Tuesday, September 27, 2016

ToonCon 2016

This past weekend the family and I attended ToonCon 2016. Last year just The Boy and I attended and that went over really well and The Girl was super disappointed that she didn’t get to go, so we vowed that this year we would attend as a family. Amanda almost didn’t go – earlier in the year she signed up for a yoga teacher training workshop in Hamilton that would have ended up running through part of the weekend, but it was cancelled a few weeks back and so she was able to come with us afterall!

As the weekend approached I was horrified to see the weather forecast was for rain – not a chance of rain, not periods of rain, just RAIN! There was even a Rainfall Warning issued by the Environment Canada Weather Service! Why would this be an issue if we’re indoors playing games all weekend? Well… we don’t own a car and the transit system in Saskatoon is not all that great, so we bike everywhere we go and the Sutehrland Hall - where the event was to take place - was clear on the other side of the city and it meant if it were raining steadily we’d all be quite soaked by the time we arrived. Also, it would make getting there on Saturday with all the stuff I needed for my REGINA TRENCH! challenging to say the least!


Undaunted, we set off in the rain Friday evening.

In the end it was very light rain Friday evening – and though we call carried a complete change of clothes – we didn’t end up needing them! By the time we left it was cold and damp – but the rain had actually stopped and that was the last we saw of it all weekend!

We arrived a bit late and most of the games had already started. Amanda had been concerned that we might end up being late and having to just play on our own and we could have just stayed at home and done that (as both the games we were to play Friday evening were games we already owned!)!

GAME ONE - 7 Wonders

As she predicted, instead of all of us all getting to play with different people we ended up play with each other – and Roch, who is a totally good guy, so all was not lost!

The Girl was on fire Friday night and ended up with the highest score among all the 7 Wonders and so won a $10 gift certificate from Dragon’s Den. She was exceptionally pleased with herself – not that she won the gift certificate – or even that she won at all – but rather than she was actually able to collect up a bunch of science cards and collect sets of them – something she’s been trying to do for ages since we first played it! 

GAME TWO - Dominion

Next we played a couple games of Dominion. In our first game, The Girl and I played against a couple of guys who hadn’t played much before. I think there were a few cards in the set up that were from a set I don’t have and hadn’t played with before (Intrigue? I think?). For once I actually beat The Girl (by ONE POINT!).

How is it I end up with these hands…?

The second game I went was so super fast I didn’t even get to take a picture. Amanda had played against the same pair and said the same thing. They clearly played a LOT and knew exactly what they were doing. But they did it SO FAST I didn’t even get to see what they were doing!?

One of the great things about going to a convention and playing with other people is that everyone has different playing styles and it’s fun to see the different ways other people do things – especially ones that are really good at it – but these guys were so fast I DIDN’T get to see at all what they were doing.

When play I set cards down one at a time and say what I’m doing out loud – as much to keep track of what I’m doing myself (because I’m a bit of an idiot) - but also because I like teaching games and teach a lot of them to my kids so I am always open about what I’m doing and why and how and such. These folks were so fast as soon as I reached for the card I was going to buy they were putting cards down – usually their whole hand at once - and grabbing for their buy before I’d cleaned up. By the time I’d actually cleaned up my own stuff into my discard pile and drew my next hand – it was my turn again!? I have no idea what they did or how. I’m not saying they were cheating or anything – I highly doubt they were – but they could have been for all I know! I guess they’re used to playing with a different caliber of player and I shouldn’t expect everyone to play my way…

Since my second game was so fast I got to sit and watch Amanda and The Girl play their second game. Now here’s another guy who was totally on top of his game (in the orange cap) – Morgan Galloway – and he was an excellent guy to play against (I got to play Star Realms with him later in the weekend). While he was very, very good at the games he took his time and was very clear and up front about what he was doing each turn and I learned a lot from watching him play.

Later in the weekend he won a game in the raffle (Sewer Pirats) and decided it wasn’t a game he’d likely ever play and so he gave it to the kids!?

There was other games after this, but we had decided that 10pm was late enough for us to be out – especially considering we had a 40 minute bike ride home – and so didn’t sign up for any of the games that went later into the evening. 

As I mentioned earlier it had stopped raining and so we pedaled home in the chilly damp evening – but arrived home more or less dry. While Amanda and the kids went off to bed – I went back to working on the REGINA TRENCH! terrain – talk about leaving it to the last minute, eh!? I actually ended up staying up to 4am to complete it.


I was a bit of a wreck in the morning having had 3 hours of sleep, so Amanda and the kids headed off to the con on their own. I tried to sleep a bit more (and mostly failed) and then went out and did my usual Saturday morning errands (Library and Bakery) and then tried to get there for the second game.

Again it was cool and damp and overcast most of the day, but we didn't get rained on. Actually Amanda and the kids got a lift to the Con with my mom (they also hauled my terrain and toys there as well!).

When we’d signed up I think there was only one or two spots open for Terra Mystica – so not enough room for all three of us (Remember, Amanda didn’t sign up with us originally as she’d had other plans) – but The boy really wanted to try it out and signed up for it on his own.  I (and later Amanda) had signed up to play Sentinels with The Girl. This being her first year I didn’t want her off playing games on her own. She plays a pretty good game – but she is just 10.

