KoL Con

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KoL Con

KoL Con (short for KoL Convention) is an annual real-world gathering of KoL players in Mesa, Arizona, where the global headquarters of Asymmetric Publications are located. To date, there have been eleven conventions. Players from all over the world have attended the conventions, including players from as far away as Australia and Europe.

KoL Con is far from the only KoL gathering, but it is the only official one, and the one at which you're most likely to bump into the game developers.

What Happens At Con

The official events at KoL Con take place across two days, a Friday and Saturday sometime in September. The exact dates are announced anytime from the end of the previous Con to the month before, but February is usually about average. Tickets go on sale in the Asymmetric Store in August, along with orders for the exclusive Con T-shirt, and tickets for semi-official events organised by Asymmetric (in past years, this has included Drunken Skating on Thursday evening, and the KoL LARP on Sunday).

KoL Con has been hosted at several different venues, and in past years several different parts of the Greater Phoenix area. At time of writing, the venue of choice is 12 West Main St, Mesa, which has enough space to fill several hundred adventurers, tables, and a stage. Typically, attendees need to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX), although Arizona locals (or people from neighbouring states) may prefer to drive in.

The official events kick off on Friday evening, and in previous years have included trips to Gameworks, and fancy dress Casino nights. Typically, extra entertainments such as Assassain games, Con bingo, and player-hosted poker tournaments have gone on in the background.

Saturday is traditionally the Barbecue Day, which started out as a literal barbecue in the park, became catered barbecue inside with air-conditioning, and is now instead catered by the Cornish Pasty Company. Traditionally, Saturday afternoon has played host to the trivia quiz hosted by DanBob, with prizes of meat, items and merch for the winners. Jick and Skully will also spend a few minutes signing real-life Certificates of Participation and saying hello to everyone. Jick's mom can be found manning the merch table, selling goodies from the Asymmetric store without the postage markup, and also the Con-exclusive in-game items (see below). In the evening, after a break for sound-checking, the official festivities wind to a close with a concert. Usually, this is headlined by MC Frontalot, and features an eclectic mix of supporting acts.

However, the official events are by no means the only entertainment available. Attendees will show up days, and in some intercontinental cases weeks, before the kickoff to hang out and enjoy the weather (or not, since temperatures in Phoenix in September can hit 110°F/45°C). There are also many, many things to do, which have been known to include:

  • Drunken Skating on Thursday evening: Asymmetric hire out a roller skating rink, where attendees can drink, skate, eat bad pizza, and trade in skeeball tickets for banarnas.
  • Visiting the Monastery Bar on Thursday evening: The more recent alternative to Drunken Skating, trading out the skating and the skeeball for better food, more beer, and a huge drive to the middle of nowhere in Mesa.
  • Sushi on Friday afternoon: Traditionally organised by Fusilliban, the fine folks at Ninja Sushi put on all-you-can-eat sushi for hungry Con-goers. Usually announced in the forums in August.
  • KoL LARP on Sunday: It's KoL... as a LARP. Hungover Asymmetric staff members letting in teams of adventurers to explore the world of the Kingdom in foamboard-drawing goodness. The amount of work it takes to organise and host, however, means it hasn't happened for several years.
  • Karaoke on Sunday evening: For many people, the actual finale to KoL Con involves going to a karaoke bar, getting drunk, and hearing Mr Skullhead work his vocals.
  • Houseparties all weekend: Since many clans and friends will book houses to stay at Con, there's plenty of houses for afterparties.

After Con (usually the TPTMBG "two weeks" later), Con attendees will receive a non-tradeable "souvenir" item to put in their display cases. In addition, first-time visitors to KoL Con will find their Certificates of Participation are a lot shinier than they were before.

