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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Daffcon

I've been planning on writing a short blurb on Daffcon since I attended but have been very busy lately, so I apologize for the delay. For those who do not know, Daffcon was a convention at Firestorm in Cardiff that was focused around small games (defined as game companies from Wyrd and smaller basically). It is the brain child of Mike Marshall and follows his philosophy apparent to those of us who are avid listeners to Fools Daily. This was the first year for the convention but Daffcon II has already been confirmed for Aug 2017.

I had an absolute nightmare of a Thursday and the train ended up being delayed for almost 2 hours due to a train failure ahead of us so we were stuck sitting on it in a station for ages. Didn't end up getting to our Air B&B location until after midnight.. So not a great start. Was worried about getting up early the next day, but ended up being alright. And we were only about a 15 min walk from Firestorm, so that was great. Warning: There are going to be a lot of photos in this article. I took a lot during the weekend, and it was three days of solid gaming.

Day One:
Started the day off with breakfast at the really nice cafe near the gaming venue, too bad it wasn't open on weekends, as I would've liked to go back. I had two events for this day, OGAM (which I had never played) and Frostgrave (I had played one game). I was also hoping to play some demos if there was time, but this was my busiest day of the weekend so Saturday seemed more likely for demoes.

OGAM:
This picture was taken near the end of the game when our gods faced off for the first (but not last) time.
There were only three of us signed up for the event, so Spooner begrudgingly stepped up to play as well as run the event. Other than him, none of us had played the game before. After seeing eachother at many malifaux events over the last couple years and almost ending up facing each other in the UK Masters Final (sadly blu tack took both of us down) I finally got to face Connor Barker in a game to prove once and for all who spells the name correctly! Sadly I forgot the Cerberus model I was using as my Lion God back at the hotel. Luckily Connor had his The Sow proxy. So now I was all in on worshipping the pig god. I believe Connor was using Pan as his Greek God. Had an absolutely awesome game, was absolutely hilarious as my heroes got cut down immediately but the pig god stormed back to singlehandedly win the game! All hail the pig god!  Connor was great fun to play against and OGAM was as fun (or more) as I had hoped.

His god and a unit of fanatics that did a lot of praying



The pig god stands alone, having vanquished his opponent for a second (and final) time

Next I faced off against the other player in the event (I am sorry I can't remember your name!). He was borrowing an Egyptian army of Mike Marshall's that was wonderfully painted by our own Eless. Had another cracking fun game, and at least my heroes did a bit more this game (though they do seem to be a bit underwhelming. I started slowly grinding his units down my heroes and my god while his good had gotten kind of stuck slowly killing my archers. The game basically ended with his god charging my unit of mortal spearman, managing to lose the combat by enough to kill him and then rolling a 1 when a 2+ would've kept him alive. Those mortals will live in legend forever for the day they killed a god. I think 3 or 4 of his units failed morale and ran off the table at that point and he had no units large enough left to bring back the god so that was game.
my god had just wiped a unit of his mortals, his god was failing to do the same.

The state of the board after his god died and most of his models ran off the table

Due to only having 4 players I won the event at 2-0 for the first trophy of Daffcon. More importantly I had to awesome, relaxed games and am super excited to play more OGAM in the future. Such good silly fun. Now I just gotta get my actual god model painted.. Since there was time for a 3-round event, we decided to take a substantial lunch break and then reconvene for a demo of Dragon Rampant.

Dragon Rampant:
Spooner was nice enough to provide enough models (he loaned me his japanese forces and played Normans himself) to demo Dragon Rampant for me (and several other people who watched at least parts of it). I really liked the game, even though we played without adding any special rules to the models so I didn't get to see how that compares to the customization of OGAM. But the core rules are great and I have been missing playing army-scale games. Looks like I may have found the rule set to bring my Lizardmen models back onto the tabletop. This was also the first time I got to see Spooner's legendary luck in person as he continuously bucked the law of averages to fail morale and fail to move. I should mention that the activation mechanic in Dragon Rampant (and OGAM) of units failing to do something causing a turnover to the opponent is a mechanic I really enjoyed in both game. So dragon Rampant is another game I look forward to trying again.
Battle Lines are set and advances have been made

The japanese are victorious!

