I'm finally almost back up and running after Avatar, so it's time to write a review while everything is still somewhat fresh in my mind.
Before I continue I want to make it clear that this review is my perception and I'm 100% sure that some will have another opinion, which is perfectly OK :-)
Avatar 2009 day -1 (aka the day before the game starts)
I arrived in the evening with wonderful Belgian weather at the game site (aka it rained). I was happily surprised by the work already done, factions tents were all set up, the wall was there, player tents were being raised. For me personally, my main concern were the new Viking Tent Canvas that I made with my mum for Arrowhead Event. I was really anxious to know how they held in the rain and I have to say that they held wonderful, not a single drop of rain entered them, special points to my mum for making them :-).
Upon saying hi to most people I checked out how things are. Besides some small logistics problems everything seemed ok. Since it rained I didn't set up my own tent and checked if someone needed my help. When there was a dry moment I started setting up my tent, which means that it, of course, started to rain again, but some 15 mins later my tent was up and I could start moving my stuff in.
For the rest of the evening we got IC-ish and had great fun.
Day 1 - finishing touches and game start
After making sure all the logistics problem got taken care of I went to collect my Walkie (as Responsible Time Out (RTO) and Scenario responsible of the faction I had to get a Walkie from the organisation). While the Walkies were great I'll make sure to get my personal in-ear and mike next year, to decrease the break in IC-ness.
Next we had to bring the final touches to our camp as do our own check-in of our faction members.
Besides a small problem with one tents location everything went fine.
The game would normally start at 18h, but for some reason it took till 20h to start. Luckily I got informed via the Walkie thus I was able to communicate this to the faction.
All in all the only complaint of day 1 was the 'late' Time In.
Special points to the Organisation for the use of horses and carts to transport everything around. High improvement over the quads of the years before. Some extra points for the IC-ness of the crew. A great improvement against the Crew t-shirts of the previous years. In total I saw maybe 5 people with a crew shirt walking around against the 20-30 of the years before.
Day 2 - let hell break loose => storm, rain and Time Out
In the morning there was some great role-play when people from our faction (Koninkrijk) took some prisoners from our former faction (Vlammende Adelaars). For me this was the BEST moment of the whole event. Especially when I got confronted with my King and we had a difference in opinion. Thanks to all for the 100% IC role-play we had there, situations like this are for me the reason why I do LARP, thanks.
This day was also marked with a massive storm, some tents got broken, walls were blown away and at least one gate crashed down. Luckily no-one got badly hurt. The force of the storm made the Organisers decide to have a Time Out for at least half an hour in order to assess the damage and do some repairs. I did some checks on our camp and besides some ropes that needed extra tension nothing bad occurred in our camp.
The heavy rain was also perfect for me to show off my leather highwayman coat (made by my mum after those of The Brotherhood of the Wolf).
When most of the storm was over the Time In was called and the game continued.
Today I also had to organise a scenario for a group in our faction. Here I must say that the organisation was a bit dangerous by using real life torches on a muddy path with overhanging trees. The torches only became extremely dangerous when they were handed over to a player and that player got into a fight. Result: almost one player with his hair burned and almost another with the fur on his hat burned. Positive note: the organisation quickly took away the torch when the danger was apparant.
End result today for the organisation: some points lost by overusing the muddy tracks with they Manitou (modern day work lift kind of truck), resulting in muddy ways. The straw to fix this was delivered a bit too late. But I'm here just nitpicking. And some extra points lost for the dangerous situation with the torch.
Day 3 - sunshine, lolipops, ...
On Saturday the weather improved greatly and was marked by the first sunburns. This day was also the first with some dull moment. It also marked a quarantine in the city to take care of the plague that started on Friday. Soon this became an annoying OOC for the shops in the city and the quarantine was lifted for OOC reasons.
Then there was a blockage of the guilds where there was some presumed foul play by some people, making abuse of their RTO walkie and such. But since I have no more knowledge about it I can not make a call on who was right and who not. The end result was a lot of 'anger'.
But nothing really bad happened beside that.
In the evening I went to the Vlammende Adelaars for the performance of the tribal folk group Prima Nocte. While their musical performance was not flawless (I'm a musician in the folk scene myself so I notice those things :-P ) the show they gave was uber-great. Everybody was dancing, clapping, jumping, ... it was magical. After that performance we got to another camp and had some great fun there.
There was only one drawback of Saturday, the day after would be Sunday or the last day of the game. During this day I got a briefing of the planned events on Sunday and they really spoiled the event a bit for me. The organisers expected us to be up and ready at the battlefield at 9.30 that's a.m. in the morning. The aim of that fight would've been 1 guy getting some inside information about a treasure hunt that would take place Sunday afternoon.
But since a lot of people would be partying the last evening of the game till early hours I expected that not many would be there at 9.30
Day 4 - dull, dull and more dull moments
As I expected we were with only a small part of our faction at 10.30 on the battlefield. The battle was, of course, not yet started so we got with our 10-some warriors and the like on our spot on the battlefield and waited and waited and ... oh yeah, the sun was burning hot while we were waiting.
What could've been a great Avatar was completely screwed by the orchestrated events on Sunday. It was of course not a wonder that a lot of people started packing their stuff early.
The only positive note of Sunday was that by 17.00 our camp was cleaned up of everything except the stuff that would be picked up on Monday. Really a great THANK YOU to all the faction members for their help in the clean-up.
As I said in my previous post Avatar was good, not great nor bad, just good.
There were a lot of improvements but there were also some screw-ups.
My number 1 problem still is the participation fee and the fact that the organisers take 40% of the profit of all drinks sold. This while the faction needs to rent (or have) all the things in order to sell drinks (aka coolers, tent to use as bar, tables and benches, ...). For me it really feels that we are paying the organisation money in order to be able to earn extra money for them.
Also for 65 euro we are not getting a lot in return. If I compare that to what events like Conquest of Mythodea or Maelstrom offer for that money there is a big difference. At Maelstrom we get benches from the organisation for FREE.
Next are of course the Munchkin players. I really hate and hate and hate and ... the freaking kids and adult loosers who kill people during the game for nothing but the thrill of the kill. If you kill me then be sure to have an IC reason for it. On other big events that I've attended (Maelstrom, Conquest of Mythodea) I NEVER saw such behaviour. In this I would advice the organisers of Avatar to attend an event like Maelstrom or Conquest of Mythodea, just to get an idea of how Avatar could different.
Last bad point is of course the fact that Sunday was bad in my opinion. I had the feeling there was too much orchestration from the organisation to make us do stuff that some people just acted as if the game had already ended and they started packing.
I want to end this review with the fact that I got enough of good out of Avatar to be almost certain to come back next year. The only thing that would hold me back is if Avatar will still take 40% of our drink profit. If that's the case they should give us all the needed material to sell drinks for free.