From Wednesday, February 17th through Sunday February 21 I found myself and the Mansfield MA Holiday Inn for Total Confusion 30! Total Confusion is New England’s largest convention dedicated to tabletop gaming. I don’t have the numbers yet but I can tell you that it was a busy convention with a ton going on! Total Confusion is without a doubt my favorite convention. If your goal is to play games, meet some terribly interesting people, have a great time and then play more games it’s should certainly be on your radar too. Here’s my convention report.
The afternoon saw my wife and I heading into Boston to pick up industry guest Tim Kask from the airport. Tim is someone we’ve gotten to know over the last few conventions and we always enjoy doing the airport runs to bring him out to Mansfield. Once back at the hotel, Tim and my wife went off for some genuine Casey’s hot dogs while I hung about.The hotel is eerily quiet on Wednesday afternoon but we still saw gaming going on! After a few missed connections I finally ran into Michael Curtis at the bar and we chatted over soda about ongoing projects and how the last year had treated us.
Shortly after relaxing with Michael, my wife arrived back at the hotel and it was time for our 7pm game – and the only real RPGing I was going to get in this weekend. Dark Phoenix Events had a room dedicated to their GM’s and game all weekend long (and it was packed!). Founder Scott Legault was kind enough to run a Call of Cthulhu game for us which we along with three other attendees thoroughly enjoyed – and all managed to stay (barely) sane throughout!
After our game we hung out a bit with Scott and then retired.
We started the day off with a hearty breakfast. Then relaxed for a bit with some friends. Frank Mentzer got me excited again about the people who make and play games. Tim Kask, Frank and I talked small games for a while too.
Shortly after that Stephen Wollett of Nerd Rage News arrived and got me and most of the TC staff and industry guests to behave in a Socially Unacceptable way. The game was played with tags on our lanyards identifying us as actually playing. From there a series of cards were handed out that required you to do, well, socially unacceptable things to other players. Steal their food, look them in the eye and proclaim your undying love, etc. It went on all con long and was a blast!
I played a bunch of Swamped and got to tell Dennis at Bellwether Games that I was nearly out of the game . Then I did finish off all my copies! Thankfully a few more appeared before the end of the convention but on the whole I believe I sold or gave away 14 copies of Swamped. If you’re near me physically I still have a few copies left – otherwise pick them up at your FLGS, Amazon or from Bellwether directly.
I had a great game of Seasons with my wife and two others. We ran into Peter Bryant and Mike Kafes from the Mythwits
and also got to say hello to the folks from our favorite vendor, Crossroad Games
. I also learned that Jason Tagmire’s mail ninja
reached him safely and then caused him to lose.
For the second year in a row, Sal’s Traveling Market (a giant game flea market) took place and we helped with traffic control while my wife and Scott managed the register. Last year there were about 300 items for sale, this year we topped out around 600 and lots of folks walked away with a ton of treasures, new and old. We’ll definitely be helping with this again next year.
Then to wrap things up, my wife and I chatted with Mike
and Cody Pondsmith about new things coming down the line, old games revisited and upside down fake mummies.
My goodness, is it only Friday? Friday morning my dexterity game challenge took off at 10am with games like Ugg-Tect, Rhino Hero, Villa Palletti and of course, Loopin’ Chewie!
That was a fun two hours and a great way to start off my Friday morning. From there the 1-3pm slot saw us playing a bunch of different small game titles – some mine, others brought by my buddy Jeremy who just happened to have been there with a whole mess of games. We were pitted against one particularly crafty 13 year old girl who handily won several of the games.
Some more Swamped was played, along with a game of DC Deck Builder as we waited for the vendor hall to close and then we broke out my newly acquired Code Names with Brendan and Dave from Crossroads and also took Funemployed for a test run! What a great bunch of party games! We were able to round up enough folks to easily play both and did so until just about midnight.
Saturday was a relatively free day for me – I’d left it intentionally so because my two daughters were spending the day at the convention and my wife, who’s on the staff, was pretty solidly booked. The 501st
had a few members arrive, which is always cool!
Both girls took part in the Paint and Take mini event and did a splendid job. My oldest won in the 16 and under category for the 2nd year in a row! We played a few games but then my youngest came down with some kind of awful sickness so a good bulk of the rest of Saturday was spent with either myself or my wife in the room with the girls. I had to cancel my annual Talisman event but did loan out my game to a few friends to play.
Once the girls were settled down and most of the sickness was gone, we did manage to sneak out to the Dilly Green Bean Games
annual shindig for a bit of hanging out and our ever growing yearly picture. In that picture above are a ton of amazing people – industry leaders and veterans, amazing staff from the convention, artists, friends, podcasters – you name it, they were there!
With my youngest feeling better I was able to meet up with Glenn from Games By Play Date
for our yearly Prototype Workshop. This year it was a very sedate workshop – one gentleman stopped by with two prototypes. As always though I was thoroughly surprised by a new idea. One of the games was a unique type of dexterity game that I’d not seen anything like before. Glenn and I encouraged him to pursue it after making some suggestions.
From there I wandered into the board game room where Emerson Mastuuchi was just about to demo his newest title, Caravan
, coming from Z-Man Games. Not only did I get to play the game, but Emerson signed my copy of Specter Ops and asked me to sign his copy of Swamped. That was an entirely new experience for me!
Caravan is a wonderful resource management, engine building game which (as you can see from the first picture) will be released with two distinct themes. The game will remain the same but the artwork featured will be different between the two editions. The game play with four of us took just about an hour and was a little brain-burny perhaps for a Sunday afternoon at the convention but still a lot of fun and certainly a game I’ll be playing again once it’s available.
At this point I started to notice the one real downside that can come along with any convention. Con Crud. I was feeling a bit lousy so rather than stick around for the close-of-convention meeting with the Total Con Staff we bugged out so I could give my bed a nice, big hello.
I have to hand it to the staff and volunteers at Total Confusion. This was their 30th anniversary and they did a bang up job. Every day something new and neat was being given out at Registration (buttons being one of my favorites!). They were always friendly and courteous, always smiling despite the long hours and the essentially sold out the convention. I know that for at least several days there wasn’t an open table to be had for roleplaying and that the overflow open gaming area was being well used and often full as well. There was a very nice, glossy book printed up for the convention which was something new for the 30th as well. We had ours signed by all of our friends (new and old) yearbook style!
Even at it’s busiest on Saturday, I was constantly meeting folks I hadn’t seen since last year, exchanging hellos and also meeting a bunch of new folks who either hadn’t been to Total Con before or who just hadn’t crossed paths with me prior to this year. It was great! The vendor area, while not huge, did have a great selection of games and merchandise and was always busy. Just about every surface area was being utilized for gaming as well and that’s a lovely site to see.
If you’re going to be in the New England area next February and love table top gaming, I’d highly suggest making plans to visit Total Confusion 31 – it’s always one of the major highlights of my year for both the people and the gaming.
All of the pictures I or my wife took during Total Con 30 can be found right here: