Handy Con 2018 Review

I’ve just been to Handy Con which was, handily, only a short hop away from London to the quaint hilly town of High Wycombe. Hilly being of important note, as I foolishly stayed in a hotel away from the venue, 20 mins up a long hill. Still, at least I got some exercise! But you’re not here to hear about my sleeping arrangements. You’re here to find out about Handy Con!

Full disclosure: I do know the organiser, Paul Harris, fairly well, but I’ll try not to hold that against the convention.

Image by Andy Grant

Handy Con is held in the Holiday Inn at the edge of High Wycombe. It is a great venue, with seemingly acres of space. Other conventions that I’ve attended have always felt squeezed. Full to bursting with gamers and, if you’re not out of bed early enough, challenging to find a table to play at on the busier Saturdays. Here, that never felt like a problem, with numerous dedicated rooms and a copious bar/restaurant area that we had full use of, I felt comfortable throughout the weekend.

The multiple spaces allowed for breakaway groups and special events or games like an organised Playtest UK session, a big Pitch Car game, an hour of rapid fire silly party games which was a genuine highlight of the event!

Video by Paul Harris

The poor soul attempting to understand my instructions was Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules! (host of my occasional podcasting forays) who had occupied a quiet spot at the back to demo various upcoming and recently published games, including Founders of Gloomhaven and the recent Czech Games Edition titles. Cezar from Alley Catch Games was also there on the Friday to show off their upcoming titles and I’m interested to see if more of this will happen in future Handy Cons.

There were tournaments for Terraforming Mars and Flamme Rouge, with suitably elaborate prizes…

Handy Con Flamme Rouge

And of course there were games. Lots and lots of games. In fact there was even a well stocked games library on hand if you fancied something you weren’t able to bring with you. There was also, unlike previous conventions I have attended, a very active Facebook group and game sign up spreadsheet before the convention which is both great for organising games, and not so great if like me you only discovered it at the last minute. As it was, I ended up playing mostly my own games which is not really a problem, but I have always enjoyed the slightly organic nature of other conventions I have attended. The sign up sheet is something I’ll look out for next time.

All in all Handy Con was an excellent convention. Very similar in style to conventions like MidCon and SorCon, it seemed to have that little bit of extra polish that set it apart. It’s in the little details, like having an obvious team of organisers in bright orange jumpers, the player needed signs, the drinks voucher system, although it’d be nice to have some decent ales available. Despite only being in its third iteration, this young convention is already proving itself to be more than the equal to its more established competitors!

Rating: High Five!

Handy Con Cthulhu Wars

Games I Played

Nemesis x2 – Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to get hold of a prototype for the face hugger of kickstarters, Nemesis. I’ll have some detailed thoughts on this out next week!

Dream Home – the very nice, light, set collection game about trying and ultimately failing to build the home of your dreams. It’s got a wonderfully knowing sense of humour that is utterly charming.

Favelas – drafting colourful tiles and trying to meet the demands of the various colour combinations which you are also manipulating as you play. Very nice, although I’m a little unsure about the theme.

Handy Con altiplano

Altiplano x2 – the new bag-builder from Orléans designer Reiner Stockhausen made it to the table twice this weekend and I managed to overlook different rules both times. Unfortunately it has a bit of a weak rulebook. But the core gameplay loop is thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to finally getting the whole game right!

Jorvik – I picked up Jorvik on a whim at the UKGE last year and having finally got it to the table I am thoroughly enjoying it! A delightfully interactive euro. I’ll have a review of it out sometime soon.

Tybor the Builder x0.5 – the new small box card game from Alexander Pfister set in the Oh My Goods! universe. I really enjoyed the opening couple of turns but had to dash off to the…

Handy con tournament

Flamme Rouge tournament (4 games) – Yes I entered the tournament for Flamme Rouge, a game I haven’t played in a tragically long time. It was fantastic. The game is already good but linking together multiple games using the free to play Grand Tour rules was just fantastic! Highlight of the convention.

Agent Decker (prototype) – an upcoming spiritual successor to the very interesting Superhot, Agent Decker tweaks the mechanics and adds a story driven campaign. It’s a larger game but from what I’ve seen so far, might fix all the issues I had with Superhot! Very interested to see where this goes. Thanks to Mr Grogan for demoing this for me.

Crazy Party games – a quick fire half hour of different party games, including Ugg-Tect (see the video above), Rhino Hero, Yogi (aka, In a Bind, still excellent), and Coconuts. Good, wholesome, silly fun!

Handy Con will be back in High Wycombe for another convention this August!

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