Guide For Con Attendees

  • Most importantly of all, don't be afraid of being awkward and not fitting in. It may seem intimidating if you don't know anyone there, when everyone else is hanging out with their friends and swapping nametags for whatever reason. But everyone else is a player of the game, has had the same experience of Their First Con, and will be very eager to deal you into the next game of Fluxx. Many people have made friends, had Con flings, and even found love at Con - it even happened to Jick himself!
  • Keep an eye on the Community forum and an ear on the radio show for when they announce dates. The sooner you know that Con is happening, the sooner you can sort out time off work, plane tickets, hotel reservations or house rentals, etc.
  • While a hotel room is a perfectly fine place to stay at Con, a holiday rental house is usually cheaper per person to stay at, and definitely more fun to hang out in. Big clans will usually organise houses for members if enough people are going, so talk to your clannies. You'll probably be able to find people with a spare room or sofa if you don't have any friends or clannies going. Failing that, the Con announcement thread in the forum will usually have discussions on which hotels other adventurers are staying in - enough people in one hotel is almost as good as a Con house!
  • As previously mentioned, Arizona can get seriously hot, which is unpleasant and even dangerous if you're not prepared for it. If you're going to be outside, dress light (shorts and your favourite geeky T-shirt works for everyone), slap on the sunscreen, and bring plenty of water.
  • Be prepared to splash a bit of cash. Con tickets are $25 each, the Con shirt is about $10, other semi-official events are usually $25 each. Sushi is usually $34 per person. Then there's merch, food and drink during your trip, accommodation, plane tickets, car rentals, gas... the list goes ever onward.
  • Make sure you've got a way of getting around - Con events happen all over the Greater Phoenix area, and usually a way away from the airport. If you ask nicely, people with cars will usually be willing to give you a ride. Car rentals are a thing, but are usually quite expensive. Public transport is available (there is a new light rail from the airport to downtown Mesa), but may not get you everywhere you need to go. DON'T TRY WALKING IT (see previous point on the heat), unless you're in a hotel five minutes from the venue - and if you are, you'll probably need a ride to sushi.
  • You probably won't be spending a lot of time hanging round with the Asymmetric staff - they're usually busy making sure the event is running smoothly. Having said that, they will be around and willing to say hello.
  • Be prepared to have fun - it's very, very difficult to go to Con without having an awesome time.

Con Items

Every year from 2010-2015, a Con-exclusive item has been available for the attendees to buy, to help defray the costs of running KoL Con. Each item costs $20 from the merchandise table the year it is created, and each previous year's item is available for $10 more than the previous year. As of 2016 at the virtual con that was converted into Mr. Accessories with the new item costing only a single Mr. Accessory. Or to present this as a table:

Item 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
KoL Con 13 snowglobe 1 Mracc.gif - - - - - -
potted tea tree 3 Mracc.gif $20 - - - - -
Xi Receiver Unit 4 Mracc.gif $30 $20 - - - -
Gordon Beer's Beer Garden Catalog 5 Mracc.gif $40 $30 $20 - - -
Tome of Rad Libs 6 Mracc.gif $50 $40 $30 $20 - -
Gygaxian Libram 7 Mracc.gif $60 $50 $40 $30 $20 -
hippo tutu 8 Mracc.gif $70 $60 $50 $40 $30 $20

Players who do not attend KoL Con can acquire these items in two ways: by buying them from other players in the Mall or /trade, or giving Con attendees money to buy them an item.

Note that in 2016, KoL Con 13 was held in-game and Con items were available for purchase at the virtual KoL Con 13 Merch Table. As such, items were sold in exchange for Mr. Accessories instead of dollars. Further, the KoL Con 13 snowglobe was introduced at the price of only one Mr. Accessory.

Past KoL Cons

KoL Con 13 (2016)

Dates: 30 September 2016 - 2 October 2016 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Consnowglobe.gif KoL Con 13 snowglobe
Events:

In lieu of a physical convention, a virtual KoL Con appeared atop The Time-Twitching Tower. Adventuring venues included a KoL Con Clan Party House and 12 West Main, while the KoL Con 13 Merch Table offered new and past Con Items. On Saturday, Jick and HotStuff hosted a livestream on Twitch.tv in which they answered player questions and implemented the Twitching Television Tattoo.

KoL Con XII (2015)

Dates: 25 - 26 September 2015 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Teatree.gif potted tea tree Souvenir: Shotgun2.gif KoL Con 12-gauge
Pre-Friday:

Informal Gathering at Monastery Pub in Mesa

Friday:

Traditional Fusilliban's Stuff Yourself With Sushi! at Ninja Japanese Restaurant

Casino and Game Night

Saturday:

BBQ and Games and Wizards

Sunday and beyond:

Karaoke Night

Photos: Not taken yet

KoL Con XI (2014)

Dates: 5 - 6 September 2014 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Transmitter.gif Xi Receiver Unit Souvenir: Xirobe.gif Size XI Wizard's Robe
Pre-Friday: A few super-early attendees came out and took part in a spot of mini golf in 108 degree weather, before making their way to the Monastary Bar for an evening's drinking, grilling and being confused by misting sprays.

Fusilliban's traditional sushi lunch went off without a hitch, unlike his self-imploding PayPal account.

