A Brief History of Wellycon

Written on the occasion of Wellycon 2011
by Andrew Rae, Wellycon Founding Member

I want to tell you a little story about the little con that could. I want to tell you, so that you’ll come to the con next time and not miss out on one of the highlights of my year. I want to tell you about the numbers, not to brag or boast, but to convince you that you should come. I want to tell you so that Wellycon will be bigger and better and more inclusive than ever before. That’s what I want to tell you.

The little con that could began in 2008 on a badly lit school stage overlooking the throngs of the great unwashed that was the miniatures convention known as Call to Arms. There were 30 of us that year, some of which returned the next day and all up we probably had 50 people through to help us cover the cost of a few tables and chairs. We had one of only six worldwide copies of Endeavor available that year and the set was played constantly all Saturday. In 2011 word has spread and we had 120 people through on day one and probably more on day two suggesting anywhere up to 160 people through the doors. In 2008 we were a rather homogenous bunch, in 2011 there were families, and babies and both girls and guys in healthy balance. So whatever you like, whatever your gaming fare, there is a place at Wellycon for you.Wellycon had a new home this year, one with carpet, with a café, with ambient (ahem) lighting and space to relax, spread out and store your stuff. This had not always been the case, and so this years venue represented a significant improvement. Meals were available on site (albeit with some timeliness issues), unlimited parking was provided and a range of spaces and tables were available for play and relaxing.

The support for Wellycon was huge. Tim Tripp at Pixel Park [www.pixelpark.co.nz] stepped up big time to provide us with a prize pool of more than 40 games. Every hour someone would stand up to draw a lucky raffle ticket from our custom Wellycon tile bag. The prizes created a real anticipation, and a solid quarter of the audience ended up taking something home. This support was augmented by All Aboard and BoardgameRentals who took it on themselves to run the family session on Sunday afternoon to great effect. Pitchcar (a dexterity based racing game) was a big hit, as was the Adventurers and Forbidden Island. Kids ages 5 and up enjoyed the session and many went home with a prize. Thanks to both our sponsors for their prizes, and support running the event. Also a big thank you to Seriously Board who made the road trip down to supply us with some games to buy if the mood took us. Thanks for the support from everyone.

We featured a couple of tournaments this year, Endeavor on the Saturday and Tichu on the Sunday. Both had about 20 participants, with Endeavor being taken out by Anthony, last years runner up. Tichu was won by the stellar pairing of Jarrat and Tim, who then played off in a fierce game of rock-paper-scissors for the prize. Tim won on the third attempt and took the prize, but many newbies enjoyed this ladder style trick taking game and some great stories were made.

The game library was larger this year, perhaps ominously so with more than 200 games. We might need to think about a two tiered system next year so that the range of choices is not so overwhelming. 7 Wonders was by far the most popular game of the con, with Saboteur, Tichu and Endeavor remaining popular. Dominion was still on many tables but was less popular than in previous years.

A couple of prototypes were also played including Dawn of Nations, a free print and play dice game. If you didn’t get to try it, then can I make a personal plea for you to follow the link above and download it for free from the attachments and leave a rating and comment. Wellycon is all into supporting our local designers and this is a simple way to help out. If you want to just go and rate it a ten without playing, then thats just fine too. The designer of Five Men Standing was also there, and you can pick up your copy before the Rugby World Cup at Toy World or Whitcoulls.

A community is building around this event and the Memorial Board organised by Minty Hunter was another sign of the growth. In 2009 we lost both Wesley Broughton (an exceptional young gamer) and Sami & Pauline (lively French tourists) from our community. The board served as a reminder to take a moment out to remember friends from the past. At the same it made me more appreciative of all the faces old and new that I was able to meet. Some of my highlights included meeting Alistair and his wife who were down from Auckland and playing Lords of Vegas with Jason, Johnny and Martin who also made the trek to be part of the con. To be part of further part of the community join our guild and subscribe. We are going to make an effort to post regularly to the guild and free up the NZ board a little. Utilising the guild is an easy way to build the community and keep enthusiasm for the gaming going.

Those that made the trek from out of town also came away with a free custom dice continuing the sequence of custom memorabilia. The embroidered tile bags were definitely a step up in this respect and many thanks to Peter for putting theses together. If you still want to get one, that are so handy for many many games, and we have a handful left for purchase.

The feedback for the con was great, and although there are plenty of details for us to improve on I want to thank the team for all their dedication to this convention and community. Peter, Ceedee and Ian threw their all into making this fantastic, and they deserve all the credit for a huge weekend. A number of others also stepped up to assist or organise games and tournaments, for which we are very grateful. A custom dice is such a small reward but hopefully you got some games in too.

The spirit of Wellycon is second to none, and I was so encouraged when Simon said to me on Sunday that he appreciated people teaching him new games so much that he was making an active effort to teach others. Some things were misplaced as they always are and since returned but nothing was stolen, nobody stormed out after throwing a board in the air and hardly a cross word was spoken all weekend. [ED: except maybe by me when that stupid purple card wouldn’t come up and pay me what I deserved!].

Thanks for being part of a fantastic con, the hangover is gone and I can’t wait for the 2012 event. And if you are in the Auckland Area in the first weekend of July then don’t miss out on Boardgames by the Bay which promises another weekend of wall to wall boardgaming with the same friendly atmosphere. I would be there if it wasn’t for a small little thing called a Wedding Anniversary which I wouldn’t miss for a copy of Lord of the Rings Collectors Edition.