A perfect storm of situations made it possible for me to attend Lock & Load 2014 this year. I was super excited since it’s been a couple years and was curious about the new location. I flew in a day early on Thursday to attend the Press Gang Invitational, but arrived midway through around 4pm and missed catching any games in time for their raffle. They were giving away some pretty amazing things, but c’est la vie! Next time I will know to fly in a bit earlier.
After picking up my badge and some swag I entered the Iron Arena on the main bottom floor where the invitational was being held. The room was MASSIVE and there was plenty of tables so no one would be left high and dry if they wanted to catch a game.
The Iron Arena Hall was simply MASSIVE…
The other area of the convention was the 4th floor where the PP Store, Hobby Lobby, and Gaming Hall 2 (Tournaments only) were located.
A rare moment of the store being this quiet…
Get your hobby on…
Gaming Hall 2 hosted all the tournaments…
I wanted to keep it light on the tournament end and decided to enter into Spell Draft. After hanging around bit I was able to snatch a spot. The idea behind Spell Draft is that your Warcaster/Warlock and Warbeasts spells/animus are erased and players draft completely new ones.
Here’s the rules that I can remember from off the top of my head…
- 35pts single list format
- Pick a card and then pass it to your left until everyone is left with 8 cards
- A Warcaster/Warlock can take a Animus but it now counts as a Spell
- Warbeasts of the same type that take a Animus all have that same Animus (i.e. A Shredder takes RUSH so now all of your Shredders have RUSH)
- The lowest a spell can cost is 1 since certain Warcasters/Warlocks have way to discount spell costs (i.e. Zerkova, Witch Coven, etc)
- We only played the OUTFLANK/OUTLAST scenario for all 6 rounds (I think Incursion might’ve been more fun since it’s dynamic to a certain extent)
I decided to play Butcher3 and we were then grouped off into 8 person pods and were each given a sealed deck. I picked up some pretty interesting cards and had a ton of fun trying out my new spells. Here’s what I drafted for myself…
- Burning Ash
- Ghost Walk
- Lightning Strike
One thing I noticed about some opponents was being overly cautious playing back too far against me. I would chuckle and remind them I don’t have Energizer or Impending Doom and I have no movement buff spells so they didn’t need to worry about a crazy threat range (besides Mutagenesis). Overall it was a super awesome format and my new favorite variant. I suggested to some PP Staffers that if players were limited to playing a Focus/Fury 7 Warlock/Warcaster or less it might make it even better. I can see this being a VERY POPULAR format in the future. As a bonus they let us keep our cards!
Speaking of tournaments…the first Iron Gauntlet Championship also took place and Privateer Press went all out to stream everything they could. I think this is very important to community to show off what high level play is like as well as help other players to see how models/units are played in a different person’s hand. Below is a link to the final game!
Another new aspect of the location is that they were now able to run 24 hours non-stop during the whole convention. There was open gaming and tournaments all weekend at various times to quench whatever you were thirsting. Some late night tournaments they had ran from 10/11pm-6am such as the Team Tournament and Token Aggression. I ended only playing 2 more games in Iron Arena and spent most of my time socializing and doing various other things including a demo of Warmachine Tactics.
I watched and played several games of Warmachine Tactics and I can confidently say they are on the right path. The game looks solid and they UI was roughly thrown together to make it playable here. After talking with some of the Whitemoon Studios staff, we were basically playing a post-alpha but pre-beta version. The game is not a direct translation by any means but it was still fun to play and I can see the play by e-mail becoming a “thing” with this. The game plays very similar to X-COM: Enemy Unknown which is a personal favorite and the closest I have played to a miniature type game in recent years on a PC.
To give you a idea how some of the tabletop rules your are used to were translated here’s what I gathered from my experiences…
- Models can’t block you in so you can always advance away, but you will still take Freestrikes
- Disruption only causes you to allocate 1 less Focus (i.e. 2 instead of 3 to Warjacks)
- Defense and Armor are based on a 5 star system
- They are no units in the game and everyone is basically a solo, but there is still combined range/melee with same “solo” types i.e. Winterguard or Trenchers
PC’s setup on LAN so you could play against friends or strangers across from you!
Overall I think the move to the new location was a huge success. Walking around various areas you usually saw a lot of smiling faces and everyone chatting about. It was fantastic to catch up with old friends as well as make new ones. I got to meet people from all over and there was quite a international presence as well compared to the last time I went in 2012. I got to meet a ton of new people including some from Germany, Sweden, France, and Australia. If you’ve been on the fence about attending I highly recommend committing to it. It was a truly great experience and it just made me even more amped and excited about our awesome global community of players. After writing all this it’s got me worked up again and I’m already excited for next year LOL!