My first Wellycon tickets were a gift from my teammates at work a couple of years ago. My son and I weren’t sure what to expect but had a blast trying out the incredible selection of games and immersing ourselves in the board gaming experience for the day. We have attended each year since and the event seems to be going from strength to strength. This year was no exception.
Between the tournaments, opportunity to try prototype games, lots of play to win games on offer, solid publisher presence and organised learn to play sessions there was so much packed into Wellycon 2022.
This year my son (14) and I only managed to get to the Sunday session and although we arrived on opening and stayed until late there was still so much we wanted to do that we didn’t quite have enough time to get to. We still managed to play a lot of great games, so we thought we would write a roundup of what we played and our thoughts on each game.
If you happen to live in New Zealand and haven’t been to Wellycon, we thoroughly recommend it. The vast array of games and organised activities makes it great value for money and for those that are new to the hobby there are plenty of helpful volunteers to show you the ropes in a new game.
What you will find in our Wellycon 2022 Roundup
- Circadians First Light Second Edition
- Project L
- Galaxy Trucker
- That Time You Killed Me
- Eco System
Circadians First Light Second Edition
Play Time: 60-90 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 12+ / Publisher: Garphill Games / Designer: S J Macdonald
We wanted to make the most of our day at Wellycon so we made sure we were lined up well before the doors opened at 10am. Once we collected our name badges and custom Wellycon dice we headed straight for the play to win table. This year there were well over 100 games to be won and we were hoping we could repeat my son’s luck from last year when he won the excellent GKR Heavy Hitters.
The first game I was keen to try was Circadians First Light Second Edition. I recently purchased Paladins of The West Kingdom also by Garphill Games and was so impressed I was keen to try another title from Garphill.
Circadians First Light is a dice worker placement game where you are tasked with exploring an alien planet while maintaining good relations with the intelligent lifeforms that call this planet home. During the game you will roll dice that are then used to gather resources, build improvements to your base, complete special projects or improve relations with the alien factions. The player with the most points by the end of the game wins.
Once we opened the box, the first thing I noticed was how great the insert was. Unfortunately, most of the games I have bought have terrible inserts that require you to come up with a better solution but with Circadians it all seems to work quite nicely to keep the components well organised.
I set up my son with a learn to play video and then got to work setting up the game and getting to grips with the rules. Set up took a fair amount of time as there are numerous boards, tokens to place and player components to organise. Each player chooses a unique leader that grants them a special advantage during the game. It’s a subtle advantage but is a great way to keep the game interesting after repeated plays.
During the early game we got off to a slow start, there is a fair amount to get to grips with in this game and planning ahead is important. Each turn we rolled our dice and placed them secretly behind a screen only revealing our choices once we were both ready. Your choices come down to allocating your dice to farms on your player board to generate resources or placing them in garages to allocate in shared spaces for a diverse range of benefits.
Given there are limited places on the shared boards it’s possible that your plans can be ruined if another player gets there first. We spent the early rounds improving our resource production by moving our respective harvesters to more favourable spots on the planet.
I made a little more progress upgrading my farms which proved to be a good move as it granted me more resources in future rounds. My son on the other hand was targeting the bonus resources available on certain planet spaces and building up extra dice for more workers in later turns.
By mid-game we were well across how the game worked and the rounds were quick and smooth. The game seems pretty intuitive once you have a few rounds under your belt. It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that there is an event card that is flipped each round that determines an effect that applies for the round. This ensures you never get too comfortable in your strategy and requires you to adjust to take advantage of the effect.
Both my son and I seemed to be getting a good flow of resources now and my son commented on how the game seemed to open up at this stage with far more options available. At this point my son began using the negotiation board to gain points and benefits and I completed my first item at the depository. Both these activities give you points and benefits but at the cost of losing a worker permanently.
By the last round something quite interesting happened. We had managed to complete all of our farm and garage upgrades negating the need to visit those worker spots again. I didn’t really have any viable item cards to complete either. The game seemed to feel a lot more constrained with a lot of the board spaces no longer viable. It kind of felt a little like an anti-climax. Given this is the first time we played, it’s possible we missed a key piece of the strategy or a rule somewhere which caught up with us in the end which may explain it. In the end I managed a 55 to 53 point win over my son.
For most of the game there was a nice feeling of progression and an increasing number of options to consider, and it was quite fun. By end game it felt like there was a lot less choice which felt a little underwhelming.
