To be honest, I was expecting SHUX to be something of a disaster. Due to the book and other events, we didn’t do an awful lot of planning. On top of that, three days from our flight, I got an email from the hotel we’d booked saying “So…our staff are on strike, but we might be able to offer you a room at another hotel…", which resulted in two days of frantically emailing and calling said hotel, getting stonewalled and eventually receiving an email essentially saying “…so we couldn’t book you into the other hotel, but if you would like to be a scab, then we’ll give you 25% off…". At which point it was time to politely decline the opportunity to cross a picket line and find another hotel. Two days before flying. Oh, the fun.

However, I’m happy to report we had a wonderful time at SHUX. The new hotel was fairly spiffy and just across from this brutalist boi:

We didn’t see a lot of Vancouver, though. It was mainly just the few blocks near the Convention Centre1 and harbour (complete with floating petrol station on the sea!) for four days. Which was a little disappointing…but on the other hand we were rather busy at the convention itself.

I started the first day in traditional Ian fashion, i.e. spilling tea all over myself and having an impressive breakdown in the middle of a food court. Nice! But having calmed down a little, we played some games, I resisted the urge to shout Quiiiiiiiiiiiiins at every opportunity, and we struggled to hear the initial session over the sound of feedback (thankfully, they did manage to fix things enough so that you could actually hear Quinns’ later lecture on ‘Titled Goose Games’). We played some games, wandered around, and finished the evening in an impressive facsimile of a British pub from 1992.

But it was to be the second day that shall ever remain memorable. Firstly, I finally met @mippy! After following each other online since 2003, circumstances finally saw us in the same place, and a random meetup occurred. I also got to show off my confection-making skills to the SHUX crew - I know that Pip was quite enamoured with the Pimm’s Meeple Gummies.

We had one of our few disappointing events of the convention that day too; we took part in an-escape-room-in-a-box event that sounded so promising, but ended up being a bunch of tedious maths puzzles combined with obscure knowledge about board games (at one point, it’s important to know the points value of a certain item in Agricola. Which only one person in our team had ever played and even he thought it was esoteric). It was a hateful experience and all of us were just happy to have it over and done with. Did I mention that it also took two hours?

And then there was Blood On The Clocktower2. Now, we’d played this yesterday, and we had played another game of it in the afternoon, but what we were really looking forward to was an evening game we had been told about in the morning; a game with twice the number of players, all of whom had played the game at least once before. By a stroke of luck, both Tammy and I both ended up being on the Evil side (4 versus 13). Of course, I died fairly earlier, but I cannot convey just how brilliant Tammy was at wrapping the entire side of Good around her finger for almost two entire hours, leading to a final round where only in the last thirty seconds did one of the Good side finally realize the extent of the betrayal. It was hilarious. And we can confirm that Tammy is quite possibly a little evil (this was confirmed the next morning when Matt from SHUX outlined a BOTC strategy that was ‘evil’ and it was exactly the same as a strategy she had suggested the day before!).

(when we randomly bumped into some of the players the next day on the convention floor, one of them even pointed and hissed you! at Tammy as we walked by)

The final day was a little more sedate, partly due to me catching something nasty on Friday leaving me with a horrible sore throat (it’s now a week later and I still haven’t quite shaken it!), and partly due to us skipping a bunch of the day’s activities to walk along the harbour for a bit and watch seaplanes take off into the sky. Absolutely terrifying. Oh, and I found out that Cadbury’s Canada sells a variant of Star Bars! So…I stocked up on them. And I still have one left, so I’ve been reasonably good, I think.

So, that was my first boardgaming convention! Would I go again? Probably. It was a bit of an expensive trek to get there, especially with the last-minute hotel issue. But we had a great deal of fun, and I came back with a few more games plus I now know that backing BOTC on Kickstarter wasn’t a mistake. And, of course, Gen Con is only a little over an hour away…but it’s also ten times the size fo SHUX, which feels a little impersonal. We’ll see what happens next year!

(and Tammy will deny it, but oh, she’s so evil! so evil!)

  1. Yes, finally back in a country that spells things correctly! ↩︎

  2. BOTC is a Werewolf/Mafia variant with all sorts of shenanigans added. Watch the Shut Up & Sit Down video for more details! ↩︎