Wellycon 2024 - Shipwrights of the North Sea Redux Feature

Wellycon 2024 Roundup

Each year I really look forward to Wellycon and what started out as a fun event for my son and I to attend many years ago has now become a family event with my wife and daughters keen not to miss out on the fun.  This year Wellycon didn’t disappoint, and we tried some great games and more importantly had an amazing time.

We tried something a little different this year. Given my son likes heavier games and my wife and daughters prefer some more family friendly titles we decided to split our attendance over the two days. My son and I attended the Saturday session to get our fix of chunky epic games and my wife, daughters and I attended the Sunday session to try out some fun lighter games. At least that was the plan, but some unexpected illness threw a spanner in the works for my son halfway through day one.

So, what did we try? What did we love? And what missed the mark? Grab your favourite cuppa, relax and read on as we share our thoughts on the games we tried.

What you will find in our Wellycon 2024 Roundup

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Play Time:  Depends on the players and scenario  / Players: ?  / Complexity: Medium  / Age: ?  / Publisher:  Chaosium / Designer:  Mike Mason

This year I managed to snap up some tickets to one of the highly sought after Call of Cthulhu RPG games. Our first day started with our 10am slot to try this game out. My son and I haven’t tried this RPG before, and I was really keen to try it as I didn’t think we would get the chance outside of Wellycon.

Call of Cthulhu is based on the Cthulhu mythos and H.P Lovecraft’s story of the same name. One player takes the role of game moderator, whose role is to run the game for the rest of the players. Everyone else takes the part of investigators attempting to seek out, understand, and eventually confront the horrors, mysteries, and secrets of the Cthulhu Mythos.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect here but when we arrived at the table it was clear our moderator had put a lot of effort into creating the atmosphere with props and background music. It immediately got us interested and excited to see what sort of mystery we would be encountering during our game.

Over the course of the next few hours our team of four investigators would be trying to clear the name of our dear friend who had been accused of murdering his wife. As we expected there was more to this murder than the work of earthly mortals. A powerful genie had orchestrated the foul act and the conclusion culminated in a life and death struggle for our small team locked in the cellar of a remote cottage. Our survival depended on finding a magical ring before we all went mad, which by the way is a key risk in this game. Thankfully just when things were looking dire, we managed to locate the magical ring and banish the malevolent being.

Our Thoughts

We had really been looking forward to trying Call of Cthulhu and it didn’t disappoint. It all felt so thematic, and I suspect a large part of why it was so enjoyable was due to the efforts of our exceptional moderator. He really did go all out to set the mood. There were portraits of our characters so we could visualise each player, fake skulls, spooky recordings of the accused murder suspect, a mysterious box full of old newspaper clippings and of course the magical ring itself.

I think it would be a big learning curve moderating a game like this but as a participant it was pretty easy to get started and enjoy. The player sheets seem intimidating because of all the tables and stats but once you step through them it all makes sense and the moderator is available to clarify things. Overall, we would love to play again.

Hit or Miss?  2 Hits

Play Time: 5-20 Min  / Players: 2  / Complexity:  Low / Age:  8+  / Publisher:  Frost Flame Games / Designer:  Buddy Frost

After Call of Cthulhu, we had time for one more quick game before lunch so I grabbed Pave. Pave is a 2-player game that requires players to form a continuous line from one of their coloured edges of the board to the other one of their coloured edges. In a turn you place one tile and draw a tile from the bag.

Tiles have a hierarchy and so some can be placed on top of others to spoil your opponent’s efforts and advance yours. Overall, there is a balance to be struck between trying to complete your line and frustrating your opponent’s goals.

We played one round of Pave which my son won, and we were then ready for lunch.

Our Thoughts

We didn’t really click with Pave. I think the luck of the tile draw can swing things a bit and for some reason we just didn’t find it that fun.

