So, CanCon 2013 has come and gone. It’s been a big weekend, having not been to this event in over 12 years. In some regards glad its over and happy to be home. So lets break it down blow by blow. Firstly, let me just quickly explain what CanCon is for those of you who are not familiar with it. CanCon is a 3 day Wargaming, Roleplaying, Card Game, Board Game convention that is held over the Australia Day long weekend in Canberra each year. It’s been going for something like 30 years and is a big event on the calendar of practically every person who’s into gaming. Virtually every wargame in every scale you can think of is represented at CanCon in one form or another, and this year I participated in the Warhammer 40,000 event.
For 40k CanCon 2013 it was a 1850pt event with no comp, and 40k approved Imperial Armour units were allowed. It’s 8 games over the three days, with 3 games on the Saturday, 3 games on the Sunday and two games on Monday, one in the morning and two in the afternoon. The first two games on Saturday are random draw and the rest of the games are seeded after that based on battle points alone. At the end of the event your battle points are modified by up to 20% for sportsmanship and painting respectively, and then the winner and other places are determined.
CanCon attracts some of the best 40k players in Australia and this year of the 130 players, 30 were ranked in the top 100 players according to RankingsHQ, of those 30, 8 were in the top 20. So the competition was pretty stiff, and the stakes were high for the more competitive players because a strong final placing in CanCon almost assures an invite to the High Lords of Terra comp held later on in the year.
So, lets look at my list first. Now, I consider my list actually a fluffy list, meaning its based on a theme I believe would be very consistent with how I perceive a Space Marine army would fight. It’s a bit of a ‘one trick pony’ but that one trick is pretty nasty indeed. It’s a full drop pod list that works on the basis that Marines would send their form of artillery in first to suppress the enemy, then once this is achieved they would launch the assault proper with massed infantry to neutralise and seize the objective(s), with close air support to maintain air superiority. I don’t see Marines using tanks and static formations to get into protracted symmetrical conflicts. They turn up to the fight, smash their opponent in the face with a brick, then run off with his wallet, putting the boot in just to be sure he doesn’t give chase.
The only slight deviation I took from this idea is that I would have preferred to used a Storm Eagle for the close air support however I didn’t have one painted so I had to use Imperial Guard Allies to achieve this aspect of my list.
So, how did it play out?
Game 1. Chaos Space Marines – Minor Win
This was an interesting army as it featured many 1st ed CSM models in the list. So I really enjoyed looking at it, brought back a lot of memories.
Game 2. Eldar – Major Win
This was a fun game, it was a nicely themed army with Wraith Guard and Wraith Lords en mass.
Game 3. Dark Eldar – Major Win
My opponent actually ended up finishing quite highly in the overall placings (6th overall), getting highest score for Xenos for a non placing army. However during this game, he didn’t appreciate the impact of putting his army so close together in the deployment zone.
Game 4. Orks – Major Win
This was a great looking Ork army with many interesting conversions. Sadly though, the orks really copped a pasting from the Deathwind’s and I got extremely lucky with a few rolls that went in my favour which spelt the end of for the Orks
Game 5. Chaos Space Marines – Minor Win
This was a very interesting game. At first things were really going my way, what I didn’t destroy with shooting, ran off the board after breaking in close combat. Then came the two Hell Drakes. These two managed to kill all but 3 of my marines by turn 5. Before their arrival I had around 30 on the board. If it wasn’t for Lysander getting the warlord trait allowing him to be a scoring unit things wouldn’t have been as rosy. Still a very hard fought game.
Game 6. Grey Knights – Minor Win
This army had Cotez with 5 x 10 man GK squads with 4 psycannons in each. He also had a squad of 10 hench man. This was a very tough game. Even though I managed to kill all but 3 of the Grey Knights by the end of the game I still only managed a minor win.
Game 7. Necrons – Major Loss
Yeah, Necrons… nuff said
Game 8. Imperial Guard with Grey Knight Allies – Minor Win
I’d had my fill of 40k by this stage and so had my opponent. I was glad when the game ended.
So in the end I managed 5th place out of about 130 players, by far my best placing in terms of size of players and talent at a comp. Which considering I was using marine list with apart from the 4 Imperial Armour, was pretty basic. So I am quite pleased with my result. Would I have done things differently? Yeah, for sure. I would have liked to have had a Storm Eagle, I would have done a few moves differently with the Necrons in the 7th game. But overall it was a great learning experience in terms of tactics and army composition.
