After a great first year last year, me and some mates immediately decided to go back to LnL Germany this year. With almost 200 people attending, this year was proving to be even better than last year, so we happily got in the car and went on a road trip.
This year saw the official launch of the 3rd edition of Warmachine and Hordes, a much anticipated event. With a carefully orchestrated ramp-up that would peak at the keynote, streamed live on sunday morning (more of which later). At least, that was the plan. As most of you will know, the leak that landed all the cards on the internet a couple of weeks before the big event meant that most people had the new cards with them on their phone, tablet or even printed out and put into neat little sleeves.
It led to a very strange vibe on the con, where the top tournaments were only half filled (because everybody would rather play Mk3 than yet another tournament in a dead edition). You can’t put your finger on everything that was wrong in Mk2 (by explaining in great depth in insiders how you changed these things) and still expect people to be enthusiastic about playing the old edition. The Iron arena on the other hand apparently was a strange mix of old and new, but jam packed for 3 days straight.
Although I understand the whole reasoning behind the saturday night (in Seatle) launch, I still can’t understand why they decided that was the best idea. People who were interested in competitive play were going to play the masters and the Iron Gauntlet no matter what. Now they forced more casual gamers to only be able to play Mk3 games on the saturday. In some way, I think the spoiling of the cards has saved the con for a lot of folks (a friend of mine was actually contemplating going to see the town on saturday, because he wasn’t interested in Mk2 anymore and couldn’t be bothered to play with a PDF from a phone).
Painting and Modeling workshops.
The main part of the weekend for me. I got to do 4 workshops during the weekend (thanks again, Alexander and Dirk for trusting me with this). There was a separate room, close to the shop for this, with a painting table and a modeling table that was open for all players. I was very happy to see that both tables were occupied most of the time. Modeling and painting is a bit of a sore point in WMH conventions. There is an idea that people are only interested in the game at cons and I was very happy that Ulysses decided to give this aspect of the hobby its own dedicated place.
The first workshop I gave was "repositioning your model". With a full table, this was a big succes. People brought their models and made them into really cool reposes or conversions. Going from a charging marauder over a leaping Nephilim swordsman to a Hellion, wrapped around a piece of terrain. It was great to see how everybody had a great time, came up with some really cool ideas (I might steal that Marauder idea one day) and, most of all, that the results were stunning.
The second workshop was "building an epic base. same overwhelming turnout as the first one, with even greater results. We went through all kinds of different basing materials, until we landed on the Hirst Arts bricks that I brought with me... Let’s just say that it more than lived up to its reputation as "gaming crack". The workshop was on saturday morning and all day long, people were coming back to build some more bases.
The third workshop was all about scratchbuilding weapons out of plasticard and cardstock. To be honest, this was the workshop for which you need the most practice. Carving a weapon out of plasticard is rather daunting, especially the first time you try it. The end results really impressed me. Cool weapons, all different, that really fitted the jacks or casters that they were meant for.
The last workshop was a bit different. We built a bunker out of styrofoam. Partly due to the fact that this workshop was planned on sunday morning (when people had just recieved their brand new books and faction decks), this was the least busy workshop I gave during the weekend. People had a lot of fun, though and you could see them discover a whole new part of the hobby.
All in all, the workshops were great. Phantasos studios also did some painting workshops, which were just as jam-packed as mine. Once again, I’m really happy about the great support for painting and modeling that the organisers gave.
What was supposed to be the pinnacle of the weekend was the keynote. Despite of the absurd timing of the keynote, There was a very big turn-up on sunday morning at 6AM, with some of the people even coming down in their bathrobes. The anticipation in the room was great. Everybody was excited about the keynote. And then it started. And ended a few minutes later...
My excuses for being blunt, but the keynote was an absolute shame. No spoilers, nothing about Mk3, nothing real about the new hordes faction (3 drawings really don’t count). Just an announcement about the fact that there will be a lot of new books we will be buying in the future.
The reasoning behind all of this apparently was that PP thought people would like to get their hands on the Mk3 stuff as fast as possible, so they made the keynote as short as possible. Seriously? You can’t let people wait for Mk3 until saturday night, because of a tournament that a majority of the people atending don’t really care about and then claim that you deliberately made the keynote extra short so people wouldn’t have to wait. It was one of the biggest fumbles and disappointments that I have seen from PP in the last years. Especially with the huge build-up towards the keynote.
And that brings us to my last nag about the weekend: the (lack of) support from PP. I can imagine that a short keynote isn’t that bad when al your fans have been able to look at the previews that the artists have shown all weekend long in Seattle, but sadly PP doesn’t want to send anybody to Europe for this. I actually found more sneak peaks on people’s facebook pages than in the keynote. The same goes for what was sold.
Yes, there were books, battleboxes (in limited numbers and without the English rules) and faction decks this year. And yeas, this was a big step-up from last year, when there weren’t even any English books available. But very sadly, there were no pre-releases. It’s just one of the examples that give you the feeling that PP still doesn’t take Europe too seriously. And that makes me sad. It’s as if everything they do in the organisation of LnL is completely focused on the one in America.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it was a briliant con. Great people, fantastic organisation. And I got to meet a lot of friends from all over Europe again. But PP didn’t have too much to do with it. And that’s a pity. Especially when they put the official Lock 'n' Load name on it.
Of course, these are my thoughts. I’m looking forward to hearing yours. You can find me on twitter @tmsmnns
I would also like to thank Norbert Brunhuber, Graham Howe and the people at Page5de for letting me use their pictures from the weekend.