Conventions: Spaghetti Con Junction and Concord

February was games convention month for me.

First was Spaghetti Con Junction (number 3a) in Birmingham at the Geek Retreat boardgaming cafe. I think this is my favourite RPG convention. Fun, friendly one day con. £3 for the day. No pre-sign ups. A quick and well organised sign up system on the day. Simon Paul Burley trying to set some sort of world record for the fastest raffle in the west…

They take over the upstairs room. I think there were 6 or 7 games running in the morning. The room is big enough that this doesn’t feel too crowded. It can be noisy, but not ‘bellow your lungs out to be heard’ noisy. The Geek Retreat guys deliver your food and drink orders to your gaming table. Their burgers are seriously good.

I ran Dr Who: Cold War (80s UNIT in Afghanistan) in the morning… and then again in the afternoon, as they were short of GMs in that slot. Much silliness in both games. The Brigadier reminisced about a particularly lovely goat he once met, and Sarah Jane Smith reprogrammed an alien machine so that it changed the sex of several NPCs.

Concord is about 15 mins from where I live in Brizzle, so obviously I was going to that convention! :slight_smile: This year they were in the Holiday Inn, a much posher venue than the pub and the comedy club of prior years. They also had more space, so there was a decent sized dealers’ room (which also contained the Bloodbowl tournament and some wargames, including one with cavemen vs mammoths). The smaller rooms were designated for (1) RPGs, (2) board games and (3) card games. Though there was a certain amount of mixing that up.

On Saturday I ran Squaddies: Black Sands Valley (madness and paranoia, with a great group of players who enjoyed being crazy but didn’t use it as an excuse to start murdering each other). On Sunday morning I ran Dr Who: Urban Sprawl (Leeds was saved from destruction and from lack of planning permission). In the afternoon I played in Cyberpunk 2020.

Because the hotel is waaaaaaaay more expensive than the pub/comedy club, the con was charging £4 per slot to play in an RPG to help cover costs. Personally I think this prices lots of people out of the market. If you want to rock up to Concord and play boardgames all weekend, it’ll cost you £10 to £15, depending how early you booked the ticket. If you rocked up to roleplay all weekend, it would cost £26 to £31. Then all the food and drink is at city centre hotel prices. People on benefits need not apply.

I’m not sure there is enough space for board games. I think there were only 4 (maybe 5) tables in the board games room. There were no RPGs that I wanted to play on Sat afternoon, but every time I wandered into the board game room looking for a game, all the tables were occupied and mid-game. I chatted to folk and browsed the dealer room instead, but eventually got fed up of having nothing to do and went home.

Since there were no organised gaming slots on the Saturday evening (just a ‘turn up and see what’s happening’ open gaming thing) and because presumably people would want to eat when the afternoon RPGs finish at 19.00, I imagine evening RPGs would be in a 20.00 to midnight slot. I am NOT an evening person, so I suffered an attack of couldn’t be arsed and didn’t head back to see what the evening games were (if any).

I might also have gone to City of Games in Bristol (Feb 15th-17th), if I’d known it existed!

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I was at the resurrected Dudley Bug Ball on Saturday:

I really ought to get to a Spaghetti ConJunction one of these days. but they seem to live on Facebook and the closest thing I’ve found to a real web site is
where they didn’t announce the date anything like far enough in advance for me. I’m guessing the next one might be early in October…

I’m definitely not in favour of differentiated pay-to-play, given that a group of RPGers doesn’t take up any more or less table space than a group of boardgamers. The theory at UK Games Expo was that it would encourage people to turn up to the games they’d booked in advance, but I’ve had a sold-out table of six where only two actually bothered to come and play. (Fortunately there were some other people looking for a game because their GM hadn’t turned up.)

Are you going to publish that?

Yes, eventually. I intend to publish these ones first…

Squaddies: Something Rotten - the POW one you played at Stabcon a while back. That’s half written, and has most of the maps done.
Squaddies: Canyonlands - rescuing a stranded tank crew from the desert. I think Roger has played that one.

Then maybe one featuring the aliens native to those Delta Pavonis deserts before I do Black Sands Valley. That would make it a trilogy of bimbling around in the desert…

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Sounds good, I look forward to them.