Many things are needed for a convention to be successful. Location, celebrities, events and panels are a few, but nothing is as important as a solid support structure made up of loyal fans. Last weekend’s Pop Stuff Expo had a few of these things, but not enough to lift a first-time convention out of the swamp of low-attendance sorrow. For gaming enthusiasts, however, the Expo was a hit.
The Ventura County Fairgrounds is not an easy place to fill. That didn’t stop a group from setting up shop in San Miguel Hall, where one lonely exhibitor and several seats were filled for a Magic: The Gathering tournament.
For those of you who had a social life in the 1990s, Magic: The Gathering is a table-top card game that pits players against each other in a battle over who is the better wizard, or something — it’s been about 15 years since I’ve touched a deck. In that time where I completely ignored it, Magic has had a massive resurgence in popularity.
Using a hand consisting of cards representing land, artifacts, monsters and other creatures, players attempt to defeat the other. Once so many points are lost, the game is over and the winner stands tall in victory.
At this particular tournament, players displayed their favorite gamepads and tapped their favorite land cards in hopes of walking away with the cash prize. Official Magic: The Gathering judges were on hand to answer questions and make sure that no one was slipping in a Pokémon card for a cheap laugh.
Speaking of Pokémon, after the Magic tournament, there was a Pokémon tournament, followed by a Yu-Gi-Oh d-d-d-duel. As a few cosplayers wandered listlessly between buildings, the card gamers were on a roll.
After leaving the card players in San Miguel Hall to themselves, their every card slapping against the table and echoing off the walls in the practically empty arena, the scent of collectibles drew me into my personal favorite part of any convention: the exhibitor’s hall.
While perusing the catalog of a real, true-to-life ninja training facility in Moorpark, I stumbled upon Superfight. If Magic: The Gathering is the late-night study session of card games, best suitable for you, a friend and a bottle of wine and possibly Third Eye Blind on the radio, then Superfight#is the frat party that ends with guests scattering after the police are called.
Think Apples to Apples, only the apples are pop-culture references. The initial deck comes with 500 cards — enough to play for hours on end. The goal, in the end, is to make a combination of person, place or thing stranger or more hardcore than anyone else can make.
This means that the winner is left open to debate, meaning Superfight — like Cards Against Humanity — is the perfect party game.
Characters such as George W. Bush, Zombie, the Hulk and Doctor Who can be paired with “powers” and “problems” to make them formidable foes. George W. Bush with Super Speed armed with a chainsaw versus Doctor Who inside a giant hamster ball sounds like a movie that needs to be funded right this minute.
At least there was that, the fun finds in the exhibition hall. Pop Stuff Expo needs a lot of work and a whole hell of a lot more promotion if it’s ever to return — but in the end, if the few attendees that did make it had fun, that’s all that matters.
Also, it was the only place to get Superfight’s Batman card, which is undefeatable. I would call that a successful weekend.
For more information on Superfight, visit www.superfightgame.com.
Chris O’Neal is going to host his own convention with blackjack and booze. Actually, forget the blackjack. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.