I had won a spot prize. After my game, I went to claim my prize.

Choosing from almost 90 prizes, I selected a set of plastic gems and gold nuggets for playing Splendor with. They are beautiful and decadent, and must add a further tactile experience to the game. I should not that at this point, I have played a lot of Splendor on my mobile phone, but did not own a physical copy of Splendor.

Much Game. Very Lose. Wow.

I ended up playing Shadows over Camelot with the same two people (Caleb and Fiona) and two other people. The traitor won by sabotaging too many quests, then falsely accusing another player to end the game. We didn’t complete a single quest. Fun game though!

After publically not collecting my lunch, and then correcting, and consuming it, I played a game of Splendor with some older gamers (not revealing my gem stash), and was thoroughly trounced. I got locked out of the ruby market, losing a lot of tempo in the process. I did, however, remind all those players that you can reserve a face-down card from any of the three stocks.

Trading Post

I had brought with me a selection of my least played games, hoping to trade them for slightly better games. WellyCon hosts a trading corner, where you can leave your games on a silent auction or for sale. I missed the (seemingly non-existent) face to face trading session at 12:30, but put all my games in a box marked “Offers” and waited for calls. Maybe not a great strategy, but I did get a call or two, settling one deal that day.

For the Hoard

Splendor board game box art

I finally got a copy to go with the plastic gems I won

Walking around I spotted a demo table with Cheeky Parrot Games showing off their Kickstarter card game Hoard, which I had already seen online. I sat down and played a full game with Tim Kings-Lynne, one of the game’s designers, and Julia Schiller, Director of Cheeky Parrot Games. They’re lovely people, and maybe they let me beat them at their own game. I got to talking to Tim and his exploits on the Miramar Peninsula working at Weta Digital, how the game has developed, and thoroughly enjoyed myself for a good while there.

After this I hung out with my old buddy Chris and Mel for a while, catching up on old games and old times. He also convinced me to put my games on silent auction. We then sat down and they introduced me to Codenames. Being the code master is hard! We played three games before I had to leave for the night and rejoin my family.

Last Dash for Cash

Before I left, I closed a trade! I traded a copy of Power Grid along with the China/Korea map expansion for $40. And on the way out, I passed by the Cerberus Games booth and spotted a copy of Splendor that had not been there all day, which I swiftly secured and took home.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day. Playing five different games, most of which I had never played before. I made new friends, won prizes, sold games at auction, caught up with old friends, and bought a game I have wanted for a while.

You should go to WellyCon!

Will I return for WellyCon 10 next year? ABSOLUTELY. My wife is supremely sore she missed out.

Should you? If you have enjoy learning and playing new and interesting board games, Definitely! And I learned there is a Mini-WellyCon coming up, maybe Labour Weekend? See you there?

Around the world, around the wurld

List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go.

As a geek, it’s no surprise that I’d be interested in the Japanese culture. I’m not a huge anime or manga fanboy, though I have dabbled. I’d definitely want to visit the Studio Ghibli Museum.
I’d really want to board with a Japanese family for a few weeks, though I’d have to learn much more Japanese.

Easter Island
This is that place with the big “moai” or tiki heads. They say the people who lived on Easter Island killed all the trees to move and erect those heads. And that you can mountain bike around the island in less than a day.

Yeah, not that exciting but there’s some pretty awesome people who live in Canada. LoadingReadyRun. Brian Lee O’Malley. Shatner.

Can I are be turning Japanese, I rly think so?

So I’ve got this goal of working in Japan for at least 6 months by 2014. That’s the big goal.

To take a big step like that is a bit much, so to break it down a little:

  • Read, write and converse in Japanese at an intermediate level by the end of 2010.
  • Visit Japan for a holiday at some point between 2010 and 2014, and visit Tokyo (especially Akihabra), Kyoto and Osaka, and do tourist-stuff. Also the Studio Ghibli Museum is a must.
  • Find a job, preferably teaching web development, maybe teaching English so I can get a work visa.
  • Work in Japan for at least 6 months by the end of 2014.

Not so bad a plan, eh?  It’s quite flexible, and subject to change, but it’s the current target.

Why you might ask? Well, I’ve always wanted to learn a language, and the Japanese culture, history and lifestyle really interests me, and I’m single so I don’t have anyone holding me back.

So I’ve bought a book (Japanese Step by Step by Gene Nishi), and am keeping an eye out for beginner’s Japanese courses, so I can sign up for one that’s running at a good time for me.

