Adepticon 2016

It’s been a strange and demanding few weeks. I’ve started a new job, moved into a new apartment and finished funding my second book on Inkshares. Busy and exhausting but ultimately rewarding, the last month was punctuated with many awesome things, least of which is not my time at the most wonderful of conferences; Adepticon

For those unaware, there are few things I enjoy more in life than writing and painting figs. NaNoWriMo in November is when I celebrate the first passion, but Adepticon is where I got to party in honour of the second. Adepticon, while bittersweet at times for me, is like going home. It’s where I’m happiest these days. It’s where I hang out with friends that, for the length of a few days, become family. It’s where I go, once a year, to enjoy the comfort of a predictably comfortable environment that always has a handful of surprises. Whenever I think I’ve enjoyed all I could out of Adepticon, something amazing happens.

Wednesday, March 30th

I don’t want to brag, but this year I flew first class on Delta. Okay, okay; first class in a small plane on a short flight is less caviar and champagne and more about having two extra inches for my legs and one more checked luggage allowed. Still, considering I’m pretty tall, it was the right choice. I hope I can fine a deal like that next time I fly.

The flight and travel was uneventful apart from having come to the conclusion that Starbucks, while a great coffee place to write is terrible airport coffee. The lines are too long, the food not varied enough and the absence of decadent donuts compared to Tim Horton’s is just… wrong.

A first this year; my friend and cohost on The Overcast, Amy Frost, was attending. While a fan of miniature wargaming, she was mostly there to check out the market for her cosplaying business and had asked me to help guide her through the event.

We usually help out with the preparation of swag bags and setup of the game room and vendor hall but that might be the last year we do this. The system is disorganized and while the official Adepticon staff in charge do their best, some of the volunteers tray to take command, putting their lack of organizational skills on display for everyone to endure. All told, instead of being able to get in line early, volunteers seemed expected to keep filing bags while attendants started their registration. I want to help but not to the detriment of my con experience. I’ll look for different ways to be of service in 2017.

 Some of what was in the swag bag. Minus the Super Dungeon Explore, Guild Ball and WraithKnight.

Some of what was in the swag bag. Minus the Super Dungeon Explore, Guild Ball and WraithKnight.

Swag bags were insane this year, especially the VIG stuff. Full starter sets for Hordes, a ton of figs, books from Wyrd and a plethora of bases and tokens from just about every vendor along with vouchers for more free stuff at the various vendors.

Amy had forgotten a key model for her 40K Friendly army (which had yet to be finished being painted) so we started keeping an eye out for an alternative.

Thursday, March 31st

For the first time in a long while, I had picked a day to remain relatively empty. Also, on that day, I had very little repairs to perform on my figs, which meant I could actually enjoy some time in the vendor hall. First up, while making our way to the part of the convention centre where vendors were setup, we discovered that the line to go shopping was longer than expected. Fortunately, we ran into my favourite Adepticon drinking buddy Jason Dyer, so we sorta cut in line with him (yeah, I’m THAT guy). The vendor hall was more awesome than I remembered. Maybe the pleasure of being able to walk around more leisurely was what made it. Immediately went to buy some X-Wing tokens from my friend Alex Landing’s excellent IronHeart Artisan shop. Alex is awesome and makes amazing laser cut stuff that’s a grade above the rest. Then we bounced around the various vendors, turning in vouchers for free stuff and meeting people here and there. One of my main concerns was deciding whether or not to invest in a Tau Supremacy armour from Forge World

At one point, on the way out of the shopping area, I ran into a kilted scotsman acting as a carnival barker to get people to visit his booth; Steamforged Games. While I have very little interest in new games, we got to chatting about whiskey and I got him to agree to having a shot of Canadian maple whiskey with me if I visited the Steamforged Games booth.

Around noon we had a quick lunch before my brother Phil and I had to go check out Anvil Eight’s Aetherium game. Meanwhile, Amy went her own way to prepare for the Malifaux Cake Match saying that she had plans to meet up with an old friend that was also attending the convention.

I’ll come right out and say it; I was mostly attending the Aetherium thing to humour Phil. My brother had joined my 40K Team Tournament team and was doing that event with me, so I figured I’d do an event with him in return. Turns out, Aetherium is kinda rad. Few figs to paint and a cool system that’s fun to play and easy to learn. Had a good time and will definitely try new games more often at Adepticon.

We joined up with Amy (because there’s cake there) who was in full Colette Dubois costume and waiting judgement for her entry in the cake match. One of the helpers from the Aetherium event had followed us in and it turns out she was the friend Amy was meeting. Freakin’ small world and all that. We stole some cake and chatted with other people hanging around before making our way to diner.

