Adepticon: A First-Timer’s Perspective

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending Adepticon 2015, and here's a review of the experience from my varied perspectives, as a:

  • First time attendee who isn't a player of the flagship Adepticon games 
  • Terrain-building addict 
  • First time Adepticon game master 
  • Bargain hunter 

Thoughts as a First-Time Attendee
As an attendee, I have to say that the convention is very impressive. Even though I don't play any of the flagship Adepticon games (such as Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy, Flames of War, Warmachine or Hordes), I found a lot to like about this convention.

From what Tim tells me, Adepticon has recently widened it's scope to cover other sci-fi and fantasy games, and it showed this year. This expansion wasn't limited to some of the other big players like Reaper Miniatures, Mantic Games, Bolt Action and Infinity. There were demos and booths for small local games like Wreck Age, recent Kickstarter successes like Aetherium and Super Dungeon Explore, startups like Broken Contract, and a host of vendors selling all manner of Mminiature supplies and services.

To be fair, many of these ancilary companies were directly related to the "big" games, but there was still alot to enjoy.

I'll say right up front that the convention also did a bit to improve my views of the "big games." When we game at the FLGS, I invariably find the 40k tables to be loaded with unpainted, half-assembled miniatures. To the guy playing with three sets of unpainted dreadknight legs (just the legs): I'm looking at you. However, at Adepticon, the 40k tables were filled with wonderfully painted miniatures alongside good terrain and thematic boards.

I didn't take any pictures of them, but the Hordes (see what I did there...) of bare metal Warmachine miniatures seen on shop tables were instead replaced by lovely paint jobs showing off the incredible detail of these elaborate sculpts.

As an example of the variety, Tim, Mike and I were treated to a full guided game of SAGA, a historical Dark Ages warband combat game. The experience was extremely enjoyable, and as Tim has the rules, we will definitely be trying this game out again soon. Tim and I also played in a massive naval game that I'll review in a future blog post.

In the vendor hall, I had an excellent conversation with Mike of about his construction of this display at the Mantic booth. Note the interesting use of NERF guns and other toys.

Thoughts from the Terrain Addict's View
Much of my interest in attending was seeing what kind of terrain folks had constructed. Even if you're not a paying attendee, Adepticon is a joy to walk through just to see the variety of terrain on display, such as this amazing asteroid setup for Robotech.

We saw a number of terrain pieces based around common sizes of buckets combined with laser-cut wood MDF elements. I must find out more about this clever product.

I don't think this concept is quite fleshed out, but I plan to try a similar combination of Dust Tactics buildings and Mantic Battlezone pieces. I have a large quantity of Deadzone sprues on the way…

I won't be buying any Forge World terrain anytime soon, but there were a number of pieces that I photographed for future inspiration.

Thoughts as a Game Master
On Saturday morning Tim and I ran a game of Mech Attack. A full battle report will be coming soon. Here's a sneak peek...

As a judge, I was very pleased with my experience. The staff was very courteous and helpful. Tim and I were given free admission to the entire four-day event and each received one of full swag bags, which I will elaborate upon below.

Our room was off the beaten path, and we didn't have any sign-ups prior to the start of the game, but we had some good foot traffic and managed to rope in enough participants to have a good game.

The only downsides were the slightly out-of-the-way location, and the organizers forgot to make the mini-plaques for our game winner. However, the overall experience was very positive.

Mention must be made of the full swag bag, which is available to those who sign up relatively early. We submitted our event application before registration opened, so when it did, we were primed with our free admission voucher and were able to sign up in time to qualify for a full swag bag. Here's a peek at the contents:

  • Warmachine starter army
  • Mantic Mars Attacks Alien
  • Official Adepticon fantasy miniature
  • Special Edition Adepticon Victoria Miniatures Female Imperial Guard Officer
  • Aetherium Figure (actually a coupon to be redeemed for figure at their booth)
  • Issue of Wargames Illustrated
  • 2 Robogear Veritech Mecha on sprue
  • Reaper paint bottle, which just happens to be in a shade that I find very useful

Not pictured is the drawstring bag it came in and a batch of coupons for various services and vendors. The pirate captain figure is a freebie for participating in the naval game (which will get its own blog post later).

Conservatively measured (and not counting the pirate), that's well over $50 worth of stuff. Even though Adepticon offers free admission for those only looking to shop and look (but not play), I'd pay the $25 admission fee just for the loot!

Thoughts from the Bargain Hunter's Perspective 
Lastly, as any reader of this blog knows, when I go to conventions, I am always looking for real bargains. Most of the merchandise available was aimed at players of the "big games," and most of the discounts were only moderate. However, I still managed a few good scores at both the vendors and the after-hours open trading session. They call it "Bits Trading" but it's actually a free-for-all swap meet that takes place at 10 p.m. in the hallway.

Here's what I acquired at both venues. You can be the judge of how I did.

  • $7 for the Void VASA armored vehicle (1/3 of retail) 
  • 50 cents each for resin Hesco Barriers 
  • $8.50 for laser-cut plywood stairwells (2 big and 2 small sets... stairs are a pain to scratchbuild!)
  • $12 for the group of 40k figures and bits, 3 Lord off the Rings figures, 2 Copplestone musicians and a Void Junker
  • $10 for 3 Necromunda Orlock figures 
  • $20 for mounted Chaos Marauders on sprue. These are the previous edition figures without as many skulls. I've been looking for a deal on these exact figures for a long time. It would have been even better if it had contained the 11 figures the seller had said, but I'm not complaining. Anyone got two more to unload?

I'm sure someone with more interest in Games Workshop and Privateer Press would find a lot more deals especially at the after-hours swap meet, but I'm very happy with what I found and what I paid. I may even bring some things to sell next year.

Final Thoughts
Adepticon is most certainly worth a visit for gamers of all types. If you can register early, the swag bag is reason enough to pay the entry fee. However, at the very least it's worth the price of gas for all Chicago area gamers to go and feast their eyes on what I often refer to as the "Glorious Spectacle of Painted Armies Clashing on Evocative Terrain". After my very positive experiences, it's likely I will be a game-running attendee at Adepticon for years to come.

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

3 responses to “Adepticon: A First-Timer’s Perspective

  1. Looks like you made out pretty good to me.

  2. Yep, it was definitely worth attending.

  3. Adepticon has a fully painted requirement for anyone participating in events, which explains why you don't see (m)any unpainted figures on the tables. I'm not sure how hard they enforce this rule…I've played in Privateer's Iron Arena before and seen unpainted figures, but the competitive events have all looked amazing.

    Also, you only get the full swag bag by registering early enough for a full weekend pass, which typically runs $45. But the retail value of the full bag exceeds that amount by a good deal. This year's bag seemed better than last year's bag by a good margin.

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