Monday, February 18, 2013

Dundraccon Convention Review

So its been a long time for me both in posting and attending a gaming convention.  But I went to Dundracon over the weekend, well really just for Saturday.  I had a fun enough time though most of it was checking things out and attending seminars.  I wanted to do a little write up and show you folks that have perhaps never even considered attending a gaming convention what its all about.

So if you are completely lost here a gaming convention is a hobby convention that is open to the general public.  These are basically run by the fans for the fans.  Most of the games in the phones you will see are brought by the individuals that attend.  Most are purchased like any other game you would buy at a hobby shop, better bookseller or a gaming store in your area.  Some are modified versions of this purchased products.  Others are games completely of constructed parts that comply to a particular set of rules.  Finally other games are completely of the imagination of the folks that brought it.

What you are going to see here are a few shots of the larger table top games that were played at the convention. There is an Axis and Allies game that appears to be made up of several sets, but I am just conjecturing here as I have no idea what the new version of Axis and Allies entails.   Also there were a host of other games from Settlers of Catan, War Hammer 40K tournaments, Hundreds of Call of Cthulu games and many more.  The convention is structured so that traditional table top role playing games are held in separate rooms as they need to not be disturbed.   The live action version of the role playing which is annoying and fully of fucktards looking for attention is held off in a dark corner as to not annoy anyone.

The 40K folks seems to have a nice little tournament going, but it was hardly the even that I had seen years ago.  My friends used to play in crazy two day tournaments that had filled up more than just the single room.  Here the tournament seemed to be around 14 to 16 players and was over and gone in but a few hours.  Minis players are notoriously focused in there hobby and few will even set foot in the role playing game side of the hobby, so I really do not expect these guys just went off to do something else.  I know many of these dudes and they just seemed to disappear afterwards.  This was a bit of a shame and goes along with something I noticed everywhere in the convention.  There were a lot less people there than I remembered when I was actively going to conventions.  After reading through the list of events planned for the convention I saw that war machine was not represented which was a bit of a shock.  The dealers room was also half the size of it has been in other years.  Dundracon allows space for average gamers to sell old games in a ongoing format rather than the standard flee market.  The hours for selling were staggeringly few.  I was upset just as a person wanting to buy things.  I have to think this convention has seen better days.  I am not sure if there really will be a Dundracon to attend in future years.  Or at the very least it will be further decreasing in size unless some fresh ideas or new people are included into the staff.  Specifically in the miniatures realm these seemed true.

One aspect of this convention that is unique is the inclusion of the SCA and other groups that hey deem "Martial Arts".   The first set of pictures are a group that used foam wrapped weapons and may or may not be similar to the infamous ,"Lightning Bolt , Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt!" video that has been seen all over the internet for years.  They did not appear to be very concerned with authenticity as their equipment seemed to boarder on fantasy art rather than the historical attention the equipment the SCA requires.  I don't know if that stuff is for me.  I think if I was going to seriously pursue that sort of thing I would enroll at the Davenriche european martial arts school.  At lease folks do that in a closed environment and children would not point and shout things at me.  I get enough of that sort of thing on the street without strapping on armor to draw further attention to myself.

From the pictures I hope you can see the difference between the two groups.  The shots with the fellow in red and blue are showing the group that uses foam boffer weapons. Their shields are also light foam covered things and they even use foam topped arrows.  The SCA replied "Arrows would be a danger to the crowd if we used them".   That give something of an idea of the difference.  Their armor was legit chainmail as opposed to fantasy leather armor that would not effectively protect the crotch; an area I place of paramount importance.  There was also a difference in the fitness level of the two groups. That said many of the demonstrations of the SCA seem to indicate a style of combat that has grown idiosyncratic to the rules of the organization.  Some of the strikes appeared mere as though the person was only brushed with a weapon; and the combatant would drop to their knees.  I would have assumed the armor would have protected them.

This talk of arms and armor gets me too the next  aspect of the convention that was rather fun, the dealers room.  Any convention has a nice room filled with stores and companies selling their wares.  If you have been to a science fiction convention you will know they sell all sorts of crap from books to capes and jewelry.  Books and movies are often for sale along with comics and all sorts of random crap.  Traditionally this has not been the case with gaming conventions but you are seeing more of this sort of thing.  Some fits while other things seem out of place.  I picked up a kit to make a chain mail dice bag, that sort of thing seems fine but certain figures and other types of stuff just seems weird.  I am not trying to discourage of say it doesn't belong, I just question how well that sort of thing sells versus the fee the people pay for their convention space.  Perhaps it has value just in advertisement.

Here you can see some of the wide assortment of games and the massive Chessex stand that seems to be up at every convention. You can really buy any dice under the sun here.  They even have a giant bin of dice you can buy a scoop from either from a cup or a pitcher.  Years ago I was disappointed to find the companies themselves are not at these conventions.  While some do show up for Kublacon you are generally dealing with brink and mortar stores in the dealers rooms.  You will see current product and a few older things but game companies release things at Gencon and not these smaller local conventions.

I wanted to show a few of the cooler things that I saw at the convention that made me thing wow neat.  This was a flight game that had model airplanes attached to antennas with swiveling mounts.  The plans could display their banking and decent.  I don't have a clue about rules but it was rather neat to check out. Below is a similar game that had more terrain involved.  Both have the cotton ball clouds but this second seemed to have a hugely complicated set of controls for setting how they control their plane.  I believe one of these was called aerodrome if you are interested.  These harken back to the older days of gaming where you sent in a few bucks to a P.O Box and got a photocopied set of rules and you were expected to take care of the rest.  It looks like someone had real skill with a drill and wood burner hear.  I have often seen both of these at gamin conventions so if you attend any you should be able to drop in on a game.

The thing I was going to mention was the seminar that are available at these cons.  They have established a war college that teaches strategy.  There were several panels on the gaming hobby from Kickstarter to getting into the business.  There are many to help your running games.  One of the best was a panel discussion that included Steve Perrin and Ken Hite.  They were talking about building cites that were alive for your gaming group.  These guys were just fascinating.  One of the comments that came out was that for every person that goes to a convention there are ten other folks that are someone into gaming but not interested in attending or for some other reason doesn't.  They were saying that only a few folks in the hobby are interested enough to attend this sort of thing.  I wanted to invite you folks to come on down to a convention in your area.  I am sure you can find one with a simple internet search.  You are going to get to see some really interesting things that you would not otherwise get a chance to.  You will learn a lot and have a bit of fun. 

No comments: