|Twelve Kingdoms in Twelve Months
Event Four: Rakis/Olympiad
Michael Hammer of God chose not to write a recap, as he was the autocrat and wanted a more impartial opinion of the event. As he pondered his dilemma, I foolishly brought up the subject and was co-opted into service: I have been converted into a facsimile MHOG to write this. So, on to the event.....
Event name: Rakis XIII/Olympiad
Host Kingdom: Iron Mountains
Location: Cripple Creek, CO
I arrived in Denver on Wednesday evening after a long, uneventful flight. Denver Airport was a breeze to move through and the weather was not as cold as expected. I grabbed my rental van and promptly raced out to see the mountains. I spent much of the drive craning my head around to see the scenery and checking if the air was thinner (I couldn't tell). Driving through mountains is a real novelty to this flatlander. Unfortunately, the lack of pressure gave me a headache that lasted for the rest of the day.
I arrived at the site that evening and reunited with my gear, which was driven in earlier that day. I wasted no time setting up my tent and stuff followed by an hour or two just sitting around and not exerting myself. After helping get the IM castle set up, we started ditching. The crowd was sparse, but we were all eager to get into Amtgard mode. That first day, ditching was liberally mixed with gasping and resting. I ditched until early morning and then passed out in my tent.
Thursday morning arose with complaints about the cold and altitude but praise for the scenery. We fought two class castle battles; Texas, Florida and some others against the rest of the world. Both fights were a draw: neither team was able to force the castle gate. Fighting was largely limited to projectiles, spells and polearms. I found the battle to be fairly dull as I didn't have any of these. But the battles ended and the ditching more than made up for the earlier combat. The ditching through the entire event was clean and relatively slough-free. I stopped fighting as rain threatened and spent the rest of the day in my tent, hiding from a four-hour deluge of rain, hail and God knows what else. That night I skipped Claw feast to run into town for pizza and some pool.
Friday dawned and I decided to see the sights, climbing the nearby mountain. That took most of the morning, since my puny lungs required many, many rests. I spent a moment enjoying the view and then climbed down. After the climb I was pretty useless for fighting so I spent the afternoon watching the jugging tourney. Expecting to see Amtgard's finest rhinos, I was pleasantly surprised to see they were a definite minority: almost every team ran a clean, honorable game. The final matches between the Wolves, Triads and Rogues were great for their intensity and quality. The Rogues pulled off a victory over the Triads but it was very close. Six of the ten positions had been shattered by the winning point. Through it all, a professional camera team was filming the tourney to see if Rutger Hauer was interested. I can just imagine a second Blood of Heroes filled with Amtgard extras. Too bad we weren't in Star Wars, too. After the jugging, I spent a few minutes listening to performance pieces in Olympiad and was duly impressed with the quality. Friday evening I tried the Wolf feast (beef stew and salad) but it wasn't very exciting, so I finished off the meal with hoarded snacks. Friday night I spent shivering in front of the Neverwinter fire, watching the other Floridians trying to stay warm.
Saturday was the Olympiad warskill tourney: the largest, smoothest tourney I have ever seen. Over 100 candidates went through six, double-elimination categories in six hours. Like the fighting before, there was little sloughing and attitudes were very good. I was mightily impressed and pleased after it was over. After the tourney I stopped by the big tent and took a peek at A&S entries. Overall, the quality of entries was good but there seemed to be a strong minority of mediocrity -- stuff I wouldn't have entered myself. After the tourney I wandered over to the main tent to help Roger's Raiders scrambling to finish setting up for feast. The feast itself was simply awesome, with china, silverware and servers for everyone. Their barbecue dinners have a well-deserved reputation for excellence and they pulled out all the stops for this. I don't normally like attending feast but I was glad I was at this one. The only flaws were some of the veggie appetizers had gone bad and the food arrived slowly. My opinions of court are mixed. First, it should be stated that I hate court: I can think of a hundred things I would rather do. I found the long list of obligatory thank-yous and announcements fairly uninteresting but it was worth the wait to see Michael knighted: an affirmation of his previous three and the awarding of his serpent belt. An emotional ceremony to cap off the evening. I left immediately after, as I wasn't feeling well and missed congratulating MHOG until the next morning. I fell into bed and missed the rest of Saturday night.
Sunday morning was cleanup and goodbyes. I was happy to be returning to civilization but I'd miss the new friends I made. I spent a few hours kibbitzing and cleaning before I jumped in the van and zipped off the airport. On the way home, I realized the event had succeeded in the most important way possible: I want to go back next year.
Grades (My Choice of 8 Broad Categories)
Site Location and Air-Travel Friendliness: C+ (Denver is a great airport but the site is two hours away. The nearest town was close but its resources were limited. Wal-Mart or an equivalent was an hour away.)
Site Itself: B+ (The site itself was beautiful and had the majority of facilities needed for an event. Lack of cooking facilities meant that feasts were challenging to prepare. Some vehicles had difficulty handling the road slope and tiny bridge. In addition, the altitude made normal activities a chore. I did not factor in weather, since it was considered unusual.)
Feast: C/A (Wolf feast was uninspired but the Raiders' feast was damn impressive, if a bit slow. I did not attend the Claw feast.)
Court: B (Some events were memorable but there was a lot of filler that made it drag along.)
Ditching: A (Great fighting, great attitudes and a lit field. It was a bit cramped, though.)
Battle Games: B- (The castle battles were OK, but gave too great an advantage to spellcasters, archers and polemen. If you weren't one of these, you were mostly a target. I did not play in any other games)
Other Planned Activities: A+ (The archery tourney and kids quest went well. Jugging was hard hitting and pretty clean. And for art-sci AND fighting you can't do better than Olympiad. Almost every event I attended went off on or near its planned time.)
People and Attitudes: A (The entire time I was there people were good-natured and helpful. This was an exception to my previous interkingdom events, which had an edge of nastiness and arrogance.)
Many of the events were great but the Olympiad warskill tourney stands out. It was a combination of everything I want to see in fighting. Good organization made the bouts go very quickly and I didn't stand around for more than 5 minutes before my next match. Usually it was much faster. In addition, the fighters were on their best behavior. These factors allowed me to focus on fighting new people, testing my skills and enjoying the event.
The weather and altitude. The combination of the rain and thin air made the first couple of days uncomfortable. Both of these problems abated over time but they were definitely an irritant.
Next event: Ask Michael!
[ discuss on forums ]