The final placings were
1st – David Teoh – Necrons
2nd – Joshua Leondaris – Daemons
3rd – Joshua Pope – Dark Eldar
4th Chris Turk – Necrons
Best Imperial Army – Me – Space Marines
Best Xenos – Andrew Wynen – Dark Eldar
Best Sports – Joshua Diffey
Players Choice – David Travers (couldn’t hear what army he painted when it was announced)
Overall, as far as the event was concerned I was very disappointed. It didn’t live up to my expectations given the size and longevity of the event. Let me qualify a few observations of areas that were lacking when I compare them to other events I’ve attended.
Terrain – This for me was by far the biggest let down. For an organisation the size of the CGS that runs an event the size of CanCon with the amount revenue they must generate from CanCon, they STILL rely on terrain lent to them from the larger gaming community. Wouldn’t it be sensible to reinvest some of the revenue into their own tables and hire a storage shed to keep it between comps or even hire it out to other event organisers to create an income stream. I can not stress enough how much of a let down this aspect of the tournament was for me. Even just limit the amount of players so that you get quality over quantity.
At $50 per player and 130 players, that means $6,500 in revenue was generated. Prize pool was $2,000, with a large proportion of it donated by the Combat Company, The Games Capital & Milsims. I really think much more could have been done in this department. Big let down.
Organisation – Although the tournament ‘happened’ it could have happened a lot better with just a few minor improves. None of the tables had an ‘admin area’. Most tournaments I’ve been to have been played on 8 x 4 tables with a 1 x 2 section at each end cordoned off for the players to keep templates, models, drinks etc. I’ve even been to tournaments where key aspects of the game flow and terrain adjudications have been fixed to this area for easy reference. There was non of this at CanCon. Each table had a stapled together set of pages with this on it, but they went missing, and there was no admin area on the tables.
Also, for an event this size, 130 players, the round draws were printed out on A4 pieces of paper and sticky taped onto walls in two places. You can imagine what this looked like when 130 players wanted to find out where their next game was. It was ridiculous. Seriously. Hire a projector, ask a friend for one, buy one and book it as a capital purchase for CGS. Its not like it will never get used again. Printing out the draw on a few pieces of A4 paper and sticky taping them to the wall is far from an acceptable stand for an event of this calibre.
One last point on organisation. Timings and announcements. Neither of which were done well. If you know you’re going to be having to communicate to about 130 people in a giant hall with about 500 people in it, yelling won’t cut it. Get a PA or something, see my remarks regarding a projector for possible solutions to this problem.
Army Presentation Standards. Although this is to a degree out of the control of the organisers, it can be influenced and shaped by culture and incentive. By culture I mean ensure that players who are attending this event know that army presentation is expected to be and is to a high standard. This expectation is from the other players attending as they will be bring armies presented to a high standard, and this is reinforced by the event organisers ensuring that army presentation is elevated by themselves in terms of prizes and status provided by winning these components of our hobby at their competitions. Finally, the second way it can be influenced in a positive way is by having a reward, or consequence by not having a well presented army nor for players providing a vote for the players choice. By having more rigorous appraisal standards for painting, a bigger consequence for having a poorly presented army, and finally a negative effect on battle points for not voting on an army for players choice.
Non of this was present. I saw unpainted armies, no exaggeration. I saw some armies that were in various stages of assembly and some extremely well presented armies too. As a matter of fact the 2012 Armies on Parade winner was present. So it wasn’t all bad. However, on average the one third of people that did put some effort into their armies were grossly overshadowed by the people that had no regard to this important aspect of the hobby. This is disrespectful and mustn’t be allowed to feature as a cultural aspect of our hobby.
A culture of well presented, best of your ability armies needs to be fostered and rewarded, both in terms of status and prizes. Coming first for your painted army and first for your level of skill as a general needs to be equal and treated as such.
So, sadly I was let down overall by my experience at CanCon. Perhaps I had too high an expectation? Maybe. I genuinely believe that if a few improves where implemented this tournament could be world class. It seems that the event organisers have been using the same formula for many years and its been getting them by.
To finish on a positive note, it was great to play some of the best players in Australia and see the way they do business. If you want to improve your gaming ability and painting ability, tournaments are by far the best place to do that in, in the shortest amount of time. Also, going interstate meant that I was exposed to players and armies that I don’t see where I live in my usual gaming circle. So this experience was invaluable. I am looking forward to seeing if CGS implement some changes to their formula and turn CanCon into what it should be. Exceptional.
Thanks for dropping in