GAME FOUR  - Stone Age

I had planned to get there for the second game at 12:30. As it turned out I wasn’t able to drag my ass there until after one and found the family playing Stone Age together with Doctor John. Looks like a fun game.

GAME FIVE – Roll for the Galaxy

This game was fun enough, I guess. I ended up playing with The Girl (who has played a LOT of RACE for the Galaxy, but only played ROLL for the Galaxy once before) and three guys that hadn’t played at all before. As I’d played it twice (once at New Years and once in Calgary on our summer vacation) – and played a lot of RACE for the Galaxy - I was the “expert” at the table. There’s a LOT going on in Roll for the Galaxy and has a bit of a learning curve. It took me six games of Race to really grok what was going on and I have a hard enough time keeping track of the differences. So also having to try and explain the game and the various strategies (which I’m not so sure I did a great job at) while trying to figure out what the hell I was doing myself was a bit overwhelming (especially on three hours sleep). I think I actually won, but it was a pretty hollow victory.

A LOT of people tell me they like it WAY better than Race for the Galaxy. I like both. 


One of the highlights of ToonCon is the Game auction. John and Dave tag-teamed auctioning off 270 games in a little over two hours.

It is fast and furious and it’s easy to get a little out of control – which is why I spent a good deal of time Friday night looking at all the games that were up for auction and making a list of games I was potentially interested in and when I got home I looked them all up and scratched a few off and figured out how much each of them was actually worth and what I was really willing to pay for them and noted down what my maximum bid would be (so… yeah… I guess I was actually only up until 3am working on terrain – the other hour was sorting out what I was going to bid on at the auction). I did the same thing last year and though there was a dozen games on my list and over $200 in my pocket – I did not go over the maximum I was going to bid and so I came home with ONE game (Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan), which I paid $10 for (and still haven’t played!?).

I assured Amanda that this year would likely be the same.

It wasn’t.


I’ll point out that I did not go over any of my maximum bids (and my maximum bids weren’t any higher than last year!). Though I did end up bidding on two games that weren’t on my list originally (Doctor Panic and City Hall), I got both of them for $10 or less each. In fact we spent less than $200 on this whole stack (which is good, because my game budget was blown ages ago and this was more or less grocery money we were spending – it’s rice and beans for the next month kids!). The Sentinel Tactics stuff alone is worth about $200 – the copy of Super Dungeon Explore was still in the shrink wrap (another $100 game) as was Albion and NefertitiDominion: Prosperity and City Hall weren’t in the shrink wrap, but had clearly never been played (counters unpunched, cards still in shrink wrap).For me, Star Trek: Five Year Mission was also a big score because it was actually pretty high on my wishlist of games (Porsperity and Super Dungeon Explore were on the list as well, but not really priorities…).

Even Amanda, who is a bit of a penny pincher, got swept up in the excitement of it all and was encouraging me to bid on games that weren't even on my list (most of them were games that had starting bids of $1) - because she is, if nothing else, a sucker for a GOOD DEAL - most of them I didn't win - because others were thinking the some thing - but that is how I ended up with Doctor Panic. Quarantine was also one she had pointed out the night before and was only on my list because she had suggested it - so it wasn't all just me going nuts!

All in all a pretty good haul!

Saturday Night was the big show – I ran my REGINA TRENCH! game – which focused on the First Canadian Division’s action at the Battle of Thiepval Ridge on the Somme front, which was fought 100 years ago this week! Adrenaline was all that was keeping me going at this point. The game was a RIOT and truly the highlight of the weekend for me! So fun to play with these fine gentlemen. I’ll have a whole separate post about that one… stay tuned!

Amanda and the kids played Castles of Burgundy. They apparently thought it was a fun game and had a good time as well (I should hope so considering it's one of the top ten games on Board Game Geek)

As with Friday evening there were other games that went on later into the evening. But after Castles of Burgundy we called it a night and head home.

Slept like a log.


Sunday morning was bright and sunny and there were a few others that rode their bikes today. Too bad the Sutherland hall doesn’t actually have any bike racks… Mind you, they don’t exactly have a parking lot either, so….

Games getting going on Sunday. 

GAME SEVEN - Pandemic

A game we have and are all familiar with – and we all got to play at different tables with different people! (Well except me and The Girl who played together).

Amanda’s Game

The Boy getting ready to start his.

The Girl and the two fellows we played with. We got in two games with these guys. We won the first one easily enough, so we upped the ante and added another epidemic card to the deck. That second game we lost – but only by one turn. we lost because we ran out of cards in the player deck. I HAD five cards to cure the last disease and was two spaces away from a research station… I’ve never actually lost due to running out of cards before – we’ve either won or lost well before the last cards came up!

The Boy had only played one game of Pandemic and then wandered off to look at things in the "Game Library". We found him later playing Munchkin Gloom with one of the organizers – Steve – a guy I used to sell Magic cards waaaaaaaaaay back when I worked at the original Collector’s Edge (like, twenty years ago!!). The Boy is a huge introvert (not unlike the rest of his family) and not the sort to go and just start up conversations with strangers – so we were pretty amazed to discover this going on. It was a testament to how very relaxed everything was here and how comfortable he felt. I think he was truly “in his element”.

