I’ve done a lot this year.
Near year resolutions and all that has had me thinking about things to change in my hobby, which lead me to try and remember what my 2019 resolutions were, which lead me to try and tally up everything I’ve done in 2019.
Turns out there’s quite a lot.
In fact, every time I thought I was getting close to the end of this article I thought of another achievement.
So here’s some chest thumping.
Man, it was this year that I put together my Kings of War Brotherhood army. Seems much longer than that.
It was built and painted in the first couple of months of 2019, along with the display board. This was with a continuous unbroken hobby streak (which would last into April) where I would do at least 30 minutes of hobby every single day.
This army went on to win several best army awards, including best army at Another Four Foot Snake Thing.
Unfortunately it’s had a few chips here and there, and with 3rd edition invalidating it I’m going to look at selling it, and the display board off shortly.
I built and painted a complete Ogre army for Kings of War, including a displayboard and sculpted fur pelts on every single one of them, in two weeks.
It doesn’t look great, there are ridiculous shortcuts taken, but two weeks.
This was in the run-up to Adepticon. I needed a Mantic army. I couldn’t get an Abyssal build I was happy with, due to the shite rules for Chroneas in Clash 2019 (and nerfing of Efreets – I could have handled one of them being made shite but not both), my Abyssal Dwarfs were missing key units… In my infinite wisdom I decided to build a new army.
I’ve gone on to great gaming success with the army, netting 3rd place at Adepticon with my first time using it (I got the 2nd place award which had been handed down) in a room of I think 60 people? I also achieved 2 podium positions with it in the UK.
Wow yeah. Adepticon. Great experience and fantastic tournament. Travelling to the US for an event is always incredible, but Adepticon was jaw dropping for its size. For me to take a brand new army that I’d never used before or practised and achieve 3rd place… I mean it speaks volumes to US players, doesn’t it 😉
Personal life – CPAP Machine
In February I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. It wasn’t a surprise, at all.
What was surprising was just how incredible a CPAP machine was. Life changing literally overnight. The first night I used it, I barely slept because hey – it’s a strange sensation and quite uncomfortable at first. Despite barely sleeping, I felt better rested than I had in years. By the second night I was used to it and now I cannot sleep without it.
Symptoms of sleep apnea can include drowsiness, irritability and mood swings (sound familiar?), depression and a whole host of other problems.
While my mental health isn’t 100% there, the turnaround in just a few short days and the sensation of “this is what normal is supposed to feel like?” was overwhelming.
The only reason I brought this up here is because I remembered losing my travel adaptor plug on the flight over to Adepticon, and had to spend the first day at Adepticon having slept without the CPAP. My god that was rough…
Northern Kings – Events
It’s hard to believe that we only ran two events last year. A Coming Storm and A Tale of One Kingdom (retroactively renamed to Northern Kings GT 2019).
The Northern Kings GT in particular ran like a dream. It was the weekend of my birthday and I spent it running the event.
Initially we had planned to run it as a team event, but unfortunately ticket sales just weren’t taking off. We made the decision rather late in the day to switch to a standard singles event. Considering how late the switch was, we were very happy with 24 players.
We had brilliant timing for the event with every game running on time and there being a very casual, relaxed atmosphere. The quiz night was a stonking success and definitely something we’re doing again this year.
The only negative about the weekend was noise complaints about our event from a group of painters who were in the same room.
Looking forward to 2020 and we’re in for a great year. We’ve got two one day events in the diary, including one clocks of war format (one of my favs), and the Northern Kings GT 2020 has already had 31 ticket sales with more than 6 months to go. We’re hoping to have the second largest event in the year (after Clash of Kings) and well on track for that.
Northern Kings – Gaming
As a team we’ve done really well this year, consistently winning or achieving podiums at events. We’ve each had multiple podiums throughout the year, and if you include Masters 2018 (which took place in January), we’ve all won a major event.
One of our great achievements was The Easter Beaster, where we took 1st, 2nd and 3rd!
I finally got my arse in gear and completed an Ork army I was proud of.
As expected, it was a tournament giving me a deadline that got it done. This was a casual, narrative focused event in Lincoln… and I really enjoyed it. I had a blast at the event playing 40k with three great opponents and seeing some beautiful armies.
I was absolutely gobsmacked to pick up the best army award.
At 1500 points it was a little on the small side, so one of my aims for 2020 is to bump the army up to 2000 points (or more!).
Clash of Kings Diorama
For the Clash of Kings UK painting competition there was a best diorama award.
I was planning on taking my Brotherhood army which wouldn’t qualify for painting because it was non-Mantic, and I felt that competition for unit/army awards would be too hot for me to really stand a chance. So I decided to build and paint a diorama, hoping that with a relatively low number of entries I might stand a chance.
Turns out I did stand a chance, since I was the only one who entered the diorama competition!
While I won by default, I’d like to think I’d stand a chance with a few more entries…
The diorama is now nicely sat in the reception area of Mantic on display.
I built and launched http://www.kowmasters.com for the UK Kings of War rankings and event diary.
I’ve dabbled with web development and my day job is writing macros and playing with SQL, so learning to write a database website wasn’t entirely without foundation, but man was it a big effort.
Since then it’s become a huge success, with more tweaks and upgrades to the site giving much more information than ever for UK Rankings. The event calendar has been key in helping TO’s manage the UK’s overall diary of events, and things like downloadable army lists are very welcome features for the UK Kings of War community.
