It’s been a few weeks since Q-CON 2015, at Queen’s University Belfast. I’d hoped to get this written down while it was still fresh in my mind, but circumstances conspired against me!
It’s only a short flight to Belfast , but I got the ridiculously early (cheap!) 7am flight. After the nightmare of queuing for ages for the security checks at Edinburgh airport, and running the length of the terminal, I was seriously regretting taking the early flight. I loaded my case with games stuff and sent that through to the baggage compartment first (the new baggage check-in process works great at the airport).
I caught up with an old friend on the plane – Benn, who also works on various Modiphius products (including the Mutant Chronicles, DUST Adventures, and Conan). We got the shuttle bus into Belfast. It’s pretty good – £11.50 return, and there’s plenty of space. The bus station isn’t far from where I stayed last year, at the Ibis Hotel. It also has a shopping precinct nearby where you can get coffee or toiletries.
As I’d pre-registered, I only had to wait a while before collecting my badge/convention pass. We were at the head of the queue, but there was still a fair bit of confusion – two queues formed: one was for pre-registered attendees, the other wasn’t. Didn’t matter too much to me as I was at the front!
I got a lift to the Elms, the nearby student village where I was staying for the duration of Q-CON. It’s about 10 minutes walk from the convention. The room was clean and functional – en-suite bathroom and shower (which was awful – cold and cramped), and a communal kitchen area. I’m not sure if I’d stay there again though. The doors were constantly banging closed – not just the front door but guest room doors, especially annoying late at night. If you wanted breakfast you need to book in advance, and it cost £7. I didn’t bother – there was a supermarket (Centra) that sold hot food like sausages-in-a-bun on the way. Plus there’s Maggie May’s and Doorsteps nearby.
I wasn’t feeling too hot on Friday, so pretty much chilled out in the room in the evening. I didn’t get much sleep due to the constant slamming of doors. Despite Saturday being fairly damp, I remained dry and set out to run my games. Benn got himself into my Mutant Chronicles game, so that made for an interesting experience! I didn’t make too many mistakes – I’ve run Straffar Gatan 39 many times now, but the pressure is on when one of the writer-developers is playing!
Mutant: Year 0 went very well. It’s a nice easy game for people to pick up. Initially I thought there’d be no one wanting to play, but it filled up with a group of 6! Lots of fun with the mutants taming a Bitterbeast and raiding the ‘esco shelves. I’d hoped to run the Infinity RPG as swell (the game is very popular in Belfast), in the evening slot. Sadly my voice had largely started to give up on me – instead I wound up at the Pub Quiz, run by local Edinburgh gaming guru Marc Farrimond (poor chap had been sick all week).
Sunday was almost as busy, with me running Achtung! Cthulhu first thing. I’d hoped to run the second part of the Mutant Chronicles adventure, the Fall of Von Holle, but didn’t have any players but one (it was kind of an afterthought!). I also got the chance to catch up with the two Blackstaff Press authors I met last year Kenneth Gregory, who wrote The Polaris Whisper and Laurence Donaghy, writer of the Folk’d series [amazon template=image&asin=085640912X] [amazon template=image&asin=0856409189].
Regarding the convention itself, I enjoyed myself more last year I think. Last year was very much more lively for me, but it was my first proper gaming con. Sadly there seemed to be fewer games running this year, and there weren’t as many traders selling gaming stuff. The focus appears to be shifting more to the cosplay aspect of the convention, and the traders hall reflected this. I think there’s fewer gamers than cos-players at Q-CON, but it did seem a bit more quiet than last year.
The CCG and wargames have largely over-spilled into a separate hall, just like the RPGs. Half of the RPG area was taken up by Pathfinder Society games, as there’s quite a following for it. Not something I’ve much time for sadly. I would have liked to have seen some of the games being demo’d too (e.g. Firestorm Armada), but was unlucky – they’d either finished or had left for the day.
For cheap accommodation the Elms was pretty good value, especially compared to the Ibis the year before, but I think that next time I’ll go for hotel accommodation again. It was noisy and a bit too basic at the Elms, particularly late at night. Other than a few minor irritations, I largely enjoyed myself at Q-CON 2015, and made a bunch of new friends. Also, can someone tell me the name for that weird “statues” game the cos-players do?