Freshly back from Adepticon, I have had my eyes opened to the wonders of the world of miniature tabletop gaming. Before this trip, I had some peripheral experiences, but had never delved into the hobby too deeply. While in Schaumburg, I was taken with the passion and excitement that fans brought to these games.
For this week’s CMON Feature Friday, we’re taking a deeper look at miniature gaming and all of the activities that go along with it.
Adepticon is one of the biggest events of the year for miniature gamers. Thousands of fans descend on Schaumburg, Illinois to share in their love of the hobby, talk shop, and of course, compete!
There are dozens of vendors selling figures, bases, terrain, and so much more. It is an incredible sight to see, and quite revelatory for people new to the hobby (like myself). If you can think of a setting or character, be it sci-fi, fantasy, old-west, world history, or anything else, you can find games and products based around it.
Adepticon is also a chance for players to compete in tournaments or to try out new titles. CMON held a number of different Dark Age events, where battle commanders could lead their armies onto the field. There were competitions, like the Samaria Nights and Days tournament, and the March to Immortality tournament. Winning tournaments gives you a chance to go to CMON Expo and possibly become immortal, getting to design your own figure to be the game.
CMON also ran special events, like The Doom of the Kukulkani, where players joined forces to take on a terrible foe, and Build-and-Play events, where players were able to create a new army and immediately test them on the battlefield.
We were also running demos all weekend of A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, this was one of the first chances for players to try it out. The CMON demo tables were busy all weekend with eager fans going to war over the fate of Westeros.
These sorts of conventions are incredibly important for allowing top level players a chance to compete in a structured environment, and also to introduce new fans to the hobby. Every industry needs an avenue to grow.
There several different halls dedicated to gaming, and lots of people taking advantage of them. However, I realized that there is a second part of this hobby with its own unique aspects. Miniatures are not just for playing, they also serve as a canvas for some of the best painters around. Adepticon plays host to the Crystal Brush awards, and throughout the weekend, the competition display cases were full of beautiful artwork.
The Crystal Brush awards recognize excellence in miniature painting in a number of different categories, as well as an overall competition. Painters come from all over the world to feature their work and be judged by an expert panel of international artists.
For some, it is a learning experience. They enter their work not so much to win, but to be critiqued by some of the leaders in the hobby. Others have high hopes of achieving victory in their category and overall.
This year, the top winner was awarded $8000, with second and third taking home $3000 and $2000 respectively. These are some of the largest cash prizes for miniature painting competitions in North America, and the level of talent that comes out reflects that.
Over the week, I spent time talking to the judges about all of the little details that set a completed painted miniature apart from the crowd. Elements like consistent color throughout, filled in lines, and directional lighting all contribute to a complete project. The overall winner, a diorama entitled Apocalypse by Michal Pisarski, is a beautiful (and slightly scary) piece that displays all of those necessary factors. It is the work of a talented and accomplished artist.
It was really obvious that some people were interested in the hobby, not for the gaming aspect at all, but simply for the painting. They see a super cool model and their first instinct is to consider what colors they can apply to make it their own.
Miniature gaming is a big tent, with people attracted to if for a variety of reasons. Adepticon is one of the best opportunities to learn about different aspects of the hobby. Although I came to the show without a lot of knowledge, the passion of the people involved was infectious. I can’t wait to delve deeper into this big world of little figures.