MACE 2008 Report

MACE 2008 Report

Tired and emotionally drained, I returned home Sunday night (Nov 9) after yet another MACE gaming con. Another successful year of gaming and fun behind us, I want to reflect and give you the bad, the good and the ugly.

The bad was kind of obvious. We were down in attendance this year about 30% to 35% from last year. Considering last year was our best year, I estimate that it is more like 20% to 25% down from our average. As I told many that asked about it, there are a number of reasons for the drop.

Primary of those is the economy, obviously. I am sure many of us would debate on the cause, but I am sure we all can attest, the economy is not what it used to be. The expense of the hotel room is simply too great for many and we understand that. We really appreciate those that did come out despite the expense. We do have some of the best and most faithful attendees.

Changes in the RPGA and the release of D&D 4e have caused a drop in participation across the country. Change is always a risk, we all know that. D&D 4e is such a departure from the previous edition that it has effected organized play. It also ended many campaigns and started new ones, so RPGA is kind of starting from square one again. The biggest aspect of this change was the lack of a Battle Interactive, which usually attracts a lot of people, but because the RPGA is starting in a new campaign world, no battle interactives are ready yet. Thanks to Greg Gershowitz for handling it again this year, despite not having a job for the past several months.

Also we made the decision to change over to a Camarilla LARP for our night LARP, which had less participation than past night LARPS. This was something we knew was going to happen and we were well prepared for this. We thank all those that participated and the organizers for putting on a great LARP. We heard a lot of good things. Tony Lone Fight and Travis Dugat should be commended for their hard work and dedication and MACE really appreciates it.

What frustrated me was I had a lot of GMs cancel last minute or just not show up without warning. Many had legitimate explanations and in all reality, even if they had shown, because our numbers were so down, I am not sure their games would have made. We do really appreciate the GMs that stepped up and filled in or re-adjusted their schedules to help out when needed.

Those GMs that did show and ran seemed to have a good time. Please, those of you that played in games at MACE, if you can, take the time to thank and encourage the GMs for their hard work and dedication. They really get it, I think. They understand what MACE is all about and collectively worked towards making it better and better every year.

However, if there was something that you feel you want to tell someone that did not go as well as you would have liked or a GM was not as good as you thought he should be, please tell me directly. I work with my GMs on a regular basis to keep the games at MACE the best the Carolinas has to offer, so any input would be appreciated.

At peak, I had about 70% of my tables making and running. Attendance obviously affected what games made and what games did not. The big Warhammer 40K game did not make, although they did play a small game. Thanks to Richard Fortuna for trying. The Blood Bowl, one of our staples for the past several years, did not make. I think this is one of the more disappointing thingsd about this weekend because Van really went to a lot of trouble to put together the tournament as well as the prizes for the tournament. Thanks Van Monroe for your hard work and I am sorry it did not work out as well as we hoped.

Magic, The Gathering was sporadic all weekend, but that is in part because of a big States tournament up in Burlington or somewhere, on the same weekend. Thanks to the Zachary Boyd and the folks at Sci-Fi Genre for running that this year for us. They did the best with what they had and I could not ask any more from them.

The Legends of the Five Rings tournament had 12 players which fell short of expectations but at least it ran. Thanks to Hypermind for letting us run their L5R tournament and to Terry Corbett for running it. Dungeon Survival had all three games make and thanks to Matt Holmquist for doing that again this year. The Serenity LARP had something like 10 players and thanks to Jessica Lindsay and her friends for running that. The Triangle Sim Society games seemed to get players for the most part and always have a great presentation. Thanks to Edwin Mohrmann for returning with his great games. Thanks to Sam Hinton also for running another successful Treasure Quest weekend. I wish we could give him more room.

The big winner was Monsterpocalypse…a ton of demos all weekend. Thanks to Shane Ivins from Sci-fi Genre and Chad Hord for helping with those demos. Also the Munchkin tournament seemed to do VERY well … so well, it had to take over some of the tables of those cancelled games, which was cool. Thanks to Ashley Humphries for her hard work on it.

On another positive note, we had a stronger boffer LARP turn out this year. The groups from Avalon and INCLAVE really turned out and give us some good flavor to the con. We appreciate all those guys coming out and look forward to working with them in the future.

One of my pet projects – the GM Improv contest – had 5 out of 6 tables make. My other pet project was the World War Z tournament, which had two tables make out of 3, although one had to be rescheduled in order to be run. I also got in a few games during the whole weekend and had fun with them all. I played two games of Battlestar Galactica the board game (one pick up and one scheduled), one game of AT-43 and one game of Last Man on Earth zombie game. My RPGs – Etherscope and True20 zombie game – did not make.

Also, something I personally thought was cool was Martin DeOlden’s heavily customized Twilight Imperium. Although I did not get to play his amazing game, I did get to chat with Martin about the modifications he has made. If you did not get a chance to see it, you missed something very cool.

I was also amazed about the Fans for Christ turn out this year. Thanks very much to all those guys that come to our con and we hope you had a great time. It was a pleasure meeting all you guys.

One thing I do want to say … If anyone tried to talk to me by late Saturday afternoon and I seemed frustrated or upset, I am sorry. I think the combination of attendance numbers, the fact that I had so many games cancel and GMs not showing up, by our peak time Saturday afternoon, it all kind of came to a head for me. This plus some other frustrating things going on beyond the con were kind of affecting me at that point. I had to shake it off but it took a minute. Once the auction started, I was fine. So please do not take it personally, I just needed to get it under control a bit. Thanks for everyone’s concern.

No one had a bad time, from what I can tell. I had very few complaints, other than the fire alarm Friday night and a few comments about the hotel. The one complaint I wanted to hear but didn’t was noise issues. That just meant we did not get as many as we did last year. As you can tell, the attendance drop bothered me a lot, but that’s just me. Jeff and Karen were happy and as long as they are, the con will keep going. The key thing to remember is that it was outside factors primarily that kept the con numbers down, not internal issues. I feel like we are still running a good con and all we need to do is keep doing that.

Thanks to Patrick, Kim, Steve and Karen as well for the Grinning Goblin. That was a huge success. Of course, thanks to Jeff and Karen for being the heart and brains behind the con and Justus Productions in general. This is my favorite con of the year because it goes to my primary passion – gaming. And if I have not said it enough, I will say it again – thanks to the GMs – all of them – for your hard work and devotion to MACE.

Next year, I will make some changes. There was some miscommunication about when the rooms are to be closed so I scheduled some long running games in the big room when Jeff wanted them closed. So I will probably be moving some board game tables into the RPG rooms (which can stay open all night) and may a few RPG tables in the big room. I may also change the way I number of the tables.