Briscon was held over the weekend of 30th of April to the 1st of May and I dropped in for a few hours. Held in Windsor Table Tennis Centre, as soon as you walk in you can see that the convention is laid out like a miniature gamer’s personal heaven. Filled with a large amount of tables that are fully loaded with various terrain and miniatures from a wide array of games. A quick glance around tells me that the con is more geared towards miniature and board gaming than trading card games.
Briscon is pitched as ‘Brisbane best weekend of gaming’, and it lived up to its name by essentially being a two day marathon miniature gaming session. There were a lot of miniature tournaments being held on the show floor ranging from Warmachine to Flames of War. With a total of over a dozen tournaments held over the weekend, the tournament areas were fully packed for the whole con. The miniature clubs and sponsors did not skimp on their rewards either with a lot of prizes and impressive trophies going to the winners.
A lot of the miniature gaming clubs and communities were also prepared to give anyone interested a demo game of their current miniature addiction. This ranged from relatively new games like Guild Ball to miniature mainstays like Infinity. I wanted to learn to play a couple of the games being demoed but much to my disappointment, didn’t find the time.
There were also a few retailer stalls to entice old veterans and new comers alike with their wares. Anyone learning a new game here would be hard pressed to resist the beginner friendly products on offer. With discounts and sales going all weekend, this was an ideal way to get into a new miniature game, which usually had a few practical barriers to entry. I spotted Ace, Irresistible Force, Last Stand, Siege Work Studio, and Vault Games on the show floor there, all offering a wide array of products.
Speaking of Vault Games, they were also running their, now famous, board game area where you can borrow a board game from their extensive board game library and sit down and play free of charge. With the friendly Vault Games staff, and our own webmaster Dylan, more than happy to teach you the game of your choice, this is a perfect way to try out that board game you always had your eye on but aren’t quite certain is worth a purchase. For the miniatures gamers with families and friends tagging along, this also offered a great way to distract them for a few hours while you rolled dice and fought with little plastic soldiers.
Last but not least, there was also a handful of local game developers present, hoping to demo and/or playtest their latest creation directly with their target market. Only having enough time to try out one of the enticing games present, I predictably chose to go with the one involving giant robots. The game was called Steel Symbiant and it was designed by Dan from 28MM Games. Being early in its production cycle, the game doesn’t have its impressive robots in miniature form yet so we chose to play with the cardboard cut out equivalents.
Steel Symbiant forgoes any attempt at realistic combat simulation and replaces it with fun explosive gameplay. Thematically it resembles the energetic furious action of giant robot animes. In fact, the first thing I did in our demo game was that very stereotypical anime robot missile spam by unloading the entire lot of my heavy robot’s weaponry into one of Dan’s robots, utterly destroying it in the process. Of course, this also made my robot essentially useless for the rest of the game, relying on lucky rolls from weaker weapons to score any hits, but it was fun to have the option to pull off insane maneuvers like this.
I may have just rolled a few die, but in my head this is what my all out attack felt like.
A lot of the rules are made to feel like you are actually playing with massive robots instead of just a skirmish game with a squad of larger than usual miniatures. For example, every figure in this game can shoot across the length of the entire table provided they have line of sight. They take penalties for longer distances of course, but this rule makes cover more important. The shots can also go through simpler cover like walls and buildings with a small strength penalty, which is fitting considering these are machines shooting bullets the size of soccer balls.
I won’t go too deep into the rules but it was relatively easy to learn and involved rolling satisfyingly large number of 10 sided die. With the robots having the ability to quickly close the distant to engage in devastating melee or to hang back and take pot shots with their missiles and sniper rifles, the game play have a very kinetic feel. There’s hardly any down time, set up or positioning as forces will engage from turn one with positioning occurring as you fight. For anyone who has ever seen an episode of Mobile Suit Gundam and felt like playing a miniature game like that, this is going to be a game worth keeping an eye on.
This type of design would enable the models to be constructed in a variety of poses.
While the miniatures were not yet ready, what I saw of the designs made me excited. Dan informed me that he is designing the models to be able to be assembled in any (reasonable) pose the player may want and corresponding parts of the same class (light, medium, and heavy) of robots will be interchangeable. With 24 different robot designs supposedly in production and massive amounts of weapons to outfit them with, the models themselves excite me as much as the game. Tentatively scheduled to go on Kickstarter by the end of the year, keep an eye out here for more Steel Symbiant coverage in the future.
The positive interaction I had with Steel Symbiant made me regret not having more time to check out the locally developed games present at Briscon. This year Briscon was planned in a few short months and I feel this effected the reach it had with a lot of the potential audience never having heard this was happening. Despite all this they ran a very competent and exciting con that I am excited to spend the whole weekend at on the 2017 May Day Weekend.