30 October 2011

Pictures and report from SydCon 2011

This year’s SydCon was a mixed bag, even though I was only there during one of the days. The locale was imo better than last year - but I can't shake the feeling that everything not directly involved in the tournaments always seem to be covered in "depression".

I won't blame the convention guys as they are a nice friendly bunch who wants to make these events happen and make people happy. I've been to SydCon 4 times, taking part in a WHFB tournament once and the remaining times I've helped out to demo some games.

The first two years where it was still being held in Lund it did seem to draw a lot more people and attention. Last two years seem to have been troublesome and the convention is imo on a evident decline.

I think two things might have saved this year’s convention, the amazingly huge "Magic" tournament. I would dare to say that half of everyone in the locale was playing magic. The other was the Flames of War tournament and events. It was evident that Flames of War , though still small compared to GW games here in Sweden is on the rise. And it was such a contrast in dedication when it came to terrain and painting of miniatures between the 40k tournament and the FoW tournament crowd.

You can call Flames of War and their players a lot of things, but they sure as hell try to make their games look as good as possible. There is a screaming lack of imagination among the 40k crowd when it comes to tables and terrain. Mind you that most of the 40k stuff was supplied by local game clubs while a lot of the FoW stuff was supplied by private gamers - including my FoW buddy Thomas who loaned a lot of his terrain for the convention.

But apart from these competitive tournaments there is very little attraction to this event. It's not like small "indie" games are lining up to let people try out new stuff. There were 3 demo stations if you like to call them that. Strange Aeons, Incursion and a very nice Flames of War duo of tables, one holding a newbie demo, the other was running a reenactment of the Band of Brothers episode where the 101st are storming the artillery trenches in Normandy.

But not only was there a lack of alternative games and reasons to wander about and "look around", very few people showed any interest at all. There were a few people checking out the Strange Aeons terrain and miniatures but in actual demo games I only ran but 2. I usually get a feeling of which way the wind blows within an hour so I wasn't really shocked or pissed off at this. The guys trying out the game were nice, seemed to like the game and I explained stuff beyond the demo scenario. Of course I would have liked to make my stay more worthwhile, it was a lot of work to haul all that stuff down to Malmö for just 2 demos.

Which brings me to the conclusion that next year I will most likely not attend SydCon but try to take part in either GothCon or "Gubbspel Galore" up in Gothenburg. There seem to be more focus on diorama games and playing demo's up there which would make the long trip worth it.

The good things about SydCon were purely social, got to meet my buddies Calle and Thomas, got to meet Thomas buddy Patrik again who I think ran the FoW tournament and is just one big beacon of enthusiasm. Me and Calle upheld the tradition of going out to town to get something to eat only to get a probable food poisoning light. Wtf is wrong with Malmö when it comes to food!? We even ate at different food courts over at the train station.

I also met Peter who donated the train tracks for my Polish armored train and met a couple of fans of my blog (sorry guys for not asking your names but at that point I was feeling wasted by the food I had eaten)I did not buy anything except for 1 blister of Flames of War "single horse limber" for my Polish 37mm AT gun platoon. The surprising thing was that the pack includes 3 limbers, I always thought it was a single limber in the pack. Internet stores should provide better information about box/blister contents....

As for my final thoughts about SydCon, it is hard to tell how it can be improved, I do think they should focus a lot more on all kinds of tournaments since that seem to be the main attraction judging by the amount of Magic players in particular. I honestly don't think one demo game more or less will make any impact on the visitor or participant number. The visitors might also have been turned off by the very steep entry fee enforced in the early afternoon. Though I don't know the economical situation of the convention to make a fair judgement of that.


  1. Sucks that the demo didn't go over well. As for a con, it is all about the event and the people behind it. Money is theo ther factor, as the economy has tanked that has made people consider what events are worthwhile to attend, in the past they may have made several events in the year, now they are maybe only making one or two at most if any at all. You have travel to consider with location with miniature games also, if you have
    to haul a large amount of stuff or something you can pack into a single case also factors into it.

