Now that CanGames for 2012 is a wrap, I thought that I would write a post with some thoughts and observations about the convention this year. I'll start this off by saying that without the assistance and help of spross, I could not have done what I did at the convention this year, simply because of the problems I had with my back and the broken toes. I didn't take my cushion, the one that I had used at the convention last year, I was pleased to see that the Rideau Curling Club still had the comfy chairs as well, and those eased my pain at times. While walking at the convention was a bit tough, due to the broken toes, I was able to take a break from time to time, and just sit back and relax - at times putting my left foot up on a chair opposite me, and so that eased the pain in the toes somewhat. That, and a pair of Tylenol when I really needed it. While I didn't even consider not going to the convention this year, since I was feeling much better than I did at CanGames 2011, I knew that I wouldn't be able to do a lot of lugging around of the gaming material that I needed for the convention on my own, so I was really glad that spross was willing and able to give me a hand with carrying stuff around. Add to that the fact that I forgot the padlock for the downstairs lockers on the Sunday, and well, let's just say that I'm glad that SteveR and I are friends. :)
I also want to thank the CanGames 2012 committee for all their hard work and dedication in bringing us this installment of Ottawa's gaming convention. These folks work hard every year to make sure that the convention runs smoothly, and while there are a few glitches from time to time, this year's convention went pretty smoothly, with a couple of exceptions that I'll get to in the course of this post.
As a general rule, I come to CanGames every year for a variety of reasons, the gaming of course being primary. It's fun to play rpgs that you're familiar with with strangers, as you get to see different ways of playing characters, views on the game in question and its world and mechanics, and I find it a challenge to play with people different from those that I game with in my Friday and Sunday groups. Another reason I go to CanGames is to renew friendships and acquaintances, and to make new connections and ties to the gaming community. While I've known many of the CanGames organizers for at least a decade or more, there were a few new faces this year, and that's always a good thing - gaming conventions and sf & fantasy conventions need new blood among the organisers to keep them fresh. Among the friends I met there this year, there was spross (of course), jonaskaufman, thebitterguy, my friend knightbane from Smith Falls (who was only up for Saturday, with his band of cronies), tashiro and his lovely wife, shiftercat[info]shiftercat, my friend Douglas, and jagash, to name a few. There were some other friends and acquaintances that I saw and chatted with at the convention, and to them, as well as a few new folks, and I want to say that if you're a LiveJournal subscriber please post a comment here and say "Hi". I met and talked with a few new folks as well, including some who played in the games that I ran this past weekend, and I hope to see more of them at future incarnations of CanGames. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend from a social viewpoint as well, as well as the gaming aspects of it.
One of the things that surprises me every year at CanGames is the large contingent of kids and youngsters that one sees, and this year was no exception. This year's children had a good variety of games they could play in (ranging from the traditional Clay-o-Rama, the Star Wars rpg, various incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons, Ticket to Ride and other stuff), and there were a lot of games. The convention folks set up the games for most of the Children's gaming out on the curling sheet area in a central section that was walled off somewhat, surrounded by the various miniature games and other stuff going on out on the curling sheet surface. Good move on the part of the convention organisers. There were a lot of games of various types going on at the convention this year, and while the gaming tables away from the curling surface were put to good use this time out, I found that given the sheer size of the curling sheet surface, there didn't seem to be as much gaming out there, as plenty of tables were empty throughout the convention. From a gaming point of view, there was a lot of cool stuff out there on the game floors being played. While i can't discuss the miniatures games, not being that up on them, there were lots of board games out and on display and being played, including A Few Acres of Snow, Junta, Railroad Tycoon, Britannia, Elder Sign, A Game of Thrones, Outpost, History of the World (which I still want a copy of, but haven't found one yet), and a host of others too numerous to count. On the roleplaying game side, there was a good selection of games. While D & D (in its various incarnations) and Pathfinder were well-represented at the tables, there was also some other cool stuff - Mongoose's Traveller, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, Marvel Super Heroes, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the Maid RPG, My Life With Master, The