SoRCon is a board games convention run by an enthusiastic group of boardgamers. It takes place in late February in Basildon, Essex. Most of it is what is known as “open gaming” – no organised games, just people playing whatever games they want to play. We don’t have any extra charges beyond the entry fee.
So, who are you?
SoRCon is organised by a committee, currently five of us. But behind us are additional members of the SoRCon Society who help in various ways and would provide continuity if needed.
While some of the committee members (the greyer looking ones) have been around the hobby for a long time; others are more recent to it (the less grey looking ones). In 2008, after attending a number of other events, SoRCon came into being and has run annually from then other than due to covid or post-covid hotel renovation.
Where are you exactly?
The Holiday Inn, Basildon. This is in the Festival Leisure Park, known locally as “BasVegas”. For your SatNav, use SS14 3DG.
How long is it?
SoRCon lasts three days, from 10 a.m. on a Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday. (That’s the definite, everyone out time. It winds down a little before that.)
You don’t need to come all three days – though obviously we think that’s best. Any combination of days is possible, with prices for each day and each combination of days.
Where can I stay?
SoRCon takes place in the Holiday Inn Basildon. As a hotel, obviously you can stay there, but it’s not required. There’s even a rate for SoRCon attendees. However, you need to make your own arrangements with the hotel for a room.
What about parking?
Parking should be free for all attendees – but you will need to register your car to avoid being charged. This should be possible at either hotel reception or SoRCon reception.
Or public transport?
Basildon has a railway station (on the line from London Fenchurch Street) and a bus station, close to each other.
The hourly X10 bus from Stansted to Basildon via Chelmsford now stops at the Festival Leisure Park on the way to Basildon bus station.
There are also some intermediate buses on just the Basildon part of that route.
For details see the First Bus website.
Taxi/Uber is another option or if you are feeling energetic, It’s about a half hour walk if you want to try that.
What sort of games do you play?
Almost anything. While a lot of the games we play are what is often known as “Eurogames” – usually including multiple players, a bit of thinking, and maybe an hour or two to play – no one is limited to that. If you want to play shorter, faster games, or spend the whole day on one game you can’t play anywhere then else, then go for it.
The only real limits are not being too boisterous, not taking up too much space per player, and no gambling, please. What does too much space mean? Basically, if you have a game that’s going to take up multiple tables, but there aren’t proportionally many players, check with us first. But usually there won’t be a problem.
Where do the games come from?
Mostly, people bring them. But don’t worry if you can’t do that, there should be plenty of people with games you can join in – more on this below. There also usually is a games “library” of games that you can borrow and play, but check beforehand if this matters to you. Please treat them well, they belong to people (often the committee) who would like them back as they were.
Sometimes people arrange games in advance, or take requests as to what games they will bring. The best place to discuss that is in the SoRCon Facebook group. If you are not already a member, just ask to join and the first committee member to notice that will accept you.
We ask that if you bring your own games, you leave them in the games “corral” in one of the corners of the room, so that they don’t clutter the aisles that we try to keep open for those needing space. The games corral is in a different corner than the library is – games in the corral can only be borrowed with the permission of the owner. Without that, look but don’t touch.
How do I get into a game?
Other than a few prearranged games, there are two main ways.
First, just find a table, get out a game, maybe set it up, and invite people to join. To help this process we provide standards with “flags” on them that say “players wanted”. Please return them when you have all the players you need.
Second, just ask. Please don’t be shy. If you see someone with a game at a table – especially, but not only, if they have a players wanted flag – just ask do they have room for another player? A lot will say yes. A few will politely say no, they actually are full. They might in some cases want to stick with people who know the game, but more often they should be able to explain the game – playing new games is part of what a convention is.
If neither of those works, find a committee member – at least one should be obvious in some way, maybe with Kevin, the SoRCon minion – and tell them. We’re here to help, and will do our best to find a game you can join. Please don’t feel left out and not having a good time.
