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.