Friday: Con-goers swarmed into 12 West Main on Friday evening for the now-traditional Fancy Dress Casino night, now featuring record amounts of fancy dress. Assassain games and Con bingo didn't make a reappearence, but there was plenty enough blackjack, craps, poker, roulette and Fluxx to keep everyone happy.
Saturday: Saturday featured the traditional Saturday afternoon activities of trivia, Con items, certificate signing and the Cornish Pasty Company. There was also a visit from the Travelling Trader, the rarely seen Draw A Piglet poster, and even a wedding proposal!

Evening entertainment featured a science wizard that set balloons on fire, stacked colored liquids, and filled containers of misleading sizes. A magician wizard dazzled attendees with playing cards and stories. The night wrapped up with a drawing for prizes including a quilt created by Jick's mother, admission and lodgings at KoLumbus 10, /lounge chat channel access, and in-game prizes of varying economic and entertainment value contributed by players.

Sunday and beyond: After the totally mysterious engagement party, Sunday evening was closed out by MC Frontalot performing in Mesa (with free entry for Con attendees), supported by Dr. Awkward, Corn Mo, and Maros.

On early Monday morning, Heavy Rains was implemented in the Greater Phoenix area, which made it challenging to get home.

Photos: Forums

KoL Con X (2013)

Dates: 20 - 21 September 2013 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Beercat.gif Gordon Beer's Beer Garden Catalog Souvenir: Map.gif KoL Con X Treasure Map
Pre-Friday: As ever, many people enjoyed tasty sushi organised by Fusilliban on Friday afternoon. Thursday evening, however, saw a move from the traditional Drunken Skating, and instead played host to Drinks At The Monastary Bar.
Friday: Casino night kicked off the weekend at 12 West Main St, with $500 in meat chips given to each con attendee. Drinks flowed and gambling ensued. Games included blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, Mr. Card Game, and other games brought by patrons. Fancy dress was requested but not mandatory. HotStuff and Jick also included an impressive spy/assassin LARP game that was played throughout the con.
Saturday: Saturday started with food provided by the Cornish Pasty Company, the signing of the Certificate of Participation by Jick and Mr Skullhead, and trivia. Kingdom of Loathing merchandise was for sale along with the purchase of Gordon Beer's Beer Garden Catalog.

Saturday nights concert was kicked off by Treasure Mammal, followed by Dry River Yacht Club, and closed out by MC Frontalot with guest Mr Skullhead.

Sunday and beyond: Unofficial events were plentiful and many house parties followed the official events.

Those who won the bingo challenge won a KoL Con X Bingo Card.

Photos: Forum thread

KoL Con IX (2012)

Dates: 21 - 22 September 2012 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Radlibtome.gif Tome of Rad Libs Souvenir: Con9hat.gif Hat O' Nine Tails
Pre-Friday: As ever, pre-Con festivities included Drunken Skating on Thursday, sushi on Friday morning, and the odd pre-kickoff house party.
Friday: Friday night was Casino night, where attendees once again threw on their fancy dress to play blackjack, craps, and roulette to win merch and in-game items.
Saturday: Saturday afternoon featured the traditional barbecue (this year featuring 100% less actual barbecue, and 100% more food from the Cornish Pasty Company), as well as trivia, certificate signing by Jick and Mr Skullhead, and a gigantic meat-shaped cake.

Saturday evening featured a performance by MC Frontalot (and a cameo on Nerdcore Rising by Skully), with opening acts by Mega Ran and Treasure Mammal.

Sunday and beyond: As per usual, there was a karaoke outing on Sunday evening, preceeded by various house parties. Several of these parties played host to demo games of Mr. Card Game, whose Kickstarted had launched at the start of Con.
Photos: Forum thread

KoL Con VIII (2011)

Dates: 9 - 10 September 2011 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Gygaxlibram.gif Gygaxian Libram Souvenir: 8bitbracelet.gif KoL Con 8-Bit power bracelet
Pre-Friday: There was Drunken Skating on Thursday, sushi on Friday morning
Friday: Friday night was Casino night, where attendees could play blackjack, craps or roulette to win chips for KoL merchendise, all while looking rather dapper in fancy dress.
Saturday: Saturday afternoon featured the usual barbecue, trivia, and certificate signing by Jick and Mr Skullhead. Saturday evening featured a performance by MC Frontalot, with opening acts by the Minibosses and Black Carl.
Sunday and beyond: As well as the offical events, there was the (at time of writing) final KoL LARP on Sunday afternoon, and karaoke on Sunday evening.
Photos: Forum thread

KoL Con VII (2010)

