Plus I got to play at Mechanicon! Mechanicon was one of my first GT Cons and has always been my favorite. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the guys who run it. Tony Spino and crew are friendly, open and generous. But more importantly, they simply love gaming. I didn't get much time to join them, but at any given time there were games of Fantasy Flight's new X-Wing, or Talisman going on, among many others. Plus, they like their booz!
Mechanicon has joined forces with The Warstore to become one of the headline events at The Warstore Weekend. Which in my opinion was a huge boon for the con. Mechanicon has always prided itself as the gamers con, where it is not just about 40k, but for every one. They were one of the first GTs to also offer tournaments for other events such as Flames of War, Blood Bowl, Warmachine, and many others. Also many budding game companies ran demonstrations, and clubs ran small events like Kill Team tournaments. There were even separate painting competitions!
While this was a great idea, I believe that it thinned out Mechanicon a bit too much. The 40k GT was getting 50 to 60 entries, but some of the other events were running with just a few players as most of the guys playing 40k were unable to play Blood Bowl for example as they sometimes ran at the same time.
Being part of The Warstore Weekend enabled Tony and crew to focus on running the best 40k GT they could while Neal from The Warstore focused on providing all of the rest of the gaming fun that Tony always wanted.
Before I get to my personal report, I will go over some pros and cons that I saw at The Warstore Weekend in their second year of existence.
Well, the most comparable con that I have been to is Templecon. And there is absolutely no comparison. Templecon has had a few more years to build in popularity, and also caters to a bigger crowd including the cos play Steampunk crew, but TWW (The Warstore Weekend) is essentially doing the same thing. If Templecon is so awesome, you would think that TWW could pull it off too! For a huge weekend of gaming, all I saw was two larger tournaments going on with a smattering of demos and bits and pieces.
BEFORE YOU FLAME ME: I know there was more going on than just Warmachine and 40k. But my point is that it was not visible. There were no signs aside from a few hard to read ones, no displays advertising what was going on and no direction. You really had to search for things that you didn't even know were there, and if you are trying to catch the eye of some one there focusing on 40k for example, who has a few minutes in between games to check something out, it should not be hard to find.
The solution? Who knows. I am not a con planner. Maybe pay a couple models to dress up as Steam Punk Hotties and walk around guiding guys towards certain events. What I am saying that in my observation, TWW looked like a Warmachine tournament going on at the same time as an unrelated 40k tournament at the same hotel with a few game demos going on.
If Neal is going to continue running TWW he would be smart to take a good look at what Templecon does, and adjust accordingly.
Venue. Not good. I spoke to Tony for a while about the venue, and he expressed many disappointments. First of all was security! He had to physically wire the doors to the 40k hall shut to secure them over night. The hotel dropped an extra last minute cost on them for tables forcing them to get them from an outside source, and the bar in the 40k gaming room, a Mechanicon staple, was charging something like 7 bucks a bottle for Coors light.
When are these hotels going to figure out that the secret to making money at a con is NOT charging 7 dollars a beer. I went to Mechanicon with a VERY limited budget after taking my losses from pulling out of Feast of Blades, and when I went up to the bar to get myself a Coors Light and Ted Nagel a tonic, 12 dollars was a little too much to stomach. Yes, I paid 12 bucks for a bottle of Coors and an 8 ounce Tonic with nothing in it.
All Ted and I did was pop out to the package store next door. I got myself a case of Coors Light and I was good to go. I set my army transport up as a little cooler and dismissed the bar entirely. By the way, yes I know Coors Light is water in a can. But when I am spending 12 to 14 hours hanging out in a con room, playing games and socialilzing, I don't need to be drinking Scotch or even 5.6% micro brews. I can drink Coors all night long and barely catch a buzz. :) The hotel could have charged 3.50 a beer and sold five times what they did as most of the guys there would have simply bought the beers from the bar rather than going through the charade of hiding their own booze.
The location itself was a turn off to a lot of people I suspect. The Meadowlands, just outside of New York, is a geographically ideal spot. Guys coming up from the south don't have to cross NY bridges, and guys coming from the north can skirt the city by using the Tappan Zee bridge and Garden State Parkway.
