Pimpcron shares behind-the-scenes experiences from his 1st-ever convention.
Hey guys. The Pimpcron is here; making Fridays great again. Ya know, people actually used to dread fridays before I started posting on that day. And TGIF was born.
So the 1st year of my wargaming convention Shorehammer has come and gone.
And it was an utter disaster.
Ya see, when I set about creating this thing, my goals were clear and my intention was pure. I wanted to make the world’s biggest convention for assholes and mean people in general. Door prizes were going to be given out for frowns, and smiles would be ejected from the convention. One of our free games was to verbally abuse this old homeless lady in the corner for prizes. If she cried, you got a prize. Sounds fun right?
Well none of that happened. I’m sad to admit that everyone was happy and friendly at my convention. People joked and laughed with each other, and by the end of it everyone was saying goodbye and shaking hands with people they didn’t know 2 days prior.
That’s straight magic, guys.
Admittedly my magic resulted in fewer electrocutions.
All jokes aside, THAT COMRADERY is what my goal was when setting all of this up. I’ve said it in my articles before and I’ll say it again. This is a game, and we are all sharing a common interest. Let’s be friends. We all have enough stress and strife in our lives, let’s relieve some of that by playing a game.
So What Made This Con Possible?
Well, clearly I am the most important and sexiest cog in this machine. Right? Well I’ll tell you what: If it was really all because of me, I would have just had a “convention” in my basement all by myself. No, I just provided the dream. My wife was the first person to set this in motion. Earlier this year, she and I were on our way to Farpoint, a Star Trek convention (NERD!) across the Chesapeake Bay. We were riding in the car and I was saying how I loved conventions and I made the off-hand comment, “I’d love to make my own convention some day.”
Her reply shocked me, “So do it.” I looked at her a bit puzzled.
Inside Me: “She playing games or what?”
I never dreamed it was really possible. I had filed it in one of those dusty folders in the back of your brain that you never get around to doing and it festers into regret when you’re older. This is exactly why I love this woman. We have always supported each other in whatever we wanted to do. She’s my best friend and my loudest cheerleader. A very similar conversation is why I blog and why you’re reading an article I wrote right now. It was her immediate belief in me that sparked it. So I went about researching how you start a convention all weekend on my tablet and then more when we got home.
So once I got this thing into motion I ran into a problem: you need a metric crap-ton of terrain. I certainly don’t have the budget for that. I have an extensive collective of terrain, but only enough for maybe 6 tables max. That’s where the man of the hour comes in. My long-time friend Steve B. donated literally thousands of dollars of terrain and ended up garnishing about 20 full-sized tables of terrain in addition to mine. Did you just poop a little bit? I know I did. You can go wipe, I’ll wait.
But then came our next problem. A lot of it wasn’t assembled or painted. That’s where my friend Tim comes in. This man is the McGuyver of building terrain. He put so much love and effort into those buildings. And was able to not only make unique-looking buildings, but made our parts go way farther than we thought it would.
This is Tim using pieces of lint and bubble gum to synthesize more buildings.
But none of it was painted. Are you starting to see a pattern of problems, and solutions? That’s what this whole thing has been step by step. That’s where my friends came in. Dave “Ork” K., James “Details” M., Steve “Gaming Philanthropist” B., Matt “King of gray dry-brushing” C., and Tim “McGuyver” P. We had several painting days where they would donate their time and hands to painting all of the wonderful things Steve donated and Tim built. One of those days of hanging out with friends spawned one of my all-time favorite dark humor jokes I’ve ever came up with:
“Give a man a baby, feed him for a day. Teach a man to MAKE babies, feed him for a lifetime.”
“What’s wrong with you Pimpcron?”- Madden is my animal spirit.
So You Have A Vision & Terrain. Now What?
I emailed about 15 different companies for convention support and only four companies even replied. In the end, only two of them were willing to help us. Gamemat.eu and Frontline Gaming/Table War. But you can’t blame the companies that didn’t reply. They probably get emails all the time like that, and no matter how I word it, my email had to come off as, “Hi, I’m a stranger you’ve never heard of who claims to be making a wargaming convention with no proven track record of success or attendance. Can I have some free/or cheap stuff? This is not a scam. I mean, has a stranger ever lied to you?”
