The first actual day of TokenCon, Friday March 17th, found us waking up a bit jetlagged and far too early. It was nice to have free breakfast provided by the hotel, and we took full advantage of it – it also meant we didn’t have to figure out how to get groceries for our short stay, as we initially planned, so we were very pleased with that outcome.
Bellies filled, we headed to the Indie Zone and finished our setup. The tables were much narrower than the standard trestle, so it was lucky the boards for Bubble Net aren’t that big – we probably couldn’t have demoed Mycelia on them. There were bigger, round tables available to book, but as we had no idea what to expect, George and I chose not to make any additional bookings and focus on just operating our booth, which turned out to be a good thing.
As we were finishing up and getting ready for the crowds to come in, the lovely Jay Cormier and TokenCon event organiser Paul Burton came to say hi, which was really nice – Paul had to keep moving, but we had time to chat and get a selfie with Jay.
Before things got going, I went and had a quick tour of the rest of the convention, which was lucky, as I didn’t get another chance. There was a great game library, a large open play area, and another hall of “standard” exhibitors with all kinds of fun and geeky wares. I had expected things to be quiet enough to do a second pass once everyone was set up – I really understimated the popularity of tabletop in Oklahoma!
Bubble Net all day!
And then, it was opening time, and the people started coming in. At first, my patter was a bit awkward, having never really taught Bubble Net before, but I quickly found my rhythm, and amazingly, almost everyone sat down to play!
A big advantage of Bubble Net in a convention setting is that it’s a multi-player solo, so it can accommodate any number of players. A second plus is that it takes about 10-15 minutes to play a standard round, 15-20 to play with the more interactive rules.
This means that anyone can sit down for a quick game between other things, and not worry about being late to their next booking, or lose too much of their day on one game. It was a major reason for designing it in the first place, and the main driver behind it being our first Kickstarter project – it’s visually interesting, the mechanical hook of the bubble placement is enticing, and it’s quick, easy, and charming.
Once I had my flow, I was able to manage the booth while George took a group to another table and played a 4-player game with our additional player mats, and we were able to test the interactive version – it works! Instead of a shared Fish Card deck, think Bingo, each player has a certain number of Fish cards in their hand and plays as the Fish against their opponent’s Whale Pod, effectively giving each player slightly more agency and risk – instead of a random card draw, the Fish player and the Whale player each try to anticipate what the other might have planned and how they might react. We really like this version, and the way that it uses the same components in a different way.
By the end of day 1, we were both exhausted and elated – the feedback about Bubble Net was overwhelmingly positive. On top of that, the Indie Zone had an anonymous feedback form which allowed people to enter the draw to win a free boardgame in exchange for a few ratings. These were incredibly valuable to us, particularly as they gave us a pretty accurate count of how many people actually played the game each day.
Our Oklahoma hosts were kind enough to arrange a dinner run – we got Cajun food, which was completely delicious. I have a lot of trouble eating much at conventions, just like I always did at markets – nervous energy suppresses my appetite – but I was glad to eat what I could of the tasty chicken, chips, and beans.
Our dinner arrived during the Game Jam, which was yet another take on the basic concept.
So far, I have participated in 3 Game Jams – the first, at BGG, where we rolled for 3 criteria – theme, must have, must not have. As a result, I designed Magma, which is really quite a good game, given the conditions under which it was created.
The second, we played live on the Meeple Syrup Show, and it was two 10-minute rounds where we were given no prompts, just components – I found this incredibly difficult, and didn’t really come up with anything solid. Obviously, I need more practice!
For the TokenCon Game Jam, we were given a selection of options, and we could choose as many or as few from each category as we wanted. We also received a very generous bag of materials, some of which were from the Game Crafter, and I think a lot of the rest was paid for by the organisers. It was really nice to have so many options to choose from – but I almost felt like we had too many choices and components!
Still, George and I came up with a cool game concept, which I think we might develop into a proper game.
You play as one of several competing teams of underwater archaeologists, exploring one of three levels in a submerged city, trying to find proof that it is the lost city of Atlantis. As you move through the city, represented by tiles with three coloured map lines on them, you are leaving markers so you can find your way back, and trying to find passageways to connect the levels, and evidence that supports your find. Meanwhile, the city is fighting back by rotating the tiles to confuse you, and your opponents are also trying to hinder you. You track what level you are on by using a matching meeple marker, and the city fights back by rolling dice to determine the coordinates of the tile that rotates. There’s a lot of vagueness still, but there’s something in it, and we thing it will be fun to pursue.
At the end of the Game Jam, we all presented our ideas back to the group – and there were some really cool concepts, I hope to see them develop!
Afterwards, we played Mycelia and The Baron’s Game Table’s “Greedy Goblins” game, a riotously fun party game, then rolled into bed after midnight, eep.
Day 2, coming soon!
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