Hit or Miss? Miss
I liked a lot about this game, dice worker placement is not something I have played a lot of but seems very cool. Rounds go by quickly, and the hidden dice allocation phase is a very cool concept. Early game and mid game were quite exciting and felt like there were many viable options, our end game felt a little flat and constrained. Given the depth of this game I feel one game is not enough to make up my mind, I would really like to try it a few more times as I think there are a lot of good elements here.
Hit or Miss? Undecided
Play Time: 20-40 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Boardcubator / Designer: Michal Ikes, Jan Soukal, Adam Spanel
After Circadians it was lunch time already. So, we wandered to the food trucks outside the venue and searched for some good food to fuel the rest of our board gaming afternoon. We ended up finding some gourmet flame grilled burgers that hit the spot nicely. While we were munching on our burgers we came up with our plan for the next few games. We thought we would try Project L at one of the learn to play tables as a friend of mine recommended it and then try to find another short game before we got into something more substantial.
Once we got settled in one of the volunteers set to work explaining Project L. Each turn players can perform up to three actions out of the following options: they can claim one of the puzzle cards in the centre of the table, place a tile in a card, collect one of the smallest size tiles from the pool or upgrade a tile to the next size up. There is also a master action which can be used only once per turn to place tiles on more than one puzzle. Once a tile puzzle is completed players can claim it along with the pictured bonus tile and any points that go with it.
The aim of the game is to complete as many puzzles as possible to claim tile rewards and points. Once all the puzzles with a black backing have been claimed the game ends and the player with the most points wins.
We ended up playing with another two people who were interested in trying out Project L and we all found it very easy to grasp. The turns really flew by and baring a little confusion about the master action by in large everyone felt confident fairly quickly.
Most of the other players got off to a quicker start than I did, by completing fairly simple patterns early to gain more tiles. I tried to build up a few tiles to make better use of my master action so I lagged behind a bit. My son gave me a bit of grief for being last but once my plan worked out, I quickly caught up.
The cool thing about Project L is that every time you complete a tile you not only gain an additional bonus tile, but you can recycle the tiles you used to complete that puzzle. It has this really nice snowball effect which makes every few turns seem like you are able to do more and more.
It’s a really nice length too, playing for around 30 minutes, it feels like it ends at the right point without dragging on. There are also some nice combos available with clever use of your master action if you can plan it right.
In the end I came a close second, my son didn’t quite capitalise on his strong start and ended up fourth.
My son really enjoyed this game, simple but some nice depth, it’s right up his alley. He also liked the fact that this game could easily be taught to his younger sisters making it more likely to hit the table at home. In fact, he liked it so much, it’s one he would love to buy.
Hit or Miss? Hit
The last polyomino game I tried was The Isle of Cats and we all loved that game. This is another great polyomino game that has me hooked. This game is fantastic. Simple, accessible, satisfying and a good challenge. I could see this being a great gateway game for non-gamers and a great family game for families with younger kids.
Hit or Miss? Hit
Play Time: 20-30 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Gigamic / Designer: Jules Messaud
After the success of Project L we were keen to try another simple and relatively short game before we moved on to something a little heavier. I spotted Akropolis on the play to win table and thought it might fit the bill nicely.
Akropolis tasks players with drafting tiles to expand their ancient Greek city. Players will be rewarded with points by meeting the point scoring objectives of each coloured district they place. Plaza tiles have stars on them and act as multipliers for districts of the same colour. By layering tiles on top of each other players can increase their scoring potential but to do this they must have enough tiles below to accommodate a tile on top.
It took little time at all to set up Akropolis and hardly any time to learn it. Turns are very quick and consist of picking a tile and placing it to optimise your scoring opportunities. My son likened it a little to Cascadia as it involves drafting and tile placement along with unique scoring requirements for each colour similar to the animal scoring requirements in Cascadia.
In the early game I got quite lucky and managed to get the scoring plazas I was after fairly easily. My focus was on blue and yellow tiles. The blue tiles will score points for the largest continuous grouping and the yellow tiles will only score if they are not next to any other yellow tiles. It became clear early on my son was also after the blue tiles leading to some overlap in our strategies.
My son was having a bit of a hard time of it, and it became apparent near the end of the game he had misread some of the scoring requirements, in particular for the purple tiles which must be surrounded to score points.
