Hundreds attend New Zealand’s largest annual board game convention

Ceedee Doyle, president of Wellycon, says the event is growing every year.

BRUCE MACKAY/Stuff

Ceedee Doyle, president of Wellycon, says the event is growing every year.

New Zealand’s largest annual board games convention, Wellycon, has begun and with its kick off it has filled the capital’s Indian cultural center with hundreds of people deeply engrossed in table games and role games.

This year is the convention’s biggest year yet with about 1,200 attendees, said Wellycon President Ceedee Doyle, who has helped organize the event for the past decade.

Wellycon had humble beginnings, starting as a “convention within a convention,” as Doyle puts it, about 15 years ago with just a few attendees. Now, its organizers have to revisit the venue every year due to its growth year on year, with attendees including people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

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Around 1,200 people attend this year's Wellycon.

BRUCE MACKAY/Stuff

Around 1,200 people attend this year’s Wellycon.

Inside the Cultural Center in the Wellington suburb of Kilbirnie on Kemp St on Saturday, three giant halls which are usually used for Indian weddings and other events were instead packed with chess, card and everything else to celebrate their shared love of the set. games and play as they wish.

From a bird’s eye view of the main hall, table after table could be seen of named people deeply involved in the games: eyes figured instruction manuals, fingers moved figures on the boards and built intricate castles and traded cards and rolled dice.

This year’s family convention included several new features. There were “intro” rooms run by veteran gamers offering curated experiences for people wanting to try out chess, tabletop, or role-playing games, and a game designer alley where players could meet local game developers and publishers and speak with them. about their latest innovations.

The convention does not have games itself, but people bring their own or can play one of the many games on offer which have been loaned by a game rental company based in the capital suburb of Island Bay.

People of all ages and walks of life in Wellington ditched the Saturday sun for a day of indoor play.

BRUCE MACKAY/Stuff

People of all ages and walks of life in Wellington ditched the Saturday sun for a day of indoor play.

People can buy, sell, browse and trade board games, or talk to one of the 60 volunteers who walk around in orange vests to help them choose something to play.

Volunteers are also there for those who may have social anxiety and want to participate but are unsure how to get into a group, or need help figuring out how to play something. They also helped individuals to pair up.

This year there was also a “play to win” room where attendees could play some of the newest international board games “before they even came out”, Doyle said, and have a chance to win one. 100 games to be won. Several tournaments were also underway.

The offer includes some of the newest board games straight from the global market.

BRUCE MACKAY/Stuff

The offer includes some of the newest board games straight from the global market.

People could give designers feedback on game prototypes after trying them out, which Doyle said was an important part of the game’s development process.

And a raffle was held for the board games of former Wellycon committee member Nigel McNaughton, who died this year.

Because when people’s shoulders started to lean a little on their table, there’s cafe and food stalls and plenty of seating for weary gamers to relax. For the hired player, there was thankfully no eating ban while playing and several were spotted holding one hand of cards and gobbling down a burger with the other.

“No matter where we are, the community is what makes Wellycon,” Doyle said.

Wellycon runs until Sunday 23 October. Tickets: wellycon.org.nz.

People could buy, sell or trade board games.

BRUCE MACKAY/Stuff

People could buy, sell or trade board games.

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