Is Wellington The Board Game Capital Of NZ?

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Not content to be the nation’s political capital, it appears that Wellington wants to be New Zealand’s board game capital as well. Board games in New Zealand are a big deal right now – just ask this online retailer – with the COVID-19 lockdowns re-introducing us to their family-friendly and time-consuming charms. But in Wellington, there’s a special love for board games and there is no better example of that than Wellycon.

Wellycon is New Zealand’s biggest board gaming convention, and its popularity continues to grow. In 2019, more than 1000 people attended (not bad, compared to the 20 gamers who went to the first one) and as a consequence, the convention has had to frequently move to larger and larger venues throughout its short history.

The first Wellycon took place in 2008 and is usually held over Queen’s Birthday Weekend in June. This year, however, COVID-19 has forced a postponement until late October but, if recent trends continue, this will be the biggest yet. People of all ages, and from all over the country, are expected to gather in the capital to learn how to play new games, participate in workshops, challenge friends and newcomers to games, and compete in a variety of tournaments. Kids sessions are always popular, while at the other end of the age scale, adults can enjoy late-night gaming sessions. Another highlight is the opportunity to test prototype games from designers and be some of the first people in the world to do so. Feedback from these test games help designers refine their idea, so this part of the convention has a serious side as well as a fun one.

Wellycon 2020 will be even more special this year because it’s possibly the ONLY board game convention being held anywhere in the world right now.  For all that, there’s a nice and humble feeling about this local event that gives it a charm of its own. It’s certainly not geared up as a money-making exercise and relies largely on a team of dedicated volunteers to keep it running smoothly.

At the end of the day, Wellycon is more than just a gathering of board game lovers. Organisers speak of the event as something that builds a sense of community by bringing people together over a shared love; board games. It sounds like something similar to what the rest of the country felt during the recent lockdowns. People coming together, having fun, and doing it all with a board game at the centre of it all. Wellycon’s noble aims are something we can all embrace.

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