Saturday, June 03, 2006

Inaugural Australian Games Expo

The inaugural Australian Games Expo will be held next weekend, in Albury.

The work, planning and thought that the organiser, Phil Davies, has put into this event is truly incredible. Whether his vision of "An Australian Essen" will be realised remains to be seen, but in the meantime it looks like the 3 hour drive North will take us to a very solid weekend of gaming.

For starters, the event will feature sanctioned "national championships" for Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. I'm not sure how much prestige will actually attach to either title, but the prizes are well worth the $25 entry fee -- the first place getter in each tournament will be flown to Essen to play in the world championships (and, presumable, attend the Messe as well). Second prize in each tournament will be a Settlers of Catan anniversary chest, and third prize is a copy of Settlers, signed by Klaus Teuber. They're pretty incredible prizes, and definitely enough to make me wish that my skill at those games matched my desire to win the trip. (Sadly, not the case).

There will also be a large (20 or so tables) open gaming area, with a game library and tame game explainers on site, courtesy of the local Border Games club.

The event has been widely promoted to schools as well as through game shops and gaming groups, with the hope that members of the public as well as die-hard gamers will attend. Our Biggie, at seven, is annoyed that she won't be attending - we're taking my parents with us as tame babysitters - but I hope to be able to bring her in for part of the event, at least. I had to tell her that the minimum age for the tournaments was sixteen or we would have never heard the end of it!

One big advantage of the venue and location is the support that Phil has received from the local council. I'm impressed that the event makes the front page of their site, and I believe that there may be more support from them over the weekend.

There will, of course, be traders and demonstration games, and an alliance with the ChiTaG game fair will see them attending this event, which Phil will then promote at their fair later in the year. Hasbro's VP for Research and Development will also be attending as a special guest.

In the evenings, gaming will be available at the Border Games clubrooms. We're staying at the same hotel as at least 3 other gamers, too, which gives us a nice local group if we don't feel like going out, or if mum and dad need a break for a while. Discussions about what to take started about a month ago, and I expect them to continue all week.

I'm feeling pretty excited about the event, and am pleased we decided to make the trip, logistics of managing children and aging parents aside. It's easy to find flaws in a grand plan like this - there's been some muttering about the location, as Albury is a 3-hour drive from Melbourne and a 6-hour drive from Sydney - but in general people seem pretty happy to be going away to play games. Let's face it, who WOULDN'T be happy to be doing that!

Most of all, though, I'm excited to be catching up again with friends met through BGG and to be meeting others for the first time. That alone has to be worth the trip.

And if anyone wants to teach me an unbeatable Settlers and Carcassonne strategy that doesn't involve giving everyone else at the event severe food poisoning or some communicable illness (hmmm, Otto has had vaccine-beating chickenpox this week... sadly the incubation period for that is longer than a couple of hours though), then I'll buy you a drink in Essen.

Or maybe not.

See you in LupusLanding (or Albury - take your pick)



Coldfoot said...

Sounds like fun. Seems like there are lots of mentions about this event on the web.

I was wondering what the details were.

As far as an unbeatable Settlers strategy. Buy a copy of Dragonland and smuggle in those dice. (No 5s or 6s)

Fraser said...

Coldie said As far as an unbeatable Settlers strategy. Buy a copy of Dragonland and smuggle in those dice. (No 5s or 6s)

Hmm a pair of 2nd gear dice from Forumula De could do the trick too :-)

Coldfoot said...

Too obvious. Go for the pips on the dice.

Not that I am a cheater, but if I were one I would consider those things.