As much as we’ve seen the board game landscape blossom in the past few years, it is still unfortunate for most enthusiasts that board games are still mainly defined by the likes of Monopoly, Risk, Jenga and Scrabble.
It’s not that they are bad games, but it’s like drinking beer. You know what the popular beer brands are, but sometimes, you want to try out some craft beers.
That is why regular events like Lallapalooza are so important. Not only is it a place for non board game players to turn up with many ready facilitators, to teach them about the other modern designer board games available, but it also targets the right audience, namely the polytechnic and university students.
These students are the future of the hobby, which explains why many a tabletop enthusiast made the pilgrimage to Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Convention Hall on the 11th March 2017, to strengthen their ranks.
The event’s concept was simple. A full day of gaming competitions for games like Ticket to Ride, Catan, Splendor and more on one side, with casual gaming on the other.
This year’s Lallapalooza was jointly organised by two boardgame clubs – NTU’s Fast Forward Boardgame Society, and NP’s Board Games Club. The benefits of joining forces clearly shows, as at no point did I see the organisers get stressed due a lack of staff. And this when they had over 100 board games on display, available on loan to players. These facilitators needed to explain the games properly, without rushing things, to give the attendees the best experience possible.
The competition prizes were also quite a thing to behold, as there were actually games which even long time gamers with significant collections themselves wanted to get their hands on. Alas, the games were not for sale, and attendees had the event sponsors, the Singapore National Youth Council, Board Gamers SG and Starting Player to thank, for the prizes.
Starting Player is the local start-up who designed and published their own board game, Three Kingdom Redux. The game has since been picke up for distribution in the West. Yay Singapore!
The casual gaming side was where we spent most of our time, and it was very encouraging to see people of all types in the crowd just having a good time, making friends who they literally just met on the table. The air was spiced with cheers and groans as lucky rolls were made, or strategic plans coming to fruition or damnation.
Our personal highlights of the day included losing to a 9-year-old in a strategic game of Suburbia, and seeing a friend bring his non-gaming wife to the event. Come on, you know what we mean.
And in our defence for the loss, the 9-year-old’s father is a huge board game enthusiast, and his son has been schooled in the arts of strategy and tactics for years, a youngling to the skills of the Jedi in the Star Wars Universe.
Yet in the background of fun and laughter, the silent air of competition loomed on the other side of the hall. Yes, some of the competitors really wanted those hard to find prizes.
The night ended with the prize giving ceremony for the competitions, and any of the games in the prize pool not chosen by the winners were given out as lucky draw prizes.
Sadly, we did not win anything but we felt like the board game community had won, with such a well run event. Many thanks to the organisers and we look forward to the future of Lallapalooza.
And maybe a rematch with the 10-year-old next year.