Frostgrave:
Frostgrave event was a 3-game campaign where trophies were given to whoever had the most experienced wizard and whoever had the most treasure tokens captured. I played my Lizardmen as a warband lead by a Soothsayer. This was my first time playing frostgrave scenarios, which really did make the game more entertaining. Game 1 I faced off against Chris Holloway, another friend made through the malifaux scene, and his vampires (Necromancy I believe). Loved the models in his crew. Definitely one of the best parts of frostgrave is the modelling opportunities. Game 1 there were 4 teleporters with treasure on them the flipped you to a random teleporter when you stepped on them. Since their was exp for wizards who did this, I Immediately stepped on one and found myself facing my entire opponents warband... oops.
Not a good start...

Can you see the fear in his eyes?
Surprisingly he did survive. It was a hilarious game and definitely my favourite scenario of the three. I captured a couple treasures and got some decent experience, using the levelling up to buff some of my spells in time for game two.

The giant slug (Huggy) tying up his forces while I go for the treasure
This game was a much more traditional game, where we set up our own treasure (I got 4 due to my spell succeeding before the game to give me an extra one). Also a giant Slug turned up right in front of my opponents crew. Although I had fun, this game started to show some issues of the game to me as we each managed to grab our treasure and get it off the board while the opponent typically couldn't get close enough to stop it. Also my cheap archers seemed to be carrying missile launchers as they killed my opponents wizard and several other models. Shooting seems a bit overpowered compared to combat as the damage output is the same but their is no risk of it backfiring like combat can.

My final game was an even better example of the issues I was starting to have with frostgrave as my opponent and I pretty much never came within 12" of eachother. The stupid Genie coming up and being more or less unkillable to me lead it to be a boring game where the only real interaction was his wizard taking control of one of my models (mind control) a couple times. But in the end I still got my 4 treasure off the board.

All three of my opponents were great and Mike ran a really fun event. That being said I think Frostgrave was the disappointment of the weekend for me. There were too many issues I had with the mechanics of the game (victory conditions, D20 swings etc) that I thought really took away from the excitement. I may try doing a campaign at home with Philippa, but of all the games I played at Daffcon, Frostgrave is definitely the one I was least impressed with.

Friday Evening:
So after grabbing some dinner at GBK post-frostgrave we came back and played games with some of our friends from the Malifaux scene. Skulls and Cash and Guns. Skulls was good fun as always. Cash and Guns was hilarious (my first time playing it) and highlights include Oz shooting himself in the head turn 1 for some reason, and me winning the first game and then immediately being shot to pieces in the second game. Was an awesome way to end the day, although I do kind of wish it had been open a bit later (I believe it closed at 11?)

Day Two:
Saga:
So after eating breakfast at Wetherspoons (yuck) due to previously mentioned cafe being closed (despite the website saying they were open on saturdays) it was on to the only event of the day: Saga. I'd actually played 2 games of Saga before this, so it was my second most played game of the weekend (guildball being first). When we got there our opponents had already started, so philippa and I got to face off first, which was great. There were only 4 of us but we did end up doing a 3-game event anyway just to get some more games in.
Pippa's got her game face on! Readying her Vikings to charge.
My archers right before they get wiped out...

The battle rages

All that stands alive at the end of the game
I managed to squeeze the tiniest of victories over Philippa by wiping out slightly more of her army than she did of mine. Was a super awesome game. Also my first game playing at 6 points and using my Blackguard unit. They were incredible throughout the event and definitely my key unit (which they should be considering they cost half my total points).

Game 2 really wasn't looking good by this point...

