Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Stabcon South – Not as violent as it sounds

This is probably by far the weirdest name I have come across, for what is essentially a board game convention. The convention has been running for about 6 or so years and originated in Stockport. However, now we have Stabcon South that takes place in Southampton and since it is so close to Bristol, I grabbed two friends and went to check it out.

General info & costs

Stabcon took place over the weekend of Friday 12th – Sunday 14th October and cost £15 for a ticket for the whole weekend. The organisers had arranged a discounted rate on rooms within the hotel. I took the AirBnB route (mostly because I dislike hotels), which worked out to be about £45 per person, per night. Getting there was fairly easy from Bristol; your choices are:

  • Train
    • Approx £34 per person return
    • Trip time around 2 hours (one way)
  • National Express
    • Approx £25 per person
    • Trip time around 4-5 hours (one way)
  • Car calculated using 40 mpg and 130p/litre
    • Approx total £15
    • Trip time around 2 hours (one way)

Stabcon took over the entire 1st floor of the Jury’s Inn at the north end of Southampton. There were several rooms available with multiple tables in each room that were available 24 hours a day, from 11am Friday to 11pm Sunday. A games library was supplied by a local game shop, as well as attendees allowing other attendees to use whatever games they brought with them, at the owners own risk.

My experience

Entering the building there was no obvious signage, and my brain didn’t read from the info that the whole thing was happening on the first floor. I asked for the convention by name at reception to find out where it was, where I received a few fairly blank looks. Then I explained that it was board gaming event taking place over the next few days; The look I got from the receptionist could be roughly translated as “Ugh, more nerds” and was given short instructions to head up to the first floor. This is the sort of reception I would expect from such a hotel and don’t hold the organisers at all responsible. In fact, I found the interaction rather amusing.

The organisers/volunteers were a lovely bunch of people, who were really proactive to do whatever they could to help. The attendees were a nice mix of young gamers and adults. All of the people I spoke to were also quite lovely, except perhaps one person who I think had reached their gaming limit but tagged along to play a game with us because of their partner.

From the amount of time that I spent at the con I saw no bad behaviour at all; now I was not expecting any but you know how things can get when alcohol and competition is involved, it certainly increases the possibility. During one of the days, I finally managed to play the super cute Takenoko, which was donated by one of the attendees. While we were reading through the rules, one of the attendees who had played the game before offered to give us a bit of a rules overview and be on hand to answer questions.

Roundup & suggestions

We had fun and for a board game convention, you would at least expect that. I am sure we could of played a bunch more games if we stuck around longer, but for me there is a limit to the amount of games I can learn or play in one day. I’m really impressed by the rooms being available 24 hours a day for the three days. I think I would look to attend this again; the next one is scheduled for March 2019, so if I have a free weekend I might again pop down. I do have some suggestions for the Stabcon team, some of which may already of been thought of:

Allow pre-announcement/Sign-up to run RPG’s

I’m not sure if there was something available on the Facebook page for this, but since I don’t have a Facebook account, it would of been nice to see what RPG’s are being planned for the weekend and put my name down to play. Better yet, for people to be able to register that they would like to run an RPG, so that all attendees can see this and plan to jump into one before the con starts.

Tea/Coffee facilities

Having free water as a ready resource was great and I’m not sure if you are legally allowed to run such an event without access to free water. However it would of been nice to have some hot drink facilities at the con. You could go down to the bar to buy a hot drink, but let’s just say that they were at hotel prices and actually not very good. I did speak to one of the organisers about this and they told me that Jury’s Inn offered to supply unlimited Tea/Coffee, but it would cost them a certain amount per head no matter how much they drank. I got the feeling that what the hotel asked for was a high number. Airecon had a great deal when it came to hot drinks; pay for your “branded” cup and/or bring your own, then all hot drinks are at available for a small fee.

Have a rentable game list

Having a list of games that are rentable, with a system that records who has what game booked out, might make it easier to plan what to play next. This might also work for attendees who brings along a game to be played by others. Say you have to leave quickly, you can then find the person playing your game a bit easier.

Have “thanks” cards

This is purely for attendees bringing games. I thought it would be nice to have some sort of guest book in each game provided by an attendee. That way players can leave a little thank you note, saying who and when they played it.

Looking for players Flags

Being able to know a tables is still looking for players at a glance is a massive bonus. It also allows you to advertise as a table that your willing to accept strangers.

More Information

We would like to thank the organisers of Stabcon South. It was a great weekend and from a consumer point of view, it seemed to go really well. For more information check out the Stabcon South website or have a look at their Facebook page and give it a Like to keep up to date. We hope that some of our community support them and if the organisers are ever in Bristol or Shrewsbury, they would be more than welcome to come to a GeekOut Meetup.

Love and board games
– Chris

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