Toronto is a hotbed for gaming action. It’s home to numerous board game cafes and pubs, there are several different meet up groups that get together to game and Toronto also has some of the best FLGS’s around. However one thing that’s been sorely lacking from this community is a big board game convention. FanXpo is the city’s big claim to fame, but the board game section is definitely not the main focus. For years the Toronto Area Board Game Society (TABS) has been holding quarterly events, but it hasn’t been until 2016 that a big multi-day board game focussed convention has made its way to Hogtown. Breakout Toronto is set to give the gaming fans of this city the convention it deserves this month.
Peter Lipson, one of the heads of TABS took on the monumental task of planning and executing a grand scale convention for the city. The planning took over a year, but at the dawn of the event we got a chance to talk to him.
“A number of times over the past decade, we’ve had members and others approach us about why we haven’t expanded beyond the single day TABSCon model to something larger and multi-day? Whatever the various reasons were, in the end, it all comes down to timing. It was around December of 2014 we began to seriously consider this idea of expansion to a true convention. We knew wanted to make Role-Playing Games a major part of the event, but to do so, we needed assistance,” said Lipson.
“I reached out to individuals from both the Toronto Area Gamers (TAG) Meetup group and the Toronto Role-Players Association (TRPA) to determine if this was something they would like to be part of? Their responses were fantastic! They were just as excited about the prospect of building a convention like this in Toronto was we were. With their endorsement and tremendous support, we knew we could proceed with this idea and turn it into a truly remarkable event.”
Lipson’s love of gaming came at an early age with classics like Monopoly and Chess, but it wasn’t until he entered junior high that he really got bit by the gaming bug.
“I was exposed to what I would consider modern tabletop games. By that, I’m referring to either RPGs like AD&D to board game titles primarily from Avalon Hill, SPI and Task Force Games. The latter in particular, as they produced the ultimate Trek monster board game, Star Fleet Battles which I and a number of friends got into heavily and played regularly for years. By contrast, when I look at the elegance of today’s generation of games, that are much easier to learn, but still provide great challenges to master, I shake my head in wonder at the time I invested on those older systems,” recalled Lipson.
“I’ve stayed with it all these years, because of the sheer pleasure I get from meeting new people in this great hobby and the wonderful camaraderie that comes from the deep friendships that have emerged over time spent gaming together. “
Once the plan to bring convention gaming to Toronto was set, it was time to dive in to the hard work of turning the dream to a reality.
“Without question, location and costs were the chief obstacles that needed to get resolved before we could move forward on everything else. Toronto is a very expensive city and even during the ‘non-peak’ periods, hotels are busy and good size hall rental space in desirable locations is often at a premium,” said Lipson.
“After much discussion (and consulting maps, gaming calendars and the stars) we eventually decided on the final three days of March Break at the hotel near Yorkdale.”
A first time convention is a bit of a daunting task. Lipson is hoping for an event that brings many of the different gaming communities together and this might be the right moment for that to happen.
“Honestly, I can’t recall a time when our hobby has been more popular than it is now and there’s all kinds of evidence to support that. Yet, Toronto has been without an event like Breakout for a long time and so, our main goal is to bring a cross section of the table-top gaming community together for three solid days of fun,” said Lipson.
Breakout Toronto runs between the 18-20 of March at the Holiday Yorkdale in Toronto. Early bird online sales are over, but you can buy one, two and three day passes at the venue starting at $25. For more information including special guest and event listings visit: Breakout Toronto