Terminal City 2017

This past weekend was Terminal City Tabletop Convention! In it’s fourth year, our favourite gaming convention was back for two days at Bonsor Recreation Centre in Burnaby.

Our attendance at it was a bit different this year. We’d bought tickets, but TCTC’s organizer, Shannon, reached out and asked if we’d be willing to volunteer. So instead of attendees we got to be volunteers!

This year I DM’d my first ever convention game of Dungeons & Dragons 5e. I was nervous going in, but I’d spent a lot of time in the weeks leading up to TCTC prepping, so at least I was ready. My session was called “Intro to 5e” and it was meant as a learning game for newbies who were interested in tabletop RPGs or to 5th edition. I ran the 5e Starter Box, because it’s a great scenario to get people into 5e, it comes with pre-generated characters, and gives newbies a chance to dip their toes into the actual role playing side of things (rather than being so mechanics focused). My session filled up on sched.org a few weeks ago, which helped to bolster me a bit. It turned out to be a lot of fun!

Day one hosts the ever popular Gamer silent auction. You can put games you no longer play into the auction for $2 per entry, and pickup new-to-you games for a decent price! We always bring in games, and always end up with a haul of new games.

Blair and Aaron as Game Stewards, check out Tsuro. Photo by Rebecca Blissett at the Vancouver Courier.

Blair volunteered as a Game Steward. Attendees could borrow board games from the Game Library, and then Blair and other Game Stewards were on hand to teach the various games. It’s a great option for convention goers who weren’t able to get into schedules games. And if a game they wanted to play wasn’t scheduled, it was an opportunity to play it!

In the evening we borrowed Dice City from the library. It seemed intriguing to try. It reminded me a lot of Machi Koro, in that you roll dice to activate powers, and have to build your city up to gain points. We enjoyed it so much it got added to our ‘to-acquire’ game list.

We also tried a game called Bear Valley. Players have to follow a trail while avoiding bear attacks. Unfortunately we found the instruction booklet overly complicated and had to give up on it.

Obligatory convention dice picture.

We got to play Nevermore on Sunday. It’s a card drafting game somewhat like Sushi Go, except here you’re trying to build a suit of a certain type, and then attack your opponents. Not a bad little quick game. The artwork on it is really lovely.

Blair helped to run a Pandemic Survival tournament. It’s definitely an interesting take on traditional Pandemic. Multiple Pandemic boards are setup exactly the same way (the player decks and outbreak decks). Cards are flipped at the same time, and whichever team of two can find a cure for the three viruses in the least number of steps, wins.

Terminal City 2016

One of our favourite conventions took place this weekend. Terminal City Tabletop Convention happened in Burnaby at Bonsor Recreation Centre. This year we were able to attend both days, and our friend Chris joined us.

Saturday was the busier of the two days, both in regards to attendance and the number of games we played!

It’s also the day the ever popular Board Game Silent Auction takes place–something we always look forward to. The auction is a great chance for us to find new homes for games we don’t play anymore (it’s only $2 per entry) and it’s a chance for us to pickup new-to-us games for a good price.

Friend Chris and DM Sean playing 5e.

Even since Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition was released I wanted to give it a try. I’d heard good things about it, namely that they really slimmed the system down and put a greater emphasis on actual role playing. Plus watching Critical Role just helped to increase my interest in the game. DM Sean was hosting an intro to D&D5e session using the Starter Box, and we were fortunate that there was space for all three of us to jump in.

Sean was a great DM, helping us learn the system, and weaving an interesting story that put the system into action. Overall I was impressed with 5e and am looking forward to getting my hands on the Player’s Handbook and possibly running my own campaigns in it.

Learning Machi Koro at Terminal City.

After lunch we borrowed Machi Koro from the library and Chris taught us. It’s a deck building game that’s part strategy, part luck. On your turn you roll a die, which activates abilities in your city, which in turn earns you money. You use the money you earn to build more buildings, and eventually build landmarks. First person to build all their landmarks, wins. I LOVED it. So much so that we ended up purchasing a copy… *cough cough*.

Next up was a 6-person game of Star Trek Attack Wing. We learned this last year at Gottacon, but it’s a fun game nonetheless. In a simple game, players control various Star Trek vessels and try to blast their opponents out of the sky, being the last vessel standing. This is done using certain ship maneuvers (each ship is different), and different attack abilities. Then you roll dice against your opponent. There are characters and technology that are added to your ships to help enhance them. In a more advanced game, you play certain scenarios based out of the Star Trek universe.

