Close encounters of the nerd kind

Hi, my name’s Kathy and I’m a hopeless geek.

Being outgeeked is something of a rarity in my everyday life at the moment. As time passes, the number of geeks around me on a daily basis seems to be continually decreasing. To be honest, it’s something I miss. Geeks are my peeps.

So when I heard about Warpcon, I jumped at the opportunity. A games convention in Cork with a huge number of geeks, nerds and possibly even dorks. And special guests who are simultaneously famous and obscure enough for geeks to completely geek out about meeting and yet feel comfortable enough to approach.

So we booked a cheap B&B, jumped in the geekmobile and drove on down to Cork. It was a beautiful day, glorious sunshine and freezing cold air. We somehow found our way to the room in UCC where the main event was going on, despite the complete lack of any signposting whatsoever. With our weekend passes hung around our necks we wandered off into the room.

Around the edges of the hall were tables stacked high with boxes and boxes of games. Some I knew well, others looked new and mysterious. Board games, card games, table top games and their individual minis in their transparent blister packs. In the centre were a dozen tables covered in fake grass, strategically-placed knolls and tiny troops. Around them buzzed busy geeks, ruler in one hand, dice in the other.

Although I have actually never played a game or Warhammer or Confrontation, I have so many friends who are avid players that this is a comforting and familiar sight.

Sadly, both of us being hopelessly shy, we spent most of our time milling around and not really joining in. We managed to have a few nice chats over the weekend. Mostly when we were in smaller groups, and, for some reason, when chatting with the special guests.

The first person we met was David Nykl, who you may know from the series Stargate Atlantis. He was incredibly warm and friendly, although I still even now have no idea what brought him there all the way from Vancouver. A delightful encounter.

The other really nice moment was a surprisingly intimate panel about the illustrating business. The audience barely outnumbered the panelists, as we sat in a tiny and rather freezing classroom. I really should mention at this point what a beautiful place UCC is, with its stylish gothic style grey buildings mingling elegantly with the modern additions. Even so, it was bloody freezing in the west wing classrooms!

The panelists were John Kovalic (of Munchkin and Dork Tower fame), Eva Widermann and Lydia Schuchmann. It was very interesting and very pleasant to be able to have a real conversation with them about their work, their art and how they became professional illustrators. I have enjoyed John’s work for many years now, so it was great to have a chance to meet and chat with him so informally. And it was nice to discover 2 other very talented young illustrators.

We also got a chance to try out a couple of “boardgames” (a slightly annoying name since they mainly involve cards and/or small plastic zombies and no board at all). Humans!! and Munchkin Bites. I think Humans!! could have been a lot more fun if the instructions had been in the box or if someone had been around to explain the rules to us. As it was, we muddled through with an online version of the rules viewed on my phone.

Munchkin Bites was as good as I expected. As hilarious as ever, especially with a suitably nerdy opponent who joined us to make up the 3 player minimum. You’ve got to love someone who overplays all the voices and speaks like a villain in a Terry Pratchett novel. Of course, the fact that he mispronounced “ennui” quite hilariously (“any-ee-oye”) meant I just had to be terribly mean and beat him. Sorry about that.

Nerds. I love ’em.


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