I am just back from my first Smogcon, and despite the fact I’m totally knackered, I am super enthused. So how did it go?
Well, the original plan was to take my Cygnar into the Iron Gauntlet, but neither of those things happened. It became apparent a couple of months ago I would struggle to finish my Swans in time, and less than half way through painting the Storm Lances we brought a house, and my painting enthusiasm crashed hard. Personally, I blame the number of rivets on those horses.
Anyway with a month to go and a local tournament to attend, I switched back to my elves. Although I lost two out of three of those games, this tournament actually went better than I expected, so a few weeks later pixies and myrmidons were packed for their first flight to the UK. As an aside, anyone travelling with an army by plane of the first time should check out Menoth John’s video on the subject here.
The boss even put together a new dicebag for me and embroidered the same Retribution logo onto a polo shirt so the rest of the Warmachine geeks would be appropriately jealous.
After I few minor adventures I signed in on the Thursday evening and was presented with a lanyard, three smogcon dice, and a really nice printed Steamroller pack.
Happily I meet some most pleasant Norwegians, and then got a really poor night’s sleep (I never sleep well in hotels). And then after doing the ninja bit in the Cerberus store; this muppet was already to hit the Iron Arena, and hit it hard!
I know a lot of competitive players travelled to Smogcon purely for the tournaments, but I think they might have missed the point. The Iron Arena was the convention’s casual play area where you could play games and earn points to get swag, such as widgets, dice, or colour art prints.
And the term ‘casual’ might be subjective. A lot of really really good players were swimming around the Iron Arena rooms, a little bit like very sporting sharks. Normally I would give you guys a blow by blow summary of each game, but I played seven games on the Friday so a summary of the whole day would make more interesting reading.
I lost a lot.
Okay, maybe more detail is in order. I spent most of the day playing Ravyn, eVyros and Rahn’s “Fires from on High” tier list (to earn extra points). Although I didn’t deserve it, Ravyn beat Siege in my first game, and then the mammoth losing streak began. This said, I played against Convergence for the first time (ended badly); played against Bradigus run by probably one of the best player’s I’ve ever played, Martin Bray from Epic Flail (ended badly); saw Hyperion and two heavies disappear in a 75 point game in two activations (also ended badly); and rolled four ones on an assassination run with Rahn (which again, ended badly).
On the plus side I learned a lot and at two o’clock in the morning I emptied my Iron Arena points and picked up some widgets, although the artwork was tempting. I also decided that the Rahn list was not working out, so to prevent myself doing it again, I entered my Phoenix into the P3 Painting Competition. I did not win of course, but PP’s Studio Manager, Ron Kruize, said some nice things about my entry, although he had a stinking cold so he probably just being kind.
Somewhere amongst all of this I also managed to sit in on a Doug Seacat presentation about the state of the Iron Kingdom factions which was also really entertaining. I suspect the Trollbloods are about to suffer a severe kicking in the next Hordes book.
And then there was the keynote, but other people will cover that…
My original plan for Saturday was to compete in the Iron Gauntlet, however sleep deprivation plus my old age kicked in, and judgement being the better part of valour, I dropped out and went straight back into Arena. This was a good move because I had some incredible games during the day.
As Iron Arena encourages you to play different types of games, I got in a handful of 15 point games and a 35 pointer. I was a little gutted to miss out of the special ‘black’ PP focus tokens; however my four Griffon, one Apsis, Epic Vyros list worked like a dream. It’s possibly a little unfair, however it was damn fun, especially in the game against the Thagosh and two heavies list played by Chris Fergusson from Chorley Knights. I even managed to beat a Runes of War Trollblood list for the first time ever by crafty use of Bird’s Eye and Synergy.
By midnight, I had played another eight games. Although none of them were timed, I suspect I was playing faster. Of course, skipping lunch probably helped. Food and sleep are not for serious Iron Arena players.
After some rest and repacking my bags, I was ready for a third day in the pit. I had one game organised prior to arriving against another former Sad Muppet (and ex President no less), Dan Cave. Although all of my games over the weekend were really fun, this one was one of three that really stood out. Dan had Epic Serevus and I decided I had had enough of Ravyn, and rotated Ossyan in. As it happens, Houseguard Halberdiers move damn fast with Quicken, and Retribution grunts are really bad at killing each other.
To top off the sweet victory against my friend (sorry Dan), we also had Podcasting Legend, Menoth John, playing behind us with his rather pink Trollbloods and rather pink Mountain King. Instead of getting all gushy about the great work he puts into entertaining the community and the pretty army he painted, I’m just going to say “RAHN!”.
To finish the weekend, my final game was against Firestorm Games‘ Rob West and his ‘simple to play’ Terminus list. This is another fantastic game where I screwed up my feat. Terminus then turned into a undead tank, failed to assassinate Ossyan and got thumped by Hyperion.
After this, I chilled for the rest of the day, which might have been a mistake because there were only two factions I did not play against, Khador and Retribution (oh the irony!). Although I didn’t realise anyone was tracking this stuff, I managed to get the sixth highest points total in the Iron Arena, playing 17 games in total. This sounds impressive, however Sherwin Matthews from Chelmsford Bunker topped the table playing 23 games which is quite insane. Still, I took some swag home…
A massive shout has to go to Jon Webb and all of the organisers for putting on such a great event, and in particular Kurt Hanson who managed to remember who I was by the end of the weekend. And I would also like to thank everyone I played, or even spoke to during the weekend, you are all super super cool and I had a complete blast.
As I can’t make Iron Moot in Göteborg in August, I’m already scheming a return to Smogcon in 2016, although I need to plan the return trip better next time…