The Little Board Game Convention That Hits Like A Truck!
Sam “King of the Hilltop”
Earlier this month, our group from B.A. Games went to the Lakes Area Game Fest. We were unfortunately only able to be there for Saturday but I would have to say it was a board game convention worth going to if you like cons that focus on people and creating a lot of board game fun over a small period of time. So, in order to help people get a better idea of what the con was like, I am going to break down my thoughts into a few categories.
This is a big one for me. I had a lot of questions about setting up playtests, what was the best way to find playtesters at the con, getting badges for multiple people that would be with me, etc. They answered all those questions and more and even took the time to walk me through a system or two on Tabletop Events to register other “friends.” They were helpful, in-depth, and even more importantly, got back to me about my questions the same day. Very friendly and did an excellent job communicating.
We had a great time playtesting our game, Cult of the Deep. We were able to get a couple of full playtests in with time for feedback, which was what we were hoping for. The people at first were a bit shy about doing a playtest (as is usual for most cons that I see) but we were wondering if the staff at the con could maybe make an announcement and as soon as they did we got 6 people over in a flash. They did it again for our 2nd playtest and we got 3 more people in addition to a few who had previously shown interest in the game. Very organized and the use of ‘meeple stands’ to show a need for help or that they were open for new players was a great idea.
Had a great game library for checking out games, raffles for board game prizes, a board game garage sale, and even two vendors who were selling board games and accessories.
All in all, very organized and able to manage all the players and playtesting that was happening. I think part of the issue for organization may have been space, which is not entirely their fault! I mean, how dare they create an event that people want to attend…seriously, the nerve of these people. They run a good con and people wanted to come. Hard to predict popularity! Hopefully that have a bigger space next year because I think they are going to need it! (FYI, we’re going back next year!)
We would like to see a little more space dedicated to playtesting or learning new games with announcements on the hour as a normal thing. Possibly the use of a few round tables for larger player count games, long rectangular tables can sometimes make things uncomfortable and tight.
It was a great time! Got to meet new people, talk to the staff, learn how to find people via Board Game Geek’s website, play new games, playtest our game, and in general just have a good time. I highly recommend this event if you want low key fun with a bunch of like-minded board gamers who can also be quite friendly!
If you want to check them out, you can find their group via Facebook, lakesareaboardgamers.
You can also find them via Twitter @lakesareagamers and Instagram @lakesareaboardgamers.
There is always your first
Ed “Duke of BAzlandia”
This was the first board game convention that I have attended where I wasn’t just a participant and attending for my own amusement. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. B.A. Games purposely chose a smaller board game convention for its first debut into the jungle of the board game industry. My brother has had experience with other conventions, either running events as a company press guy or even demoing games for companies because he is such a nice guy and likes to work for free.
Getting to Okoboji wasn’t too bad. The drive went fairly smooth and I personally always love to find an excuse to eat a McGriddle. I am pretty sure it’s the best and most unhealthiest thing to eat for breakfast. Since we got there right as the con opened, the main crowd hadn’t arrived yet. So I got to check out the games library since the two events we were holding were not until the early afternoon. Lo and behold Wingspan, the game I have been wanting to play but have not had a chance to yet. I checked it out and the B.A. Games crew, plus a friendly local named Jay, started to play. After a brief explanation and a round of ‘I think this is how this works,’ it was a blast! The art was good, the game mechanics smooth, and best of all, so many bird facts. I felt like an old man sitting in the woods just watching the pretty birds do their thing. I also got to play or observe Villainous, Century: Spice Road, Terraforming Mars, and the one I really wanted to play but was surrounded by children, Coconuts “Crazy Monkey.” It can’t be helped; I really am a child at heart.
We were able to run two playtests, talk to fellow gamers about our game, and talk to the wonderful staff: Joe, Joel, Kyle, John, and Mike. They put on a great board game convention and were kind of enough to drum up people to come playtest our game and let us bug them for a few things. Sam showed me the ropes of how to demo and run a game. It went well, received valuable feedback, and it was overall an excellent experience for all involved. We appreciate the kind folks of Okoboji, Iowa, and the surrounding areas. It was good times had by all.