Wednesday, 7 December 2005

GameCon-1 Blog: Day 1

Finally GameCon-1 has arrived and I expect a lot of fun from this event, the first ever in South East Asia. Since I was one of the judges for the board game tournaments, being there early was inevitable. There goes my precious Saturday morning sleep. Although I only arrived at the MidValley Exhibition Hall at about 10am with Seng, the area was already bustling with people from PanGlobal running around trying to get the show on the road. Of course being just a volunteer, I had no t-shirt and no passes so getting in was a little tougher than expected. After asking around and finding out the person in charge, we were given our t-shirts which Edwin insisted that Seng wore and our Exhibitor tags as well which gave me access to almost every bit of the convention.

A huge crowd of people greeted me in the hall. Most of them were gearing up their fingers in the trading card tournament (Magic The Gathering and VS Marvel). Apparently there is a cash prize of USD$10,000 up for grabs. Nowonder everyone is here so early. I would to if I had the chance to win that much cash prize.

After settling down in an obscure corner or should I say the "quiet" corner where the boardgame tournaments will be held, I sat myself on a chair and started getting some paper work done. Well when I said paper work, it was more like reading through the list of participants for the Settlers of Catan tournament. Although obscure it may be (its located at the very back, next to the toilets), I had a security guard to take care of the area. Talk about safe!

Oh look, they even made individual sign boards for each section. My one regret is that if they had huge banners hanging from the ceiling, the whole event would have been extremely eye-catching. But of course, the cost to have that would be astronomical.

Next to the "quiet" corner was a display of very well built models consisting of vehicles from World War 1 and 2 as well as the solitary Gundam fighter from some war that will take place in the future. Each of these models, personally I would consider them a work of art because it must have taken the owner countless of hours to build them and spray them into such marvelous masterpieces. I always wanted to build models but I just do not have the patience at all.

Besides just board games there were the usual table top games such as Warhammer and Confrontation. There were some other ones as well where mostly expatriates love to play. I know some played the game for over 8 hours and it hasn't ended yet. Wow, talk about long.

I would say that these games do look rather interesting. All I see are people carrying measuring tapes around and some funny looking red straw to enable them to have a "line of sight" view of the battlefield. Next on the event was Tom Vassel's talk on using board games in classrooms. Tom is no amateur when it comes to boardgames, he has over 850 games in his personal collection and he uses it in his classrooms in Korea where he teaches over there.

Thanks to bad lighting and my miserable camera phone, the images here didn't turn out as nicely I would have hoped. Its my fault since I rushed out of my house to get to the exhibition. The talk given by Tom was held outside of the convention hall thus allowing members of the public as well as the teaching community an opportunity to listen to Tom and guess what? An education fair was held right next door.

On my way back from the talk I noticed two guys playing a game which really caught my eye. It was a Star Wars board game. Actually you have to see what really caught my eye in the picture below.

Yes it was the huge model of the AT-AT walker right next to him. Believe it or not, I saw them using it on their board game although it took up about a third of the board. It should anyway, I wonder if you could do a Skywalker and bring it down in the board game itself. That would be nice.

After all the sightseeing, it was time for work. The tournament was about to begin and the first game was Settlers of Catan. After setting up the draw for 12 contestants, it was obvious that this group were seasoned veterans in this game. Everyone took their own time to think as well try to outplay their opponents. It was a pity because this group had good players and that there wasn't any seedings.

The other group on the other hand was more balanced with some seasoned players as well as young players. Among all of the contestants, the winner claimed to have played over 800 games since starting the game two years ago. Now isn't that a tall tale? But no one can claim that because she is considered the number 1 Catan player in Malaysia and she will be ranked internationally.

In between tournaments and games I would sometimes wander around the exhibition hall, checking out these guys painting their models in the booth next to the tournament booth.

Other times I would see the whats all the fuss about the trading card tournament. Well they gave me a USD$10,000 reason to why they would cram themselves up and wait patiently for each turn.

Of course I would admire the beauty of the terrain settings for various table top games such as Warhammer. I wonder how long did it take for them to set up. But it will never take as long as painting each miniature. I heard some can take up to 20hours of painting time to complete and do they look gorgeous.

The Acquire tournament was starting tomorrow so I thought I would try out a few rounds of Acquire with some people who failed to qualify for the next round of Settlers. After teaching the rules to these guys together with Seng and Long, we couldn't finish the game as the next round of Settlers was starting.

After everything has been completed, I looked forward to returning home and having a nice dinner with Chuen. On the way back I noticed this board game called "The Hottest Race" and it was created by PanGlobal. Not too bad. It depicts our Malaysian F1 circuit. It was a pity I didn't see this earlier.

Finally it was time to head to my car and I noticed that the Christmas season has arrived, well in Midvalley of course. The place was beautifully decorated and there were plenty of people taking photos around.

Coming up next, Day 2 of GameCon-1 and the grand finale of the other tournaments.


Please bear with me as my camera phone is rather pathetic or "cacated". I tried my best to keep my hand from shaking but alas, some pictures didn't quite portray the true essence of what I wanted to capture.

Related sites:
Board Game Cafe
Board Game Geek

More photos can be found here.