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.


Old School Terminator said...

Great photos and while I can feel your pain on the sentiment of playing with waht you have, I also would like to point out that the top 16 tables were almost completely devoid of netlists. I think this year's format was actually much better geared toward the skill of the player than last year, in which I feel the netlists had their way with the tourney.

Anyway, just some food for thought. Love the blog and you make me jealous that I didn't take photos of the WM table. I don't play the game, but I really liked that display!

xNickBaranx said...

Its true that its possible that I missed out. Maybe my perception is skewed by reading BoLS day in and day out where the hobby has taken the back seat to tactics and Codex/Unit analysis. Part of me does regret not playing, not because I expected something different than what I described, but because I'm more of a participant than a spectator at the heart of it.

Its good to hear that netlists didn't dominate the winner's bracket. Still, the statistics I saw posted of what Army Lists were used overall was pretty damning. I read somewhere that like 40 Space Wolves armies made appearances, but there were like 36 "counts as" requests - implying that 36 of the 40 Space Wolf armies weren't actually Space Wolf armies. That's sad.

Old School Terminator said...

It happens,all you can really do is take the good with the bad. I think a lot of folks got what was coming to them this year when their netlist got served by an experienced player. I also missed out on the GT, but it was because I tried to do the team tourney and the team shifted and lost the original theme, so we bowed out.

Worse comes to worse, next year we can play a pick-up game ;)

Brian Carlson said...

That WM table looks great! I wish I could have taken a look at that one. Making me tempted to start doing some really cool themed gaming tables!

Sorry you're disapointed in the tuned tournament crowd. I get that a little bit too. I guess I usually just go in knowing that I can get structured competitive games in and try to make the most of it. I'm a firm believer that with enough practice you can do a lot with a list. (something I got none of this year!)

Hope you get some inspiration from next year. I'm curious to hear what you come up with.

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

"counts as" is as old as 40K. I remember the flood of Blood Angels armies where were all shades of the rainbow - when the 3rd ed BA book came out.

What do you have cooking for Adepticon 2012? A lot of people don't know it, but there is more to Adepticon than just 40K events.

xNickBaranx said...

@Brian I follow your blog regularly so I knew you were going in without games under your belt. I actually hovered around one of your games on Friday because I was going to tell you how great your army came out with how quickly you painted it. You were completely immersed in play so I withheld comment. Great work as always!

@CTF "Counts As" is cool for play testing but it never had a place in official GW tournaments, and most of the tournaments I played in or ran in years past were always GW compliant. It feels like there has been a persistent slide away from that. I'm not a fan. I've played my Dark Angels as Dark Angels through thick and thin. Even when the Intractable rule prevented me from moving forward toward my objectives. It is what it is. If you like the background and models you play through the pain. haha. Its not like all runners are blessed with the body of Carl Lewis. We don't operate on a completely level playing field, we work with what we have.

I'm glad people seem interested in what I have brewing. I need to talk more with Matt and then I'll take the idea to the internet and see what the gaming community think - possibly do a test run this summer and see if people have fun. What I will say is that the idea revolves around the Expansion type play (Cities of Death/Planet Strike) - something that gets pooped on by a lot of the columnists at BoLS. I know its something I would enjoy, but I game for fun more than pure competition.

Grokka said...

Wow, I feel like kind of a dinosaur reading your post on Adepticon. I never actually got all that into the whole tournament scene and have only ever been in maybe four or five and about half of those were GW Inhouse deals. I completely understand where you are comming from though. I know for myself playing in the spirit of my army AND kicking some ass doing it will always trump just beating people. Anyone can make a cheese army and unfortunately even with GW's best efforts that has always been the case. My first exposure was in second edition when my newb uncle innocently fielded a mob of ork boyz with melta guns and decimated my marines.
IMHO the hobby side should always weigh in at least equally with your generalship. That or just seperate the categories altogether somehow and leave the over win for the guy who does the best of both. Maybe I am just ignorant of how the tournament scene works. I look forward to showing those ponces what a real waaagh looks like...did you know you can field 180 boys and a warboss for exactly 1500 points with a few standard upgrades? GLEE!!! We should all go old school people. This game was never about special characters or waves of suped up vehicles or min maxing. Its about telling an epic of battle accross the fraggin stars!

John Smith said...

I have a friend on Indian Pharmacy that likes to simulate wars with small actions figures like you, usually he likes anime stuff.