The game played very quickly, and we were done in 20-30 minutes. We tallied up points and my son ended up losing by a fair margin due to his misunderstanding of the purple scoring requirements.
Quick and easy to learn. Unfortunately, there’s nothing really that stands out for my son in this game. It seemed to him that a lot came down to how well you could snap up the plazas you need. Not a game he was that keen to play again.
Hit or Miss? Miss
There’s nothing I really disliked about this game, but it is in a crowded market. There are a lot of fantastic tile drafting and placement games, Azul, Cascadia and Calico are all excellent examples. Unfortunately, there was nothing that set this game apart for me. You could argue being able to stack tiles is a nice touch, but I didn’t really find that to be enough.
Hit or Miss? Miss
Play Time: 60 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 10+ / Publisher: Czech Games Edition / Designer: Vlaada Chvatil
After our game of Akropolis I bumped into a friend of mine who was keen to introduce us to some new games. He really wanted to show us That Time You Killed Me, but that game had been pretty popular all day and we couldn’t track it down. Fortunately, he had another game in mind he thought we would like, Galaxy Trucker.
Now Galaxy Trucker is not a new game, it came out in 2007 but my son and I hadn’t tried it. In fact, although I had heard of it and heard it was very good, I never really felt compelled to give it a go. As it would turn out that was my loss, but I’ll get to that later.
As my friend started setting up for Galaxy Trucker, I noticed all the cool ship parts and started to get curious about how it all worked. In this game, as the title suggests you are a Galaxy Trucker, you will put together a rag tag ship with odd parts and then use it to fly freight through the galaxy in the hopes that you can make some money. The trucker who makes the most money wins.
The catch is that as you fly your makeshift ship across the galaxy any manner of misfortune can strike, you could be attacked by pirates, or struck by a meteor shower. You could also encounter planets offering juicy cargo which can make you rich. Before you start you have no idea what you will encounter so you kind of have to be prepared for anything.
We played this game over three rounds with progressively more complex ships. The beginning of each round is where you frantically grab ship parts from the centre of the table to make your ship. The first round we took turns taking parts to make it easier, by the next round it was an all-in scramble to get the best parts before someone else did. It’s so much fun building your ship, my son had a big smile on his face every time he found that perfect part to fit or when he was able to make the pieces fit just right. It can be stressful though when everyone is grabbing at the pieces, you feel like you can’t stop to think too long, or you will miss out.
Once your ship is built, it’s time to take it out into the galaxy in search of cargo and in the hopes of making it to your destination intact. Don’t get too precious about your ship, it’s rare that you will last the round without losing a few pieces of your ship along the way.
In our first round I was focused on building a fast ship with plenty of crew, my son was aiming for firepower and my friend had a more balanced approach. It turned out I was way under gunned and because my fast ship was out front it copped a battering from pirates and meteors with little defence. I ended up losing that round majorly. My son’s more aggressive design earned him plenty of loot for taking out pirates.
In the second round I went for the opposite approach and underpowered my engines in favour of a ship that was bristling with guns. Turned out we faced fewer dangers in the second round but because I was lagging behind with my weak engines, I was unable to get much loot from the planets. Again, my son and my friend did a lot better than me in the second round.
By the third round I had a far more balanced design and took advantage of some alien crew for some nice boosts to my engines and firepower. This was the round it all came together for me, and I managed to catch up big time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to snatch the win from my son or get second place, but I did manage to narrow the margin a lot.
My son just loved this game! The thrill of building and customising his ship, coupled with the randomised events to keep things interesting was a winning combination for him. This is now another game he really wants to buy.
Hit or Miss? Hit
I agree with my son’s perspective on this one. This game is such a blast. I can see it having a lot of replay value due to the various ways you can build your ship and the randomised events each round. I think some people could find the ship build rounds a bit stressful, but you can always opt for a turn-based approach to make it a little easier on newbies like we did at first. It’s not terribly challenging to learn but the rules around how to build your ship take a little getting used to which is why I think it would be more suitable for older kids, so I think the box age rating of 10+ is fair.
Hit or Miss? Hit
That Time You Killed Me
Play Time: 15-30 Min / Players: 2 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 10+ / Publisher: Pandasaurus Games / Designer: Peter C Hayward
Once we were done with Galaxy Trucker we spotted the rare sight of That Time You Killed Me sitting on the play to win table after having just been dropped back. I immediately ran to the table, gracefully side stepping a few bystanders as I got two firm hands on the box! I strutted back with a smile on my face as I proudly held up the box for my friend and son to see.
