Smogcon 2015 – Part one.

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

The weekend just gone was a long one as it started on Friday at 06:30 when I headed out the door to attend my fist ever Smogcon.

Smogcon is the UK’s largest Warmachine/Hordes (WM/H) event, attracting 400 gamers from all around the world to the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel at Heathrow. Massive growth from its inception four years ago with 80 ish players at Firestorm games in Cardiff. The growth of the convention in the past three years obviously drew the attention of Privateer Press (PP) as they gave the con official recognition this year. PP’s commitment meant that the painting competition was the fist official P3 painting comp outside the USA, and that four members of staff from PP travelled across the Atlantic to attend the con.

I’m going to break things down into sections but I’ll be upfront and say I had a blast at Smogcon. I gamed, chatted and sat in on some staff panels over the weekend, the only thing missing was more sleep! But who really needs sleep when at a gaming event?

The Venue.

Well the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow is a four star hotel just outside Heathrow airport, so it was always going to be a bit posher than your average gaming location!


Now this does come at a price, but not an unreasonable one considering both the location and facilities that the hotel provides. Breakfast was included for both days I stayed, and there was plenty of choice and variety available. I didn’t eat lunch in the hotel, but the one evening I had curry I thought it was reasonably priced when taking in the location. Beer wasn’t cheap, but with 20% discount available it was in the expensive but ok range, and in truth I didn’t indulge to excess.

The rooms the games were held in were both large, and when the air conditioning was on, not too hot. The larger rooms when full were on the noisy side, but I didn’t have any real problems hearing what my opponent was saying, and it was normally possible to find a space in a smaller room if it did become too noisy. That’s the massive winning point of having an event on-campus so to speak, there are plenty of places available to play games, and still other areas where you can chill out and chat.

Overall I give a big thumbs up to the venue. As gamers we often complain about the cost of events and accommodation, but are willing to invest huge amounts in lead piles that many leave sitting in drawers and cupboards. I would have no qualms about booking in for another Smogcon at this hotel.

Privateer Press’s Involvement

Smogcon 2014 was a multi system convention held at two hotels in Guildford, so when it was announced that Smogcon 2015 would be PP only games it did cause a little bit of concern in the less tournament focused players. Personally I was unsure quite what the impact of having PP directly involved would be, I shouldn’t have been worried at all. PP’s support went far beyond simple branding and providing extra ‘goodies’ that some other companies may have done.

Every year PP have produced a keynote video teasing what is next for the game, and this has been shown at Templecon, a large convention run in late Jan / early Feb in the US. This year they unexpectedly ended that presentation on a cliff hanger, announcing the conclusions would be shown at Smogcon, something they hadn’t told the organiser of Smogcon ahead of time. In and of itself that may seem like a small thing, but I think it does show that PP have a more world wide focus than in previous years, and the EU players have shown that they have both the desire and interest to warrant such a viewpoint. I’ll post my thoughts on the contents of the keynotes a bit later.

The four staff members that came across spent a lot of time sharing any and all information they could. They ran four panels on both Friday and Saturday covering both the IKRPG and WM/H. I attended two, the first an introduction to the IK RPG unleashed game. From what I heard an saw I think this game looks really good. Even in the hour or so spent talking about it I could see lots of potential for role playing in the environment they have created. I can see another RPG book adorning my rules shelf once it is released. The second was a run down of how PP take a concept and turn it into a product on store shelves. This was also interesting, if not exactly earth shattering. What it did show is how immersed all the staff are in the game and company. They also fielded questions, with the thorny question of how and when do you decided an errata is needed. For me Will Shick’s answer to the veiled question of “why did you nerf my Circle” was both professional and honest, with a twist of humour thrown in.

When the staff weren’t talking in seminars, they were in and around the gaming rooms. They were always happy to stop and answer questions where they could. I played in one staff scramble where both Will Shick and Ed Bourelle rocked up to in an eight man, three game mini tournament. I was drawn v Ed in round two and had a really fun game, more of which later. Even as the convention was winding down on Sunday afternoon they were in the Iron Arena playing games. Couldn’t ask more from the representatives of the game if you ask me.

The Keynote video

The main gaming room at Smogcon was very full at 20:30 on Friday evening as everyone was ready to see what PP had in store for hordes in the coming year. Ok, after the news from Templecon that all the Warmachine factions were getting an new Colossal, I think most of us were expecting that the big news for Hordes would be new Gargantuans, and we were right!

The presentation itself was pretty cool, and it was fun to be amongst the first gamers to see the new models, and the Skorne Hydra is a very sexy model, nearly up there with the Arch Angel! The excitement in the room certainly seemed to say that most of the PP fans were excited for the next release of the big boys.

For those that kinda read the but in the above here it is, the whole idea of more huge based models does leave me a bit cold, especially in Hordes. Don’t get me wrong I think they are very impressive models, and they certainly catch the eye on the table. It’s just that I don’t think they fit into the way I play the game, or that well into the whole fury mechanic within Hordes.

Most of my WM/H gaming is either casual, or in local events that run at thirty five points. This means that a gargantuan is likely to be your only heavy warbeast, and that can spell trouble for you in certain match ups. The new legion beast looks interesting, but the art wasn’t as jaw dropping as the Arch Angel so it will all come down to it’s rules, though in truth I don’t think I’ll really get value out of a gargantuan if I did purchase one.

Well this has got pretty long, think I’ll save talking about my games for another post, brief though they may be.


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