Gamers Talk Orccon 2019

Gamers Talk Orccon 2019

February 26, 2019 Off By Ruel

A multitude of gamers converged on the LAX Hilton during Presidents Day weekend for four days of gaming at Orccon, the first of three conventions hosted each year by Strategicon. From miniatures gaming to a Catan National Qualifier tournament, Orccon was a fun-filled event that entertained the thousands who made it to the long-running Los Angeles gaming convention.

I talked to a few of the gamers, along with some of the hard-working staff, about their experiences at Orccon 2019.

“[The convention] has a nice gaming focus to it, with Open Gaming given more recognition than some other conventions,” second-time Strategicon attendee Ben O’Steen said. “It has a very friendly vibe, and a good mix of people. … I hadn’t played Concordia for a while and that is always an utter delight to play and I was playing against some very shrewd and lovely people.”

Ben had a copy of the new engine-building game Wingspan, and I was fortunate to play it with him and I played with him and Jac (@boardgamegeekca), who was a fixture in Open Gaming.  “I basically gamed in the Open Gaming areas the entire time with friends,” Jac said. “I even ran into an old friend who I had not seen in over eight years!”

Open Gaming downstairs at the Hilton has long been known as The Dungeon due to its stuffiness and lack of cellular reception, but for this first Strategicon event of the year it was surprisingly manageable. “I was glad to find it much more comfortable this time and saw great improvement there,” Jac said.

Photo courtesy of Jac @BoardGameGeekCA

As always, Strategicon offers a wide variety of gaming experiences for all gamers, whether they’re newbies or seasoned veterans. According to Board Games Supervisor Shane Sauby, nearly 2,500 people were at the Hilton getting their game on. While I beat the crowd by showing up early on Friday, the crowds arrived later that night and Saturday.

Thankfully, I was able to play my favorite board game, Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition, on Friday with friends. Afterwards we made our way down to the hotel bar to recap another epic session and John Gonzalez, one of my fellow TI4 players, reflected on some of his favorite non-TI4 moments from the con.

“I always enjoy learning new games at Strategicon,” John said. “It’s great to sign up and have someone who knows the game inside and out take the time to teach a group of people.”

It’s this spirit of the gaming community that appeals to so many at the convention. William Hillstrom, who heads the Party Games department, spoke about a special event that weekend: The Walter Wichowski Memorial Game of Werewolf, which honored a gamer who recently passed away. Over 70 people played in this ginormous game of Werewolf!

Hillstrom credited his staff for another outstanding convention. The Party Games crew hosts 90 events throughout Orccon, including the always popular Two Rooms and a Boom and Ultimate Werewolf.  “I’m extremely proud of my GMs and my volunteers, who basically run this department like clockwork, nice and smooth,” William said. “We tend to play party games and whatever we pick up from the Dealer Room or the Library over the course of the weekend. Next con I’m going to … make an effort to step away from my department for a few hours. Maybe finally get around to trying Terraforming Mars or Azul, or, shocker, Lords of Waterdeep.”

Finally, I spoke to first-time attendees Geraldine and Mike, who stopped by during the first day of Orccon, but found a lot to like. “Since it was a weekday, it wasn’t terribly packed so we were able to walk around and figure out where all the different rooms were, watch demos, browse the Dealer’s Room, all at our own pace.”

“Everyone looked so genuinely happy to just play board games!” they said. “It made us want to go to more conventions, but definitely encouraged us to be better prepared in the future by scheduling to meet-up with other gamers beforehand or by signing up to actually demo/play more games.”