This weekend, my friends and I hosted the 4th incarnation of Uncon - an Unconventional Convention. Initially started up as an expansion of a local board gaming club "All Around the Board", the founders, Jayde and Darius have taken this small gathering of gamers and transformed it into a weekend gaming convention that caters for damn near everyone!
|Darius and Jayde = LEGENDS!|
The event, which the dastardly duo have decided will be biannual, opened at 08:00 on Saturday morning until 23:30 on the Saturday and opened again at 08:00 until 19:00 on the Sunday. I was there for both days hosting my homebrew games and teaching other modern board games to the punters and so I thought I would share my musings about the weekend.
Before I do however I do have to thank all of the hosts and volunteers and of course Darius and Jayde for their unending enthusiasm for this event as it goes from strength to strength. Without them the event would be no more than a small group of geeks in a backroom somewhere... nothing wrong with that of course.
So I guess firstly I have to adequately describe what Uncon is? Uncon is primarily a gaming convention, principally it was bought about for board gamers but later incarnations included tabletop wargaming and even limited digital gaming in the shape of classic console games at 3.0 and a full on Virtual Reality suite for 3.0 and 4.0. But first and foremost it is an analogue event, where people can congregate and interact with others over bits of cardboard, plastic and dice!
The planning for Uncon 4.0 goes way back to April 23rd, literally the day after the 3rd Uncon event (my first as an exhibitor and host). Uncon 3.0 was hugely successful with a couple of hundred people attending the event and enjoying the decent board game library that is one of the central features of the "con". Despite our exhaustion following the weekend, we were determined to put on an even bigger event that put Uncon on the gaming map!
One thing that could not be compromised though was the location. Darius was determined that Uncon would be a convention for the local community as well as for the wider area of the South East. Yes we could have moved the 'Con closer to London and therefore gain a (potentially) wider appeal, but that would betray the central tenet of the founders. However we have been very lucky in sourcing a local school that has amazing facilities that perfectly fitted the vision.
|the open play area|
As well as providing a huge open play area, where people can just grab a game from the library and start playing, the venue allowed us to offer space to game designers to come along and demonstrate their latest projects as well as some established and much loved games.
To that end we had the fabulous guys from Yay! Games playing with fans of their excellent Ominoes as well as a game that is still in prototype format. Glenn Ford, one of the driving forces behind the very successful Gaslands was there with his new game SSO, recently published off the back of a Kick Starter. On a side note, I backed SSO and had specifically not even opened it as I wanted to be taught the game by Glenn himself and it was soooooo worth the wait. Glenn is a really decent guy and the game was much more atmospheric with his input. The game itself, a co-op game set on a deteriorating space station/ship is tense and thrilling and well worth the punt imho.
|SSO, great game|
As well as the main hall, we booked several side rooms for various events including a Social Games room, over 18s, RPGs, bring and buy, quiet play and VR suite. The RPG room had three different D&D campaigns running at the same time and was extremely well attended all weekend. The VR suite had a queue most times and the over 18s... well probably best not to talk about those games...
For my own part I put on a couple of my home brew games the first being a zombie apocalypse game, I called the Rising Dead...
Using terrain from my vast collection, including my scratch built hospital and my copious amounts of survivor/zeds miniatures I knocked up some rules and tokens and let the zombpoc loose. It seemed to go down well and we played, in total over 6 hours of zombie goodness.
The other game I put on was my chariot racing game - Blood, Sweat & Horses. I really loved teaching this game and to see the enjoyment of the players. In total I played over 9 hours of chariot racing and had players returning to play the game more than once, one of the best compliments I could receive.
You may have noticed my garish lime green T-shirt. This was the official T-Shirt of the Uncon hosts, a brilliant bunch of volunteers who have a ridiculous amount of gaming knowledge between them and the enthusiasm to teach people how to play them. The ethos of the 'Con team is that no one need even open a rule book and try to learn a new game by reading one. The hosts were in and around the attendees, encouraging them to try new games, join in social games and bringing a sense of fun to the event - I love them all!
Oh and yes we had a mobile escape room and it was bloody brilliant!
oh and Orcs!
On the Sunday we paused the gaming to show our respect for the fallen and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that those who have and are currently serving have made for this country and across the world. It was eerie to be in a room for of enthusiastic gamers of all ages become very still and quiet for just a few minutes but I was very proud of the community at that moment, that we had come together at that moment to think about others. Talking of that sense of community, we invited The Carers Support Charity to the 'Con and they became our charity of choice for the weekend.
The numbers are still being crunched but they already exceed Uncon 3.0 and I can only see this event growing and growing although I do feel for D&J a bit as literally the week after booking Uncon 5.0, Salute announced their date for 2019 and we do clash. However I hope the diversity of our 'Con will ensure we continue to draw people in.