stabcon south logoLast month, I had the great pleasure of attending StabCon South’s springtime event at the Jurys Inn in Southampton.

What is StabCon South?

The southern variant of StabCon, a regular, long-running event in Stockport (Manchester for the less geographically inclined).

The focus is on board gaming. There’s no panels, no workshops, just good ol’ fashioned worker placement. Oh, and quite a few tabletop RPG one-shots. And a sci-fi ship crew simulator!

Where did we stay?

StabCon is local to us, so we didn’t bother with accommodation. However, being located in central Southampton, and in a hotel to boot, there were lots of very affordable options for out-of-towners. We ran into people who had travelled from as far away as High Wycombe, and also Isle of Wighters in for the weekend.

You also had the option of just not leaving the event! It ran 24/7 from 11am on Friday til 11pm on Sunday. A true test of endurance for any self-proclaimed gamer!

Which characters did we cosplay?

With a strict focus on tabletop RPGs and board gaming, there isn’t a cosplay element to this event. So we went as boring ol’ us. Womp womp.

Was there anything to eat?

With the venue being located in central Southampton, close to London Road, there’s a plethora of options. There’s the restaurant in the hotel itself, which is exactly what you’d expect: a bit overpriced, but damned convenient, especially given the dismal weather this weekend. But go a bit further afield and options abound: MexiGo, Starbucks, pubs, Subway, etc…

Verdict:

We’ve been several times before, and it’s a great, low-key way to spend a weekend. It’s also an amazing opportunity to dabble in a hobby that frankly can be a little intimidating and have a high cost to enter. Everyone contributes to the available games and helps with teaching newbies, so it’s a good way to try out new games.

If you’re interested in attending, the next event will be in June, with a focus on extremely long, crunchy games. The next standard Stabcon South is in October, with more information here. You can keep up with them on Facebook, and pricing is generally £15 for the entire weekend.

Additionally, the original Stabcon is coming up, and you can find more information here.

Last night, The Point in Eastleigh, together with Tec Hub, hosted its first Board Game Café, and enjoyed healthy turn-out and no hiccups!

I made a precarious journey there via an extremely delayed train and with my heavily laden bicycle serving as my packhorse. Male, female, young, old, and everything in between–this event proved the universal appeal of board games beyond the old family standbys of Monopoly, Scrabble, and its ilk.

It was worth the effort, as I was able to sink my teeth into games I already knew as well as two that I didn’t. One of those was called Chinatown, a negotiation-based property building game that, while I wasn’t amazing at, seemed very fun and like something I’d definitely want to try again.

Word on the street is that the response was positive enough that these events will become a regular thing, which would be fantastic, both for myself and for the local community.

This inaugural night also featured Ruddy Vikings, the debutante card game from Rounded Squarish. I purchased a copy from the developers, who were present to show off their delightful little gem of a game.

Here’s what the packaging looks like:

outer box top

SYNOPSISBOX

It’s simple and effective, about the size of a Fluxx box. When you lift off the lid, you’re presented with the rules, but not in the manner to which many of us are accustomed. They’re printed on the box bottom, so no more losing the rules. If you have the box, you have the rules.

 

As to the actual contents of the box…you get one play mat with space for four players, a deck of player cards, and a second, much smaller deck of cards that affect the entire game.

BOX CONTENTS

So here’s the playmat, laid out flat for all to see. I’m told the shield resembling a Pokéball was totally done on purpose. I can also confirm that the mat is, in fact, waterproof!  HOWEVER THE CARDS ARE NOT. So please sleeve your cards if you’re careless with drinks(or your friends are).

PLAYMAT

Now here is the mat in terms of game play:

playmatdiagram

As I said, room for four players, colour indicated by that of the shields on the sides of the little viking longships.  Interestingly, the carvings of menacing beasts, such as dragons and snakes, on the prow of the ship allegedly protected the ship and crew from the terrible sea monsters of Norse mythology.

Now on to the cards! There are two decks, and the first of those are the Town Cards. These are cards whose effects apply to the entire game for a round.

TOWNCARDS

The second, beefier deck, is the individual players’ cards. Each player is dealt an opening hand of five cards. There are five different types of cards:

CARD TYPES

From Left to Right: Vikings, Gods, Chance, Defences, Buffers.

Vikings are used to attack other players, which is the main mechanic of the game. God cards allow for extraordinary actions to be taken, such as two attacks per turn(as opposed to the usual one per turn). Chance cards make things happen, such as countering other players’ attacks, or giving yourself bonuses. Defence cards are played to the mat where I previously indicated, and help protect you from other players’ Vikings. Buffers help your Vikings overcome other players’ Defences.

Overall, I found the gameplay very accessible. This is a great game for introducing children to card and board games, with a fun concept, amusing artwork, simple rules, and quick, easy play. I’d definitely recommend supporting these guys further, as the game was born of Kickstarter.

I’m really looking forward to future Board Game Cafés, and hope it turns into a regularly scheduled thing. Thanks to Marcus Pullen of Blue Donut Studios, Adam Carter-Groves, and Ben Cooper for arranging a great night!