Back in February I volunteered to run a game at C3 Game Con, a brand new local game convention in Corvallis, Oregon. As it was the first year for this event, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Corvallis is home to Oregon State University, so I knew we had a captive audience of students and young adults who were likely to check out an event like this.
The convention was heavy on anime, cosplay, RPGs, and board games. Age of Fantasy: Skirmish seemed like the perfect way to to give them a little visual spectacle and maybe rope in some new gamers.
I set up a basic four-player scenario centered on Bayard’s Holdfast, the nifty little dwarf fortress I painted up last year. Two players would command the dwarf garrison tasked with defending the holdfast. The other two players were in charge of undead raiding parties tasked with smashing through the defenses and sacking the charred remains of the fort.
As you can see, I had a round tabletop, which actually helped the scenario – I was able to plop Bayard’s Holdfast into the exact center of the table and then arrange the attackers and defenders around the perimeter.
My players were fairly new to miniature wargaming. Only Parker had dabbled in painting & gaming before sitting down at the table. I selected Age of Fantasy: Skirmish because it is a simple, easy to understand ruleset for people who are fairly new to this sort of gaming. I whipped together some unit cards for each player’s warband, and of course they got their own copy of the rules to look over before the game.
The game started with a general advance by the undead players. They had to occupy the courtyard in the fortress and outnumber the defenders by the end of the game to secure a win. They could also gain a minor victory by slaying the dwarf artillery crew, which started the game in an outbuilding far from the tower and had to hustle to safety.
The dwarven defenders quickly understood their role in the scenario, and they mustered a stout defense that saw their elite troops meeting the undead near the crumbling stone walls on the perimeter of the fort’s territory. Fearsome blows were exchanged as the undead forces gradually pushed the dwarves back.
But! The dwarves had an ace in the hole! If they could get their artillery crew back to the fortress in one piece, they could load & fire the mortar mounted on the parapets. Thankfully, they were able to achieve this goal by the closing turns of the game, and they rained thunderous devastation down on the undead that were swarming around the walls of the holdfast.
By the end of the game, the undead legions had reached the walls (in fact, the ghoul king shown here was actually able to breach the defenses and begin rampaging through the courtyard). However, the stout dwarven defenders had succeeded in waylaying or defeating the bulk of the undead warbands, which meant that the defenders had secured the victory. The surviving undead warriors retreated in good order back to their nefarious swamp hideout.
Age of Fantasy: Skirmish is a great game to try out with new players in a convention setting. It requires some prep work – I don’t think the game would have been nearly as successful if I hadn’t put in some hours making the unit cards and handouts. But the ruleset is solid and it definitely ticks the boxes in terms of what a new player will expect from a wargame experience.
And I’m pleased to report that C3 Game Con was a wild success! We had more than 500 attendees over two days, which was way above our expectations and suggested there’s a big demand for this sort of event in Corvallis. I’ll be signing up to run some games next year for sure!