Published on November 9th, 2015 | by Cheryl CS0
Con Watch: KefCon 2015
For some, the convention season is drawing to a close. For others, the winter con drought is the perfect excuse to create something new. As tabletop gaming begins anew its steady rise to popularity, so do the tabletop conventions and cafes begin multiplying in response.
KefCon, the city’s newest tabletop convention, is a perfect example of Edmonton’s growing thirst for board games and card games of the tabletop variety. KefCon 2015 will be held on November 14th and 15th, 2015 at the Queen Mary Park Community League, offering tabletop fans a jam-packed weekend of gaming without ever having to pick up a controller.
We spoke to KefCon founder, Arsan Buffin, to learn more about the event, what to expect, and why he thinks there’s a niche for these kinds of conventions in Edmonton.
What is KefCon? What does the name stand for?
KefCon stands for “Keeping Evenings Fun,” or “Keeping Evenings Fun Board Game Convention.” It represents the ideal time most people do social activities, which is in the evenings! Board Games are no different and are usually hosted/played during evenings when folks get off work and school.
Why do you think Edmonton needs another tabletop convention?
Edmonton already has two other board game events, one in the spring called Gobfest (Games on Board Festival) and one in the summer, which is called GameAlot. So obviously the demand is there for board game events! I wanted to take my favourite things about these events and mix them into it’s own thing. I also think that as there’s a gap [in time] between those two events, the fall/winter is a good time to have an event. It gives folks something to do for a weekend in November, and through this event people can get exposed to board games that they might want to pick up for the holiday season for the gamers in their lives! I think it’s definitely an ideal time for an event such as this.
What kinds of games will be available to attendees?
Since this is our maiden voyage as an event, our focus is to start simple in terms of games. The theme is “A Tabletop Odyssey” and people who sign up for the event can learn up to 10 entry-level board games that take no time at all to both learn and play. Each of these games is staple to any tabletop gamers’ convention and they’re great ways to learn the mechanics present in more rules-heavy games. If people complete the 10 games featured in the Tabletop Odyssey Event, they can earn a Bachelor of Board Games Degree! This certifies that they know how to play these games that they’ve learned. So, in the future, if they go to any of the local board game cafes or their own game nights, they have a variety of titles that they are familiar with.
We are also featuring board games that are freshly on the market from Kickstarter campaigns, new release games, and games that are harder to find either because they’re out of print, or not yet released in North America. I wanted to tap all of these avenues so people can learn the best games from the past, present and future! If people just want to come and browse the library of games, there will be around 250 games available for people to choose from and play.
What does the entrance fee entail? What will attendees have access to over the weekend?
There are 3 fees for the weekend. $50 gets you entry for both Saturday and Sunday, whereas if you go to each individually, Saturday is $30 for the day, and Sunday is $20 for the day. On Saturday, the event runs from 9 a.m. to midnight, so that’s 15 hours of gaming! On Sunday, the event runs from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Attendees have access to the many events we have planned throughout the weekend, so there’s the Tabletop Odyssey, a fun evening event called The Evening of Intrigue, a tournament called The Formula D grand Prix, and we have a few local board game designers coming to demo their games. All that, plus our library of games are available so people will have no shortage of things to do. The best thing is that we’re hosting all of it, so there will be guidance for people to just sit down and learn to play!
Are attendees required to sign up for gaming events or will there be a free play portion of the con?
Ideally, we’d like people to register online at www.kefcon.ca/registration so we know our numbers and can figure out if games are full or not. Plus, it’s really encouraging for us to see that people are actually committing to attend! Of course, people can just drop-in and see what games are available and there’s always our library of games to choose from.
Do attendees need prior knowledge of the games they want to play?
Nope, that was a big focus for us—to have instructors and scheduled games of all skills levels for folks both new and seasoned to come and learn fun and exciting games. We’ve collectively been practicing these games over the past few months, so hopefully the learning process is as seamless as possible.
Organizing a first-time convention can be difficult, as we’ve seen with other local conventions in the past. What are you doing to ensure that this con will be a success?
A lot of us on the committee come from planning and management backgrounds. I’ve been organizing smaller events for the past several years, so this time I wanted to step it up. The one thing I wanted to make sure of was accountability, which means that we know who’s responsible for what. So when the event happens, if so-and-so isn’t available or whatever, we use fill-ins to fill those volunteer gaps. Since the beginning, we’ve had a solid core group of people at every stage of the event planning, so I’m confident we can provide great hosting services for those who attend.
Our biggest concern is numbers, which again is mostly because we’re a new event so getting the word out there has been a challenge and is almost a full-time job in itself! Our numbers will be our success and if 40 people walk through those doors throughout the weekend, it will be a roaring success for us! If more come, well, that’d be amazing!
What attendance numbers are you expecting for Kefcon?
As I stated before, with the venue we’ve planned to cater to around 80 people, but our goal is 40. Though we’ve had experienced event advisors tell us to expect up to 60! So here’s hoping people come!
Finally, tell us why people should attend and why this type of con is important for tabletop fans in Edmonton.
People should attend because we’ve put a lot of work into making this event fun and exciting for board gamers both new and experienced. We wanted to get people stoked on trying out new games and just getting into board games in general. Edmonton has a vibrant board game community and you can tell this just by looking at [the success of] our two board game cafes, Tabletop Café and Hexagon Café. So there’s definitely an audience locally.
At the other board game events, GameAlot sees over 100 people attend each year and Gobfest this year had around 200 people attend. Those are big numbers and I didn’t want to wait six months for the next time I could spend a weekend playing board games! That’s why I think people should attend, because I believe Edmonton needs a winter event like this. [It’s a great excuse] to get out and meet new people and together make some new memories while playing a fun board game.
Queen Mary Park Community League
10844 – 117 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5H 3N5