Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reflections on Adepticon 2011

I'm a little late on this. What can you do? Most of the blogs are heralding Adepticon as another joyous success. This was the 1st year in 6 years that I did not compete. The internet has sadly taken a lot of the joy out of competitive gaming for me. Back in the day I was an okay gamer guaranteed to eek out a middle of the road score with decent game play, and painting and composition score that would push me above the 50% mark. Two years ago, as I sat in the bottom percentile I had a gent say, "Man, you played a really good game. You just don't have a competitive list." I just do the best I can with the models I have painted. Up until a few years ago that was all I needed. Last year, as I looked in either direction from where we played in the team tournament, every table in either direction was a "leaf blower" list, including our opponents at the time. Its of no fault of the Adepticon organizers that Adepticon has been sort of disappointing these last couple years. Its the fault of the gaming base. The tournament scene is dominated by internet lists and its draining the fun out of the experience for me; so this year I elected to sit the tournaments out.

One of my favorite parts of Adepticon has always been walking around the tournament floor and looking at all of the armies, many lavishly displayed with pride and care. Once again, this year I was underwhelmed. Brian Carlson, as always, brought a fantastic looking army and this Ork army was a real standout:
It was a really cool army with lots of conversions. I'm sure someone else documented it in greater detail somewhere else on the net. My point being that I think that the shift from "hobbyist" to "gamer" is hurting the tournament experience as well. People talk a lot of crap on composition scores but composition lends itself to seeing the game as an extension of the hobby instead of the other way around. When generalship becomes the focus over all else then armies are no longer crafted for their visual appeal. Rather they are purpose built for the single utility of victory. Winning games is great, but I want to have a fun game against cool people who want to talk about their armies and trade painting techniques and oddball bits of fluff that really inspired them. I don't want to talk about the metagame and net lists. It was that level of homogenization that quickly drove me away from Magic:TG. However, flat lifeless cards lend themselves to that style of play - richly detailed hand painted models and scenery do not.

So what joy did Adepticon bring me? I patiently waited for an hour in line to buy a Caestus Assault Ram from the Forgeworld stand. I spent a lot of time looking at resin bases and other hobby aids. This was actually the most time I have ever spent in the store. The variety of hobbyist made products is ever expanding and the quality just keeps getting better and better. I'm really curious to see how this will develop and I'm hoping it stays more of a wide array of "cottage industry" rather than developing into the more slick corporate "players" that you get from some of the new companies.

Hypocritically, I don't have much desire to stray from Games Workshop. Like a guy who sticks by Honda or Toyota because they make a "quality product", I have to say nothing GW related gave me the "wow" factor I so desperately seek at these events. I want an army, or a table, or a new model to knock my socks off. Instead, the thing that really turned my crank at this event was Warmachine related. These pictures are from two tables in the Privateer Press room. I honestly don't know which game they belong to but this scenery was beautiful and was the only thing that I was super stoked to take pics of.
I love the weathering on these copper roof tops. So simple but such a dramatic touch. I'll definitely be stealing this.After half a day I was done with Adepticon. Not that it didn't have anything interesting going on. The Killzone Tournament tables were quite nice and though a friend was pushing me hard to enter some of my models in the Crystal Brush - the top tier models were brilliant and out of my league. Well done! If I didn't get scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday at my job I probably would have come back to participate in a couple of the hobby seminars.

Finally, the biggest thing I came away with from Adepticon was a sense of needing to put my money where my mouth is. I'm a firm believer that if you don't like the direction something you love and are immersed in is going, you intercede to change the dynamic. I started discussing with one of the Adepticon organizers an event I'd like to run. With a little luck maybe we'll see a tournament next year that embodies the aspects of the hobby that I love - the type of event I'd love to participate in myself. We'll see.