We quickly found a table and my friend who has played this plenty started to set up and explain the rules. That Time You Killed Me is a two-player game that is played across three boards representing three different timeframes, the past, the present and the future. Each player starts with one player piece on each of the boards and must essentially squish their opponent onto a wall, or another copy of themselves or an object to kill them. If you can eliminate your opponent across two of the three boards, you win. My son described it as chess but with one heck of a twist and I think that is a fair call.
As we settled in to try our first game my friend set the scene by reading out some of the background text that comes with the first scenario. This is a really nice touch, and the story continues across each of the four different scenarios that come in the core box. Without giving too much away the story talks about how the two players have travelled through time and how one of them is a murderer, but which one? My son and I both thought the story was great and it was very well written.
The rules are very simple in this game, you have a focus token that determines which board you can perform an action on. You can perform two actions on that board, either moving your token, or moving through time. When you move backwards through time you create a copy of yourself in your current time zone. Once you have finished your turn you move your focus token to another board.
I initially focused on creating as many copies of myself as possible thinking it would give me an edge, my son held off, saving his copies for the right opportunity, you only get four and when they are placed there are no more. As the game progressed, I felt like I started to get an edge, but my son began to make good use of his reserve copies, and gradually caught up. By the end there were at least two opportunities where my son could have won but didn’t realise. Eventually we fell into a stalemate of sorts, and we agreed on a draw as neither of us could see a way of beating the other.
For our second game we tried the next scenario which incorporated the concept of planting seeds. This is quite a cool addition, and it allows players to plant a seed in one time zone, say the past, which then simultaneously creates a shrub in the present and a tree in the future. Seeds don’t cause any obstacle, but shrubs act like a wall and trees can be pushed over on to another player to squish them. This changed the feel of the game a lot and we really enjoyed it. Ultimately my son proved to have a far better handle on the game than me and won easily.
There were two other scenarios we didn’t get a chance to explore but each incorporated another object which altered the game play somewhat. I won’t spoil what they are here.
My son just loved this game. He thought there was a lot of strategy and thought involved in the gameplay. The story woven around the scenarios was also a high point for him. Another game he would love to buy.
Hit or Miss? Hit
I also loved this game. Although I wasn’t very good at it, I thought it was unique and very cleverly executed. It had that great combination of being simple to learn but having plenty of strategic depth. It also plays quickly too. My only minor reservation is the possibility of a stalemate that we experienced in our first game, I don’t know how frequently this occurs but when it does, it’s a little bit of a let-down.
Hit or Miss? Hit
Play Time: 15-20 Min / Players: 2-6 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 7+ / Publisher: Genius Games / Designer: Matt Simpson
After we finished playing That Time You Killed Me it was coming up to dinner time, so we decided to take a break and have some dinner. As we grabbed our food and sat down, we began talking about how much more Wellycon had to offer this year. The event really seems to have gone from strength to strength, there was so much more we wanted to do, and it felt like we had only scratched the surface.
While my son was finishing his food, I thought I would grab our next game and get a head start by setting up. I found a copy of Starship Captains which I had been keen to try, I began getting it ready to play while my son finished munching on his dinner. Unfortunately, just as I finished setting up, I was told the game had to go back to the play to win table as the prize draw was going to be happening soon. It was disappointing we didn’t get to try this as it looked really interesting, but I will say the set up took a while.
As we made our way to the prize draw area, my friend dropped Ecosystem on our table and asked if we wanted to give it a try while we waited for the draw. Ecosystem is a game where players are dealt a hand of animal cards and must select one then pass the rest on in a card drafting style similar to Sushi Go!. Once each player selects their card and passes the remaining cards to the next player, they then reveal their card and place it face up in front of them. There are two rounds with 10 cards each round in which players must form a 5 by 4 grid of cards in front of them.
Each card has scoring objectives and the player with the most points at the end wins. Wolves for example score points if you have the most wolves, rabbits only score one point but allow you to swap previously placed cards for better positions, meadows grant points based on connecting meadows together to form a large continuous grouping.
We found this game really easy to learn and managed to finish a game in 15 odd minutes. I ended up focusing on meadows and correcting my mistakes with rabbits. My son ended up with a large group of fox cards and a large stream, but unfortunately couldn’t maximise the points for his stream due to lacking other connecting cards. In the end my friend scored the most points with my son and I a lot further behind.