Hit or Miss?  2 Misses

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Play Time:  60-80 Min / Players: 1-5  / Complexity:  Medium  / Age:  13+ / Publisher:  Garphill Games / Designer:  Shem Phillips

After lunch we were ready for a chunkier game we could really take our time with. I am a big fan of Garphill games and noticed Shipwrights of the North Sea Redux on the play to win table and immediately grabbed it. I know my son loves worker placement games and Viking themes so I thought this would be one he would enjoy.

Shipwrights of the North Sea Redux puts you in the shoes of a skilled Viking shipwright aiming to gather resources in order to create the greatest Viking fleet in the North Sea. Aside from building ships you can recruit a range of townsfolk, Jarls, and craftspeople to support your ship building efforts, construct buildings and use your scarce pool of workers to advance your efforts.

The game is played over five rounds with a drafting phase to determine the cards you will have available for the round, an action phase where all players complete as many actions as they can afford, income phase and then finally a determination of who gets which heroes based on competition over three progress tracks.

The great thing about Garphill games is that if you learn to play one the iconography and style is very similar in other games which helps you get up and running quicker. I found Shipwrights of the North Sea to be easier to pick up because of its familiar use of icons. After the second round my son and I were both pretty confident in the majority of the rules.

The game ramped up fairly quickly with our ability to do things increasing a fair bit from round to round. My son focused on expanding out buildings early and I caught up in the third round. This is important because generally buildings give you additional worker spots to utilise. Although my son managed more success moving up the three progress tracks which gave him access to 2 useful heroes compared to my 1.

In the end I managed to build one more ship than my son did and that made the difference with me winning by a comfortable margin.

Unfortunately, after we finished this game my son wasn’t feeling very well and so this was the end of our first day at Wellycon as I had to take him home.

Our Thoughts

We both really enjoyed Shipwrights of the North Sea Redux. It actually played surprisingly quickly. Even though we were learning in the beginning, our game took just over an hour to complete.

The great thing is it felt like a really satisfying and streamlined experience for the meagre 5 rounds it took to complete the game. Our resources and abilities seemed to ramp up quickly which was very satisfying. There was also very little down time as the main phase of completing actions is all done simultaneously. Overall, a very satisfying experience that feels quite deep compared to the relatively short play time. This is a game I would love to buy a copy of.

Hit or Miss?  2 Hits

Play Time: 20-45 Min  / Players: 2-6  / Complexity:  Low  / Age:  18+ for NSFW / Publisher: Self Published  / Designer:  Ledger Gibbs, Emily Hogan

My second morning at Wellycon was my day with the girls. My wife and daughters were going to be with me for the morning session and they were keen to try some fun, light family games.

We decided to try Sheep In Disguise and unfortunately had to settle on the NSFW version which was more aimed at an older audience. The main difference being that some of the language on the cards isn’t very family friendly so not ideal for younger players.

Sheep in Disguise is a quick playing card game where players are aiming to collect a certain number of coloured sets of disguised sheep. Much like Exploding Kittens there are action cards which players can use for some sort of benefit. That could be exposing another players set of sheep leaving them vulnerable to attack cards, gaining more cards, attacking other players exposed sheep causing them to lose their set or even stealing other players cards.

The rules here are pretty simple and many of the card actions have a similar vibe to Exploding Kittens so if you have played that, this will feel familiar. We got started fairly quickly and my daughters ended up getting ahead early.

There are plenty of ‘take that’ type cards in this game and so it can feel a little cutthroat but given how light-hearted it is, it shouldn’t cause to many issues or arguments. My youngest daughter ended up getting her final set just before my older daughter did and snapped up the win.

Our Thoughts

Sheep in Disguise is simple to learn and quick playing but didn’t feel as interesting or fun to us as other quick playing card games we have tried like Exploding Kittens. It didn’t really wow my daughters and so they aren’t really that keen to play again.

Hit or Miss? 4 Misses

Play Time:  30-45 Minutes / Players: 1-4  / Complexity:  Low / Age:  10+ / Publisher:  Libellud  / Designer:  Johan Benvenuto

Given the first game we played didn’t hit the mark I was keen to get something really good for our next game. I had been wanting to try Harmonies this weekend, but it was in such high demand that I couldn’t find a free copy until now. So, when I spotted a copy on the play to win table I grabbed it as quickly as I could.

