Again this year, the good people of Adepticon managed to knock it out of the parc and I was privileged to attend this awesome war gaming convention. For the fourth year in a row, my team and I brought our A game to the Team Tournament in an effort to bring home the Best Theme & Presentation prize. Before we get to that however, let's have a look at the rest of the event leading up to the prize ceremony.
Day 0: Wednesday
It was disappointing to say goodbye to Angela as she left for work in the morning. Angela has been an important part of our team since the very beginning of our Adepticon adventures. Unfortunately, lack of vacation time prevented her from joining us this year and her absence was deeply felt.
Early afternoon my team mate Dominique picked me up at home with a few other travelers and we made our way to the airport. There I was told I had to fork over a hundred dollars just to allow my suitcase on the plane. Technically, my RJ-16 was above regulation weight, but the good people at Porter let it through anyways. I should note that the content of my luggage was almost entirely scenery for our display board. Oh, and a few gifts for friends.
After two uneventful flights we got to Midway airport in Chicago and into our honest-to-god, pimping as hell, limousine. Will Paul whom we picked up at the airport tagged along for the ride with us to Adepticon.
With Angela unable to attend and several new locals joining us for the trip, several key logistics had to be adapted, especially in regards to lodging. In the end, I wound up sharing a room with two other guys from Quebec; Steve and Martin.
As always, service and accommodations at he Lombard Westin were fantastic and after registration and diner we all went to bed to get ready or the convention.
Day 1: Thursday
Way back when event registration and the Adepticon web cart opened up, I had attempted to sign up for the 40K Friendly tournament. However, as my priorities were focused on securing Team Tournament tickets first and foremost, I got Putin the waiting list for the Friendly. Having two empty days of either wandering the halls and shopping seemed boring and financially irresponsible (respectively) so I decided, quite on a him, to try something new; Malifaux. Specifically the Malifaux Cake Match. Malifaux turned outgo be n awesome game that I'm glad I got into, but prior to registering I hadn't touched the system and owned no figs. Also, i needed a cake.
Some quick painting and a few test games solved the first two issues, but getting baked goods from Montreal to Chicago on a plane was out of the question. I had resigned myself to purchasing a cake at Target or the nearby mall until one day I saw that Jen from the Screaming Heretic podcast needed a favor of her own; maple whiskey.
Thursday morning, a scant few hours before the cake match Jen delivered an awesome winter-themed cake (I played Children of December) tommy room in exchange for three bottles of Sortilege.
The Malifaux Cake Match was both disappointing and awesome. I say disappointing because in lieux of an organized tournament, the event was twelve hours of open gaming. Being socially awkward most of the time, I had difficulty hunting down opponents and found the first few minutes problematic as I wandered the tables looking for an opponent.
In the end however, the event was awesome. Malifaux players turned out to be exactly the kind of chill, laid-back gamers I was expecting. I played a few games, improved my knowledge of the rules and had a good time with cool people. On top of it all, there was some delicious cake and each participant received an Adepticon 2014 Fate Deck with Strategies and Scheme cards.
I unfortunately had to cut my participation shirt to work on out Team Tournament display board.
Day 2: Friday
Remember how I signed up for Malifaux after being put on the waiting list for 40K Friendly? Turns out that as the months creeped by, I moved my way up to the top of the list and into the event. At noon, I had some games to play, but first; more work on the display board.
Interesting thing about our display board; its crawling with badly painted Tyranid models. That's a side effect of our theme, but turned out o be a blessing. I had no intention of bringing a separate army to play in the Friendly and I couldn't reveal our work for the Team Tournament early, so I ended up playing a Tyranid army composed entirely out of what was essentially scenery.
The 40K Friendly, to my shock, was easily the most efficiently run gaming tournament I had ever participated in. Keeping in mind that this was in every respect a normal tournament except with two extra layers of complexity (teams and odd scenario rules), it's amazing tht it wasn't a complete clusterfuck instead of the well oiled machine I enjoyed.
Our group of seventy-two players were split into six teams of twelve, each represented by a colored bandana (Maroon!). Team captains were chosen and team names decided upon. The basic theme and rules were explained to us.
The Dirty Dozen
The theme for the tournament was the film 'The Dirty Dozen' as befits Adepticon's twelfth edition. Each of the Dirty Dozen were represented with special rules and during each game, players got to use one in their army according to random selection by the team captain.
Each of the three games in the tournament had its own special rules. Game one had us split the units in two groups that distrusted one another as well as random ammo dumps that would show up on certain tables to help shooting. My first opponent, Moe, was a kid by tournament standards. His Imperial Guard had two AA tanks, enabling him to shred my Hive Tyrant. I managed to hold my own well enough but once my Tyrant and Carnifexes were gone and with greatly diminished Genestealer units, his tank were left generally unthreatened. While the final result was crushing, it was still a fun game.
