WPS CC 2001 or “Seven Go Mad in Nottingham” very year the Warhammer Players Society (WPS) run a weekend of competition in Nottingham called the Club Challenge (CC). The competition features many Games Workshop games, and allows wargames clubs to compete against each other. This year it was held on 28 th /29 th of April, and for the first time a SAD team was enteredFriday evening saw me setting off to Nottingham for the WPS CC. My first task was to pick up Warren , a simple task made difficult by the fact that he had moved earlier in the week and I didn’t know where he lived.
Thus it was that I confidently reversed into the drive of Warren ‘s old house and jumped out, wondering in passing why Warren had suddenly acquired a dog or two. Luckily Warren used to live next door to Jonathan Crisp, who saw my plight and came out to see me and direct me to where Warren lives. Once this simple hurdle had been crossed, I went to pick up Glenn and Luke. As we were leaving I casually asked if they had packed enough copies of their army lists. Nervous silence. We delayed our departure for furious printing of army lists, entertained by Luke’s teenage sister who kept up a running deprecation of the acts on Top Of The Pops.
With the Volvo heading north at a steady 25 miles per gallon we arrived in our luxury Travelodge in Leicester about 10.15 pm . Why Leicester ? Well, it was only 14 miles from the Games Workshop HQ in Nottingham where the WPS CC was to be held, and a desperate search for accommodation in Nottingham earlier in the week proved fruitless. The Travelodge was located next to a Little Thief, but sadly this stopped serving all-day breakfasts (or, indeed, anything) at 10pm , so we went to bed hungry. Er, did I say ‘went to bed’? Glenn casually remarked that he had a ‘few’ figures that needed ‘touching up’ and naturally we agreed to help. At 1am we finally applied the last brush-stroke to the umpteenth figure, and retired for the night.
Up at the crack of sparrows on Saturday we confidently marched into the Little Thief in search of all-day dinners, or whatever they serve at breakfast time instead of all-day breakfasts. Our table for four rapidly expanded as we were joined by Chris from Stevenage and Mike Walker. Now, gentle reader, wargamers never look their best in the morning, in my opinion, but the bleary eyed crowd using their coffee as cheap facial saunas were nothing compared to Mike Walker who had arrived at 4am, after staying up all night to finish 10 figures. He didn’t want to rush the painting of the ten figures because it would spoil the look of his army! Arrived at 4, up at 7 to get breakfast – top bloke.
Bolstered by our individual interpretations of an Early Starter, we set off for Nottingham . Glenn has been to GW HQ so many times he can find his way there blindfold. With such skills we managed to relegate him to the back seat whilst Warren and I treated our passengers to a brief and un-planned tour of Nottingham . After much driving around in circles (well, we were on a roundabout) we eventually spied an impressive building with a large model of a genetically-enhanced super-warrior and a towing eagle over it. Nazi-party building? Nope, GW HQ – we had arrived.
We unpacked and filed into the building. Everyone found their table, except for me. No one knew where the Blood Bowl competition was. I spoke to the organisers. They didn’t know where the Blood Bowl competition was. I spoke to the other seven Blood Bowl players (there were only eight of us) – they didn’t know where the Blood Bowl competition was. Eventually, we players allocated ourselves a place in the bar and set up our pitches. I won’t go into the details of every game, but suffice to say I came fifth out of eight. I missed two touchdowns in my third game, needing two or more on a die roll each time and rolling a one. If either of them had been made I would have got enough points to get into fourth place, but the first four players probably had similar tales to tell. One thing that upset the balance of the competition was that one player brought a Snottling team, which lost every game by 20+ tournament points to nil in every game except for when it beat the last placed player. As your team improved after each game depending on the number of tournament points you gained, playing the Snottling team early on was a clear asset.
Playing in the bar meant that we were somewhat divorced from the main gaming hall, which was both an asset and a liability. It was an asset because it was quiet and private, which generated an espirit d’corps amongst the Blood Bowl players, and meant it was easy to get a drink. It was a liability because the bar is designed to be dark and intimate, and when the sun went in it was very dark indeed. As early as the first game I found myself moving my opponent’s witch-elves instead of my own, and by the third game of the day I lost a turn with one of my dark-purple and black painted Dark Elves because he was lying in my opponents shadow and was invisible! I also found I was making mistakes because of the gloom, but this is a poor excuse because my opponent didn’t – and one game was played in such gloom that the players had their heads about three inches from the pitch at all times, straining to tell their teams apart. Overall, the competition was played in a good spirit but appalling lighting conditions. If you enter the Blood Bowl next year, bring candles.
We finished playing about 6.30ish, and were packing our bags into the cars about 7ish . We then went on another magical mystery tour of Nottingham to find the Wargames Foundry. This had stayed open until late at night to allow us to visit and discover ‘bargains’. This was somewhat fruitless, as the bargain on offer was 3 free blisters if you bought 10 (that’s about 100 figures for £85), which pales into insignificance compared with the army deals from Newline Design, for example. Glenn and Luke, of course, who are bigger figure tarts than me, bought several carrier bags full.
For our evening meal we decided to look for a pizza establishment on the way back to Leicester . By 9.45 we had arrived back at the Little Thief, without passing a single eatery on route. Thus we partook of our evening sustenance at the Little Thief. This otherwise insignificant event was enlivened by the ‘service with a scowl’ attitude of some staff members, including refusing to return the £12+ change we were due, on the belief that we had left it as a tip, even though we all explained that we hadn’t! Eventually, we got our money back and we retired to bed.
Oh yes, the beds. I discovered that Travelodge UK had lied to me when we made the booking – they said that a three-man room consisted of two single beds and a couch. Our room had a double bed and a couch. ‘Don’t worry’, Travelodge UK had said, ‘a double bed is two singles which can be separated’. Given the level of paranoia from the two adult males nominated to share the bed, had we had a chainsaw we might indeed have tried to separate the double bed. Chris was selected to have the dubious pleasure of sharing the double bed with me, which caused some hilarity and much of the afore-mentioned paranoia! I don’t know the world record for keeping a space between two people on a 5′ bed, but I swear that Chris and I managed to keep a continuous gap of at least 4′ throughout the night. Although I was not awake to hear it, persistent rumours from my wife about my snoring were authenticated by Warren .
We were up the following morning bright and early, to a sunny day and sunnier smiles from the Little Thief morning crew. After consuming my third Little Thief mixed grill in 24hrs we bid a fond farewell to Leicester and set off for our second day’s gaming. This was much better for some (I had two wins to counterbalance my two losses and a win of the previous day, and Luke also got two wins) than others, many of which had two losses. Mike Reid, who had scored three wins on Saturday, met his nemesis on Sunday with an impossible scenario for his Necrons, but recovered to get a credible four wins out of five games, our best general by far. However, Mike Walker got the joint highest overall sportsmanship score in the Warhammer Fantasy section (from over 100 gamers!) and narrowly failed to win the Sportsmanship prize. Overall, we came 13 th out of the 24 teams that had entered, although only 19 teams had enough members to score any points.
Well, this was my first ever tournament, and it pretty much surpassed my expectations. There was none of the super-competitive sourness that I suspected might arise, although to be fair I did play in a tournament with only 8 players so we all got to know each other pretty well – there were only two of my opponents that I didn’t play. The company of my SAD companions was excellent, and we had a real laugh over the weekend. My special thanks to Warren who supplied all the SAD team with a large amount of soft drinks and snacks, without which we would have starved and thirsted. If you get a chance to do a tournament, I recommend it.