Harmonies is a tile placement game that has you drafting coloured tiles and placing them on your player board to meet scoring objectives. Each turn you are able to draft one of the available animal cards from the market which provides you with a scoring objectives that can be achieved a defined number of times. You also get points for meeting terrain scoring objectives. The aim is to gain the most points by the end of the game.

For Harmonies my older daughter and wife decided to work together on one player board with my youngest daughter and I playing independently. This game reminded us a lot of Cascadia as we started playing with the key difference being that you could stack tiles which led to a lot more variation in scoring objectives. I think that makes it a little more complex than Cascadia but it is still a game we were able to grasp quite quickly.

My youngest daughter immediately warmed to this game and was fairly confident after a couple of turns. In fact she got off to a very good start and accumulated points from her animal cards rapidly. My older daughter took a while to catch on but when she did, she became so engrossed in the game she stopped working with my wife and essentially took over due to her excitement.

After around 45 minutes or so we had come to the end of the game and tallied our points with my youngest daughter coming away with the win. She managed to use her board space very effectively and was able to reuse numerous tiles placed to achieve multiple scoring objectives which the rest of us weren’t as effective at.

Our Thoughts

We all really enjoyed Harmonies, while I would say it is a little more complicated than Cascadia due to the varied scoring conditions and stackable tiles it wasn’t hard to learn once we got going.

I think it has the same relaxing and satisfying vibe as Cascadia with people getting engrossed in building their habitat. I think the breadth of scoring conditions leads to more options and more to consider here though. I suspect this game would have plenty of replay value as a result. There isn’t a lot of interaction here other than competing for your preferred animal cards through the shared market.

We really enjoyed this and would love to play again in fact I would be keen to get a copy.

Hit or Miss? 4 Hits

Play Time:  20 Min / Players: 2-6    / Complexity:  Low  / Age:  8+ / Publisher:  Gamewright   / Designer:  Zachery Eagle

After Harmonies we grabbed some lunch, and my daughters were keen for one more game before they called it a day. I thought they might enjoy Go Nuts for Donuts as its quick and has plenty of interaction. I have played this a few times before but they hadn’t tried it yet so I was keen to see what they thought.

In Go Nuts for Donuts players are aiming to accumulate as many points as possible through carefully acquiring different donuts with their associated scoring conditions. This part reminds me a lot of Sushi Go! The difference here though is that players will secretly select a number corresponding to the donut they want to gain from the market. When the cards are revealed any players who picked the same donut as other players will miss out with that donut being discarded. All other players who were the only players to select a particular donut get to keep it. So, this game is not only about gaining the best donuts to fit your strategy but also trying to predict which donuts are likely to be picked by your opponents.

This was an easy game to learn, and we got started very quickly with everyone feeling pretty confident after a round. I noticed the way that everyone reveals their pick of donuts at the same time kept everyone engaged and the girls got pretty excited each time they managed to snag the donut they wanted.

We managed to get through the game pretty quickly too. It felt almost too quick as the draw deck depleted with all of us feeling like we could have used an extra card or two. In the end my oldest daughter managed the win she was able to snag more donuts and managed to avoid duplicating her picks better than the rest of us. With Go Nuts for Donuts finished my girls were ready to go home and so I was about to have the rest of the afternoon to myself.

Our Thoughts

We all really enjoyed Go Nuts for Donuts. I think this is a really good option for families. It’s simple, has plenty of interaction and plays quickly, it can also accommodate up to 6 players.

Hit or Miss?  4 Hits

Play Time:  15-30 Min / Players: 2   / Complexity:  Low  / Age:  10+ / Publisher:  Flat Cap Games  / Designer: Mark Kaneko, James Smeal 

After I said goodbye to my wife and daughters I wandered past the learn to play area looking for a game before my scheduled play of Star Tycoon. I was offered a chanced to learn the cooperative trick taking game called Lindyhop. This was such an unusual theme for a game, and I was really intrigued so I sat down keen to give it a crack.

