Gaming conventions come in many forms. BlizzCon and QuakeCon are naturally computer game orieanted, while Gen Con leans towards tabletop games with a heavy emphasis on role playing games. Such conventions aren’t restrictive, though, and in between “formal” games you can easily find folks playing around of Magic: The Gathering or whatever. Columbia Con, in Charlottesville, Virgina, is one of the few (only?) conventions that focus on boardgames and you can attend February 19-24, 2013.
Columbia Con is supported by board game company Columbia Games, so naturally most events are based around their games, like Julius Caesar (a personal favorite) or Hammer of the Scots. Most Columbia games use a “block system” where armies are represented by wooden blocks that rotate to represent their status. The rules are generally light enough that anyone can have a chance to win even on their first game. This differs vastly than, say QuakeCon, where noobs shouldn’t bother to make the trip. (Of course, why would you want to go to QuakeCon if you’re not interested in Quake?)
Columbia’s newest game, Borodino is based on the Napoleonic battle of the same name and will be demo’d extensively at Columbia Con. Of course, it won’t be the only one shown off. Almost every other Columbia game will also be at Columbia Con for attendees to experience. Wannabe game designers are encouraged to attend too. Grant Dagliesh, designer of many Columbia Games, will be there to speak to and consult. I’d say that’s a pretty big deal, as there are only a few game designers good enough to be the backbone of a game company. A career as a board game designer probably isn’t the most solid and stable position, but if anyone has good ideas for how you could make it work, it’d be this guy. If you’re in the area and crazy about board games, try to put aside some time to go.