I have a friendly workmate who spent a long time in Japan a few years ago who is encouraging me along. We go for lunch at Japanese restaraunts around town; he’s got many of us at work hooked on katsukari (pork fillet curry with rice)… mmm katsukari! Damn, I’m hungry now…

So I think in the short term, I’m pretty sussed. I’ll be signing up for a beginner’s Japanese course after September, and I’ve got a friend or two who I can practice with.  Maybe I’ll make friends with some cute Japanese girls in Wellington, who knows? I’m pretty open minded about the whole thing.

What is kind of weird is being 26 right now, I’ll be 33 in 2014. But you’re as old as you feel, and with me, that currently can range from 21 to 35 right now, -_-;

Anyway, does anyone out there in the world wide tubes have any suggestions on learning Japanese? Tips and tricks? Must have resources? Must visit places?

Also, anyone know how to get my Mac so I could type katakana and hiragana with a Dvorak keyboard layout? It wants me to use QWERTY instead 🙁

HTML Tags for the memories

While Glutbook was waiting for it’s death knell to be pronounced upon it, I was using my windows desktop machine to re-launch my cousin Michelle’s popular website, Bunny Abandonware. We had worked on the site together before returning from vacation, redesigning the look and building it on a new back end (specifically, Word Press). Migration of the content was always going to be the hard part, but we put a Saturday and most of a Sunday aside to blitz the design, get the content in and migrated, and most of the hard work was done. A little more migration done by Michelle that week and it was ready for me to launch it.

So we did. And let me tell you, I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s nothing revolutionary or taxing, but it was heaps of fun to redesign and make the templates as we went, with Michelle right there working with me.

This comment from The Abandonware Blog about Bunny Abandonware 4.0 really made me feel good:

Finally some nice scene news! Bunny from Bunny Abandonware has been mentioning is for quiet some time now but finally managed to get the new version of her website online and I must say (again) that it kicks ass! The unique colors used by only one abandonware site, the wonderfull [sic] navigation, the nice kinda web 2.0 style with all the gradients and big buttons ‘n stuff… damned pretty.

LOL, I did some Web 2.0 :rolleyes: 😉 But I’m taking it all as a compliment. I believe that what Michelle does with her abandonware hobby is crucial for the survival, not just of the games, but of the memories. Abandonware, while legally dubious, is less a case of stealing and more the case of paying tribute. I keep telling Michelle she’s not just another retro gamer; she’s an archivist — the curator of her own museum. A museum where the exhibits remind her visitors of the way video games used to be, and where not only games, but ourselves as people have come since then, for better or for worse.

I think the best Christmas present I gave myself was when for Christmas I gave my brother a huge pack of water balloons . I had moved out of home to Wellington and I had come to realise that I missed him. We had fun in that back yard that one day, running around with the sole purpose of cooling off and having a blast. But I did it with the motive of having that memory to look back on — a careless, happier day in my history. It worked, and it’s one of the most cherished memories I have. It didn’t cost a lot.

Memories are worth gold, but the most valuable memories are the ones that cost the least.

Life and Fitness in Karori

Life Update.

I haven’t blogged this yet, but I’ve been working at Natcoll Design Technology for over a year now. I started as a part-time Multimedia tutor, and now I’m the Diploma of Web Development Course Coordinator for the Wellington campus. I teach on average 18 hours a week, with the rest in prep, paperwork and management. Really fun job, besides the paperwork 😉 I even get to help out with the tech support sometimes… but eh, what ya gonna do?

. . .

Mid last year, I moved from downtown Cuba St to the boxed valley suburb of Karori (said to be the largest suburb in the southern hemisphere) with the intention of eating better and getting fit.

I’ve got the getting fit thing working somewhat: Mountain Biking. Karori has a world renowned mountain bike park running up, and most importantly, down, the back of it. I got my bike at the start of December, a nice GT Avalanche 3.0, and I’ve been slowly discovering the many tracks it holds. It’s really a beautiful place, and with summer turning up finally, I’m going to make the most of it.

I originally got the bike to commute to and from work every day. Karori is up in the hills, and the city, where I work, is at sea-level. It takes me 15 minutes door-to-door every morning, and depending on my route, 30-50 minutes coming home uphill. I don’t really enjoy exercise, but at least I know I’ll have achieved something every day, no matter how my day might have been.