DanyCon 2020 (or how to host a virtual board game convention)

Well last weekend we held Virtual DanyCon 2020!  The first event of it’s kind!  As you know if you’re a regular blog reader every year we hold a board game convention for the Collins and Colton siblings to get together and have some fun.  The convention was started after we got our lovable corgi Dany, well before children.  Usually I make all the food everyone flies in from every corner of the globe to spend a 3 day weekend together.  This year covid made that impossible, so we had to improvise.  While we didn’t get to see each other in person I think it is safe to say that everyone had an awesome time!  It was so much fun Will and I are contemplating holding a virtual DanyCon weekend once a year in addition to the full DanyCon – covid or not!

Meemah and Meepah watched Julius and Dany for most of the weekend so we could play board games, but here’s our family photo!

30 weeks pregnant for DanyCon 2020!

Rubbing the bellies of my two favorite puppies.

 

The Logistics

Before the game started we requested everyone make 3 different accounts – one on Board Game Arena, one on Yucata, and on on Discord.  On Will’s Discord server he set up 4 virtual break out rooms, so we could pop into a break out room anytime we were playing a separate game.  This worked amazingly well, as discord allows you to switch rooms with just a click.

Here is the DanyCon Discord! You can see that in addition to the General audio channel there are also breakout rooms: Unicorn, Hippogriff, Flumph and Troll (not shown).

Swag

DanyCon wouldn’t be the same without swag bags, so this year we mailed everyone their swag bags via the USPS.  We sent them a week ahead of DanyCon and they got to everyone within 3 days!  At a time where the USPS is struggling, I just want to throw a shout out to them for how awesome they have been to us during this pandemic.  For all of the projects I’ve done during covid that required getting things from here to there, I’ve used the USPS – this includes ladies’ nights, virtual retirement celebrations, baby sex reveals among others.  They make it so easy to weigh packages in your home, buy postage, and even schedule a pick up during your normal delivery time at no added cost!  They are awesome!  Will and I in Lancaster are considered on a “rural” postal route so we are even able to order stamps and other supplies just by adding a check with instructions into our mailbox – without going to the post office!  It is awesome.  Okay, you get it, support the USPS.

Contents of DanyCon 2020 swag box!

The swag this year included a t-shirt (purple rainbow – Julius’ choice), matching DanyCon masks, a Collins/Colton themed copy of Love Letter (post will come soon), one free month of Board Game Arena Premium (I just made these cute cards and then venmoed everyone $4 when they opened their bags) and finally DanyCon The Game – which was an awesome themed escape room in a box created by Mark and Erin!

Will and my assembly line for packing swag boxes.

Activities

Here’s our DanyCon program, you can see all the fun activities we had planned.

Tournament

Usually we have a prize table setup at the end of DanyCon and everyone gets to pick a prize based on their rankings in the tournament.  That just wasn’t possible this year, so instead we gave out Amazon gift cards to the first, second and third place winners!  The tournament theme this year was “Push your Luck” and we played several rounds of Can’t Stop (on BGA), Incan Gold (on BGA) and Port Royal (on Yucata), counting the number of first place wins for each person.  The tournament was a nice way to introduce everyone to the two different board game platforms.

DanyCon The Game

Our first activity was to do Erin and Mark’s DanyCon The Game – an escape room in a box.  It was SUPER FUN!  Will and I and Mark and Erin do a lot of games of the escape room in a box genre, and we coordinate purchases and swap games every time we see each other in person.  They did a great job with the game, and I hope they will do a guest post on it (maybe while I’m swamped with a newborn).  There were so many great cards that it was hard to pick my favorite, but this one might be it…

My favorite DanyCon The Game Card <3

Will and I playing DanyCon The Game

Mark and Erin explaining their escape room – they popped in and out of breakout zoom meetings to spy on everyone and provide them help if needed.

DnD

Will and I came up with another one off DnD adventure since last year’s was such a hit.  We once again split into two groups and Will and I each were DM for one group.  This adventure wasn’t quite as obviously intertwined between games, though in actuality it was more intertwined… but only the DMs knew.  The game involved both a traitor and time travel mechanics which influenced the games, so Will’s game (the past) started 30 minutes after my game (the future).  Will hosted his game over discord entirely on audio, and I hosted mine on Zoom with video.  If you want to see our write ups and potentially do the same adventure yourself, I have posted them here:  Will DM Past, Lexi DM Future.

Here’s my group solving the main puzzle.

PuzzleSync

Will made a neat Sporcle-type puzzle where players could individually input answers that had lots of references for the Collins and Colton families.  Will built the entire website from the ground up, and it was lots of fun!  If you want to check it out – here’s the link, but you’ll have to email me (or Will) to request access.

Improvements

As always, we have some ideas for improvements next time.

First, while Discord was great for switching between rooms easily, and I would definitely use it again for a virtual board game convention, it had some problems.  There were glitches where one person would be unable to hear one other person in the room’s audio.  It was totally bizarre and happened several times over the weekend – luckily the way to fix it was for the person who couldn’t be heard to just to hang up their audio and reconnect.  We also tried Discord’s video option, but it seemed to take up a lot of bandwidth.  Most people don’t have any issues with Zoom but we faced a lot of dropped calls with Discord.

It was hard to coordinate with 3 different time zones, so I left food breaks off the schedule unlike in previous years.  This meant people sort of had to coordinate during free play to make their lunches and dinners.

While we intended to use both Yucata and Board Game Arena, BGA was so much more user friendly that 90% of our games were played on their platform.  Next year I think we should try to play some more on Yucata.

Final Remarks

Overall it was a great weekend!  After the weekend ended, we all started dozens of turn based (non-real time) games with each other.  And as an added bonus – this past Friday a group of us even played more virtual games on BGA because we had so much fun last weekend!

 

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3 Responses to DanyCon 2020 (or how to host a virtual board game convention)

  1. Will (Husband) says:

    Great post! Danycon was so much fun. I can’t wait for the Love Letter post!

  2. Erin says:

    Mark and I thought that Virtual DanyCon was awesome! Also we can definitely make a guest post for the escape game!

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