However, there is not a person, myself included, who has gone to the Meadowlands for a game and not been jaded by the experience. I remember the first year that TWW was in existence, I was supposed to go out there to play in the GT but as the event approached, was dismayed at the thought of driving out there. And the pure suck of navigating that part of the country is no exaggeration. A couple friends and I went to find a restaurant just a couple of miles away, but to get there we literally had to merge onto and off three different highways, going around in circles, missing our turn twice because it was so hard to decipher that Sherlock Holmes would have missed it, and finally arriving to find about 90 million other cars jamming the parking lot.
To say the least, they will be finding a new location for next year.
The con! Despite the difficulty in deciphering what was going on and where, TWW was packed with cool stuff and can only grow! I did actually get to check out some sweet models called Heavy Metal I think, and got to pop in and see some Warmachine being played. I think numbers were down because of the impending "Perfect Storm" but there were still a lot of guys playing a lot of games.
The Mechanicon was great as always. The number of players was much smaller than in past years because of the change in location probably, but there was also a change in price so they missed out! Previously it cost 125 bucks to attend Mechanicon. Now it was 85. That was a bargain! Plus the hotel itself, while nickel and diming us on drink prices, was a much nicer venue physically. The old place was quite ratty to say the least.. My last room smelled like Curry and old socks.
The tables, already some of the best GT tables I have ever seen, got even better as the guys improved the terrain. Each gaming table existed on it's own separate table, allowing us to easily play hammer and anvil by being able to walk 360 around the board, and most of the tables had operational anti aircraft guns included as part of the terrain! Each table is hand crafted with a wooden frame that keeps dice from rolling off the edge. They have a balanced combination of hills, ruins and obstacles and even have an extra space for you to put your armies. How many of you have been to a tournament where there was NO place for you to put your stuff while you were playing except on the floor, and little place to display them while not playing without being yelled at by judges for moving terrain...
The Mechanicon is famous for being the tournament for the hobby rather than the competition and this was no different. Ever army was beautiful and every player was cool. All five of my games were fun and entertaining. My opponents were fair and the atmosphere was jovial. At some tournaments a cloud of suck follows some of the players or lingers over some of the tables as guys who take things way too seriously suck all the fun out of the room. Not so at Mechanicon! At every table there was laughing and jokes. I played, and lost to, a Tau player, and we both agreed it was one of the more interesting and fun games we have ever played. I got tabled by a British dude named Dave playing some nasty demons, and ended up chilling with him for most of the weekend cause he was such a good guy, and pulled the classic "Turn Five I WIN" move against a player named Evan to wrap up my weekend and we laughed about it for an hour. (To be accurate, I did most of the laughing,but he was a great sport about it.)
The best part about it was that Ted Nagel, another Mechanicon birther, (One of the guys who has been to all of the Mechaniocons) finally won the event from out of no where! It couldn't have gone to a more deserving player.
I got second best painted, with the honor going to a Space Wolf player who had an army with about 76 infantry, each painted to the same VERY high standard with multiple highlights and every detail picked out. He truly deserved the win! I can only imagine the hours he put into that army.
The best thing about Mechanicon is that I lost all three of my first games, but still had a chance to place in the top three with two big wins on day two. It truly is any bodies tournament where any one of a dozen contenders can grab it at the last minute, as opposed to 256 guys know they are out of it by game three of eight and end up watching just two play for the win. Mechanicon uses an even split between Sportsmanship, Painting and Battle Points to determine the winner plus a few bonus points like a fluff quiz and points for entering some other event over the weekend.
I think this works to weed out the flavor of the monthers who throw together terrible looking dry brushed armies just to field the strongest army of the week and destroy their opponents. Sure they might win best general, but best overall is certainly out of their reach. The guys who play at Mechanicon have pride.
And the players aren't bashful about letting you know if you are douching it up! I caught crap all weekend for playing Tau allies with my Blood Angels! Even thought I was getting my ass kicked. Good hearted ribbing of course. It didn't matter that my Tau looked great along with my marines. I was "That guy". :)
Oh and did I mention that only having to play five games is a blessing! It seems that events nowadays are just going for bigger more epic weekends where guys are playing six to eight game tournaments after playing in three to five game tournaments on Friday. More is NOT better. Especially for dudes who had a hard time standing for that much time.
I love Mike Brandt and The Nova Open, but 8 games is just too many, and while most of the guys at The Nova are decent dudes, the Feel Good atmosphere of Mechanicon simply outshines The Nova. And for guys who want to play in a GT and leave with a good taste in their mouth there is no better choice that I have experienced.
The Mechanicon is that good.
Ok that is enough for now. I will upload some video and do some batreps next time.
Here are some of the armies: