Arcanacon XXXII

Kicking off the Melbourne convention season for 2014, Arcanacon was once again highly successful, featuring a showcase of new games and adaptations, miniatures tournaments, and RoboRally. Now in its 32nd year and the longest-running roleplaying convention in Victoria, we can certainly vouch for the friendliness of the organisers as we were given a very warm welcome.


Eleanor: Attending Arcanacon on Saturday of the Australia Day weekend, we observed a 32-player Warmachine: Hordes tournament. Warmachine is a miniature war game that’s been around for about 10 years now, where players control armies of large beasts or mechanical warjacks led by adept spellcaster generals. We spoke to Matt Weatherson, the organiser of the tournament and an experienced Warmachine player himself.

warmachineWhen comparing Warmachine to Warhammer, Matt explained that Warhammer works in phases, where everything in the army shoots and moves before changing turns. By contrast, Warmachine units activate one at a time, making it (in his opinion) a more tactical game. Another point in favour of Warmachine is the dice system, where instead of rolling an enormous handful of six-sided dice and looking for the 5s and 6s, players only roll 2 dice against a target number. There were 2 tournaments conducted over 2 days of the con’, with Alex Stewart taking first place on Saturday, and Jared O’Callaghan taking gold the following day.


Pat: While the turnout for Warmachine was impressive, it hasn’t diminished the ongoing popularity of Warhammer, as evidenced by its 150-player tournament which Arcanacon hosted the following weekend (1-2 Feb).

Congratulations to:

1st: Matt Morosoli

2nd: Dan Gilmour

3rd: William Dalmau

Roaming the halls of the convention, we also met a group of people printing t-shirts, badges, coffee cups and a host of other things for the con’, as well as an artist offering a chance to visualise their own roleplaying characters in portraiture. While in the cafeteria, we ran into game designer Duncan Harris, who, in a dark closed-off room, was running sessions of a game called Artemis. Luckily, there was no session on at the time, so he took us into the room where it was set up and gave us a quick demo.


Eleanor: Designed by Thom Robertson with the latest version officially released late last year, Artemis is a real-time computer assisted space ship bridge simulator, where players take on stations around the bridge and work as a team to defeat the space-related obstacles that rise against them. I manned the Comms station, receiving technical messages from various space stations, contacting friendly ships, and sending tactical insults to enemy ships!


“I can smell you from here, space scum!”


It’s the non-canon Star Trek bridge game that every sci-fi fan needs to play. And possibly cos-play for. Anyway, it was really fun, and all that was needed was a laptop per officer and a screen for the Captain (because while the Captain gets to order people around, they don’t get their own controls).

third reich

I also managed to catch James Wright setting up a game of Secrets of the Third Reich, a miniature wargame set in an alternative history 1949 where London and Berlin were both destroyed by atom bombs and the war is still going. Oh and there’s also werewolves, vampires and zombies.


Pat: Though smaller than some of the other tournaments taking place, a group of six were in attendance for a few Swiss rounds of X-Wing Miniatures. We talked to Django, who ran the game. He told us that while most of the competitive scene was up at CanCon for the weekend, they had still organised some prize support for Arcanacon’s players, in the form of Mind Games vouchers. Players of Rebel Alliance took all 3 placings on Saturday, with Tarquin Murnane in first place.

Eleanor: Django, a local X-Wing champion himself, also told us about his own X-Wing strategies at the moment. He plays a swarm of star-fighters to simply overcome his enemies with sheer numbers, which apparently requires some co-ordination in manouvering, but is well worth the effort. Another popular ship is the Light Freighter (Millenium Falcon) which with certain character combinations can be quite powerful. Django also affirmed that it’s not necessary to buy every new pack as it comes out, as powerful fleets can be built around even the starting ships – which he said is one of the best qualities of the game.



Eleanor: Our coverage of the weekend’s major tournaments concluded, we decided to return the next day for a session of murderous AI shenanigans with RoboRally. This was itself a mini-tournament as we discovered, with players from previous days retaining any points they scored in past games to determine an overall winner (and they even had medals made out for first, second, and third!). Congratulations to winner Claire Firth!

Pat: Learning this was a tournament made us a bit uneasy, as neither of us had actually ever played the game before. Still, after a quick rules rundown from a helpful veteran at the table, we were soon getting the hang of things. After a bit of time spent flailing ineffectually around a conveyor belt, I scored the game’s first kill by accidentally ramming another robot off the factory floor, in a move that foreshadowed the serendipitous chaos of the rest of the evening. Though we had to leave before the game was over, I will say that the feeling of 8 strangers coming around a table to bond over a game highlights why boardgaming is still my favourite hobby.


As you can see, it was a great con’, especially for miniatures fans. There were attendees of all ages, and the atmosphere was most definitely one of friendship and community – between old friends, new ones and strangers. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to try out any of the roleplaying sessions being run, but nonetheless spectating the events was a wonderful experience and it was great to see so many people involved. Well done Arcanacon XXXII, we loved it.

Thanks to James Wright for this image

Thanks to James Wright for this image

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One Comment
  1. February 9, 2014 |