GAME EIGHT -  Five Tribes

The Boy and I had decided to play this last year after watching the Tabletop episode about it. It was fun so we signed up again.

The Girl and I ended up playing with my friend Brent who had signed up thinking it was Samarkand - a game he’d played with Amanda and myself before at our place. We had a lot of fun. Brent is a GREAT guy to play games with. We were all figuring out the game so we’d point out things to each other and helping each other figure out how to do what we wanted to try and do. Brent ended up with this wicked cool Djinn that allowed him to place a camel on any place that only had meeples on it – so our game was relatively quick and Brent crushed it! Keira and I amazingly tied for second.

You can see the back of Amanda’s head in the background at the table she was playing at. It seems they were a bit more… competitive... So while she sort of had fun (but not nearly as much fun and Brent and Keria and I!) she did recognize that it is a really interesting game with a tonne of replayability. This has gone on the list of acceptable games to acquire for the family (well… maybe next year…).

The Boy ended up playing with our friend Leah and another fellow I don’t know - he seemed pretty impressed at The Boy's ability to play the game - "i'd overheard him say "you play better than my wife!" (to which The Boy, who is not the most tactful person ever, replied "HOW BAD IS YOUR WIFE!?"). Seems like they had a lot of fun too. Leah and The Boy ALSO tied for second!?

In the break between the last two game Steve got both out kids and Al (from the Dragon’s Den)’s kids playing a game of Get Bit.

The Boy went off and played Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar for his final game of the weekend. He said it was fun enough, but there was a lot of stuff going on in the game and it was a bit overwhelming and hard to figure out the strategies behind it. I asked if he thought he’d have a better idea how to play next time now that he’d played a game, but he wasn’t so sure…

The rest of us went and played Star Realms. I’m not sure why? Maybe Tzolk’in only had one space left or maybe I just wasn’t keen on the idea. A friend of mine (Other Tim) had brought over Star Realms to play with us a few months back and I was kind of “meh” on the game – I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it… So I’m not quite sure why I signed me and The Girl (and later Amanda up for it). Regardless, I’m pretty glad I did because I actually had a GREAT time playing the game.

My first game was against Gary (gosh, I hope that’s his name…) – who you can see playing against The Girl in the picture above – and it was a lot of fun. I can’t remember who won…? Might have been me.

My second game was against Morgan (mentioned above) and I’m pretty sure I got beat down pretty hard in that game. But it was totally fun and he’s a great guy to play with. Afterwards I felt a little like Scot Pilgrim near the end of his epic adventure after his first showdown with Gidian (“I feel like I learned something… it’s too bad I’m DEAD”).

I got in a third game playing a four-player-free-for-all with some of the guys you can see at the table in the background; Nick and Terry (I think…) and… dang it, I can’t remember the other guys name. I should really take notes. It was a BLAST! At first I thought they’d all played a lot before – as they all seemed very good at it, but it turned out only one of them had, and he had played a LOT – and he skooled us all pretty good. Most of the game it was pretty much the three of us against him – and he very EASILY could have taken us out one-by-one and won the game, but, being very much in control of the game, he instead decided to kind of just toyed with us and prolong the game. Eventually we took him down, but we were all beat down so badly (by him!) that one more round saw they other  me and Nick going down and leaving Terry the victor! Or maybe it was Terry I took out and then Nick took me out…? Damn I can’t remember that either!? Ah well, I do remember having fun – and that’s the important bit, right?

Don King patiently taught Amanda the game. She enjoyed it so much I think I heard her mention something about Xmas stocking stuffers... I don't know, I think the kids will probably use their two gift certificates to go and get themselves a copy sooner than that! (One of the guys I was playing with - Terry? - had won a gift certificate for one of the games he had played in, but gave it to The Boy - apparently he'd driven up from Moos Jaw and didn't make it to town often and doubted he'd ever get to using it). 

If anyone that actually played this weekend reads this and notices discrepancies between what I’ve posted and… you know… reality – PLEASE feel free to post a comment correcting me. I was running on fumes most of the weekend and it’s all a bit of a haze at this point…

If I could sum the whole weekend up into one sentence: Games were played with awesome people and much fun was had.

I would like to give a super huge thanks to John Burt and all the other organizers for putting together another fantastic weekend of gaming – we’ll all be back for sure next year!!

(and next year will be pretty close to the 100th anniversary of Paschendale…) 

Hopefully I'll get posts up about the terrain making and the REGINA TRENCH game later today or perhaps tomorrow. 


  1. I am glad you enjoyed it, I am suffering from Con Plague (a wicked cold) and I have not sorted any of my games yet. I guess that is tomorrow.

    Just to help, since I know everyone you talked about. John was the name of the guy that Leah and Finnegan were playing 5 Tribes with. Gary is the name of the guy you were playing Star Realms with, the final guy in the four way Star Realms game is Justin.

    1. Justin! That was it! Thanks John!

      Hope you're feeling better soon!