Britcon 200605 Sep 2006 0
Some readers may have been wondering about the recent splash advert on The Wargamer site advertising Britcon 2006. Well here is my take on an event that any even half-serious miniature gamer should consider attending.
Britcon is the UK?s premier wargames tournament; it is organised by the British Historical Gaming Society and for the last three years has been held in the Barnes Wallis building at Manchester University.
Britcon combines a very large miniature wargames tournament and trade show with demonstration games and various club and society stands. There is also a large ?bring and buy? where second hand games and models can be bought and sold. The competition side of the event gets into full swing on Friday evening with the first game in each of the dozen or so periods being played. The venue is open from Thursday morning to allow early arrivals to get in a few last minute practice games. From Saturday morning the trade show opens its doors to the general public and Britcon is in full swing.
Players attend Britcon from all over the world. This year the foreign contingent brought representatives from France, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Italy, the USA, and Denmark. Tournaments being played include Ancients, Renaissance, Napoleonic, 19th Century, World War II, Modern Warfare, and Warhammer Fantasy and Future, with hundreds of competitors taking part.
Most of the tournaments are run using a ?Swiss chess? draw mechanism. In each round players are drawn against other players whose performance so far has been similar. In the first round some players are nominated as seeds and the initial random draw is done in such a way as to preclude seeds playing each other. Once round one is over winners play winners, losers play losers and as the tournaments progress players are hopefully matched up against other players of similar ability. This has the dual benefit of making things harder for the players doing well and allowing the less successful players some more relaxed games later in the tournament.
One extra and often entertaining twist is that the first round draw is done on a first come first served basis. As players arrive they can choose when to put their names into the draw, the first draw is done at 18:00 and further draws are done as players arrive. This allows for people travelling from further afield to start their games at a time convenient to them and also creates a sense of brinksmanship among some players who are desperate to avoid particular players in the first round. There are tales of players hiding round the corner waiting for a suitable ?victim? to put their name into the draw before pouncing.