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Briscon and Maelstrom: the agony of choice

If you'd been paying attention, children, you'd remember that in the last issue of PTG, PTB, we informed you that Briscon, Brisbane's premiere gaming event was to be held this coming May Day long weekend (2nd - 4th). However, during the last two months it has come to our attention that this weekend will also play host to Maelstrom, Brisbane's, er, other premiere gaming event. So now you, the consumer, have a choice of gaming for the long weekend.

Seriously, though, it shouldn't come down to a choice of one or the other. The last thing the fragmented Brisbane gaming community needs is for our one opportunity to unite to become fragmented itself! So if something catches your eye at both, try to get to both. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, the PTG, PTB staff will, at this stage, only be able to get to Briscon, but we'll try to get someone out to Maelstrom as well.

What are these things, you say? Briscon and Maelstrom are both gaming conventions. They both involve people coming together to play wargames, strategy games, collectible card games and role-playing games. They will also both offer games for sale (new and second-hand), and food and plenty of entertainment. And they both will be a fun day out and a great way to meet fellow gamers.

So much for the similarities; what are the differences? Briscon is being held at the University of Queensland (St Lucia campus) in and around the newly refurbished Union Complex. Maelstrom is being held at the less central Moreton Tafe College, which is at 1030 Cavendish Road, Mt Gravatt. Briscon is the older of the two, but perhaps the smaller this year. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it tends to mean Briscon can be more attentive to each gamers individual needs (they are always looking for advice and helpers) and they can be more adventurous with the choice of games they provide.

However, it does mean their charges are slightly higher than those of Maelstrom, who have scored some great sponsorship deals, with their major sponsor being the hot Brisbane-based computer company Auran, makers of Dark Reign. Other sponsors include Croftminster (the Australian distributors of Magic), Games Workshop and Ral Partha. This high amount of sponsorship not only keeps costs down, but also gives them a stack of great prizes to give away, including a hand crafted Klingon sword, and the "Lost in Space" robot (Danger, Will Robinson!). It also allows Maelstrom to run dances, displays and even movies during the weekend. Briscon will, of course, be running some demonstrations and displays also, plus continuous games of Pass the Pigs all weekend long!

The major difference between the two, however, is their focus. Maelstrom is sub-titled "The Queensland Gaming Titles", and hence it focuses more on games you can win than it does on role-playing. There are a few role-playing games scheduled (AD&D and WFRP) but the focus of the event is clearly wargames and strategy games: Warhammer 40K, Battletech, Warzone, Robo-Rally, Talisman, all manifestations of CCGs and some old favourites like Chess, Go, Monopoly and Scrabble.

Whereas, the chief focus of Briscon is role-playing games. Though there are a considerable amount of wargames and CCG tournaments included, Briscon is devoting most of its efforts into RPGs, providing more than eighteen different scenarios to participate in. These games cross many different systems and genres, and even include free-form and Live-Action role-playing. The weekend will be a chance for gamers to find new levels and styles of gaming and to stretch their role-playing skills to exciting new heights. As a magazine about role-playing then, and not one about all that other stuff that RPGs are so often associated with, we give all our support and applause to Briscon and the great work its organisers do.

So we hope to see you out there on the weekend, at either one. But if you haven't signed up yet, you better get your skates on! You can get full details on Briscon at the webpage here, or you can contact Travis Hall on (07) 3397 5118 or email at For more about Maelstrom, you can contact Keith Done on (07) 3803 4302 or email Or, if you're the athletic type, you can pull your butt out of that chair and run down to your local gaming store. They're sure to have all the details.

Lastly, if you are into the kind of games Maelstrom is running, you may enjoy a new fanzine which has recently appeared throughout Brisbane. It's called "Adventures on a TableTop" and deals with all manner of table-top games. It's classy and well-produced, and packed full of info for gamers. On top of all that, it's free and it fits in the palm of your hand. Great to see another fanzine treading the boards. Pick yourself up a copy, wherever good games are sold, or call them at 3397 3770 (you lazy bastard).


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