Next I faced Jimmy and his Skraelings. They are a super cool (and filthy) army that could copy my abilities and also remove my access to some of my abilities. Losing Song of Drums really hurt as I am super reliant on it. Also his having endless reinforcements was rough as his army's main weakness is it's resiliency. Was a rough matchup that looked like it was gonna be a massacre at first.
The Blackguard continued their heroic stand.. but couldn't quite last long enough
I ended up losing a very close drawn battle as my blackguard needed to survive until turn 9 to win me the game (as everything else that was scoring was dead by then) and finally fell after 8 straight turns of battle a turn before victory. Was an absolutely awesome game, so much fun.
My blackguard right before they wipe out his unit to finish the game

My final game I took on another new army, I believe Anglo-Saxons. This one was table quarters with both sides having endless warband rule. I think this was my favourite scenario of the day. It was another close battle that I managed to win by 1 or 2 points, and again the Blackguard were quite good (although not quite as amazing as the first two games). After 3 games of Saga Jimmy and I were both 2-1 (as Philippa beat him in the final game) so we had a dice off for 1st place which I won, giving me my second trophy of the weekend :). This event really increased my love of Saga and I am definitely excited to get my force painted and start playing more locally. I know this was also philippa's favourite event of the weekend as well (though not favourite part of the weekend... see below)

Gaslands:
Another friend via Malifaux, Mike Hutchinson, had been demoing his upcoming Osprey game Gaslands throughout the weekend and I was keen to play. So after Saga had finished we decided to get a game in, though we went into town for some coffee and went to check out the castle first. When we came back we started a 6 player game which was split into 3 teams of two. Again it was a chance for a bunch of friends from the Malifaux community to face off. Philippa and I vs Panzer and Rob Smith vs Dave Brown and James Doxy. Panzer and I have still never faced off in malifaux so this was our first chance to take eachother on in a game. Which of course lead him to set up his car directly behind mine and go out of his way to try to take me out...

Here I am being T-boned by Panzer basically right out of the starting gate...
This game is fantastic. One of my favourite multiplayer games I've ever played. It was absolutely hilarious, the mechanics were super interesting and funny (I'm terrible at choosing templates...). A lot of us (myself included) had been drinking for a while at this point which just made it even funnier. Really it's hard to say enough about how much fun I had playing this. It was absolutely the highlight of the weekend for both Philippa and I. The relaxes atmosphere, combined with the banter and the cool game mechanics (and Panzer screwing over friend and foe alike..) really made for an awesome way to spend the evening. Will definitely be getting this for playing with friends at home joining the rotation of board games.

And here I am at the end of the game attempting to take revenge on him.. sadly it failed and he killed me
After Gaslands we went and grabbed some late dinner (the hall closed at 9 so we couldn't stay and play more games :( ) before heading home and crashing. Everyone was exhausted by this point so we thought better of going out as it was another early morning for me the next day
Day Three
Guildball:
On to the game I had played the most prior to Daffcon (only about 10 games though...). I had been excited to play Guildball all weekend as I finally had a fully painted team, and I was really happy with how it looked so wanted to get it on to the table. Sadly I had no time to get a fun game of it on Fri or Sat, but now I would have a chance for 3 games of Speedball. Speedball was definitely weird, as it force me to not put as much inf on Shark as their just wasn't enough time to make 6 attacks during the 1 min activation when he would be moving around between each attack. Was still a load of fun though.
Set up for game 1
Game 1 was against Brewers, a team I had done well against in my only other game vs them. This game ended up being a bit of a massacre as I received and had Angel score turn 1 (as usual).  My opponent then sent Friday and Tapper to go deal with her turn 2, but she managed to escape enough to live. Shark then scored turn 2 as the kickoff form Angel's goal had not been helpful for him... Being up 8-0 by end of turn 2 was a bit rough for my opponent and it didn't get any better.
This was how the board looked turn 2 after Angel had scored and Stave had lob barreled Shark
Right before Shark finished the game with his 2nd goal of the game. Dodged away from all the brewers and scored
He did manage to collect the ball this time, but Shark dove into the center of his team (surrounded by Stave, Hooper, Spigot, and Friday. He managed to survive a few attacks by Hooper before activating dodging to grab the ball, dodging some more and then taking a shot at the goal to win it 12-0. Sadly this meant that I was gonna be on the top table for the next game against someone who had actually played competitively a fair bit.

