A board game convention is coming to Lexington, and it hopes to show people new ways to play.
When people think of playing board games, many images can come to mind. They could involve that huge word you put down in scrabble, bankrupting your family in Monopoly, or that night of Risk that never seemed to end. While those games are still classics, many new ones have popped up over the years. At LexiCon, organizer Chris Grzywacz (pronounced gree-watts) hopes to show what’s new on the tabletop.
“There’s a lot of cartoon ones, where they’re focused on the vending and the selling, or meeting stars and stuff like that, but our convention’s a lot different. Our convention is activity driven, where people can stay busy from when they walk in the door at noon on Friday until they leave on Sunday at 5:00. They can play games the whole time,” he says.
The term tabletop gaming originally referred to several detailed, niche types of games: wargames (typically using cardboard pieces on hexagonal grids to simulate a historical conflict), miniatures games (with detailed plastic or metal figurines acting as the playpieces), and role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons. However, the term has grown to include a variety of board and card games. LexiCon co-manager Greg Franseth explains.
"When we say board games, this is not your father’s Monopoly or your mother’s Life. These are more exciting games with lots more going on that a lot of people haven’t seen before but are a lot more interactive and are a lot better at building families and friendships,” he said.
Starting with German-made The Settlers of Catan in 1995 a more sophisticated group of games has arisen, many from Europe. They focus on player interaction, meaningful decisions, and strategic depth. Those traits provide many different ways to play, such as in Pandemic, where players work together against the game.
“There’s a disease that’s spreading throughout the board game, and everyone takes on a different type of occupation to fight against the disease and try to defeat it. 2/3 of the time, you lose against the game because it’s very difficult to play against,” says Chris.
Other games use a strong theme to draw players into a world, allowing their imaginations to run wild.
“One of my favorites is a game called Betrayal at House on the Hill, which just takes all your classic movie tropes. A bunch of you find yourselves in an abandoned house, so what do you do in all horror movies, you split up. Eventually, someone’s going to betray everybody else and you get to go through a zombie attack, a ghost story, a trip to another dimension, something silly and fun,” Greg says.
LexiCon aims to cater to all kinds of player, with tutorial sessions for those curious about the hobby, over 700 games from Greg's collection to pick up and play, and tournaments for the more competitive. The event has garnered support from local businesses, such as here at West Sixth Brewing, where they’ve hosted game nights every other Monday leading up to the convention. They also reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass, offering free admission on Sunday and several unique activities.
The convention runs from noon on Friday through 5PM Sunday at Lexington’s Clarion Hotel, located at 1950 Newtown Pike. Additional information, including registration and a list of events, is available at their website.