NOTE: This is the very crux of what makes Adepticon work for me. I’m not a social guy, but when I’m there, I can talk to the people around me in perfect comfort. This is family. That place is home.

Diner was awesome. Almost every meal we had during the event was enhanced by random friends joining our table at some point or other. We spent most of our time and money eating at Gather, the hotel’s resident burger and bar place. This meal was special though because we were joined by a few other friends from the Chicago area; Matthew Sargent and Kathryn Talmo. Once diner was done however, Amy had an army to finish painting and I had plans to steal more cake, however, right outside the restaurant we ran into Robe Guy, Jen and their pose (other Adepticon friends) with whom we stopped to chat. I introduced Amy to them and when she pointed out she had figs that needed painting Jen organized a painting party. I fetched some cake from the Malifaux room and we hung out in the lobby of the hotel, drinking, chatting and eating cake while about four or five Golden Daemon winners were slapping paint on daemonettes. Not a bad way to end an evening.

Friday, April 1st

More shopping! Got to drink with the Steamforged Games people, essentially threatening to make no purchases if they wouldn’t have some maple whiskey with me. Then proceeded to get myself a full team of Guild Ball figs (in the spirit of trying new games). This pretty much meant I couldn’t afford a Tau titan from ForgeWorld but that’s fine. Next year.

 Stuff I bought. Mostly.

Stuff I bought. Mostly.

Tried to finish as much of my shopping as possible before getting my models for the 40K Friendly tournament.

NOTE: The 40K Friendly tournament is really how Warhammer 40K is meant to be played. Not as a die hard, kill-kill-kill game of complex strategy and tactics but as a beer-and-pretzel event that’s more about bringing people together and creating epic moments together.

I got assigned to team Pink which was fine until I noticed all my buddies were in team Red. This would not do. I traded my bandana with someone from the proper team and joined my buddies (Robe Guy and Amy) and started drinking cider to celebrate the upcoming war.

I… don’t remember all my games that well. The event was almost a month ago and I was a little smashed for my first game. I do remember that I had a freakin’ awesome time. All my opponents were chill and a good time to play against. I think I won one game, lost another and got a draw on the third? But who cares. As always, the organization for this event was top notch and I don’t think anyone had a bad time. After that, we did registration for the 40K Team Tournament and went to diner.

Saturday, April 2nd

Early awakening! Saturday is always the first day of the 40K Team Tournament, which means that we needed to setup our display table and bring all our models and be ready for judgement by 7h30 or something horrendous like that.

Dominique, our team strategist, had been in charge of putting together our display board and he knocked it out of the park. Now, one of the things you need to understand about our team is that we don’t go to Adepticon to win Best General or Best Overall. We go to win Best Appearance or Best Theme and Presentation. We try to make pretty things because anyone that would want me on their team has abandoned the dream of tactical victory long ago. Also, we aim for a prize that puts a lot of value in the display board and presentation of the models, yet, we travel by plane. This means we need to fit display boards that can go up to 4 feet by 4 feet, are fragile and complex, into a few luggage that get tossed around. To say we start with a huge handicap isn’t giving this particular hurdle the respect it deserves.

The judges were apparently impressed and congratulated us on our work and we spent the time before the first game admiring other teams’ work and fielding questions about our own miniatures. It’s an ego boosting part of the event and a good time to get ideas from what everyone else has been up to.

The games were very much on par with what I expect from Adepticon. The first day is more vicious. As team captain and owner of our team’s Lord of War, I always faced the opponent’s Lord of War. So that meant I saw a lot of Imperial Knights and Eldar WraithKnights. Yay… The first games of any tournament is where you will fight the cookie cutter armies and this year was no exception. Our second game was a particularly good example of why I don’t play for ‘victory at all cost’. Teamed with my brother, we faced an army of Eldar Jetbikes with Scatter lasers on all of them, AKA the meta list du jour. The game was still fun and my brother gutting an intact WraightKnight with his badly damaged DreadKnight in the closing turns was worth more than any victory in my book, but it’s part of what to expect in tournaments. For a game that tries to foster creativity and imagination, the average player is surprisingly willing to bend to the status quo if it helps win games.

The more stressful portion of the day for me wasn’t the games. I play 40K for fun, so the results matter little as long as I can kid around with my opponents and build fun memories. No, the stress came from getting little news or feedback about our performance in the judgement of our team’s appearance (the models, not the team members). Usually, by the middle of the second game, we know if we made the first cut. However, it was already late in the third game before one of the organizers, Matt, showed up with our invitation to the showcase later that evening. The showcase, an event in the lobby area of the convention centre that allows teams to display their models and boards, is an invitation only affair and it’s pretty much how you know your team has made the first cut as far as appearance is concerned.

