Conventions are big, expensive ordeals that eat up money and vacation time in exchange for something you can get at your LGS, right? Wrong! There are plenty of reasons to go to conventions!
What’s up folks!? It’s Trevy the Great here again from Way of the Swan, recently returning from the 400+ person madhouse that is Templecon! I’m just coming down from the high that comes after every visit to a convention and I’d like to talk about what makes cons so super fun and why everyone should go! A full weekend (or more!) of camaraderie, meeting new people and playing brain-melting amounts of Warmachine and Hordes is super sweet and an experience everyone who loves playing the game should have at some point at least once! When I started playing Warmachine, I never expected to go to conventions; I was a starving college student living off a part time job as as much money as I could scrounge from my relatives. I first visited Templecon three years ago and had the time of my life; it was a local convention so the costs weren’t unbearable and I played so much Warmachine and met so many new people that I decided to continue that experience. Next up was Adepticon; a lot farther away than Templecon (by about 1,000 miles), but I soon learned that carpooling and sharing room space makes the entire ordeal much cheaper. I went back to Adepticon last year and just bought my ticket for this year’s show.
So why should you go to a convention? It’s a long way from home and much more expensive than playing at your local game store, and I won’t deny that the experience isn’t for everyone, but for people who love the games and communities these shows are based around, it’s awesome. First of all; just meeting new people is the most exciting part of a con. You’re guaranteed to walk into a room filled with literally hundreds of people who share the exact same interests as you! How often do you get to do that! Those are people with whom you can can keep in touch and meet up with at future shows, which makes every con an even better experience. And let me tell you; the number of people who are passionate enough to travel thousands of miles to play an awesome game and are unpleasant when they get there is miniscule, especially in the Warmachine and Hordes community.
For the competitive player
If you’re a competitive player looking for that edge in your game, practice against new play styles and against new lists is the best way to hone that edge; and conventions are the number one best way to get that experience. Personally, I felt my game improve drastically after my first Templecon, where I played 18 games over the course of 3 days against a variety of people and new lists that I’d never seen before! Better than that; conventions let you rub elbows with some of the most experienced competitive Warmachine and Hordes players in the meta. Talking with some tournament big-names can give you valuable insight into powerful strategies in the meta game. Even more; you get to watch the national metagame in action and see how the most popular lists in the game play! If you’ve got the goods you can give qualifying for Masters a shot, as just about every major convention has a Masters event; many of which offer a coveted qualification to the Warmachine Weekend Invitational!
For the casual player
If all that competitive nonsense isn’t your style, conventions don’t disappoint! Most major cons offer tons of access to casual play space; usually an Iron Arena (or something similar) is set up, where players get to play casual games of Warmachine for points that can exchanged for cool prizes or models… it’s basically a ChuckECheese but with tiny pewter soldiers and robots instead of trampolines and arcade games. It’s rare that these areas don’t have awesome scenario tables with cool objectives like train robberies and beach head invasions, complete with epic terrain to really drive the narrative. And remember; you don’t have to play just Warmachine and Hordes at a convention! There are always tons of other gamers or retailers with different games to demo and play! RPGs like the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game often get played in short campaigns on the sidelines of a convention, and these one-shot adventures are always a great laugh! Even though the competitive scene usually gets all the pomp and circumstance of live streams and intense coverage, a convention is always fun no matter what level of competition you’re interested in!
The calm before the storm at CaptainCon 2014
But conventions are expensive!
…Or are they? The typical price tag for a room for 3 nights and the round trip to the venue is usually daunting. An expensive hotel room and a two-way flight can cost upwards of $1,000 for the weekend, a lot to lose for a wallet of any size. But conventions don’t have to be that expensive; sticking to more local events means that you can travel with a group in a car, splitting the gas money and driving time and keeping the drive interesting for one another. A 12+ hour car ride doesn’t seem like the most fun, but it’s always surprising how enjoyable it is when all that time is spent with friends. Likewise, sharing the hotel room with 3-4 people can cut your hotel costs to under $200, as long as you’re okay with bringing a sleeping bag or bringing a bed (believe me, you won’t be spending too much time in the room)! I’ve found that, going with a group of friends cuts down by convention attendance costs significantly; right around the affordable $250-300 mark (just remember to save some so you can eat and buy cool stuff!). While that’s not the cheapest pricetag for a weekend away, it’s pretty good considering the good times that are to be had!
Do you frequent conventions? If so; do you do it for the competitive aspects of the game or just to hang out and throw dice? What makes the experience awesome for you? Remember to check out www.wayoftheswan.com for more fun convention coverage!