Dresden Files, jagash's Spark RPG, Legend of the Five Rings, Dungeon World, MERP, James Bond RPG, a home brew game based on Futurama, Mekton Zeta (run by spross), Lady Blackbird, my own games of All For One: Régime Diabolique and the Primeval RPG, and so many more. There was a lot of variety this year, even with the more "mainstream" rpgs being run, and something for everyone to play. I was pleasantly surprised once more to see the willingness on the part of some folks to play new games and to try new things. My own games of All For One and Primeval RPG were good examples of that, with folks with no experience with the system playing both the former and the latter. Of course, there were the players who stuck to the rpgs that they knew and GMs with whom they felt comfortable. The main rpg area on the main floor near the convention Command Centre was full of games, as can be seen from this photo from Saturday:
If there was any disappointment that I had with the convention this year, it might have been the Marketplace. While I picked up a dice bag and some red marbles to use as Threat markers, there wasn't a lot of stuff that I was looking for this year at the convention. I had hoped to find a copy of Guardians of Order's Dreaming Cities RPG, but knightbane beat me to the copy that was at the CanGames Booth, and I might have picked up a copy of the relatively new Ticket to Ride: Asia game, but didn't see one there. A couple of other board games intrigued me as well, but I just didn't feel like buying them. I took quite a few games and stuff to sell at the CanGames Booth this year (I wrote a separate journal entry about this, so you can see what was for sale there), and while I didn't make a killing or anything, I did pretty well on how much I sold. The real problem with the CanGames Marketplace this year, beyond the small size of it that is expected at a venue such as the Rideau Curling Club - there were a total of ten dealers this year, up one from last year - is the fact that the Ottawa ComicCon was the week before, and thus I suspect a lot of folks didn't bring their best merchandise if they had booths there (and they might not have had a lot of stuff to sell). However, the fact that CanGames appeals more to gamers than the comics/media folks may have offset that somewhat.
That said, I only have a couple of gripes about the convention this year. First off, the parking. As usual, it was tough at times to find a parking space at the convention, unless one shows up every morning for 8:00 am or so. That said, this year there seemed to be a lot more space closer to the Rideau Curling Club than usual, and that makes me think that perhaps attendance was down. Secondly, there was the food. If one can call it that. While the entire food operation at the Curling Club had changed this year, one cannot eat french fries out of a warming tray. With only nine items on the menu all told, none of which were all that good (from what I heard) and none of which were healthy choices for someone like myself, it was a good thing that spross and I picked up sub sandwiches for lunch. I managed to the best I could, with a club sandwich platter and a hot dog platter on the Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, but not great food. I think the CanGames folks really need to provide a few more choice, make the food fresh and served hot (in the case of those dishes), and add a few healthy choices to the menu. While the bar was still there, for both evening game sessions, I kept the game tables dry, and the two games that I ran during the Friday and Saturday evenings came across much better. Speaking of the games, here's another photo from Saturday night's Primeval RPG game, with several players coming to grips with the situation at the moment:
The another annoying element in the main lobby area where the Command Centre for the convention was set up was the long bar that was set up between the two columns (you can see this clearly in the first photo up above). It was up at an uncomfortable height for writing at, and when the sign-up sheets were put out half an hour before games, the sheer number of people trying to get at the bar to see what was available was...sheer chaos. Still, I can understand the table's presence during the curling season, and it does have its purposes, so that's just a minor quibble. Or maybe it's that I'm too short for it? :)
Overall, I have to say that I was pretty happy with this year's incarnation of CanGames here in Ottawa. I saw friends and acquaintances, made new ones; ran four games (two each of All For One: Régime Diabolique and the Primeval RPG) that went very well and had full tables for them (despite having to actively recruit for three of the games), and hopefully will see some of these gamers at my tables next year; I took care of my health as best I could, and had a great time in the Ottawa gaming environment that is this convention. Heck, I'm already looking forward to CanGames 2013! :) And I hope that some of the folks reading this journal are already planning for the convention, and I'll see you there! :)
And that's it. The final post about this year's CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa. Hope everyone enjoyed these four journal entries about the convention, and please remember that comments are welcome. :)