Imagine a family game night with hundreds of participants and you'll start to get an idea of what Calgary's FallCon convention is all about.
The annual board game convention started out with a few dozen hobbyists testing their skills against other players at the Marlborough Community Association.
Now in its 30th year, FallCon has taken over the SAIT Campus Centre until Sunday, boasting a massive 1,200-game library with more than 800 players trying out the year's hottest new games before they buy.
"Modern board games are nothing like Risk and Monopoly anymore," said Brent Lloyd, one of the FallCon board of directors.
"The technologies and the mechanisms that [game makers] use, and the components that we use, have really, really gone up to make a really stellar experience now."
Because there are so many new games to try out, FallCon have trained staff to teach people how to play many of the games so players don't get frustrated when leaning the rules.
"Somebody here knows how to play the game for sure, and we'll find somebody and we'll help you learn the game," Lloyd said.
Players can put an orange pylon on top of their tables to request assistance from anyone at the convention who knows the game. FallCon also have some games with a dedicated trainer.
'The games have been changed immensely'
Lloyd said board games offer a social experience for players of all ages who "go against the social media grain."
"Watching a movie is a very passive activity … but board games are very social," he said. "It's that social experience, it's that community."
Similar to the orange pylons, participants can put a red cone on their table to signal that you're looking to meet some like-minded players.
While some might expect FallCon to be an event for kids, Lloyd said most attendees are in their 20s or 30s.
Stewart Elle has been coming to FallCon since 1992 and said games like Pay Day and Monopoly used to be based on "living life."
"The games have been changed immensely … now they're much more intricate and much more involved," he said.
"Now we're fighting over the Nile Delta — and time traveling and space ships and fantasy battles and robots and steam punk and alternate history. There's just a huge number of different games now that are available that are so much more fun."
There's also less table flipping involved, he said.
Roll the dice on new games
On Saturday, FallCon hosted a game auction where people sold their games to the highest bidder.
Luke Faubert has been coming to FallCon for a few years and said his "healthy obsession" with games started with the strategy game Settlers of Catan.
"The auction always has some deals," Faubert said. "I've never bought anything from it but this year I'm selling two games, so we'll see what happens."
There is also a board game flea market on Sunday for those looking to offload their library or find new games.
FallCon holds board game nights all year round as part of their FallCon 365 Events. A full list can be found on FallCon's website.
FallCon is also a sponsor of the annual Canadian Game Design Award, offering up-and-coming game designers a chance to show off their latest creations and walk away with prizes.
The event runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight, and again on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SAIT Campus Centre.
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