04 June 2012

Telling about the NordCon, day 1

This weekend I was at the NordCon [linked content is in German], which is the largest gaming-convention around here. In this post I'll just tell you what I did and how much fun it was. No pictures though, as I was too busy having fun to get out my cell to document things. Except when I was a little drunk on mead and watching that ultra-hot fire-spitting/belly-dancing thing at night but that was because I was in third row and could only see things through holding up my phone... Anyway, let's get to the con-recap. This post might bore you, just as a forewarning.

So, first time at the NordCon as a paying customer. In recent years I have had my own stand, offering games of BrikWars with armies of Lego that I had built and provided for the convention-goers amusement. That went over quite well after I had made some posters denouncing the Warhammer-crowd in their own smelly gymn, going something like "tabletop-gaming too expensive and uncreative for you? Come play BrikWars with us!", games filled up nicely. The other times I have been at the NordCon I helped with preparations and clean-up, thus earning me the rank of a  helper and not paying entrance fees. Never got a T-shirt though, thus I was kind of disgruntled and decided that I'd not help this year (the fact that I was at that wedding in Swizerland the weekend before and got the dates somewhat mixed-up is the stronger reason but I like to play the grouchy ex-helper) and instead fully enjoy the convention as a regular goer.

Now, dressing up halves the entrance-fee but I lack the proper attire for that. I have no post-apocalyptic armour (even though I totally intend to craft myself one) and the LARPers with their pseudo-medieval clothes weird me out (with the exception of the sexy corsett-clad gothy chicks, of course). I could only don my Mongolian Ground Forces jacket (from an actual army-store in Ulaan Baatar!) and my Wacken 2011 T-shirt undearneath, which basically constitutes my nerd-wear, as my girlfriend has forbidden me from wearing my "Tentacle-Rape-Action!" shirt. Anyways, about a third of the convention-goers came dressed-up and they were lucky about the weather as it wasn't as hot as it was the past few years - you really don't want to wear a full mandalorian battle-armour or a felt-stuffed chainmail underneath a full plate all day in the summer. The weather was cooler but remained thankfully dry, good for all the stands that were in tents on the sports-field and the center yard of the school the convention was taking place in.

Arriving at the convention on Saturday my first goal was the bistro snack-shop situated in the tea-kitchen on one of the schools hallways, as I wanted to check if anyone I knew was volunteering there at the time. I was lucky, as a couple I'm friends with was there. As the convention was slow to start in the morning, I decided to hang around and soon another couple I know arrived with their baby. Sadly, none of us had a game with them to play. So I signed up for a two-hour game of Paranoia, a game I had intended to play for ages but never gotten around to. As I had some time to kill before the round would start, I decided to check out the sports-field so see if the LARPers were already going at it with their foam-swords. They were, albeit only a couple of them, and I also spotted a friend of mine involved in some medieval-dance workshop.

So, the Paranoia round started late as the GM had been stuck in traffic (which was heavy due to some demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in the city) and then he felt that character-creation was also important enough for his two-hour time-slot at a convention. It soon became clear that we would never finish in time, after three hours (out of two), with half the players gone off because they had signed up to other games, we finished the actual mission of the game in the remaining half-hour, as we had taken all of that time to create characters, get briefed and get to the mission-area. This may sound like a scathing criticism of the game but to be honest, it was okay. We really got worked up suspecting each other as traitors and trying to incriminate everyone around us so The Computer (the game-worlds mad deity) would like us. After that I found some friends playing a round of Pandemic, joined them (as the only one who had played the game before) and had some fun saving the world. After that we decided that the zombie-event that had premiered last year was the next worthwhile place for us to go to.

The zombie-event is probably the most fun to be had at a con' before you start drinking mead and ogle cosplaying chicks (or dudes, depending what you're into) later in the evening. It usually takes place in the smaller of the schools two gyms, which is on the upper floor of the building. Gymn-equipment gets set up as different sets of barricades and players recieve a Nerf-gun and some ammo. Upon the start of each round, players get seperated into zombies and suvivors, sent to opposing corners of the hall. Zombies may shuffle around and, in some special cases, crawl. Once they touch a survivor, the survivor has to freeze and the zombie has to say "Omm Nomm Nomm" upon the finishing of which, the survivor drops their weapon and joins the ranks of the undead. This process can be interrupted if the zombie is shot. Survivors may run around and scream, fire their nerf-guns at zombies and scrounge up darts lying around, frantically reloading their weapons and make desperate dashes across the playfield. When a zombie is hit by a nerf-dart, they need to go down and stay on the ground for five seconds that they themselves count (silently, you never know when they get back up). The survivors also have an item (a nerf-gun barrel with a glow-stick attached to it) that is the antidote. The antidote can be used by survivors to heal a downed zombie, making them human again. Recently returned humans are usually frantically trying to get away from the zombies as they usually don't have a gun ready and are often a) mistaken for zombies and thus a waste of ammo and b) used as ammo-gatherers for the other players.

Most of the times, the zombies won. Sometimes when I was the last survivor, cornered with a constantly-jamming gun (nerf-guns aren't good when used to frantically and with often-used darts), I'd shoot myself in the head for dramatic ending-effect. The quick-paced running back and forth was incredibly exhausting and after about 45 minutes, we decided to quit and go outside again. A friend of mine wanted to play in the booster-draft Magic the Gathering tournament but didn't find enough people willing to spend money on that with him, so we got outside and had some mead. I ran into some other friends of mine and we spent the rest of the evening playing Jugger, which is kind of a LARP-inspired football variety (and totally awesome) and, when it got too dark for that, went to the mead-tent to drink some mead and some a sheesha-pipe. The latter of which didn't happen, as we got distracted by the belly-dancing, fire-breathing team of dancers on the stage next to the tent doing their thing and turning the evening from great to incredible. Chain-whips are classy entertainment and when it's dark and they're on fire and in the hands of a scantily clad hottie, then there is no reason not to love the show.

With these impressions, I left towards home, as I had promised my girlfriend not to be too late. We had, however, set up an appointment to play Jugger again on the next day. My muscles were already aching from the unusual use of them but there aren't too many chances to do this over the course of the year so they'd have to deal with it. I love the NordCon.

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