First of all, my biggest sponsor by leaps and bounds was Gamemat.eu. The guys and gals over there at Gamemat.eu are made of glitter and awesome. Mostly awesome. They worked with me every step of the way and made it possible to outfit our entire convention with their mats. Which, by the way, was their idea and they offered. I was just hoping for some prize support or something and didn’t really expect a reply email. They worked with our meager first-year budget and made our tables look awesome with their beautiful mats and pre-painted terrain. I got so many compliments on our mats. Their Forges of Mars mat was the star of the show for sure. People were drooling.
My first sponsor to even reply to us or give us anything was Frontline Gaming/Table War. I spoke with Frankie which was a real treat, and they were super generous. I needed some prize support to draw attendees, and some amazing door prizes would do the trick. Honestly I was actually hoping for at least a discount coupon or something from them. He asked for my address and the next thing I knew I had not one BUT TWO free game mats from Frontline Gaming and Table War. I was in shock. We ended up giving them away as a random drawing at the end of the awards ceremony.
A local gaming club Eden Battledome donated all of the prize support for our AoS BigBattle. Justin’s a great guy and the very first person to put his money where his mouth is and buy a ticket when I opened the ticket sales for Shorehammer. He was supportive from day one.
So You Have Terrain, Mats, Friends, and a Dream. But That’s Not a Convention.
First of all, I can’t thank you all enough for going out on a limb for our first year and attending. Without our people in attendance, I would be sitting in an empty room with a bunch of terrain and mats. Oh, and thanks for not being assholes. You guys were all friendly, helpful, and patient with each other. And a group from North Carolina came, a couple people from North Pennsylvania and a couple from New Jersey came. All of those are a hell of a drive to just give an un-proven convention a try.
As an attendee, if you came and it was a bust you’d just be out your time, money and respect for me. My vendors made the biggest leap of faith. They are businesses that rely financially on the time they spend at cons and nearly every legitimate convention out there was bigger and more established than me this first year.
I have Johnny at my local store Scarecrow’s Games up in Delaware to thank for being supportive at the exact instant I mentioned starting a convention. He sold GW product and board games, as well as donated a ton of dice as prize support, and brought two fully-furnished gaming tables. He also helped me procure the roughly 130 Heroclix civilians that filled the stands on the Death Match Arena.
I also have an awesome independent RPG company Corefun Studios to thank for coming. Andy ran demos of their flagship RPG Solar Echoes all weekend and offered prize support too! His table was busy all weekend and it was a smash. I heard a group of 40k players in another room discussing how much they liked the way he handles initiative in his game. Another guy was laughing about a car chase they had in his session.
I also had Brianne Sew Crafty Embroidery to thank for bringing her awesome embroidered pillows and accessories. The material they were made of literally had everyone molesting her embroidered pillows like they were on Ecstasy.
Jordan from Marvelous Designs came as well with his kick ass spray paint art. I didn’t even know this was a thing, but it is really amazing.
William came from Fantasist Enterprises and sold their unique sci-fi novels as well as metal models that I couldn’t help but snatch up. Guess who got a new Sorcerer model for his AoS Free People?
I know this was long, but there was so much to say.
I always said that my wedding day was one of my favorite days of my life. And besides the whole getting married thing, it was so special because it was a gathering of all of my favorite people in my life into one place. Shorehammer was a lot like that. I had a friend, Erin, who drove several hours just to help. My childhood best friend Danny who doesn’t play warhammer came and helped too. My brother Brooks made a kick ass display with a scrolling schedule, and made my whole awards ceremony presentation. He stayed all weekend and helped. My wife came and volunteered. Another good friend of mine, Brian L. came and helped out all weekend, and he was a huge help as well.
All of my warhammer buddies were either playing or volunteering, my mother watched my kids so my wife could help. My kids, grandfather and dad stopped by to check it out. It was just awesome to have a day where all of my favorite people came together to help me put this on and see my dream realized. I had help from all kinds of people that I never imagined cared enough about me to pitch in so much. This was the start to something awesome!
Some reviews and photos of the con can be found at www.shorehammer.com