Set up after kickoff
Ugh. Butchers :P Probably the matchup I have struggled with most. This was also the game where the clock played the biggest factor as their was a moment where I normally couldve gotten the ball and scored with Shark, but it would have taken a lot of careful placement and measurements and their wasn't time for that. As time was running out on that activation I charged with Angel only to realized unpredictable movement on Brisket made that completely pointless. At that point I realized I had lost the game. Brisket then scored, I got the ball back and scored with Shark. He took out Kraken with Ox and Boar and then Shank scored. So the game was 10-4 and when he won iniative for the next turn Boiler easily finished off Angel to finish it 12-4. Really enjoyed the game and my opponent was awesome but was kicking myself for the unpredictable movement mistake. That's Speedball for you tho.
Right before Boiler kills Angel to end the game

Deployment to start game 3
Due to my 12-0 in game one, I still ended up on table 2 in the next game and had to face another good player with butcher :P Yuck. This one actually went even worse than the first game as I just constantly failed to get the ball of Brisket. The time constraints played a part in that, but I also just played sloppy and was possibly too aggressive. That being said when Ox put armour on brisket she was a 5/2 against me... which meant it was really tough to get the ball, and I have no way of winning without it. Was really some high level play from my opponent there. I ended up down 10-0 at one point before Shark scored and he took out a final player for another 12-4 loss to butchers.
Right before Boar takes out Angel to win the game.
My opponents from Games 2 and 3 met in a finals matchup to determine the winner of the event and the first butcher player I faced one (sorry I forgot to write down everyone's name!). Was really nice to get to play some guildball with my painted team, and face some players who aren't super new to the game. It really energized me to play more guildball after daffcon (which I have). Especially when you add the fact that Philippa got a brewers starter in the daffcon VIP bag (I got Union) and so we've now started playing at home.

Mythos:
After grabbing some lunch post-guildball, philippa and I decided to squeeze in a game of mythos. The labyrinth board was pretty cool and I really like the mechanics. Having cardboard cutouts rather than the actual models was a bit of a bummer, but they did at least have most of the models painted and on show in a display case. The game reminded me a lot of Arkham horror, which is a board game I love. I spent most of the game running away trying to score points while Philippa slowly wiped me out. Luckily I survived long enough to squeeze out a win.
I thought the board was really cool

Stupid giant crab! Go away!

Closing Thoughts:
After Mythos the weekend basically was done, as we went our for a coffee and by the time we got back the place had basically emptied. As for my thoughts on the experience: It was amazing. I had been to one gaming convention in Canada before I moved to the UK and it was an incredibly fun time. Daffcon compared very well. In some ways it was a lot better (more cool games) and in others it wasn't quite there yet (much smaller, much shorter days). This weekend was basically the perfect gaming weekend for me, as I got to play a ton of different games without any of the stress of competitive play. The demo pit was also really cool and I am already excited to see what ends up being demoed in it next year. I absolutely plan on coming again next year and am excited to see how the event grows and adapts from the experiences of this year.

Now I just want to cover some of the positives and negatives of the weekend.
Positives:

The swag bag for VIPs was absolutely incredible. I am still shocked at how much stuff was in there. If nothing else it could Pippa into Guildball and we've been playing that a fair bit at home since.

The events were really relaxed and flexible and everyone was super fun and friendly in them. The ones I played in were also all very new-player friendly (except possibly guildball due to the time constraints).

It was awesome just hanging out with so many friends. Also the bar at firestorm was surprisingly good. As was the food supposedly, but due to my allergies I didn't have any. 

Mike and Co did a fantastic job organizing and running the whole thing.

Negatives (or things to improve for next year):
The main negative of the weekend for me was the hours of operation. Firstly that before the event I had no idea what the evening times would be like, which made it hard to plan things for the evening, and secondly because other than friday it closed quite early. The 9pm shutdown on Sat night was particularly a bummer as I wouldve liked to hang out and play more games. Having clearer times advertised for the event next year would be great. Even more ideal would be seeing if we can extend the hours a bit later on Friday and Saturday. I don't know if this is possible, but it was the one bummer of the weekend for me.

Other than that I really can't think of anything that I would've liked to see differently. I just hope I can convince more locals to come out next year and join me as it was an absolutely cracking weekend. I can't say enough about how much fun I had, so thanks again to everyone who helped organize and run it :) 


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