Dates: 17 - 18 September 2010 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: Hippotutu.gif hippo tutu Souvenir: 7loco.gif Seven Loco
Pre-Friday: Drunken skating, sushi, the whole nine yards.
Friday: Friday was held at Dave & Buster's in Tempe.
Saturday: Saturday's events were held at 12 West Main Street in Mesa. The usual barbecue festivites happened at the barbecue in the afternoon. After kicking everyone out for sound check, the house was rocked by MC Frontalot, Freezepop, The Minibosses and Black Carl.
Sunday and beyond: The KoL Larp did its thing again.
Photos: Forum thread

KoL Con VI (2009)

Dates: 18 - 19 September 2009 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: n/a Souvenir: Sixpack.gif KoL Con Six Pack
Pre-Friday: Drunken skating, sushi, the whole nine yards.
Friday: Friday evening was spent at Dave and Buster's.
Saturday: Saturday was spent at the Royal Garden Reception Hall in Mesa. Allegedly, the afternoon featured barbecue, poker, Magic the Gathering, trivia, and the usual chicanery.

Saturday evening featured the usual concert, featuring MC Frontalot, The OneUps and Yellow Minute.

Sunday and beyond: The KoL LARP made its reappearence after a couple of years off. Traditional Sunday evening karaoke apparently featured 100% more barfights than previous years!
Photos:

KoL Con V (2008)

Dates: 26 - 27 September 2008 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: n/a Souvenir: Pinatabat.gif KoL Con Cinco Piñata Bat
Pre-Friday: Drunken skating, sushi, the whole nine yards.
Friday: Friday festivities moved from Gameworks to Dave and Buster's this year.
Saturday: Saturday started off at the Tempe Center for the Arts for the traditional barbecue, before moving to The Clubhouse for the concert, which this year featured MCs Frontalot and Lars, and Totally Radd!
Sunday and beyond: Xenophobe organised another trip to Organ Stop Pizza on Sunday
Photos: Forum thread

KoL Con IV (2007)

Dates: 14 - 15 September 2007 Announcement: Forums
Con Item: n/a Souvenir: Coniviv.gif KoL Con IV Pole
Pre-Friday: Drunken skating, sushi, the whole nine yards.
Friday: Friday evening was spent at GameWorks. A KoL version of Assassin was started then, and played throughout the weekend.
Saturday: Saturday's barbecue was held in the park, with Famous Dave's doing the catering again. At the barbecue, there was a trivia contest, poker tournament, Guitar Hero tournament, haiku contest, and Decorate-Your-Own-Shortbread-Bugbear competition.

Saturday evening featured a performance by MC Frontalot, with opening acts by the Minibosses and Nekrogoblikon.

Sunday and beyond: On Sunday afternoon, Xenophobe led an outing to Organ Stop Pizza, which MC Frontalot also attended.
Photos: Forum thread

KoL Con 3-D (2006)

Dates: 15 - 16 September 2006 Announcement: MySpace, In-Game, Forums
Con Item: n/a Souvenir: 3dglasses.gif KoL Con 3-D Glasses
Pre-Friday:
Friday: Friday night was spent schmoozing at GameWorks.
Saturday: Saturday's events centered around an outdoor barbecue in Tempe Kiwanis Park. Food, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages were enjoyed by all (but no underage drinking was permitted).
Sunday and beyond:
Photos:

LunaWolvesMan's pictures, Killer Zomie Monkey's pictures, Nekosoft's pictures, Varjak's pictures, Ashallond's pictures, BoozerBear's pictures Glebs's pictures, Aeralis's pictures, Doc Trauma's pictures, Lynore's pictures, KolMohDee's pictures, AlBassoon's pictures Thraeryn's pictures, Lillith's pictures, xxArmageddonxx's pictures, SpazzZero's pictures, Pinklady's pictures, Jill_bob's pictures, Garrotte's pictures

KoL Con II (2005)

Dates: 23 - 24 September 2005 Announcement: In-Game, Forums
Con Item: n/a Souvenir: n/a
Pre-Friday:
Friday:
Saturday:
Sunday and beyond: Going to "/test.php" yielded a list of Con attendees, which was probably used to give them their shiny certificates. Once this was discovered on the forums, Xenophobe blanked the test page.
Photos: Dhampire73's pictures

KoL Con I (2004)

Dates: 19 - 20 March 2004 Announcement: In-Game, Forums
Con Item: n/a Souvenir: n/a
Pre-Friday: Apparently, there was karaoke on Thursday evening.
Friday: Friday involved dinner at a Japanese restaurant and eventually ended up at Jick's house for random socializing.
Saturday: Saturday is somewhat sporadically documented, but appears to have taken place largely at Jick's.
Sunday and beyond:
Photos: In-Game