Game two's special rule was a few ambulances rolling around randomly through the battlefield and from table to table, conferring Feel No Pain to all units within six inches. I played against Eric, a Space Wolf player who, after a though fight managed to snatch the objective on the last turn. Oh but what a cool game!Eric was one hell of a guy and a tremendously fun player to square off against. Bear was spilt on a (grateful?) Grey Hunter, models were killed in bloody combat and we had an amazing time.
Game three was a bit of a let down tobe honest. The special rule involved Vortex Missiles destroying units and scenery at random on most tables, but none landed on our battlefield. That was a crying shame because I could have used the fun of wanton destruction. My opponent, Cameron, who was a pretty nice guy had brought a Venom-Spam list to friendly and casual event. My army, composed of scenery models, those Tyranids that were lying around unused in my basement, did not stand a chance and the game was pretty boring.
All in all, the event was a freaking blast and ran shockingly smooth. Brian, Jeff and everyone else involved put together a great show.
After the short award ceremony (only a few minutes after the end of the last game!) went off to get our team's event package for the Team Tournament the next day. My team mate Danick sat at the registration table distributing comics to all the participating teams. Meanwhile, Eric, Dominique and I started putting together our display board.
I was very thankful we got to take on this task the evening before, because this was the first time we would be assembling this monster and there were significant technical uncertainties to overcome.
However, after a few hurdles, forty-five minutes and a quarter roll of duct tape, we had the beast together and looking better than anticipated.we left the board and army of Tyranids in the game room and headed off to bed. In the morning; go time.
Day 3: Saturday
As a modeler, there is very little that compares to the genuine sparkle of wonder and amazement that lights up in a fellow gamer's eyes when they're enjoying the fruits of your hard work. Once we added and positioned our armies onto the board and stepped back, we were privileged to bask in plenty of these moments. We hung around our table, describing the army and pointing out cool details to judges and fellow participants. Everyone seemed suitably impressed. I felt greedy that this was no longer "enough" for our team. There was a time when the accolades would have been sufficient to drive us. I don't know if we've become jaded or if the demands of preparing for the event have just increased by that much, but the thirst for recognition feels a lot stronger now.
After the high of presenting our army and display board, the first game of the tournament was a terrible disappointment. I hate to bad mouth, but our opponents were some of the worst sportsmen I've had the misfortune to play. I don't know if they were confused by our army and were worried we had a trick up our sleeve, but they questioned every rule, growled at every model they lost and made gross misinterpretations of the rules in their favor. In hindsight, I regret not calling over a judge on a few calls.
Here's an anecdote of what we were up against: after deployment and before their game started, Dominique and Danick rolled to steal initiative and got a six. Incapable of stomaching the possibility of their opponents having some luck on their side, they immediately started to roll the die over and over to see if it was loaded. As luck would have, they rolled another two successive sixes, convincing them that we were cheating. Things went no better on Eric and I's table as we had to suffer through rules check and borderline cheating.
In the end, if that team's peace of mind was so dependent on the success of their cheesy net list, they could have said so and we might have saved everyone a few hours of agony. I'm almost happy we lost. I can't imagine the God damned tantrum they would have throw otherwise.
Only way to go is up.
While we scored some fun opponents this time, luck sure wasn't on our side. we faced some other Space Marines and they played their list very well, sniping my Librarian (our Warlord) in the first turn. Every round was an upward struggle for us and I have to give it to Dominique for squeezing a victory out of the ashes of our army in the end.
Game 2 is seldom memorable on account of being squeezed in between two other games and the tournament still gaining momentum, but I was relieved to play against a couple of great guys who gave us a challenge to be proud of overcoming. Stand-up dudes.
Oh, and I have to admit I got distracted mid-game as I was asked to talk to the judges about our selection in the army showcase that evening.
As awful as our first game was, our last game of the day was wall to wall awesome. It is a demonstration of how it's possible to get your ass soundly handed back to you with a bow on top and still enjoy a great game. The two dudes we faced had a curious list of scout-heavy Space Marines and Imperial Guards with Earthshaker Canons and mortars.
Needless to say; we got shelled heavily, removing handfuls of models almost as soon as they were put on the table all the while enjoying hilarious banter with our adversaries as well as their own back and forth. If there was one team I could play against over and over without tiring, it was these guys. They made the Tournament for me and thought me the effectiveness of heavy barrage weapons.