In Lindyhop you are working together with your partner to traverse the dancefloor from the starting spot to the finish before you run out of dance cards. The aim is to pick up as many points as possible during your dance by landing on specific spots and sometimes doubling your points with special cards. The catch is that you cant discuss your cards with your partner.

My dance partner and I started well and made some good progress over the first half of the dance track. We managed to pick up some good points and felt like we had plenty of time to beat the deck to the end of the track.

We managed to use special cards effectively to double points and occasionally back track and pick up extra points we missed. We comfortably got to the end of the track and even managed a double pointer for the last spot which gave us a nice points boost. This game works on a point’s target system and we managed to get on the higher part of the points spectrum.

Our Thoughts

Let me start by saying I love the unique theme in this game, I think this is such a cool concept that I haven’t seen before. I enjoyed the limited communication card play and thought the special cards were done really well. My only reservation is whether it would start to feel repetitive over time as I don’t know how varied this game could be each play. Although I would be happy to play again. 

Hit or Miss?  Undecided

After Lindyop I found the Cheeky Parrot Games table. I was really excited to meet the team in person as we have reviewed two of their games before, Hoard and Ulterior Design which we all really enjoyed.

Julia Schiller is the founder of Cheeky Parrot Games and it was nice to meet her and find out what was in the works. I was lucky enough to try a prototype of Glimstone Grab. This is a cooperative game featuring two of the characters from their very popular Hoard game.

In Glimstone Grab your goal is to banish all the trolls before they snatch up the children hiding in the forest. To banish trolls, you will need gems that can be found on the forest floor or in the sky. You have two helpers that can gather up gems for you, a Wizard who can snatch up the gems in the sky and Esmeralda who can snatch up gems from the forest floor. To banish a troll, you must collect all the required gems of a particular colour matching the trolls’ requirements. The catch is an event is drawn at the beginning of each round that can either give you a helping hand or throw a spanner in the works.

Julia was keen to test out the hard mode in this game and I love a good challenge so was happy to give it a crack. Our first game ended fairly quickly with a few brutal events providing setbacks and the trolls snatching up too many kids before we could banish them.

In our second game we were far more competitive, planning our turns carefully so that we could ensure the wizard and Esmeralda met up at appropriate points in the forest to banish trolls when we had enough loot. In the end we just missed out on the win, but we did far better than the first game. Both games felt fairly quick, I think our first game came in under 10 minutes and our second game maybe a little over that.

Our Thoughts

I was so pleased to be able to try out a prototype game from Cheeky Parrot. While this one is still being worked on, so far, I think it would be a lot of fun for younger kids. It strikes me as a really good intro to cooperative games with rules that are pretty simple and a theme I think kids will enjoy. The gems will probably also go down well with kids. The other great thing is that it plays very quickly, which would be great if you have kids with short attention spans.

Hit or Miss?  Given this is a prototype I am not sure what the final version will be but I think this game has a lot of potential.

Play Time:  10-15 Min / Players: 2   / Complexity:  Low  / Age:  8+  / Publisher:  Funforge  / Designer:  Bruno Cathala

After trying out Glimstone Grab I had 30 minutes before my game of Star Tycoon started. I managed to get hold of a friend of mine and we set out to find a simple quick game we could play before I started my next game.

As it turned out, I would be trying my second donut themed game of the day. We settled on the aptly named Donuts. Donuts is a simple game requiring you to make a row of five donuts on the board to win. Players take turns placing one donut on the board at a time. Each space on the board will have a line determining where your opponent’s next donut must be placed. For example, horizontally, diagonally etc. If you can somehow manage to get one of your donuts in between two of your opponent’s donuts, you can flip them over and they count as part of your row.

