Here at skirmish wargaming we thought we would each share our gaming experiences over the past year, here is mine…
At the start of the year I was a home gamer. I had a couple of mates who liked to play and we would have games of WH40K at my house or whiskey-fueled evenings of Heroquest.
One evening I stumbled across a miniature of Bane from the Dark Knight Rises on eBay all painted up, I had to have it. Being one of my favourite films it was just something I wanted in my collection, then when it arrived I discovered that there were rules!!
Wow, you mean I can play a miniatures game and use Bane! This was amazing to me, so I grabbed up a few more models to make a couple of crews. Gordon and swat as well as Bane’s mercenaries I believe.
A month or so passed and I hadn’t gotten round to painting them. I won’t play table top games with unpainted miniatures, it just loses all of the appeal to me so until they were painted they weren’t going to get used.
The Gaming Begins
Then my lovely girlfriend gave me AvP: The Hunt Begins for Christmas and started painting those models, while the paints were out I figured I’d paint up the batman stuff as well. Fairly quickly both of the crews were finished. One of my friends was really interested in the game too so we started playing this instead of WH40k at my house.
To be honest we got fed up of WH40K anyway, the constant power creep and formations ruined a decent game so we were ready for something else.
The Batman Miniatures game is brilliant, it takes quite a lot of time to get familiar with the rules and there is a huge list of special traits and abilities. For me this makes it better not worse, each character has their own unique flavour and play-style.
It got me hooked, we would play once a week whenever possible and I was intrigued whether anyone else locally was playing.
Pork Chop Gaming
I did my research and searched the interwebs and Facebook to see if there were any other players in the area, joined a few groups on Facebook and stumbled across a group called Pork Chop Gaming in Cheltenham where I live.
Now, I had never been to a gaming club before, my one and only ever experience of anything remotely similar was taking my 40k army into Games Workshop many years ago and that hadn’t encouraged me to try it again! It took me a few weeks before I dug up the courage to go and see what it was like.
Pork Chop Gaming run a local gaming night on Tuesday from 7-11ish in a local pub, there is also a well stocked pop up shop there called incom gaming, they are effectively one and the same thing.
I found the pub and, with some trepidation, walked in. The initial 10 minutes were kind of as I expected, I stood there, then walked around the place a little bit lost. I had told the guy running it I would be turning up and so after 10 minutes of looking like a lost sheep he came up and asked if I was Chris. We had a little chat and, having not brought any models or anything, I joined in with a guy called Kurt and played some magic the gathering. I played MTG when I were a lad and on xbox so could remember the rules.
I had an enjoyable evening and it was awesome seeing all the games going on. People were playing 40k, age of sigmar and a multitude of other games I had never heard of! There were titans, great big warhound titans!
I was definitely encouraged. There was one guy at the club who played Batman and so we organised a game for the following week. From there the gaming just grew exponentially for me. We started up a Frostgrave campaign at the club which spanned a month or so, that was brilliant fun and I would recommend Frostgrave to anyone.
In this time I made some new friends and started playing more and more games. Got into guild ball a bit (another great game) and then me and my mate who had been playing batman decided we would go to a proper tournament!
The First Tournament!
First real tournament we went to was the Blood Damage Batman tournament at weekend warlords in Loughborough. It was a great day. We were both fairly inexperienced having not really played anyone else before.
I think I won one game and lost two, getting roundly beaten by a guy called Kris who would turn out to be my nemesis in future tournaments.
We both finished towards the bottom end of the table but really enjoyed ourselves. I knew I wanted to go to more tournaments and from that point on kept an eye out for any tournaments within a reasonable driving distance.
I did a couple more over the next few months and started to do pretty well, finally getting a win at the Daffcon event at Firestorm games in Wales. I was pretty chuffed with my result there.
My record for Batman tournaments is pretty consistent, with top three finishes in every recent event, annoyingly it has been typically second place, just shy of the top spot.
They’re great events and I have met some top people while playing. I have a nice long running feud with Kris and we have drawn our last two games against each other now.
Batman tournaments are fairly rare, especially if you don’t want to drive too far! And I was open to trying another new game. I had seen a lot of people playing x-wing and I decided if I was going to start another game it should be one that has a good player base. Nothing worse than wanting games and having no-one to game with.
I picked myself up a starter box and played a couple of practise games against the girlfriend. Instantly I could see the appeal, the game is nice and simple to learn but there is clear skill required in trying to anticipate where your opponent will go and being able to react to that. It seems as though my favourite games all have an aspect of planning about them. Batman, x wing and guild ball require you to plan your turn before it starts, this adds so much to a game.
Very quickly my x wing collection escalated…..