So as soon as we were down with our games, we scrambled to repeat the mad dash of putting together our display board and showing off our models. Usually, we tend to hang around and look at the judging, trying to get a feel for how well received our work would be. This year, because of a combination of hunger and exhaustion, we decided to leave it up to fate and go out to diner.

My plan was to come back in time to take some photos of the other display boards, but alas, the service at the RAM was rather slow and by the time we were back, although we did have time to take photos, I was much more invested in chatting with organizers about what they really look for when judging the various armies and forgot to do the photo shoot.

What we did manage to accomplish though, while waiting for Matt and other judges to stop hovering around our display, was come up with the most important details of our plans for That’s right; we already know what we’re doing for next Adepticon! No more last minute planning and painting. I hope.

At this point, after the display had been taken apart and models put away for the night, Phil, Amy and I decided the time was right to hunt for some kind of party or at least an opportunity to drink with friends. As if the Bat Signal had summoned him, Jason showed up and we managed to find a spot in the hotel lobby where we could hang out and chat. That’s where we also found Booze Kart Jimmy; the Hero of Adepticon. I’m not the kind of guy who gets drunk for fun. Being drunk isn’t fun in and of itself, but drinking with friends, late into the night as we chat about the convention’s events and happenings and just bond as gamers, that’s what Adpeticon is all about. I don’t want to think about how late we went but I’m glad I remember most of the evening (I’m told this was not the first time I’d met Jimmy) even though I did partake of a drink called a Roofiecolada. No idea what’s in it.

Sunday, April 3rd

The last day of Adepticon is always bittersweet. Get up, play a couple of games to cap off the tournament, finish any last minute shopping, collect prizes if any and then celebrate in whatever way seems most appropriate.

Tradition was already broken; we tend to plan our next years army during our closing diner after the award ceremony, but we’d already taken care of all that, so we knew things would be different.

The games were kind of great. The first one I played had Lady Luck standing on our side of the table. Most everything that could go right for our team did and since it was all about bad dice rolls, both teams took the results of the game in good humour. To say the game had started in our favour was an understatement; my Imperial Knight got rid of his equivalent on their team before they got a second turn. That set the tone for the rest of the match.

On the flip side, our second game pitted us against an aggressive Alpha Strike Tau/Necron combo to which we lost the initiative. That match was over in less than three turns which was a little sad considering the other half of my team were having what looked like the most entertaining and extended battle of the con. Still, the early finish gave us plenty of time to pick up our figs and pack up our stuff. That way we could relax until the awards ceremony.

Now, I forgot to mention that my friend Amy had won the prize for best overall cake in the Malifaux Cake Match and she had been rubbing our faces in it for most of the event. So you know I NEEDED to win something at this point. Especially since the acrylic and wood plaques of previous years were now replaced by awesome metal medallions in felt boxes.

I’m not sure why, but this year, we were all a lot more relaxed about the whole thing. I think we knew inherently that we were walking away with something. Anything. Even Phil who was going through this for the first time did so with much confidence. I’m glad to report that we did walk away with Best Appearance, which seems to be our specialty at this point. There’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes from receiving that medal and shaking the organizers hands that makes the effort of putting together these models and armies worth while.

We decided not to go to the RAM this time, after the relatively bad service we had gotten the previous night but instead wound up at a place called Level 257. I’ve been told it’s like a Dave and Buster but since I have no idea what that means I’ll compare it to Blips and Chitz from Rick and Morty. It’s a restaurant with an arcade. We asked for a table for eight and had to wait for something to clear up, so we hung out at the bar. Amy, who had accompanied us after winning for best costume for Malifaux (rubbing our faces in her second medal) got complimented on her Steampunk goggles by the bartender who then commented on her Overwatch jacket, so she handed him some business cards for both the podcast and her cosplay business. This came in handy later on as during our meal, the waitress gave each of us a free 2 hour play card for the arcade, courtesy of the bar tender.

Sunday night was tame by all accounts. We played at the arcade, then went to play some boardgames. Phil and I had a late flight but most everyone else were getting up early, so very few people were in the mood to do too much.

As every year for more than half a decade now, Adepticon has been more than I expected it to be. Every year, my hopes for the event get lower as the memory of how much fun this con is fades. Every year I’m surprised by how amazing the people, the games and the general atmosphere is at Adepticon and every year it seems to get better.

I look at other cons, some who boast about how big they are, other that brag about how intimate they’re meant to be, and none compares to the feeling of community and family that I get from Adepticon. Not just from all the friends I get to hang out with but even strangers I’ve never meant. For the most part, if you’re at Adepticon, for the duration of those four days, you’re my friend, and we’re going to have a  good time.

Here, have some photos.

JF

40K Friendly photos

Our 40K Team Tournament army and display

Other armies and displays

Game photos