Brokeloh, the location of ConQuest was only 2 hours away from the location of Drachenfest, and we covered the distance quickly. We passed the group check-in, and got another pair of wristbands - this time Jasminka and I got yellow NPC wristbands, and Petar got a red PC wristband.
Driving to the camp location is a bit different on ConQuest. Instead of the ring road and the large meadow people were driving on, ConQuest had several specially marked unload areas. Each camp would get its own, and there were several per meadow. The terrain was vastly different - while Drachenfest had basically two big, connected meadows where all the camps were and all the fights happened, ConQuest had several, large and small, separated by small bits of forest... Despite almost twice the number of people it felt less crowded. And it really had a vast playing space.
My play experience would also be quite different, despite plenty of similarities. I was also a NPC here, a part of the Black Ice army, your regular soldier (which are called Rakh) in Swarm 1. NPC camps on ConQuest are off-game, or out-time in the local lingo (which is nearly the same as on Drachenfest), but there's an in-time plot location which was pretty much always staffed (it was called APL in the local lingo, though I forgot what the abbreviation stands for - there were plenty of them scattered around the site).
Black Ice was working in shifts. The general idea was for two swarms to be active at one time, from morning until evening, to both present a challenge to players (by attacking camps) and provide opportunities for roleplay. The shift was twice a day, lasting two hours commonly followed by the two hours of readyness when we had to be available to gear up and go in 15 minutes. Then it was usually 3-4 hours of downtime when we'd be free to eat, shower, rest, or go out and roleplay.
Since we had over two days before the game would officially start, this was all explained to me in detail. And many other things, such as some of the game plot, what happened before, game lore and mentality we were supposed to have as NPCs.
In comparison, Drachenfest is a rather simple game (but one that works well for that concept), and on Drachenfest almost everything is done based on players' decisions... it's very freeform, like a sandbox. ConQuest has lots of lore, lots of story, lots of quests and plot... It is a world so detailed that it takes a while to get it, rich with fantasy and plot driven a lot by over a thousand of dedicated NPCs... and I was one of them.
That means I saw the plot from a different side than most players. I was there to provide the challenge, the fight... and the few chances I had to roleplay another character were my glimpses into player side of the event. And there was a lot to do... Really lot. Mythodea really does feel like a living, breathing fantasy country, with places to visit, towns, everything.
Town is a bit more commercial than the one on Drachenfest. There are more merchants, more vendors, and also a huge area next to it where there are several player camps bunched together - Wayfarer's Arrival, where the Grand Expedition was situated, was one of those.
Before the event started on Wednesday evening, we had the chance to get to know our camp-mates from Swarm 1. As it's an out-time camp, modern tents were common, though there were plenty of canvas tents around as well. NPC camps were many, they were small in comparison to player camps, and they were usually circular with a common area in the middle, with tarps, gazebos or other forms of rain and sun shelter in the middle.
Swarm 8 was a notable one. They had music, pool, and various deliveries of goodies. Luxury NPC-ing. We were more modest in that regard, but we also had some notable people in Swarm 1. There was Mario, who was helping everyone... he also brought lots of small pendants he made for Black Ice and Undead NPCs, featuring laser-cut faction symbols. Thorsten was another great guy... in fact it was him who gave me a whole lot of info about Black Ice before the game. He explained a lot, in detail, every time I had a question. There was also a group of Dutch players in our swarm, and we hanged out a lot with them. And plenty of other people, it would be too long to mention them all.
And then on Wednesday evening it started, and we went ahead to our quest location. We went in an aggressive manner, provoking the players into an attack. Tactics employed by the Black Ice army were more advanced and more brutal than those used by Copper army on Drachenfest. While both were similar in terms of "uniformed soldiers performing an orderly march", the fights at Mythodea seemed more tactical. We were splitting our forces, surrounding players, doing quick formation changes, guarding several points at once... and other things.
Each Swarm is split into fists. I was in second fist, which performed a special duty in Swarm 1 - we were skirmishers. As the main column of our swarm was passing, there were always some random people to the side - it was our duty to "clear" them when called, and then to rejoin the main column when our duty was done. We also fought many smaller groups, reinforced our flanks while fighting in line, and ran behind enemy backs. I saw undead having their own skirmishers. Looking at the NPCs fighting in Mythodea is dangerous to a character's health...
These tactics were probably made possible due to large and varied terrain where they proved easier to execute than on the open meadow of Drachenfest. There were other differences in fights - they were longer than on Drachenfest, they included everyone who was there whether they liked it or not, and actually there was somewhat more bad play like hitting harder and ignoring shots. Unlike on Drachenfest, death is permanent on ConQuest - and we were told some players tend to panic a bit when they come close to losing their characters.
But this is actually due to the sheer number of people playing. There's a lot of people on Mythodea, and while I had some bad moments there, I've also seen some of the best roleplaying in my life. I'll never forget when we were helping out the Undead on Friday. They needed extra undead, so people from Swarm 1 got attached to the Lairdom of Flowerfield as extra undead. We put on some clothes quickly, and our friendly undead make-up artists got some quick make-up on our faces. We weren't looking quite as good as the "real" undead, but it was a start. We swarmed the Magic camp and broke through the door when several of the best looking mages I saw in my life collectively held hands and chanted, and they managed to erect a protective barrier... and in the end push us back. A very memorable moment.
Those undead also helped us as extra Black Ice on Thursday, and we did some attacks together on Saturday, which was quite nice. And it was not the only surprize there - I actually found a Croatian girl called Lucija in Flowerfield. She lives in Germany, but she's still Croatian. It was very nice to meet someone speaking the same language all the way there. And from what I heard, there were more people of Croatian background on ConQuest...
However, Black Ice did more than just fight. On our plot location there was some roleplaying with players (as well as fighting whenever players wanted to do so). Smaller group of players went there to RP with us - we even got some groups who willingly joined us.
In the downtime, there were plenty of opportunities from roleplay with players. I played one of my characters, and followed Martin around for a while when he was trying to find a healer for the cure for Pestilence for one of his campmates. We saw some important NPCs, and hid from a storm. I managed to visit them again together with my wife, who would discuss healer information and roleplay with people as well. We also joined a group of bards who were playing songs in the Grand Expedition camp... Like on Drachenfest, there was something happening in every corner of Mythodea, no matter where you went. Plot locations were quite busy, and there were always some combat NPCs active for players that wanted some action.
Again, there was the end fight. This time our army was larger as pretty much all NPCs went to the field. "Ich bin das Auge!", yelled our general, Argus. "Wir sind der Sturm", replied all of us at the same time. It was epic... and very powerful. We were marching behind the Viinshar, and then undead engaged the players on the big field near Neutral, Magic and Grand army camps, clearing us the way to go towards the Air camp where there was our objective, a portal. We sieged the air camp (with the help of our golem) and guarded the entrance to the field, while our "priests" and the undead Bone Queen opened a portal - once it was open (signified by purple smoke), Argus and Bone Queen entered it. With the players getting reinforcements, our defense soon collapsed, and the fight was over.
ConQuest provided a strong plot, a strong direction, amazing visuals, excellent terrain and logistics. It seemed to complement my experience at Drachenfest nicely - the two games had different direction, and excelled in different things.
I saw some bad game and bad roleplay, but most people I met were good players, and ConQuest of Mythodea is still the place where I've seen some of the best roleplaying in my life.
We returned to Croatia Sunday morning, exhausted and totally humbled by the experience we had in Germany. I realized that this article could be twice the size it is, and still it would be hard to describe all the nice and interesting moments we had and atmosphere that was there. All in all it was a great experience.