Within a month I had started buying models for the cards contained in the packs. This must be the turning point of any x wing gamer, when you realise you are happy to spend 12 quid to get a couple of decent cards in order for your list to work.
I still haven’t quite stumped up for the Imperial Raider in order to get Emperor Palpatine but it’s the only imperial ship I don’t own yet so I’m sure its inevitable.
I was buoyed by some good results against people at the local gaming club, I’d picked up the game quickly and so thought why not try some tournaments, I was happy to treat them as a learning experience in order to improve my game. And what better tournament to go to than the UK Nationals!
This was my first x-wing tournament. Myself and a mate had planned to go down but, in what has become an all to common occurrence, he bailed out on me in the morning and I was forced to make the trip alone.
I had been flying my little crack swarm, had good results in an organised play event at my FLGS and with very little knowledge of the meta it seemed a good choice. I believe the list was 3 crack shot tie’s, howlrunner and inquisitor.
The UK nationals were amazing, I had come from small Batman tournaments where 10+ was a good showing, I rocked up to the event and there were over 100 people! In a huge great big hall, all nicely organised, I was stoked.
Surprisingly I kicked it off with a win! Could it be, could I actually do well here. I hadn’t ever played against top level opposition before so had no idea how I stacked up.
This win catapulted me up on to table 9, I was up against a chap called Tom Reed with his triple jumpmaster list, I had heard of this list before but not the player. With no real idea how to beat him I just tried to joust as hard as I could and then not get any more missiles on me in the second engagement. I lost but it was around 100-50ish loss so I was fairly happy with it tbh.
That loss brought me back down to earth a bit and I now had some scale to judge myself against. The rest of the day went much the same way. I played another lad called Jack Mooney with a Han and Jake build and this is where I really saw the level of skill that you could fly with. I barely got a shot on him let alone a damage all game, it was an easy 100-0 for him and I learnt probably more from this game than any other.
I now know both these lads are top tier opponents, but they were both very helpful in telling me where I went wrong afterwards when I explained I was a noob. Tom in particular took some time to give me some advice for future games. I took every chance I could get to get feedback from the people I lost to as to what I did wrong.
So by the end of the day it was 5-1. I faced triple Jumpmasters 3 times and each time got roundly beaten, earning an instant hatred of that list. Thank god its faded away.
I met some great people, especially a guy called Joe who was also there on his own and I’ve now played against in other tournaments.
After the nationals there have been many more tournaments. The great thing about x-wing is the community. There is a huge player base and tournaments fairly regularly within a close proximity.
I’ve been steadily climbing up the table now and I finally got my first tournament win at an event in Coventry. I was flying Oicunn/Whisper after seeing a lad called Ashok win a tournament at titan games with it. At this point I really started to pay attention to the meta and to the lists people were flying. I did plenty of reading and began to come up with lists to try out.
I am still only flying imperial, I have no plans to try rebels but I’ve got a couple of scum ships and eventually ill foray into that.
Since then been flying a mixture of Tie defenders, Tie sf, whisper and omega leader. In the tournaments I’ve been to recently my curse of second place is holding firm. 3 second place finishes in a row now which I am fairly happy with but I would prefer it to be first obviously!
I’ve had the chance to play against some really good opposition and have lost to lists that I’ve just never faced before and are a bit different to the norm. A double K-Wing list and Hawk plus two mist hunters.
I’m now settled on some sort of defender build and practising in earnest for the upcoming regionals, of which I have booked two.
Of the games I now play, x-wing is my favourite. The combination of simple set up and fairly short game time combined with the incredibly high skill threshold make it perfect. I played chess before any other games and this reminds me the most of a game of chess.
I have dabbled in WH30k recently too. Assembling a 2000 point Iron Warriors army.
Predominantly because the local gaming club are so into 30k but having played a few games and one tournament (where I won 3 out of 3) I will fully admit I don’t really like the game. There is no pre-planning and you can often lose vast swathes of your army without being able to do anything about it.
To me the skill level is lower and its all about the list you bring. At least with x wing and batman you stand a chance with a sub optimal list if you play well. So my WH30k army is up for sale.
I think I’ve found my optimal level of gaming. BMG and X-wing fill both of the slots nicely. A quick and simple game to pick up and play and then a much more complicated in depth game for other occasions. With smatterings of Frostgrave, Guild ball and AvP I have no time for any more.
That’s a wrap
This year has been great for me for many reasons but discovering the UK gaming community has been fantastic. I have the option to go to events and tournaments fairly regularly as well as a whole new group of friends who share the same interests as me.
I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings.
For anyone who has thought about looking for a local gaming community but is hesitant I would strongly urge you to do it. There are loads of people out there who enjoy the same games you do.
I guess I’m very lucky in that my FLGS is a pub as well 🙂