One of the main reasons to develop a rankings site was to bring it back under UK control and give a clear direction to the organised play scene. I brought together TO’s and players into the Masters Committee, to set the rules for ranking and generally organise the scene.
There’s been ups and downs with it but I think we’ve got a good working pattern now and have been able to develop solutions to problems that were facing the UK scene in a way that everyone appreciates. In particular we’ve developed the new rankings formula, changed how the seasons will work in future, made decisions on how to handle soft scores and many other benefits.
We’re in really good shape to continue to assist the UK scene and help develop it further.
UK Masters 2019
I was back and forth on whether to include this, because it wasn’t an absolute resounding success in my opinion, but in the end the result of it will be positive improvements for the UK community.
First of all I felt the actual tournament side of Masters went very well. Games were played, everything ran to schedule (ahead of, in fact) and it just worked. I mean it’s probably the easiest event in the calendar to TO since you’re dealing with very experienced players who could run the event without a dedicated TO very easily. Still, I’m happy all the set up worked.
Secondly I think the decision to bring the event forward to December 2019 was the right one. If it had been held as it is normally in the middle of January, then we would still be waiting for it and 3rd edition in the UK would feel quite on-hold while we waited for Masters to finish. A 2nd edition event still to happen would be irrelevant and I would just want it over so I could move onto 3rd edition.
On a downside, the venue was appalling. Sanctuary Gaming Centre has always been known as a cold venue, and everyone knew that going in. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how bad the venue had gotten and how disgusting it was.
The floor hadn’t been swept in weeks and there was a thick layer of dust and rubbish under the tables. There were piles of rubbish in the corners, with more thick layers of dust on top. The door was broken. It would have taken five minutes to fix. Instead of taking five minutes to fix it, they decided to keep the door open all weekend. In a church. In the middle of winter. With no heating. This wasn’t a new development for them.
Sanctuary has always been cold, but the state of it is terrible. While they say that they’re moving to a new venue soon, if they’re not doing absolute basic stuff like TAKING FIVE MINUTES TO FIX THE DOOR or sweeping the floor then I wouldn’t trust them with a new venue either.
I suggested the venue to the rest of the Masters Committee, and for that I take responsibility and have apologised to the Masters attendees.
This rant is going to come across as arrogant, but I’m pissed off enough at the subject that I don’t care.
I’ve always felt like I was on the losing side of any discussion on hobby standards or requirements at UK events.
From outright hostility to the idea of even one event per year running soft scores (one fucking event awarding hobby as well as gaming – ONE event) to the meltdowns over MMC (fucking 50% +1 – wind your neck in if you think that’s in any way restrictive), any sort of discussion of hobby seemed to be fraught with nothing but drama.
I think the hobby standards at Masters was a real low point for the UK scene.
I blame myself partly for not enforcing what was written in the pack (models must be painted and based) however from my perspective I just couldn’t stomach the resulting drama if I told people to remove models that didn’t meet the hobby requirements of the pack.
In retrospect I should have.
I was depressed looking at the standard of hobby at UK Masters and what the last few years of hostility in the UK towards the painting and modelling side of Kings of War had resulted in. Whether or not I did go and remove models, almost certainly causing a bunch of drama by doing so, players felt comfortable enough attending an event without meeting the minimum standards laid out in the pack.
A real low point, especially when people were jokingly voting best painted for armies that wouldn’t be allowed in other gaming systems. When I was first entering results for the best painted awards, we were looking at another Boaty McBoatFace situation and I was dreading whatever I would do as TO. I would either hand out the award as per the votes, make a mockery of best army awards and insult the players who had put massive time and effort into their armies, or cause more drama by refusing to go by player choice and give the award to an army that I personally felt “deserving” – as arrogant as that is.
I know I’m coming across quite angry and opinionated on this, and that’s because I am. I’ve been beating the hobby drum in the UK for the whole of 2nd edition and saying where we would end up if people didn’t grow up over MMC and soft scores, and the low point of UK Masters 2019 has proven me absolutely right.
Masters Hobby Feedback and the future
So this is meant to be a positive post about achievements in 2019, so the rant above feels out of place, I know. It leads into a positive change though.
Coming away from Masters and feeling simultaneously ashamed at hobby standards, while also relieved that I hadn’t had to make the decision on the Boaty McBoatFace vote, I was surprised at what happened next.
I received feedback from multiple people who were saying that same thing about painting requirements. I was shocked at one person in particular who I would have thought would be opposed to enforcing requirements – and they were feeding back that not only would they want enforcement done in future but that the basic requirements should be set higher.
I posted about it in Fanatics, expecting to kick off a whole bunch of drama… and I was shocked to see the community overwhelmingly agree with me. Hobby requirements in packs should start being enforced in the UK.
Not only that, but the photos tipped Adam of the Northern Kings over the edge to supporting soft scores at the Northern Kings GT and improving the definition of “a painted army” at our one day events. I’ve seen other TO’s say that they’re considering soft scores too.
While Masters 2019 was overall a low point for the UK scene hobby wise, I think the fallout from it will lead to a much renewed enthusiasm for hobby in the UK. Stronger hobby reflects well on a game – we see all the regular complaints about 40k and Warmachine events being a sea of grey plastic and that reflects very poorly on those scenes. Kings of War luckily hasn’t fallen that far but I think we’re going to see recovery before we do and with it an improved image for the game as a whole, making it more attractive to new players.