I’m a huge fan of conventions. What could be better than a large gathering of people with similar interests coming together in one place to celebrate something they love? I’ve attended Boston Comic Con twice and PAX East (a gaming convention in Boston) seven years in a row. When moving to Buffalo, I looked into what conventions are held in the area. The first I’ve attended since living here was Queen City Conquest.
Queen City Conquest is a convention held at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center in downtown Buffalo dedicated to the celebration of tabletop gaming. This concept of focusing on tabletop gaming is delightful to me because it stands out from anything else I’ve seen before at a convention. Trust me when I say the event was a lot more than just a bunch of people playing board games.
The convention took place in two massive rooms. In both rooms, countless tables were sprawled about, most of which had every seat taken with convention-goers gaming. Along the borders of each room were vendors selling games, collectable figures, dice, backpacks, and plushies, along with some hand-crafted items like pixel figures and wooden boxes for RPG miniatures. One room contained a curtained area that served as the headquarters for ConTessa, an organization dedicated to making tabletop gaming spaces more diverse by bringing minority-led events to conventions. This helped ensure a safe and comfortable atmosphere for all attendees of the convention.
Independent gaming companies, those creating tabletop games and computer games, were there to playtest games currently in development. This allows those companies to advertise their games while also receiving feedback on their work. One computer game in development that grabbed a lot of attention was “The Last Hex,” a card-based battle game by That Indie Studio. Azure Knight Games was there to demonstrate “Masterminds and Minions,” a competitive tabletop game where players become supervillains who compete to become the most evil. Azure Knight Games said that this was their first public showing of their game outside of having their families play it and seemed eager to see what reactions they’d receive. Events like Queen City Conquest can always be helpful for these indie studios.
Of course, the primary focus of Queen City Conquest is the tabletop gaming, and there’s no shortage of that. Attendees could sign up for scheduled role-playing games throughout the weekend. Not every game was scheduled, however. There was an area for free play, where people could choose from an immense variety of games and play whenever they want. In this area, there were lists for each game where those who played it could write their name to be entered into a raffle for the potential to win that game at the end of the convention. There were also areas for painting miniatures. On top of that, QCC held a charity auction where guests could bid on tabletop games to raise money for Child’s Play.
Despite being a tabletop convention, QCC does have a video game section for those who prefer that side of the gaming world. Attendees could come to this section to play games on consoles ranging from the Atari to the Nintendo Switch, but it was extremely small, consisting of only five TV screens. If there were more people who wanted to play at a time, I could see this area getting very busy with long lines.
A popular aspect that most conventions typically have is cosplay. This convention, however, did not have any focus on that. I’m sure the other people here would be excited to see some cosplayers, but that aspect was not something that was present. There were a very small handful of individuals who were wearing medieval garb, elf ears, or a steampunk hat, but I could have probably counted them on one hand.
The community at QCC is one of the friendliest and most accepting I’ve seen. Whether a game was scheduled or just being chosen for random free play, people would invite others to play with them and their friends, creating new friendships. The showrunners of the event, Lake Effect Gaming, are all extremely kind and visibly worked hard to make it the best convention possible for all guests.
Overall, Queen City Conquest is an absolutely terrific gaming convention. It may not give a lot of attention to the video game side of gaming, or have as much of a cosplay crowd as other cons, but it celebrates the world of tabletop in some of the best and most unique ways one could imagine. For a lover of tabletop gaming, this is a total paradise. I cannot wait to attend next year and get my game on.