Experiencing your first CoK

As I write this, we’re now less than 3 weeks away from the UK Clash of Kings 2018.

Mantic have over 70 people booked on last time I checked, making this the biggest UK event of the year – more than doubling the next biggest events. Among that number there will be veterans and regulars to the tournament scene such as myself, and there will also be some people going to it for the very first time.

Well here’s what to expect.

The Atmosphere

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Tournaments are all about the atmosphere. I often liken going to tournaments to going to a convention. They’re a celebration of the hobby. You get to meet up with other fans of the game, see awesome armies and yes, play some fantastic games.

Kings of War tournaments are extremely friendly and Clash of Kings is no different. The WAAC players from other games that give organised/competitive play a bad name won’t be there. In all my years attending KoW tournaments, I’ve only ever had a couple of games against That Guy. Everyone else has been an awesome opponent and great fun to hang out with.

The Venue

Element Games, this year’s venue for CoK, is my favourite gaming venue in the UK. I have to give a shout out to Black Oil in Brno, Czech Republic as my favourite but space would sadly get a little cramped in there for 70+ players!

Element has a massive selection of boards with great terrain and those boards are nicely spread out. They’re not crammed together in massive rows like in some other gaming venues. They normally have some sideboard space for placing books, dice and drinks and a great gap in between.

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The shop is something to behold. I’ve seen many people comment that they would go to Warhammer World if they were able to do a supermarket sweep, but I can tell you that are wrong. They should go to Element Games. The range of products on offer is simply staggering, from Games Workshop to Mierce and with every paint range you can think of. All with a very generous discount.

Gaming

There’s a myth that I commonly see that you have to be an experienced player to attend a tournament. This simply isn’t true. I can understand where this comes from – there’s a lot of smack talk that goes on but this is purely banter and there’s absolutely nothing meant by it.

There’s a huge range of players at any event, especially at one as large as this. There will be top players but there will be mid-ranged players, very casual “fun at all costs” players and even brand new to the game players. I’ve managed to convince a friend of mine to go and he’s only ever played two games of Kings of War before. I know he’ll have a great time. Every skill level is represented and catered for.

Don’t feel that you have to reach a certain level or have a certain level of completion in your army. Sure, there are bonus points for having a fully painted force, but you will still have a fantastic weekend of gaming.

Competition <> dick behaviour

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There’s also the sub-myth that games are played hyper competitively with pixel perfect measurement, players bending the rules and using downright horrific army lists. This simply isn’t true. Well, mostly – there will be a few players dotted about with horrific army lists but the majority will have something far more balanced.

On the contrary to the competitive nature of a tournament, the games in Kings of War events are very relaxed affairs. Players are helpful to each other and are very forgiving of take-backsies.

The fact that we use chess clocks can sometimes make it appear like these are stressful events but that’s not the case either – my friend who played his 2nd game of KoW the other weekend played it on the clock. He had plenty of time left on it at the end. The clock is simply there to make sure that one player isn’t deliberately slow playing and stalling – it’s not there to rush or stress you.

Honestly the level of competitiveness is very similar to what you’d expect at a relaxed local gaming club. At the top level the competition can get stronger with top players bringing their A-game, but it never gets heated.

Hobby

I’m sure many people in the community are well aware that I wish UK tournaments could do more to promote hobby with a greater number of events including soft scores (additional tournament points for painting and/or sportsmanship), but that’s not to say that hobby is in any way lacking. Much the contrary!

You’ll be able to see some fantastic armies on display. Chris Walsh and Paul Welsh are two names that come up time and time again, for very good reason, but there are many other top hobbyists who are proud to show off their latest creations.

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They are also very happy to talk at length about hobby techniques. If you want to improve your hobby then there aren’t many better times to get top tips from these guys! Everyone is excited to share their techniques with those interested and viewing all those great armies can give you inspiration for your next one.

Much like with the competitiveness, that doesn’t mean to say that there’s any sort of hobby requirement or standard to be expected. Many players who attend are interested more in the gaming side than the hobby side so spend their time gaming instead of painting. There will be newer players who are bringing their first army. There’s nothing to be intimidated about.

Social

It’s said that tournaments are often more about the social experience than anything else and I think that’s very true. Many people go to these events simply to meet other players and enjoy their company. Players will socialise throughout the day and well into the night. Some will have a few drinks, some will have a lot of drinks and some will have no drinks.

It’s very common for people to stick around playing various board games on the Saturday night (and often on the Friday night too). This year Mantic has promised to run various games, including a pub quiz late into the night.

It’s also quite common for people to go out for a meal after the games. I personally tend to avoid a heavy meal since everyone is so shattered afterwards, but the option is definitely there.

Of course, not everyone does want to socialise – again that’s fine too. One regular recently remarked to me that playing their games was enough socialisation and they don’t want to hang out outside of that. You’re not required to hang around – you can head straight back to your hotel room after the games are done and no-one will think any less if that’s what you want to do.

I want to do social stuff but I don’t know anyone

You will. You will meet people, not just those who you are playing but their mates and everyone around. Ask someone about their army, ask one of the master painters about their paint jobs. If you still don’t know anyone? Come and find me. I’ll be the short fat bald one wearing a grey “Northern Kings” t-shirt. Say hi!

It’s what you make of it

A lot of this article is talking about “you can do this, but you can also choose not to.” It’s accurate. Tournaments are what you want to make of them. You can come and hang out with other people who love the game and shoot the shit while playing some very casual games, you can also come with the intent of winning and that’s perfectly fine too.

I enjoy all of the main aspects of the tournament. I love meeting and chatting to other players, I love seeing those awesome armies, I love hanging out after dark and I love to play some great games against other Kings of War fans.

Whatever you want the tournament to be is what it can and will be. If Kings of War excites you then no matter what aspect you’re into, the Clash of Kings is a fantastic weekend away.

6 thoughts on “Experiencing your first CoK

  1. I’m a Spanish player, I try to play all Regionals and Nationals in Spain, even some minor events in local clubs or new groups that are giving a try to the game, and I have to admit that Nick is right.
    Of course, there is always ThAt GUy kind of people, I can say that I only met 1 guy who I prefer not playing with him again, but he was only little bit rude not a cheater, but they are rare because their attitude is not accepted in the groups.

    I will be visiting Manchester for Swords of Summer this August, my first tournament outside my country, and I’m really nervous ’cause the language barrier, but I’m sure I will have tons of fun.

    I want to go to the craddle of my favourite game and meeting the most famous players.

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      1. Yeah! I will be visiting UK with my girlfriend, other KoW mate (he will play too) and his wife.
        We are going to stay in UK for one week, we want to visit some places. In special Mantic HQ and maybe Warhammer World (?), I don’t remember the name of the GW’s hq in Nottingham.

        Of course, you’re the #1 in my list, I have been following your posts in FB and the old Mantic’s forums for years, we have even chat via FB few times.
        I know you enjoyed a lot with my Spanish friends in all UK Clash of Kings hahahahahahahaha

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      2. The Spaniards are famous over here 😉

        If you want I’m happy to show you round York (old medieval city, more touristy) or even Leeds (modern metropolitan city). Both are just a short train over from Manchester or Nottingham. I cant drive I’m afraid so it would be a walking tour of either one!

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