Northern Kings – A review so far – Part One

This past weekend, 1st and 2nd June 2019, was important for two reasons. Firstly you had the birthday of an incredibly smart, sexy, champion Kings of War player and all round modest guy, me, and also the Northern Kings held our first two day tournament.

We’ve been up and running for about 18 months now. Our first event was the 18th May 2019 and there were several months of planning leading up to that. I think now is a good time for a review of where we are as an organisational team and what the future holds.

Northern Kings GT 2020

The first thing to announce is that we’re going to make the Northern Kings GT an annual event, taking place in late May/early June. Our bread and butter will still be one day events taking place throughout the year, but we’ll be running a two day tournament each year as well. We’ll be calling this one the Northern Kings GT rather than having a unique name for it like other events.

We’ve not decided anything more than that (and probably wont until December), just that we’ll be running another two day event around the same time next year.

Our Aim with Northern Kings

I guess I should go right back to the start.

Myself, Elliot and Tom are local Kings of War players (we all live within 10 minutes of each other) who really enjoy going to and playing in tournaments. In Clash of Kings 2017, Mantic introduced the team element where a group of 4 players could win a team award. Elliot and Tom knew Adam from the WHFB days, so invited him along to take us up to a team of 4. He tried out Kings of War and loved it as much as we do. All of his WHFB skills immediately transferred over and he was soon in a very good space skill wise despite being brand new to the game.

After the event (and winning the team award), we all agreed that we wanted to see more tournaments in the grim darkness of Up North. While all of us were fine running a tournament, there’s the unfortunate side effect in that if you run multiple tournaments then you don’t often get to actually play.

Between the four of us, the solution was simple.  We’d form a team and rotate the duty of TO and spare player between us. The other team members would be able to enter as fully paid up attendees. This was perfect since not only could we increase the number of events Up North, we could split the organisation between us and play to our strengths (Adam being fantastic at arranging food and venues, Elliot and me being great on the technical side of things etc).

We soon decided on the Northern Kings branding and some key points that we would want our brand to be known for:

  • Well organised and consistently well run Kings of War tournaments
  • Great food
  • Recognition of achievements by players outside of the podium

We decided that we would keep the formats of our events simple and straightforward. We’d leave the more unique things, such as special event characters and whacky scenarios to other tournaments. We would concentrate on delivering solid, by the book events.

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The Food

I’d say we’ve done fairly well with food, though some events have been a bit of a let down for the standards we set ourselves. That’s not to say the more disappointing events have had poor food, they were just average.

We started flying high by finding The Lord of Pies for our first event, with their amazing pies and meal deal (only heathens opted not to have gravy). Four Foot Snake liked them so much that they decided to have pies for their event too.

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I think we’ve nailed the daytime food for our Element Games events.

However, I feel that the events we’ve held in Sheffield at The Outpost have been a let down for the standards we set ourselves. For our first event we arranged for burritos, which we’ve had before at The Outpost and they’ve been great. Unfortunately some people weren’t so keen on this.

For the next event in Sheffield, we struggled for alternative food but found a great sounding sandwich shop that had a catered event menu. It sounded oh-so great on paper but… was a bit disappointing and not much better than a subway buffet.

So we’re struggling with catering in Sheffield. It’s definitely something that I want to nail for our next event there.

For A Tale of One Kingdom, I think we nailed the daytime food with pies on one day and pizza on the second. One of our objectives is to find somewhere that can cater Yorkshire pudding wraps, but so far we’ve come up short for local places that can handle it.

Unfortunately I felt that the evening buffet was a bit of a let-down. I’m not sure where there was a communications breakdown, but what we got was definitely not what we were expecting when we booked it. We were expecting an endless supply of pub grub like chilli, chips, lasagne and curry. What we got was a typical beige buffet with sausage rolls, sandwiches, quiche etc. Again it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t up to the standards we set ourselves and it wasn’t what we were expecting. We will definitely be improving on this for the Northern Kings GT 2020.

Overall, despite a couple of instances where the food wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be, I think we’ve done a good job at getting awesome food. At our worst we’re still above the average standard of Subway buffet for food, we just need to find a better solution for Sheffield.

“You guys win your own events!!”

We see this a bit and it is true, but it’s hard to read whether people are laughing about it or it’s actual critique that people are unhappy with. I’m going to confront it either way because we’re actually a little worried that if people read it the wrong way (and we do hope it’s joking around), it could be off-putting or give our events a little bit of a negative reputation.

We started the Northern Kings team so that we could play in more events. At any event one of us will be the TO, one will be the standby player, and the other two pay to enter, same as anyone else. We do share organisational duties, so the paid up players are privy to some of the planning, such as food and venue, however they have nothing to do with list submissions, doing the first round draw etc.

The paid up players are treated no differently to anyone else on the day. If anything, any TO decisions, such as whether a unit is in range or not when it’s difficult to precisely tell, are likely to fall against the other Northern Kings members because we don’t want to be seen as favouring our teammates.

The spare player can compete, will generally take a softer, more fun list (Adam took Tom’s Kingdoms of Men list rather than his Goblin fleabag list as spare player for example) and is ineligible for any awards. Any awards that they do win are handed down to the next person, as happened this last event with Elliot handing down the 1st place trophy (admittedly to Adam) and from Tom to Dan King at the previous event.

We do quite often podium at our events, most recently with Elliot taking 1st place and Adam 2nd place at A Tale of One Kingdom this past weekend, however this is no different to other events we go to as a group. Me and Elliot went down to Black Dragon recently and took 2nd and 3rd. Me, Elliot and Tom went to the Easter Beaster over in Preston. We took 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Winning or at least getting a podium position at tournaments is fairly normal for us, humble brag as it is, so doing well at our own events is nothing out of the ordinary.

 

We also make sure to spend the prize budget on all players, not the winners. The winners get a relatively inexpensive trophy and the remaining prize budget is either spent on food (our food budget is around twice that of other events) or prizes that are raffled off. For A Tale of One Kingdom, Mantic sent us £60 worth of vouchers for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. We decided to raffle those vouchers off instead since we felt there was a fair chance that one of us would win one. In the end, Adam actually got drawn as a winner for one of the vouchers so we redrew the ticket and gave the voucher to someone else.

The final point that I want to make is that we don’t make any money from these events. We actually lose a little money overall (the sweet treat tray and some of the evening buffet came out of our own pockets this weekend). Even if we win a trophy, we’re not getting money back.

I understand that people are joking around (I hope it’s joking and no genuine sourness), but in case anyone isn’t or anyone thinks it’s serious, I wanted to explain our position. The paid up players are treated exactly the same as any other player, if not slightly disadvantaged for any TO decisions and lack of raffle prizes, and the standby player is ineligible for any awards. We do often podium at our own events, but we do at other events as well.

We do want to encourage new players or for people who play casually to try out organised play. The last thing we’d want is for them to read the jokes as serious comments and decide not to come along. We’ve seen new players at every single event we’ve run and we want to keep seeing new players in the future!

More Thoughts

I’ve got more thoughts to come but my word document was getting very lengthy, so I’ve decided to split this article into two. More coming soon!

In the meantime please do share any feedback you have on our events and how you feel they’ve gone. If there’s anything that we can improve then please do shout up!

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