After a three-year hiatus, friendly mayhem is set to return this weekend to Ottawa in the form of Canada’s oldest board gaming convention, Cangames.  The event runs from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21 and will be held at the Rideau Curling Club in Centretown.

Established in 1977, the annual conference features a wide selection of miniatures, roleplaying games and board games.

Even though Cangames has not been held for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers believe that this will be one of the largest conventions in its long history.

“It’s the biggest (pre-registration) we’ve ever had,” said Cangames corporate secretary Tod Creasey. “So, we think it might be, at least in the last 25 years, the biggest one we’ve had.”

This year’s Cangames convention is taking place at the Rideau Curling Club from Friday, May 19 to Sunday, May 21. [Photo © Rowan McCarthy]

The large turnout will be matched by the biggest assortment of games ever featured at the gathering.  Attendees will have the option of choosing from more than 200 games.   

While the three-year absence has certainly been a drag for board game enthusiasts, Creasey and the organizing committee used the time to simplify existing protocols and create a more enjoyable experience for organizers and attendees.

For the first time, Cangames will be accepting electronic payments. Additionally, Creasey says the booth for consignment sales has been simplified to allow sellers to set themselves up ahead of time.

Inflation is also on the minds of organizing staff. They want to ensure that cost would not stop people from attending.

“The world is an expensive place and always has been,” Creasey said. “Our mandate has always been to be much cheaper than the other cons, much more grassroots than the other cons and more accessible to all income levels.”

For reference, a three-day pass to Breakout Toronto 2023, which was held in March, cost attendees $85. On-site registration for a three-day pass at Cangames will cost an attendee half that price.

Once registered, Cangames attendees can expect to find a little of something for everyone.

For more experienced gamers, Cangames is an opportunity to get back to the table and play their favourite games.

‘The world is an expensive place and always has been. Our mandate has always been to be much cheaper than the other cons, much more grassroots than the other cons and more accessible to all income levels.’

— Tod Creasey, corporate secretary, Cangames

“I’m a miniatures gamer,” Creasey said. “There’s a game called Art de la Guerre, which I just started playing on the tournament circuit before the pandemic hit . . .  I think that’s the thing that excites me most because that’s where my core gaming is now.”

A strong pre-registration for the Cangames convention in Ottawa has organizers hoping for a record turnout.

At the same time, new gamers can rest assured that Cangames is beginner-friendly and offers many sessions where game masters teach you to play.

For those interested in buying games, Cangames will play host to a group of vendors whose booths will be set up throughout the weekend. There will also be a consignment sale.

Creasey is hopeful that Cangames will spread a bit of fun and joy through Ottawa while bringing together new players and legacy gamers for some fun at the table.

“The last four years were not very fun,” Creasey said. “Now we are going to try and have fun and put some joy into the world … It’s meant to be a good weekend about gaming. We’re not trying to do anything else. That’s the big thing for me.”