Castle of Mad King Ludwig

I taught Castles of Mad King Ludwig for our last game of the day. Players are trying to build the craziest castle to impress the Mad King. They do this by purchasing rooms and adding them to their own castles. You get points for particular arrangements, having the most of a certain type of room, and having the most square footage of a certain type of room. This is one I really enjoy that’s on my wish list.

It’s amazing how quickly a day can go at a convention! Only a few games played, but it takes up the whole day.

The next day we checked out proto-alley. TCTC has always been a big supporter of game developers, always making room for them to demo and get feedback about their in-development games.

First up was Overpopulation. You’re randomly given a type of government, which gives you your starting resources. Then you have to balance building resources, keeping your people alive, and earning points.

The lovely cards that make up Townbuilder.

Next we checked out TownBuilder, to see what designer Eric Raué had done in terms of updating since we last played. This game is part resource management, part deck building. Both Blair and I love it, and we can’t wait for it to eventually go up on Kickstarter.

Next we played Eric’s new proto-game, Garden of Shadows. Here you play as ninjas trying to wreck havok during the Emperor’s party.

All in all we had a blast again. Thank you Shannon for coordinating another great year of Terminal City.




Terminal City 2015

This past Saturday, Blair and I attended Terminal City Tabletop Convention in Burnaby.

In it’s second year, Terminal City is a two-day convention dedicated solely to tabletop games. This year’s event moved across the street to the Bonsor Recreation Centre in the Metrotown neighbourhood of Burnaby. Like last year’s event, this year’s TCTC was packed with gaming demos, tournaments, an awesome silent auction, a dedicated indie game section, and a kids’ zone.

“Teacher Wanted” sign at TCTC.

I love the friendly environment of this convention! A neat feature was the “Players Wanted” and “Teachers Wanted” signs that were available. If you were wanting to play a game and looking for more players, or wanting to learn a game, you could borrow one of these signs so that people knew you were looking to game. It was a great way to break the ice because then folks could simply jump in on a game without the awkwardness of trying to figure out if there was room for you. We met a lot of awesome people this way.

We arrived about an hour into the convention having started, so we weren’t able to jump into some game demos. Instead we checked out the con to see what folks were playing, had a peek at the silent auction, and went over to the proto alley.

Because the game demos had already begun, we borrowed a copy of Tokaido from the lending library. Blair really wanted to learn some games that have been featured on Tabletop, so this was a great opportunity to do it.

Learning Tokaido.

Our friend Adrian from Giant Monster Games had spotted us with a “Teacher’s Wanted” sign on the table. He jumped in to teach us and another couple how to play. Tokaido is a fun, easy going game that’s quick to learn. It requires a bit of strategy, as you need to figure out what goals you want to achieve and how much risk you’re willing to take (since other people can fill up spots trying to earn pieces towards goals too).

After that we borrowed a copy of Forbidden Desert. This time around we had Shannon, the TCTC organizer, as our game teacher! He taught us and another newbie how to play.

Our completed ship in Forbidden Desert.

I have to say, I loved this game so much we may have purchased a copy during the con…. This is another one that’s easy to learn, but it’s also a team game, so you have to work together to find all the pieces to your flying ship before the desert kills you. Originally we thought we’d won this game, but looking at the rules again a few days later it turns out we didn’t.

The next game on deck was Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards Duel at Mt Skullzfyre. The concept is that you’re a wizard trying to kill off all the other wizards. Odds are, you’re going to be killed. A lot. You build your three part spells using cards, and unleash them. Be warned, if you don’t have a high enough initiative odds are you will be killed. But if you have a high initiative and attack people, they will attack you back on your turn and you will be killed. I found the concept kind of neat. The instruction booklet is really poorly designed, so it was a struggle for us to read the text and figure out how to play. Fortunately we found someone who knew how to play to teach us!

A roomful of happy gamers!

Next up we took a crack at Wits and Wagers. One person asks a question, and then everyone has to make a guess at what the answer is. Then you reveal all the answers and everyone bids on what they think is the closest to the real answer without going over (all answers are numeric). This wasn’t a bad game, but I think there are other party games out there that get more laughs and engagement from the group.

