Bryan Wilson and Courtney Olivia engage in the ancient game of Shōbu on Saturday during the annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall. The event continues through Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Bryan Wilson and Courtney Olivia engage in the ancient game of Shōbu on Saturday during the annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall. The event continues through Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Giant Platypus invades Centennial Hall

Hundreds of residents engage with stones, quilts and Nerf weapons at annual gaming convention.

When taking part in a convention called Platypus-Con trying a game titled “Flapjacks & Sasquatches” seems like a fitting choice.

Jarred and Bekah Mitrea, a Gustavus couple visiting Juneau for the three-day event at Centennial Hall that started Friday, were getting ready to check out the dice-and-cards game from among the 2,200 in the library on Saturday morning. He said they played four different games together during the first day and were looking to get involved in some of the group tournament events during the weekend.

Jarred and Bekah Mitrea, visiting from Gustavus, look for worthy titles among the 2,200 in the library at the Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Jarred and Bekah Mitrea, visiting from Gustavus, look for worthy titles among the 2,200 in the library at the Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

“It’s a great date weekend,” he said.

His wife was checking out a title called “Quilt Show,” which she described as “some sort of strategy game.”

The annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza normally takes place in January, but was postponed this year due to an overhaul of Centennial Hall that was recently completed. Kate Enge, the head librarian for the event, said there was a steady flow of attendees during the first day — if perhaps not quite as high as the peak years before the COVID-19 pandemic — and the renovation of the convention center brought some welcome changes.

“The main hall just feels brighter and easier to see,” she said. Also, “the temperature is more steady. I definitely feel they have more control over that.”

Lilah Sears, 10, aims a Nerf gun at a target while her father, Karl, and brother, Benji, 7, watch during the annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Lilah Sears, 10, aims a Nerf gun at a target while her father, Karl, and brother, Benji, 7, watch during the annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The event also filled some of the smaller meeting rooms — such as a Nerf weaponry setup in one space — and in the hallways where painting and role-playing games were taking place. In the main hall dozens of people were playing games ranging from medieval to modern on Saturday morning.

Engaged in the ancient game of Shōbu, involving stones and simple moves on four small wooden square boards, were Bryan Wilson and Courtney Olivia playing it for the first time in preparation for a tournament scheduled later during the day. Olivia says she comes to the convention every year, despite not playing many board games at home, and said she’s hoping the changes at Centennial Hall will be more noticeable for events such as concerts.

“It looks nice,” she said “Hopefully the acoustics will be better.”

Eddie Quinto (right) checks out a game from Joshua Warren and Kate Enge during the annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Eddie Quinto (right) checks out a game from Joshua Warren and Kate Enge during the annual Platypus-Con Board and Card Game Extravaganza at Centennial Hall on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Many attendees said they didn’t notice significant changes at the convention hall since Platypus-Con is essentially an “unplugged” event. But Eddie Quinto said he’s glad he can be in the space checking out “pathfinding” games like “Savernake Forest” to play with his 10- and 13-year-old kids — once one or both of them were done navigating an obstacle court in the Nerf room.

“I usually look for games I can play with my kids and this looks simple,” he said.

Platypus-Con continues Saturday at Centennial Hall until 2 a.m. Sunday, and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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