Gottacon 2015

Gottacon’s vendors hall.

We were excited to head to Victoria for one of our favourite conventions, Gottacon! Gottacon is dedicated to bringing together gaming geeks of all sorts. This con focuses on being an inclusive gaming experience with a broad spectrum of games: from RPG and table, to miniatures, trading card games, LAN games, and more. Gottacon also offers a variety of panels, workshops, and special events.

2015 was Gottacon’s seventh year in existence and our second year in attendance, and we definitely had a blast! Our friends Deanna and Ethan from Guardians of the Geek were able to come with us, so it was great to be able to share this awesome convention with them! We will be reviewing games we played in future posts, but join us as we recap the weekend!

Playing Lords of Vegas on the ferry to Gottacon.

This year the convention expanded to two locations: the Victoria Conference Centre (inside the Empress Hotel) and the Crystal Gardens (technically part of the VCC, but across the street). This year’s attendence was expected to be 4,000, so an increased size in venue was to be expected!


We were fortunate to have local game store Pastime Sports & Games sponsor our trip to Gottacon this year. So on Friday we got early entrance to the vendors hall in order to setup the booth. Overall we all had a lot of fun manning the booth; we got to talk games with other gamers, share in laughs with other vendors, and overall got a vendor’s look into conventions. My favourite part was how excited folks got when they spotted an out-of-print RPG book they had been looking for.

After that the con kicked off, and we had the chance to explore everything it had to offer. The Crystal Gardens building is where we all spent most of our time, as it featured all of the board games, indie games, miniatures gaming, and the vendors hall. The main convention centre hosted the video games, RPG games, panel rooms and theatre, and the collectable card games.


Wargaming area at Gottacon.

After a tasty breakfast, we headed out for day two!

I caught the Creating a Hook 101 workshop, which looked at creating interesting stories as a GM that hooked players into it. In my experience as a GM for an online RPG, I know how frustrating it can be to come up with exciting hooks only to have half the players think it’s fun and the other half give it a sad trombone. Tips I picked up include 1- Have a question players need to answer, 2- Create mini-interludes that you can slip in whenever the game slows down, being sure to tie them back to major plot points, 3-When players make a joke suggestion, threaten to use them… or actually use them (also called chumming the dungeon), and 4- Make sure to have smaller scale hooks, so that the bigger ones have more meaning.

Proto-alley at Gottacon.

Saturday also featured the annual Gamer Silent Auction. Gottacon debuted a new app for this, that included tracking of items, bidding, and notifications if you’d been outbid. If you didn’t have a phone, computers were available to register bids. I found this so much better than the previous, paper system. Last year I couldn’t get in to the auction room to place a final bid because people were stalking the tables to make sure their bids won. My only negative feedback about the app was that it didn’t show you if you had the highest bid on an item; it only notified you if you were outbid. So if you wanted to login and check on other items, there was no way to tell if you had the high bid until you were notified. I also heard a few complaints from other participants (apparently the system crashed preventing people to place final bids, but I didn’t experience this). I hope they keep the app for the auction next year, but work to improve it based on feedback, because the benefits that I got out of the app definitely outweighed the negatives.

Learning Star Trek Attack Wing.

Blair and I were able to learn how to play Star Trek Attack Wing from a seasoned pro. It’s one of those games that you can take seriously, getting to know all the cards, bonuses, etc etc, or just play for fun. Blair got really hooked into the game. I enjoy it, particularly because I’m a Trekkie. Also, they have the Enterprise, NX-01! This is a great game for two players, because you can each have one ship or you can have more, and the strategy every time you play it will be different.


I have to admit, I was disappointed in the amount of attention paid to video games this year. It felt as though video games were front and centre at the convention and even in all the promo leading up to the event, while all the other types of gaming felt pushed to the side. I understand the want and need to chase sponsors and keep them happy, but it would still be nice to give a bit more balanced promotion to other events.

All in all we loved this convention, and can’t wait for next year!

Gottacon 2014

This past weekend we headed to Victoria to attend Gottacon, a yearly convention dedicated to bringing together gaming geeks of all sorts. First held in 2009, Gottacon focuses on being an inclusive gaming experience with a broad spectrum of games: from RPG and table, to miniatures, trading card games, LAN games, and more. Gottacon also offers a variety of panels, workshops, and special events.

This was our first year attending Gottacon, and our experience was definitely great!

With over 350 events scheduled, you can imagine that this convention was jam packed. We’ll be reviewing all the games we played over the coming weeks, but here’s a brief recap of the weekend.


Playing Space Fluxx on the ferry to Gottacon.

