The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Templecon 2011

Posted By on February 16, 2011

So, Liz and I attended [http://www.templecon.org/11 Templecon] two weeks ago. It was a mixed bag.

Full details behind the cut..

The venue (Crowne Plaza, Warwick, RI) is quite nice, but too large for the con to totally rent out – so you have a bunch of gamers having a zombie LARP crossing paths with hotel guests and businessmen. But, from the top.

= Friday =

Liz and I pre-registered. The website said that registration opened at 8AM. We got there at 8:30. The line didn’t start moving until 9. They were woefully underprepared, with several people manning the registration, but the line stretching for several hundred feet. It took us until 9:45 to get badges, and that was only because they were doing people with names starting with A-H (or something like that.. point is, we were C, so we were good).

I had a 10AM game, so I was good to go.

I get to the game, and the GM isn’t there – he’s still in line. He showed up at about 10:30. Apparently, he asked the organizers what to do, since he had a game to run. They told him to stay in line. I would have just walked up and started running my game, and if they gave me static for it, I’d have told them to go get me my badge, because I’m stopping people from being pissed off at their con.

Anyway, the game was the new [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_World#Seventh_Edition_.282010.29 Gamma World]. Decent. The cards are a little weird (why do I get a new mutation every encounter, etc.). I won’t be buying it, however – I don’t see the benefit of it over [http://www.goblinoidgames.com/mutantfuture.html Mutant Future].

After that, Liz and I went down to the Iron Arena event to play some Warmachine. It ran throughout the con. Here is the full description:

* Format – This 24/7 casual play experience rewards you for playing your favorite Privateer Press games against new friends from all over the globe. The more games you play, the more Skulls you collect. Redeem your Skulls for awesome prizes!
* Prizes – Too many to list here!
* Redemption – Refer to the IRON ARENA challenge card to find out all the ways to earn Skulls!

So, Liz and I showed up with our fully painted, fully based 15 point armies.

The rules sheet started awarding credit for games played at 35 points. So, anyone humoring me by playing at 15 points is wasting their time they could be using to get tickets.

(Note that 15 and 25 point armies are listed as valid in the core book)

As such, we were rather disappointed.

Now, that said, it brings up a metagame issue – why do people keep trying to run things in to larger games? I mean, maybe it makes sense for tournaments, but for casual play? Think of this flow:

1. New player (NP) plays demo at con.
2. NP goes to vendor, buys a book and a 15 point army.
3. NP glues them together that night, so NP can play in Iron Arena the next day.

Everyone wins.

How are we to attract new people to the game if all the local metas are running minimums at 35 points? It’s like starting 40k – you’re $100 in to it before you can even play.

My local meta rarely even hits 35 points – we have limited amounts of time to paint new units, so we end up doing a little tweaking here and there, but in general we play lots of small games, rather than fewer larger games. I also heard some folks at the con complaining of the same thing.

So, we played a [http://wyrd-games.net/ Malifaux] demo instead. The models are top notch, giving the Warmachine figures a run for their money, but the card mechanic seems rather forced. I’d much rather just roll dice. So, a plus for satisfying my curiosity.

We also did some shopping at [http://www.thewarstore.com/ the Warstore]‘s booth (yayy not paying shipping) and some other places, the most notable being me buying Liz a [http://www.pendragoncostumes.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=steampunk&Product_Code=underbust&Category_Code= corset from Mad Girl Clothing]

At 5PM, there was a mulled wine tasting. The presenter didn’t know as much as we hoped he would, and we tasted some rather foul mulled wine. The mulling was fine, but [http://www.sakonnetwine.com/ Sakonnet Vineyards] is not exactly a good start. A second item we tried was made with [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akvavit Akvavit] which is essentially caraway-flavored Vodka. Ick.

At 6PM, there was a Scotch tasting. The presenter knew quote a lot, but unfortunately this caused him to go over time – by a lot. We started late, and by the time we were supposed to be done, we were only halfway there. That said, the big winner from this was [http://www.thedalmore.com/ The Dalmore 12 year old]. A very good Scotch, and my stable was missing a highland (turns out, Highland Park is technically an Island Whiskey, as it comes from Orkney. Liz and I ended up leaving early – but what was left was Island (actually Highland Park, of which a good friend got me a bottle for my birthday, so I had that covered), Lowland, and Islay (of which I have several). So didn’t miss much, and were hungry.

We left and got sushi at [http://www.7-moons.com/ seven moons].