The silent auction closed about then. Because it was up on the stage it was pretty funny to see the people camping out next to bid sheets to make sure that their bid was the winning one.

We snuck out for some dinner after that.

Learning protogame Town Builder.

On our way back we headed to the protoalley to learn Town Builder. This is a card game where you try to collect resources and build your town, to make a better town than your competitors, and score points based on certain goals. The goals will vary from game to game too. We both loved that the game was simple to learn, but there was still a lot of in-depth strategy and planning you needed to do. It’s a good game for both casual and hard core gamers alike. We can’t wait to see this game launch on Kickstarter and are eager to get a copy!

After that we played a quick game of The Hobbit Love Letter, before deciding that we were pooped and were ready to head for home. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make it back for the Sunday due to ongoing home renoes.

All in all we both love Terminal City and can’t wait for next year!

Top 5 Tips for Tabletop RPG Newbies

Dice tray with dice, and a Pathfinder RPG character sheet.This post originally appeared in the Terminal City Tabletop Convention program booklet. See my recap of the weekend here. 

Six months ago I dove into the world of tabletop RPGs. If you’ve never played, or are relatively new to it like me, RPGs might seem a little intimidating. Over the past months I’ve discovered a fun world of storytelling, laughter, friendship, and fun. If you’re thinking about getting into tabletop RPGs, but are a little uncertain, here are my Top 5 Tips for Newbies.

1. It’s all about the group. Who you game with can have a big impact on your experience. I tried to get into RPGs several years ago, but the experienced players were impatient with newbies, and they didn’t appreciate input that was outside of their already defined box. I’ve since learned that groups like this are the exception; not the rule. The two groups I game with now are encouraging, and are keen on spreading their love for the game to new players. If the group you’re in isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to find another.

2. Character sheets are not that scary. The first time you roll up a character, you may feel a little overwhelmed about all the things you need to consider – skills, traits, race, alignment… Don’t worry: if you have a good group (see #1) they will walk you through what you need to know and why it’s important. Each time you play, you’ll find it easier to remember what to roll and what stats give you what sorts of bonuses.

3. Don’t be afraid to sit back and listen. There will be a lot to take in the first few games you play. If you aren’t sure what or how the heck you’re actually supposed to contribute, sit back and soak in the game. Watch how experienced players add to the story and interact with the Game Master. You’ll absorb a lot in the process.

4. Don’t be afraid to jump in. You may feel a little out of your element when you first start playing, because you aren’t a rogue, cleric, or druid in ‘real’ life. But nobody expects you to know all the magic user spells the first time through. Jump in and see what your mind can come up with.

5. Ask. Gamers are a friendly sort (generally, but see rule #1), so if you have a good group they will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Sometimes experienced players forget what it’s like to be new to the game, so if you don’t ask, they might not realize you need help. If something isn’t making sense, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Terminal City Tabletop Con 2014

Terminal City Tabletop Convention happened this past weekend in Burnaby. This was the first year for TCTC. It’s size made it a more friendly affair. Con volunteers and guests were incredibly friendly, and you could tell from the atmosphere that everyone there was passionate about tabletop. You didn’t feel like you were mobbed in the crowd, and other gamers were happy to have you jump into their games.

As we were checking out the second one, someone came over and asked if we’d like to play Shadows Over Camelot. Since neither of us had played, we decided to jump in! We had a full group playing, attempting to fight evil and fill the round table with white swords.

Learning Shadows Over Camelot.

There was a traitor among us, who’s goal was to fill the table with black swords or overcome Camelot with siege engines. I was a little nervous since I drew the traitor card, but in the end I managed to win. I’ve heard this game is a tough one for the ‘good’ side to win, so I’m eager to play again.

After that we asked if we could join a game of Smash Up. Science fiction villains team up to take down bases and earn victory points – how could that not be fun? I got to be dinosaur wizards, which felt rather epic.

Destroying bases in Smash Up!

TCTC also featured a Proto-Alley, where local game designers could demo and play-test their new creations. Our friends from Giant Monster Games and Parallax Games were there. Though we didn’t have the opportunity to play any of the games in Proto-Alley, we did have the chance to connect with some local developers. Hopefully we’ll have some new game reviews for you soon!

Terminal City also featured a large board game library, where convention goers could borrow whatever game they liked for free. We took out Fleet Admiral and gave it a whirl.

Overall I definitely recommend Terminal City Tabletop Convention, and am looking forward to next year!