Judging from the screams and shouts of the table to our left, our team mates were having just as much fun.
Oh, and on a similar note; to alleviate any fear I might have had that Adepticon was no longer the event I had grown to love i the past three years, while I was removing models that had suffered death from the sky, the guy on my right, who had nothing to do with our game, offered me some Starburst candy for no reason other than we were both at Adepticon. Awesome.
Unfortunately, I never saw the end of game 3. I had to leave early to reserve a good spot in the hotel lobby to set up our display. It took another forty five minutes to put up again, all while crowded by curious onlookers and other teams setting up their own display boards.
My initial impression had been that the general standard of painting had either stabilized a little or even gone down a little this year, but seeing the showcase really brought home how participant ambitions and skills were still high. Our buddies from the Sons of Shatner had a completely enclosed display board with narratives, light and sound effects and moving plateaus. It was insane. Adeptus Film Co. had a beautiful multi-tiered display inspired by the movie Avatar. We were also set up just two tables away from an honest-to-god 40K scale Tyranid Bioship that must have towered about eight to ten feet above a ruined city, held up by a capillary tower, the work of Da Wrecking Boyz. There were gorgeous Eldar armies with crazy conversions and beautifully creative display boards all around us.
Once we got done with that, we retreated to Harry Caray's to get our fancy meal for the weekend, followed by a quick trip to the Screaming Heretic party. A quick note on that party; it was crazy. A geek's party. Music, drinks, pizza and board games. Joe and Jen managed to turn the suite into the chillest place for miles around.
The fourth and last day is usually the least demanding but the most stressful at Adepticon, at least it is for me. We still have games to play but the strain of putting up displays and promoting our army is over with. It's all about playing games, having fun and waiting for results.
We got to square off against some more Tau, this time combined with Dark Eldar. The game was a riot on account of all the weird and unlikely things that happened throughout. My scouts managed to singlehandedly take over an enemy defence line just before being vaporized by a volley of missiles. The whole game was back and forth and if I remember correctly it was mostly a draw. I think we lost to secondary objectives. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that we had a blast before moving on to our last game.
Traditionally, the last game of the 40K Team Tournament is an unmitigated ordeal. It's late in the day, everyone's exhausted and we're all just eager to call it quits and go have diner. So it was a bit worrisome to see our last opponents set up a particularly threatening list on the battlefield. A pair of Wraithknights and a pair of Wave Serpents accompanied by Dark Eldar for flavour. We immediately knew the game would be a tough one and we weren't disappointed. We almost managed to to get a victory, but in the end, I'm satisfied with a draw.
Our opponents seemed done with the whole tournament by that point and it's only later that we discovered that Jeff, one of our adversaries had been sick the previous day. In fact, the other half of our team members were having such a blast that Team Misfit (I think) gave us their Favourite Team award for the tournament.
You have to understand; these guys give out a plaque to the team they had the most fun playing and not some cheapass piece of arts and crafts either. This thing is legit printed plexiglass with their team logo and everything. These guys were awesome. Obviously.
I find award ceremonies to be, generally speaking, super damn boring. They're all the same and have a tendency to drone on forever. The only high point is getting to recognize the volunteers who put the event together and seeing friends win things. This year though, the organizers had something special to talk about.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to make six hundred geeks fall completely quiet? Aside from a Firefly Season 2 trailer? Well, the story of Brian Huttenga and how he had recently lost his battle with cancer was told to the crowd and a moment of silence was requested. You could have heard a pin drop on carpet as everyone became completely silent. It was humbling and in a way, awe inspiring. I don't think I ever met Brian, but it was clear that many in attendance, or at least amongst the Adepticon staff had been his friends and it was emotional to pay our respects with them.
So the awards were given and quickly enough we got to the few we were eligible for. Best Imperial Team went to Cold Steel Mercenaries 2, but we were okay with that. Our eyes were set on higher goals. However, when Best Team Appearance went to Team Handsome (for their amazing Eldar army) my stomach sank. There was really only one more award we could win and if our team wasn't called for it, we were walking away empty handed. Obviously, the awesome compliments and accolades we had received throughout the weekend would stay with us, but we really hoped we had this one in the bag.
And we did. Our name got called next and we walked away with Best Team Theme and Presentation.
We work damn hard in oftentimes difficult conditions to build our armies. Most of us don't see each other very often and we have to some very fancy coordination throughout the year. We travel by plane to Adepticon which means getting very creative with our display board. It's a challenge every year to bring something we can be proud of, let alone that will receive any kind of recognition, and all that for a little plaque and a few prizes.
Oh, and of course because we love the hobby and we love making cool things.
Also, why not check out my new web comic while you're here :