= Saturday =

Since we had no Iron Arena in which to play, we slept in a bit then headed down where we met up with some friends. We caught up for a bit, wandered around, then got into a game of [http://www.pulp-city.com/ Pulp City], which was the real surprise of the con. The current rules are free, but the first published rules are coming out soon (they’re effectively a “revised” edition). I liked it enough that I bought the Heroes and Villains boxed sets and pre-ordered the rules. It plays a lot like Warmachine, but is subtly different in a lot of ways, which end up optimizing it a lot better for that genre.

Meanwhile, Liz took a class on making Jewelry, which she seemed to enjoy.

Walking around, it seemed that the registration was just as bad today as it was yesterday – except today there was the addition of a lady who was very shouty in telling people to not block the hallway. Good thing I wasn’t in the line, I likely would have left.

After that, we got some lunch and watched the fashion show, which had quite a range – from amateur hour to really, really beautiful stuff.

There was a marriage proposal at the end which kind of hurt my brain. There was a biologically female, self-identifying as female who proposed to a biologically male, self-identifying as female. Now, the first thing which flitted across my mind is “wait, we still don’t let same-sex couples get married, right?”, rapidly followed by “wait a minute, surgery or not, self-identification or not, she is still listed is biologically male, which means they can get married”. Still, definitely made a mental flip-flop there for a second, and in the end kind of just makes you think of how stupid all these restrictions are. (Private contract, government out, end soapbox).

Following the fashion show was the costume contest. Interesting display of creativity.

Once lunch was concluded, we sought out the game room and played a rousing game of [http://paizo.com/paizoGames/v5748btpy8ar0 Kill Doctor Lucky], which I highly recommend – so much so that I ended up buying a copy.

After that came high tea, which was.. as well organized as the rest of the con. The nibbles were decent, the tea water was tepid (though it got warmer as time went on), and the talks were excellent. I had some discussions about Warmachine with a gentleman named Simon who worked for Privateer Press – he gave me some painting suggestions, suggested some of their products, etc. There was a talk on the evolution of these Victorian high society customs as a reaction to an expanding middle class, and another one given by [http://www.leannareneehieber.com/ Leanna Renee Heiber] on the subtleties of the Victorian fan. Apparently, there is a whole huge code behind what they mean based on the motion of the fan, what hand it’s in etc. She also described her books as “Victorian Ghostbusters”, which piqued my interest. I’ll have to read some of her work.

We ended up leaving the tea early, and headed back to find our friends. Touching base with my folks, we wondered if we could crash their house and play some games. This isn’t as intrusive as it sounds – Liz and I were staying with them for the weekend, and my mother was unable to attend the con because she had to work – she’d be quite happy if we brought a little of the con to her. So, we all headed over there, and my dad had made up some shepherd’s pie, which we enthusiastically devoured.

Once there, we played:
* [http://toyvault.com/princessbride/index.htm The Storming the Castle Princess Bride Game] – This was simple and cute. Not all that much strategic depth to it, but it was cute and fun.
* [http://wunderland.com/LooneyLabs/BTTF/Default.html Back to the Future] – always a favorite.
* [http://www.zmangames.com/boardgames/pandemic.htm Pandemic] – another favorite. We played two games of this.

This saw a late but enjoyable end to the night.

= Sunday =

The only thing in which we were remotely interested was a ballroom dancing class, which we observed being taught on Saturday, and Liz was unimpressed. So, we did’t go, and ended up playing a few games of [http://privateerpress.com/warmachine Warmachine]. This means I got to try out Karchev for the first time (HUGE difference in how my battlegroup plays). I totally slaughtered Liz’s Stryker group, so she switched him out for the eHaley she had just bought, who did a lot better than Stryker, but still lost. Some tweaking of her list will be necessary in order to match the Karchev list. Right now, I’m running Karchev, a Destroyer, and a Juggernaut. I’ve fiddled with having a couple mechanics, or a Drakhun, but it doesn’t seem to make all that much of a different. I have a Behomoth I need to put together, and I’ll likely switch the Destroyer out for it. I think that combination will be pretty nasty.

And then we drove home.

I think that pretty much covers it. I don’t know if we’ll be back next year.


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One Response to “Templecon 2011”

  1. …so you have a bunch of gamers having a zombie LARP crossing paths with hotel guests and businessmen.

    Our burlesque troupe does a yearly appearance at Wicked Faire, a large convention that, for lack of any other way to put it, caters to a crossover of New Jersey’s wealth of geeky subcultures. WF started out, though, as a “winter Renaissance fair” intended to appeal to rennies who had nothing to do for the winter season. So for the first couple years, the event was primarily patronized by rennies who were there to socialize with other rennies, without the rules requiring them to be family-friendly.

    The venue was shared by a large annual pet expo.

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