Life is Short; Play Games!
The BixCON Series of gaming events: A combination of Great Friends, Great Food, & Great Drink!
Well BixCON V has come and gone. Time to go through my post CON analytics and see how things shook out. It is always interesting to go through the post mortem process after an event to get ideas for improving future events.
What is BixCON?
BixCON is a product of harsh Canadian winters. Instead of traveling south, my wife and I decided it might to fun to have a few friends over for a weekend of boardgames. The first one we hosted was in 2009. We were quite surprised at how many of of friends also thought this was a good idea and decided to join us. Our first year had 21 people participate.
In a sense, we wanted a weekend in the cold month of February that was a spark of fun and frivolity in the roughest stretch of winter. It is now an annual highlight for me.
The other thing I should mention is that this is on the FAMILY DAY weekend for us. We have a long weekend in February and the extra day really helps with an event this size.
If you would like to read about the first event we had, I made a geeklist outlining the event HERE
There is also a report on BixCON III located HERE
This will be a somewhat, abbreviated report from the previous two that I did. I am getting lazy in my old age).
This year we had 19 attendees for the event. We originally had 22 registrants, but life gets in the way and attendance dipped a bit this year.
Out of the 19 attendees, the peak attendance was 17 concurrent people. The CON did not feel crowded at all which is important. Want everyone to have lots of room to comfortably play games and have places to eat or sit and chat between games.
Our main gaming room has a table that can accommodate 10 people. We have a second room in the basement with a couple of table that seat six people comfortably. Upstairs, we can also use the dining room table for another 6 people.
We set up a small card table in our living room upstairs for crokinole and this year, we were pleased to have our BGG.CON 2008 Crokinole board on the table for play. It holds a special place in my heart as 2008 was the first BGG.CON I ever attended. Here is a picture of the board with designer Ryan Johnson.
I have a number of family and friends that live abroad that enjoy following our silly adventures and escapades so I tend to use social media to capture the moments. I used Instagram to capture a number of photos during the event. These in turn were blasted out to Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #BixCON. I do not ever think #BixCON will trend on twitter, but it is a nice label and container for the postings. If you want to take a peek at the pictures, my Instagram account is http://instagram.com/bixbycanada
Note that the pictures will show up in the February 2014 batch of pics.
The other benefit of Instagram is that you can quickly capture and broadcast your photos with minimal disruption to the game. I do not want the process of taking pictures to take away from the gaming experience.
Food & Beverage
We cater this event with meals and beverages. Honestly, if everyone left our house to grab a bite to eat, the event would lose a lot of the cohesive feel and it would had a big impact on gaming time. Sharing in meals as well as gaming was a logical choice for use.
Everyone was responsible to bring their own beer or wine. We have a beverage fridge in our basement with lots of room for people to put their alcoholic beverages. We provided pop, juice, water, tea, and coffee. Also, this year, we bought a big bottle of Baileys for the coffee.
...Moose Meat & Mango Chilli
...Sausages & Sauerkraut
...Butter Chicken & Basmati Rice
My darling wife took point on meals and our oldest daughter Krystal attended this year and laid down the challenge that we be more green with the event. To that end, we now have plates and cutlery for 28 people in order to reduce using disposable plates and plastic disposable cutlery. I appreciate her challenge and her assistance with clean up after meals.
We charge attendees $40 for the whole weekend (Friday to Monday inclusive), or $25 to attend for just one day. The $40 is great value. The $25 charge is there to recognize that some people can only attend for one day but we try to give incentive for people to attend the whole weekend. Events like this build on camaraderie when there is continuity in attendance over the course of the event. Friends get to know each other a bit more and the enjoyment of the event deepens.
This year we had 15 weekend attendees at $40 each and 4 one-day attendees at $25 each.
$700.00 BixCON Revenue
$638.85 Food and Beverage Costs
$061.15 Surplus Funds
$100.00 Grocery Buy Back by Matt & Kathy
$161.15 Money to go to Charity "2014 24 Hours to Play with Your Food" event
We are always happy that we can have good fund and good eats and still raise some money for charity.
Every game that is played at BixCON gets a log sheet filled out to denote what was played, who taught the game, and who won. Winning is not the focus at these events but we track the win stats anyways. I would like to emphasize at this point that everyone does bring their "A" game. Our friends are worthy adversaries and we do battle without mercy over the boardgame table. That said, the focus is on the fun social aspect of gaming. We would not have it any other way.
In years past, BixCON was a means to introduce our friends to the hobby of boardgaming. Many of the games were lighter and quicker. This year, we went with deeper and longer games so some of the play counts were not as high.
Most games played:
...Bryce Robinson played 20 games
...Matt Robertson played 19 games
...Jason Morton played 18 games
...Mark Macza played 15 games
Most prolific game teachers:
...Matt Robertson taught 20 games
...Mark Macza taught 6 games
...Damien Ryall taught 5 games
...Dana Tillusz taught 5 games
Best win percentage:
...Colin Dearborn 100% (Played 1 / Won 1)
...John Kennedy 67% (Played 3 / Won 2)
...Logan Drydale 50% (Played 6 / Won 3)
...Dana Tillusz 50% (Played 6 / Won 3)
...Matt Robertson 47% (Played 19 / Won 9)
Every year, when BixCON is done, I send out a Survey Monkey Survey to gather feedback. Here are the results.
(1) Did you think that the admission fee was reasonable? ($25 for one day / $40 for the whole weekend).
The weekend fee was good value. Not sure about the one day.