So, this game played very quickly, between 5-10 minutes each game so we managed 3 games in total. It seemed that each game came down to one of us making a mistake the other capitalised on. The fact that your donut placement determines what options your opponent has requires you to think very carefully about what may happen after you place your donut.

Our Thoughts

I thought Donuts was pretty enjoyable as a light quick game for two. For less than 10 minutes of play time I think it would be a good option for a simple two player game. I’m not sure if it would lose its appeal quickly as there really isn’t much variation from game to game other than swapping around some of the modular board but I don’t think this changes the feel of the game much.

Hit or Miss?  Undecided

Play Time:  25-100 Min / Players: 1-4  / Complexity:  Medium / Age:  14+ / Publisher:  Warp Core Games / Designer:  Peter Sanderson, Alkira Sanderson

Finally, it was time for my game of Star Tycoon. This year Wellycon introduced a booking app to organise learn to play games which is such a good idea. When I saw Star Tycoon had a spot free, I booked myself in. I was really looking forward to trying this game, I am a big fan of engine building games and thought this one might click for me. I was also really looking forward to having the teaching duties taken care of by someone else.

When I arrived at the table and saw the game set up it looked great. I noticed there were a lot of different icons on the market cards and was pleased I would have someone on hand to walk us through what everything meant. As it turned out we had a full complement of 4 players for this game.

In Star Tycoon players take on the role of an interstellar business with the goal of outperforming all their competitors. Each player will receive a unique starting planet and corporation with associated goals and unique abilities. The game lasts 4 rounds with 3 turns in each round. Rounds follow this structure:

  • Event – a random event is drawn from the event deck effecting all players
  • Production – all players receive their relevant production resources
  • Player turns – players alternate taking 3 actions each per turn
  • Discard – discard any resources more than 7 you have
  • Rotate 1st player marker to the left.

The winner is the player who has accumulated the most points by the end of the game.

As we were all taught how to play the consensus around the table was that this seemed very Splendor like all be it with far more icons to understand and more ways to earn points. In a player’s turn they can claim a planet or development for the relevant cost. Each planet will allow a certain number of developments to be placed on it and will grant points for meeting a scoring objective. The scoring objectives usually relate to ensuring a certain combination of symbols or resource production is present on the development cards placed on the planet.

Aside from producing resources you can also use the central market board to trade for them. The cool thing is that every time you use the market to exchange it shifts the track for the next player and the exchange rate adjusts. I loved this and thought it was such a cool concept.

Our strategies across each player seemed to differ fairly early on with each player trying to make the most of their corporation advantage and scoring goals. I was focused on purchasing partnerships which grant increasing points for larger sets of a symbol.

Although there are a lot of icons to get your head around, we were all pretty confident after the first few turns. It was also very clear that we were all getting very engaged in the game. By the end, amazingly, although our strategies were very different, we ended up with a 3 way tie for first with last place only 1 point behind. By the end of the game everyone around the table was very impressed with Star Tycoon and loved it.

Our Thoughts

I loved this game. I am a big fan of engine building games, and this was a really satisfying experience. I love the way resource production ramps up as you expand your planets and production, the variety of point scoring options, and the asymmetric scoring goals and abilities due to corporations. I also love the way trading resources with the market shifts market conditions for the next player, it is a really cool idea. I really want to play this again and this is another game I would love to buy. As I mentioned earlier all the players around the table loved this game.

Hit or Miss?  4 Hits

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Once Star Tycoon was over, I was at a loose end until the prize winners of play to win were announced so I ended up catching up with an old friend and his crew for a game of The Isle of Cats. I just love this game and don’t get to play it often at 4 players so I was really keen to join. An added bonus was finding out we won Go Nuts for Donuts when the play to win results were announced, my wife and daughters just loved this game, so I was so pleased we got to take a copy home.

 Well, that’s it, our entire weekend squeezed into a blog post. Another amazing Wellycon which just seems to be getting better each year. I am already looking forward to next years event.

Did you go to Wellycon this year or another board game convention? I would love to hear what your stand out games were and how it all went. Just let us know in the comments.

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. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.

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