    Magic is easy as it is a pack of cards. A Warhammer army (more so Fantasy) takes up more space than 40k, FOW can take up less space depending on your army your taking.

    Last people are not really trying new things until they see they are mainstream. Example, Warhammer and FOW, you look around and there is tons of people playing, so new players are going to play a game they know has a "population", even Warmachine in the US is picking back up with their repackaging into plastics and update to the rules has gained some interest again. People don't want to spend money on models that won't get used or a game they are going to play a few times.

    I have tons of games sitting around that are paperweights now that I am trying to sell (and not with much luck)that are not longer mainstream or in print. Namely CCG stuff like 7th Sea, Star Wars stuff by Decipher, Wereworld and Vampire CCG cards among other stuff.

    Until the economy picks up and people have access to more disposable income, events are going to take some major kicks in the hide.

    I have also observed that an event like this should not call themself a convention but rather a tournament event as you said it was mostly Magic, FOW and Warhammer filling the game. A convention like here in the US like Dragoncon is about comic/TV/Movie guests signing autographs, art shows, costume contest, parties, dealer rooms, open gaming, tournament gaming and demo area among other things has always a ton of things to do. I think your call is right to consider the other event instead as that is less focused to gaming and into other things that could attract attention to Strange Aeons.

    I keep waiting for a moment to buy Strange Aeons myself but the money isn't there. I look at GW with the Necron release, the Tomb Kings and Ogres just came out. Also just sunk about $100 into LOTOW and want to get Gladiator and Legends of the High Seas but find money lacking right now. Between bills and holidays (travel and Christmas shopping) is going to grind any spending to nil until after the holidays sadly.

  2. Thanks for a very well written comment Styx :-)

    I too agree with everything you say. About the popularity and population of games being a major factor when people flock towards new stuff.

    From what I heard GothCon and Gubbspel are more "traditional" conventions like the ones you have in the states or in UK. From what I've heard SydCon used to be really huge but has been shrinking over the past years.

    It doesn't radiate that self assured "winners aura" which I think is important to assure both visitors, vendors and other people that it will be awesome enough to make it worth a long trip or to haul a lot of goods/demo material down with them. In past conventions we have run Incursion and SoTR demos with some success, but even that took a huge hit last year making it pretty redundant to bring along this year.

    I guess if I myself didn't have a huge interest in the games I play and build terrain for then I would perhaps be a lot more bummed out or even angry. As it is every miniature I brough along or piece of terrain is something I use myself at home for games I can't say building/painting the stuff which I had intented for the demo was a waste of time.

    Though attending the convention probably was. In the end I was sort of attached to Kulturkommissariatet who had a field store there as well, so at laest I didn't have to pay anything to get inside and have get a table. I wish however that I would have had a bit more space since I brought a lot of painted models for display to show the variation in units and such - but there was no room for that.

  3. Another thing that I have noticed as I am getting older (39 now) that my interest is slipping into other games with something different than Warhammer 40k and Fantasy. Strange Aeons, Legends of the Old West among other skirmish games have a campain element that sets them away from other games. I consider 40k, Fantasy, War Machine and such to be more competative games. While the other stuff is more of a mature style of gaming, closer group of friends less of player base but more enjoyable.

    Even when I worked for GW it is hard to "recruit" people into a game if you will. Someone walks in, you have to greet them, talk to them about the game, get them interested and then sell the game to them. About 95% of the people that would walk in would not buy anything or get into it....recruting for a new game I could imagine is harder.

    Personally, I think your setup was top notch and you can't be annoyed by anything about what you did and I feel if you go to a larger con you will enjoy it more.

    I sent an email to Aeons but they never responded if they are looking for those to demo their games at conventions. I would love to perhaps demo the game at Necronomicon here in Florida (gaming and horror con) that is very large and long lasting, perhaps the second largest behind Dragoncon.

  4. Have you registered on Lead Adventure Forum? Strange Aeons have their own subforum there where the owners frequently post news and reply to topics. You should ask over there, you will probably receive an answer quicker that way: http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?board=45.0


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