Yes it was very reasonable. I got to hang out with friends and play board games. Kathy and Krystal provided valuable foods for the gaming. I would even pay more if it was asked for.
I wouldn't flinch if it were higher, personally.
If anyone claims that 40$ for a whole weekend of awesomeness is too much...they are crazy!
I didn't take full advantage but happy to pay as I know excess funds go to a good cause.
(2) Feedback and comments on the food & beverage selection...
The food was very good, good portions, good snack food, it was all good.
Really good. Thanks
Very good, great meals.
Very excellent choices. Kathy and Krystal outdid themselves.
Definitely enough food! Sounds like everyone was happy with the variety and portions. I think I am definitely the minority re: my diet of minimal cheese and carbs and meat so I won't speak to the actual food in the meals.
Plenty of options I would be happy to see a similar selection next year
Beer! I couldn't eat due to family. But the moose sausage was good!
Good food and beverage choices. I think it is important to have quick and easy meals, well done!
Good selection loved the meals. Appreciated the fruits and veggies
Food was great, loved having V8 available, big fan of non-pop options.
Awesome food and beverages.
Happy with it
Appreciated having fresh fruit and veggies. Should have people sign up for meals for planning how much food to prep.
(3) How did you find the size of the event? Would this event be more enjoyable with:
The size of the venue is great. I love the amount of people that can be brought together for board gaming into one house. I also never found it to be crowded this past weekend.
attendance size is limited by how many people you feel comfortable with in your house
I thought Friday and Saturday were really fun with 2 or 3 games at a time. Sunday and Monday were slower.
As I understand it, there were a number of extraneous issues that came up so the number that were originally planning to show up, would have been good. Even as it was, the weekend still was awesome! Props to Matt and everyone who made it all work as some issues arose.
I think 5 to 10 more people would be manageable.
(4) What was the favourite game you played?
5: Railways of the World (Combined Eastern USA / Western USA)
3: Dominant Species
1: What's He Building In There?
1: Neuroshima Hex! (Team Play)
1: Castles of Burgundy
1: Roads & Boats
(5) What was the game that you saw on the schedule and most wanted to play but did not get a chance to?
4: History of the World
2: Dark Darker Darkest
1: Railways of the World
1: Neuroshima Hex!
1: Arkham Horror
1: Dominant Species
(6) How was the selection of games & game choices?
(7) Who do you nominate for BixCON's best strategic player? The person that played games well and was a very worthy opponent in a game.
Kathy Lewis was voted this year's most strategic player
(8) Who do you nominate for BixCON's best sport player? The person that was always helpful, cheerful and a joy to play with.
There was a three way tie for this:
(9) What do you think of the game length at BixCON?
04...I would like Longer Games
00...I would like Shorter Games
15: Leave it as it is
(10) What do you think about the game complexity at BixCON?
00...I would like more Complex Games
00...I would like less Complex Games
19...Leave it as it is
(11) Other comments or suggestions for improvement...
From what I found, there doesn't need any changes.
Good number of people. Everyone was comfortable with each other and could look after finding games when none were scheduled. Everyone was very supportive and respectful.
I had a really good time. Thanks for organizing this and I'd love to come back next year. Hopefully I'll be able to stay for longer.
I felt naked playing Neuroshimahex without any ranged pieces! Always a great event and I think hard to do better than you are :-)
I do like the mix of long and short games as it is right now. I only missed out on a couple of games because of the teacher being unavailable (what can ya do?...). There was only one game that I missed out on because of the plethora of options. This is not a bad thing at all. I love this much choice from this small of a convention.
To diversify game type with more coop games? Are there some games for us commies/hippies where building community is the goal vs. resource extraction and capital building? Otherwise it was nice to get to know some of your regular gamers. Great people that all "get" what gaming is about.
It was very flexible and people seemed okay with the problems that arose with the schedule. Maybe we should talk about most spontaneous game spots. Plan and schedule the epic games but leave some spots open so people can play a favourite. I guess not everything has to be planned out.
I think it's good to have a mix of longer and shorter games, mixed complexity. Otherwise one might get a little burnt out.
For long games having a player token to pass around so people know when it's their turn.
As always it was great as it was. Thanks for hosting a great event. I know it must take a lot of time and effort from both of you, Matt and Kathy and everyone else that helps out and your efforts are greatly appreciated by me. Thanks so much.
Obviously tricky to do (but sounds like you are already moving in that direction anyway), but have a broader base of game teachers, so as not to put too many eggs in one basket.
I would be perfectly fine if you wanted to take the fees up front. For the sake of budgeting. Keep the rest as is. I really like how everything is set up.
Pretty happy with the weekend given my limited participation. Being family day weekend and valentines day I didn't feel like I could participate as much a I wanted.
Perhaps a way to get more people involved in the schedule. Start nominating and voting for games in the fall and those are the ones that get scheduled.
This event is a real highlight for me each year. I love gathering with friends, having a few beer, and playing games for four days. Understandably, this event is limited in size and scope as we host it in our house. We would like to take the model of this event and have an event like it at a place like Resort at Cypress Hills. That way we could open it up to more attendees and work in some outdoor activities as well. We may explore a spring or fall event to do just that.
I guess I will close this report by saying that I continue to be absolutely humbled at the caliber of people in this hobby. It is so heartwarming to share a weekend with friends in such a rewarding activity. I am truly blessed.
This was my second Bixcon and I was glad to have been a part of it. I am looking forward to next years event.
Lookee what he can do! He wants a job!
Once again, I wish you lived near me.
I like where I live, so that's the only reason I didn't say I wished I lived near you...)