Can I organise a game, or a tournament?
Yes, you can, but if it’s going to have particular space or other constraints, please discuss with the committee. But no additional charges, SoRCon is a pay once, then it’s all open, event.
Please be respectful when setting-up a game and don't use more space than needed e.g. placing tables together, especially on Saturdays. The committee members reserve the right to ask you to move/replace the table alignments, if this becomes an issue.
To discuss whether people want to play in your game, we suggest using the SoRCon Facebook group.
What else is there at the convention?
We have a trader who can sell you games during the convention. Our current trader is Counter Culture Games in Chelmsford. They will have a stock of mainly newer games for sale, but also can take orders in advance to deliver at SoRCon. See their Facebook group, or https://counterculturegames.com
We also run a bring and buy. More on how this works below.
We run one organised event that some people take part in that we call the “QuizAHunt”. More on that too below. But don’t worry if that’s not your thing, most people don’t take part – in fact numbers are limited.
What happens to the money we pay?
Mostly, it goes to running the event. But if we make a surplus – and we usually make some – we donate it to charity (it’s the only thing our rules allow us to do). SoRCon’s chosen charity is called BOSP (Brighter Opportunities for Special People) based in Basildon, and over the years we – which means you – have donated several thousand pounds to them. There are also opportunities to pay money that always goes to them, such as our famous “sweetie tin” (take a sweet, put money in the tin). If you want to know more, see https://www.bosp.co.uk.
How does the bring and buy work?
If you are selling games: put a label (usually a Post-it note) on the game with your name, the name of the game (the label won’t always stay on it) and the price you want to sell at. It also helps a lot if you put a contact phone number on the label, then people can find you and pay you directly. They might want to haggle a bit (we’re games players!).
If you are buying, if you can, please use the phone number on the game. Unless of course you already know who the seller is.
If that doesn’t work, you can give your money – together with the label from the game – to a committee member to pass on. But we can’t do any negotiating, posted price only in this case. And as a seller, please come and find us before you leave to collect your money.
You can sell old games or new, valuable (at your own risk) or cheap, used or even still in shrink. You might be trying to raise money (but games might not sell) or just wanting to make space. Please bring only a sensible number of games, and if they don’t sell, please take them away with you. (If you really just want to get rid of games, a good approach is a low price, and indicate it’s all going to charity.)
Do you take a cut from the bring and buy?
We do not. However, if you wish to donate to our charity BOSP – see details below – we will always gratefully accept your money on their behalf.
So, what is this QuizAHunt?
It’s a competition we run on Saturday evening. There are three or four teams of up to six members in each. Play is across the same number of rounds, each lasting twenty minutes. They are: a quiz (on paper, to get a reasonable number of questions in), a hunt (usually a set of cryptic clues), a physical round (not very physical, usually more dexterity than strength), and, when there are four rounds, a creative round (past years have included plasticine sculpturing, and face mask painting).
What are the eating arrangements?
There is food available in the hotel, both their regular menu and a menu for the convention.
If you would rather eat outside the hotel, the Festival Leisure Park has a number of restaurants and fast food outlets just outside the hotel. We would recommend booking in advance to guarantee getting a table.
Can I bring in food and/or drink in from outside?
Sorry, no. One of the terms of our hiring the venue is that only food and drink bought from the hotel can be consumed in the convention.
If I have a question or problem, what should I do?
We hope this won’t happen, but unless the problem is with your hotel room, in which case see hotel reception, find a committee member and explain the problem. We’ll do our best to address it promptly – with the hotel if necessary – if at all possible.
(To find a committee member look for Kevin, the SoRCon minion, or if that doesn’t work, most people will be able to point out at least one of us.)
Finally, why do you spell SoRCon in that weird fashion?
SoRCon is spelled that way to reflect our origins in a local games convention called Ramsdencon. A, sadly missed, convention that ran between 1996 and 2007. Son of RamsdenCon. Simples!