Published on November 23rd, 2015 | by Cheryl CS0
KefCon offers a weekend of tabletop indulgence
Edmonton’s very first KefCon has come and gone, with the convention’s modest first year seeing just over 40 attendees enjoying a full weekend of tabletop gaming. With nods to the new board game convention by media outlets like CBC News Edmonton and local supporters #YEG Date Night, KefCon met its attendance goals this year and the event organizers have plans in place to make the next event even bigger and better.
KefCon founder Arsan Buffin weighs in on how he felt the event went overall, what he’d like to change for next year’s con, and what titles he’d recommend to tabletop fans.
Edmonton’s inaugural KefCon has come and gone! How would you describe it as a first-year con? Are you happy with the outcome?
It was a HUGE challenge with countless man hours put into it, not only by myself, but by the volunteers and support staff. For weeks before the event, my eye was twitching non-stop because I was stressed! Mostly because I was worried no one would come! Fortunately, people did show up and we did break even on the hall rental. We only really took hits on start-up costs like incorporating and bad concession purchases. But those were the only negatives; there was a bunch of stuff we needed to work out that we had no idea would be problems until we encountered them.
Otherwise, to my expectations, this was a success. I set the bar low—my goal was 40 people attending and we hit that number, plus some drop-ins. The things I wanted to feature in our convention were very well received, so I can rest easy at night knowing those demands were met. Pretty much everyone who said they’d help showed up and were super professional, and the public received us positively.
Elements Games, Collectibles and Apparel had a great time playing board games at Kefcon today! pic.twitter.com/fPXboNDQS7
— ⭐» ELEMENTS «⭐ (@elements_gca) November 15, 2015
What do you think was most successful?
My goal was for our convention to feature new games people had never played before and being able to teach them these games. Pretty much all of our feedback we received praised this initiative. The best thing about board games is that each year there’s around 3000 games released, so each time we do this we could feature another 46 games and they can be all different from our last event!
What would you change for next time?
There were a few notable things I would’ve like to have avoided but I couldn’t because I didn’t have the time nor resources to implement them this round. First is our registration system, which is sort of inconvenient and a pain to manage and update. Next time, this will be high on my priority list of things to fix.The other was the schedule, which I made the way it was because it was easier for myself to manage things in these time slots. So, for example I had a timeslot from 9 am to 12 pm which was more than enough to play most games more than once—I wanted to encourage people to free-play and most of them did! However, people did want more timeslots dedicated for either more hosted games, or just so they could have time to free-play. Next time I plan to break up the time slots a bit. It’ll be more work, but we’ll be able to feature even more titles and keep people busy.
Spent the day learning multiple table top games at the first ever KefCon. Mostly learning how to lose graciously, but still had a blast! Thanks Keeping Evenings Fun! #TableTop A photo posted by John Robertson (@johnrobertsoncbc) on
What was the most popular game at KefCon and why?
The most popular games by far were the social games and what we call ‘filler games.’ Maybe this was because of the downtime between hosted games. Notable titles that hit the table a LOT were Splendour and Game of 49. Both these games play fairly quickly and are super easy to teach.
What game would you recommend for newcomers to tabletop gaming?
This year we had a program called ‘The Tabletop Odyssey’ which consisted of 10 games people could sign up for throughout the weekend, all of which were starter board games: games that anyone could play. These titles are all easy to play and learn, yet are staples in every board game collection. The ten titles were Splendour, Ticket to Ride, Dixit, King of Tokyo, Stone Age, Tsuro, Sushi Go! Pandemic, Takenoko, and Sheriff of Nottingham. All of which I own and all of which I begin with when I’m introducing new folks to board games. You’ll also find these at any board game café.
What’s your favourite tabletop game, if you could pick just one?
My personal favorite game is Cosmic Encounter. It’s a social game where you and up to eight players play as this different race of aliens and you each have to colonize five planets through trade or battle. I’ve played the game many, many times and because of how much there is to the game, no tie is ever the same.
— PlayingBoardGames (@BoardGameTwitch) November 15, 2015
What was the best thing about the weekend overall?
The best thing about the weekend was that it happened to begin with and that people came! People took the chance on us unknowns and came out to play board games. We’ve started the beginning of our own community and hopefully our attendees will return to our next event and bring their friends. Plus, our sponsors and future sponsors can now see that we’re the real deal. That’s a huge thing for us and we have the attendance to prove we have an audience.
After the event we sent out surveys to all our attendees and a chunk have filled out the information, so we got a lot of feedback, which made answering these questions for this interview a lot easier! This definitely opened up many doors for us. I’m an enterprising guy, and I want to share my passion with as many people as possible. Next on our plate is applying for grants: right now we’re working on two grants and on November 27 we’re lined up for a pitch party by Awesome Edmonton for a chance to get a 1k grant. So, we’re just working on putting together our pitch and writing out this grant, which could fund us up to $20,000! Regardless of if we get grants or not, we want to bring the cost of this event down to make it way more affordable. We intend to bring this fee down through grants, or through a summer event we’re planning for July which will be a fundraiser to make the next KefCon event cheaper and hopefully encourage attendance and engage our attendees!
CC cover photo by @elements_gca on Twitter.