Atop the Game Summit 2012

Here in Ontario, this past weekend was Family Day Weekend, a newly anointed government holiday designed squarely around having an extra long weekend to spend with family and the perfect time for a gaming convention. Board games have always been a staple of family activity and seen a resurgence in spite of the advances in video games as those who grew up playing these games have gone on to incorporate them into their own families or inspire fans to create their own unique, genre games such as Settlers of Catan. Today, the board game industry is so healthy and vibrant that it has begun to dwarf many other traditional formats.

(WARNING: As the Canadian Correspondent, it is my duty and responsibility to provide this article in Canadian English. Prepare to be bombarded with extra U’s!)

The Game Summit convention at the Nepean Sportsplex in Ottawa (the actual capital of Canada; -50 points to Griffindor if you thought it was Toronto) highlights many of the popular tabletop games available today. Started in 2008 by Games For All and The Other Side Studios, Game Summit spotlights the many styles of tabletop gaming: board games, role-playing games, wargames, and collectible card games with plenty of merchants, vendors, and representatives from across the Ottawa Valley and neighbouring Quebec. From the Munchkin Cosplay Tournament to the Heavy Gear Beginner’s Tournament to the Games Pavilion, there was nary an empty table to be found.

This is my second visit to the Summit. The first was two years ago when I set up a demo for a D&D 4e independent adventure I was working on and found myself glued to my table for the entire weekend. This year, I vowed to never be chained to one spot and wandered the entire showroom floor to check out everything the Summit had to offer. While I was limited to a few hours on Saturday, here are the highlights.

Board Game Shopping Extravaganza

Just a sample of the games available @ Game Summit.

As you can see from this strategically placed image, there was no shortage of board games available to browse and buy. I had an objective: to buy a new 2-player board game for both myself (a true RPG/fantasy geek) and my fiancee (a traditional board game player). If ever we stood a chance of finding one to fit this bill, it would be here. Toys On Fire and the Comic Book Shoppe both had massive displays with nearly 100 different game to choose from. Big thanks to Grayson over at the Toys On Fire booth for lots of advice and suggestions. I settled on the 25th Anniversary Edition of Labyrinth and it’s been a huge hit at home (so much that she’s itching to tag along next year and check out the mayhem for herself).

Geek Sweets

Warhammer for desert, anyone?

Mint chocolate Cthulhu cupcake, anyone? Warhammer biscuits? Or perhaps a butterbeer cupcake? Geek Sweets, a local bakery catering to the kids in all of us, had a table loaded with gooey sweets and goodies. Owner Jenny Burgesse told me all about her sweet business and the success she’s had in just a few short years in operation.

“It’s a good business because there’s not a lot of places you can go for a Battlestar Galactica cake or a Simpsons wedding cake in Ottawa. And it’s 95% grown-ups.

“The largest order that I did was for the Genie Awards (Canada’s Oscars) last year. We did cookies for the goodie bags they handed out which was super awesome, but it was a huge order… It was totally worth it because we got to go and have pictures taken with celebrities holding my cookies. William Shatner tweeted me about the cookies, which was the coolest thing ever!”

Au Dragon Noir

Like a medieval vendor...

One of the most impressive looking – and poverty inducing – booths at Game Summit was Martial Grisé’s Au Dragon Noir, a collective of hand crafted goods and shirts. From the leather bracers and spellbooks to the dice bags and the dragon eggs, Martial’s products were high quality, uber geek material a role-player like me would kill to bring to the table. The dragon eggs in particular were very impressive (and not ceramic tile safe, as he put it, since their weight would cause the tiles to crack if dropped) and designed to match an ongoing fantasy series Martial was writing. Trés cool.

Dungeon Crawler

Behold! The Dungeon Crawler banner.

An expandable card game designed by Jey Legarie (Gifted Vision), Dungeon Crawler had a table set up in the first Game Designer’s Lab. While I’m normally not one for CCGs, I have to admit I was really surprised by the concept of this particular game of completing quests and dungeons through a co-operative or solo game and the superior artwork and presentation put on by this privately owned Canadian company. But let’s have Jey explain DC in his own words…

“It was originally supposed to be a collectible card game (CCG), but we found the CCG industry was difficult to break into, so we reconfigured our packaging so we could get into delve packs to create what we call an ‘expandable card game.’ Each of the delve packs are designed with a particular flavour to add to your game… which can be played solo, cooperatively, or multi-player.

“The Starter Pack is a stand-alone game and each additional pack expands with events, terrain, and monsters to increase the challenge and tailor my game to suit how you want to play.”

The Arena

Another new addition to the Summit was The Arena, a separate area within the Sportsplex for wargaming and tournaments allowed for increased table space… and beer! (Some Canadian stereotypes do exist.) Though I’ve never been one to participate in wargaming (mostly due to financial restraints… actually solely based on financial restraints, now that I think about it), there was an impressive assortment of terrains, armies, and more in this comfortable, private environment.

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If any of this reads, sounds, or looks like you should have been there, you should have. Game Summit has steadily grown from a gathering of gaming fans to a true extravaganza of gaming goodness luring young and old to surround themselves in what they love: games. Those who haven’t attended yet must swear to attend next year when Family Day falls on the calendar once more.

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