Attendees had the option to pre-register for games before the convention using a site called Warhorn, though it wasn’t required. I tried to signup following their instructions, but I never received an all-clear email from the con staff. That wasn’t a big deal though, because most of the board game events we were able to join in without pre-registering.

We went right to the board gaming once the doors opened at 5pm. Blair was very eager to play Kingdom Builder because of the Kickstarter project that he’s currently been eying up. In Kingdom Builder, players create their own kingdoms by building settlements, aiming to earn the most gold by the end of the game. Overall we both enjoyed the game, so much so that Blair backed the big box Kickstarter.

Learning Kingdom Builder.

I really wanted to see the Standard Action Live Action D&D, since it sounded so hilarious. A group of five RPGers played the Pathfinder module We Be Goblins 2. As someone still learning how to play table top RPGs, the tips they offered to new players were really reassuring: 1- Roll first, the group will help you with the numbers; 2- Don’t split the group. The game was lighthearted and the players had the audience splitting a gut with laughter. Watching a table top RPG play out was definitely interesting and showed me a different dynamic than what I’m used to in our groups.


Our Saturday start was a bit late because we were both tired. As we waited for the next round of games to start, we borrowed Chez Geek from the board game library and played with B’s cousin and her significant other.

Blair has been really wanting to play Dominion, so the four of us went to learn. There were so many others wanting to learn that this game, that two games had to start. Dominion is a deck-building game where players buy more cards to build their way to the most victory points. This game was a bit of a slow start for us, and I left feeling so-so towards it. I think another round of this game is in order before I make a final decision.

We checked out the silent auction, which included a lot of great deals for a variety of gaming products. I was hoping to snag a like-new copy of the Pathfinder Core Rule book, while B was hoping for like-new copies of Avalon and Coup. Unfortunately neither of us won!

Learning Small World.

Next we joined a round of Small World. Blair had played this before, but I hadn’t. I’d seen it played on Table Top, so was definitely wanting to play this (plus being a Disney theme parks fan, how could I not want to play?! Commence singing of “it’s a small world after all” in my head.). In Small World, your goal is to rule the world. You choose fantasy races that take over plots of land. This game runs really quickly, and it’s a lot of fun! Each race is matched with a random special bonus quality, which means each time you play the game will be different.

We’d met Adrian Walker, game designer from Giant Monster Games, earlier in the convention. He’d described their new game, Kingdom Bots, and the strategy player in Blair was intrigued. We made sure to catch this demo of the game,

Testing out Kingdom Bots.

where players play robot factions who try to build new civilizations while obliterating their enemy. All in all this game was great fun with some exciting new ideas alongside a well balanced implementation of old! Make sure you check out their Kickstarter and support this great game.

Next up was a game called Goblins. Admittedly, we were expecting a different game of Goblins; apparently Goblins is a popular name for a board game. This version is a dungeon crawler card game, still in the beta phase. (Unfortunately I can’t seem to find any information about this game on the web).

Since a copy of Amerigo is included in one of the pledge levels for the Kingdom Builder Kickstarter that Blair is eyeing up, he was keen to play this. In Amerigo, players explore “South America”, creating trade routes and building settlements. The neat thing about this game was the cube tower it came with.


Sunday morning we caught the Making Kickass RPG Adventures panel, comprised of veteran GMs Steve Saunders, Douglas Lloyd, Alex Flagg, Chris Tulach, and Jonathan Tweet. These guys offered great tips not only on creating great worlds for players, but also advice on running games and keeping players interested. I think one of the biggest take away for me is that as a GM, you’re a player too and need to have fun as well!

Unfortunately because we had the catch the ferry home, we weren’t able to sit in on anymore scheduled games. We did play a round of Revolution! with B’s cousin. In this game you’re trying to have the most influence in a town facing revolution. Using blackmail, force, or money, you try to spread your influence to earn victory points.

Of all the games we played this weekend, I would say that Small World and Revolution! were my favourites. Blair’s favourite new experiences were Kingdom Bots and Amerigo. Revolution! and Small World were two of his favourites for replayed games.

Final say

We both had a blast at the convention. I was definitely impressed by the coordination of everything and the fact that there were no lulls in programming. The attendees at the con were really friendly and welcoming, as we made some great connections with other gamers. Ticket costs were affordable compared to other cons I’ve been to. The Empress Hotel even provided a great food court (though I’m bummed I didn’t get to try the butter chicken poutine!) which was a nice added bonus, since often con food can be pretty awful.

This con is not to be missed, particularly if you’re a gamer of any kind. I would also recommend this con for convention first-timers.