A fun, easy and quick to play game. He would play again but it doesn’t stand out for him.
Hit or Miss? Neutral
Ecosystem was enjoyable and I could see this being an easy game to get to the table for families as it is so easy to learn. However, for me it occupies a similar space to other games we have like Sushi Go! which is another quick, easy card drafting game. Ecosystem was fun but not a standout for me either.
Hit or Miss? Neutral
Play Time: 30 Min / Players: 1-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 14+ we think 8+ / Publisher: Road to Infamy Games (R2i Games) / Designer: Jeff Chin, Andrew Nerger
Once we had finished our game of Ecosystem it was prize giving time and my son, and I both held high hopes for coming away with one of the games we enjoyed during the day. Either Galaxy Trucker or That Time You Killed Me would have done nicely! My son had some great luck last year and won the excellent skirmisher GKR Heavy Hitters so we were hopeful his luck would carry over to this year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and we missed out on winning one of the games on offer.
By this stage it was getting a little late and my son was looking a little tired, we were thinking about calling it a day and heading home satisfied with our great day of gaming. My friend asked us if we would be willing to try one last game that he had been enjoying lately called Canvas. As he described it, we were immediately intrigued about a game centred around creating works of art. We didn’t need much convincing and we set about trying to find a copy while volunteers began organising the games for packing away.
Luckily, we tracked a copy of Canvas down that was still on the shelf and we settled at a table to set up. My friend explained that the game was all about selecting transparent art sheets and layering three together to create a unique work of art. The catch was that each work of art would earn points based on four pre-selected scoring objectives.
After a brief run down on the rules we were pretty confident on how to play and immediately began with my son grabbing the first art sheet. Play continued as we collected transparent art sheets and tried to layer them in the most favourable way, we noticed that the visible illustrations changed depending on the order in which you layered the sheets and so did the name of the painting which was a nice touch.
When selecting art sheets, you can use a token called inspiration to skip over the first sheet and select sheets further down the line, but these inspiration tokens are limited. This is similar to the way spice tokens can be used to skip cards in Century Spice Road.
My first creation – Wandering Beauty gave me an opportunity to explain my masterpiece to my competitors and then determine which ribbons I would get for meeting scoring objectives. The presentation of your masterpiece and the story you put around it does nothing for your points but is a lot of fun. As it turns out my impassioned speech did not match my reward as I collected ribbons for only two of the four objectives.
My son’s attempts were far more lucrative, and he was able to meet all four objectives on his first painting. Although he was tired, he got his second wind enthusiastically describing his masterpiece to us and explaining why it was such a significant piece in his collection.
We played until each person had three works of art and then we tallied the points and discovered that my son had done enough to come away with a win, while I trailed behind a distant last with my friend in second place. The game went at a snappy pace, and we were done within 30 minutes which flew by.
My son really liked this game, he liked the unique theme and the layering effect of the art sheets. I think the thing he liked the most was presenting his art to the other players, that led to a lot of laughs.
Hit or Miss? Hit
I really enjoyed Canvas, I think this would be a great family game. The theme is something a lot of kids would enjoy, the layering effect of the sheets to create art is quite cool and it’s so easy to learn. I also enjoyed the fun factor of each player presenting their artwork, it makes the game a lot more social. I think the age rating on the box of 14+ is quite high, my sense is that kids 8+ should be fine playing this game.
Hit or Miss? Hit
Games we didn’t get to play but wanted to…
We packed as much as we could in our day at Wellycon but there was so much more we wanted to check out. Some of the games we missed out on were:
- Starship Captains – As we mentioned above, we got as far as setting it up but didn’t get to play. I really like the concept of worker placement and space exploration, I am keen to try this game at some point.
- Azul Queens Garden – We just love Azul in our household, and I was keen to try the latest iteration, unfortunately it was so popular it was always in play when I went to grab it.
- Arrakis: Dawn of the Fremen – I am a huge Dune fan and thought this area control game looked interesting, unfortunately we didn’t have the time to fit it in.
- The Wolves – A game about leading a wolf pack! Count me in! I am really disappointed I didn’t get a chance to try this one, mainly because the theme sounded so cool.
We hope you enjoyed our Wellycon 2022 Roundup. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts, please leave a comment below or get in touch through our contact page.
About the Authors
We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time.