Nothing beats getting up at 6am on a cold, wet, Parisian morning to go and play some toy soliders. This time was slightly different however as this time I was preparing myself to be fired across Europe in a tin can, direction: Poland and the Warmachine and Hordes World Team Championships!
The trip was largely uneventful as I flew from Paris to Frankfurt. After a disappointing layover in Germany where my search for some Currywurst was unsuccessful I boarded the plane to Katowice. On board I met Marcus, one of the solo masters judges from Sweden. A really nice chap and we managed to have a good chat on the plane in-between trying to catch up on sleep. Once there we eventually managed to find the magical bus that would be taking us to our destination and it was packed out with WM/H players from every country! I met up again with my English friends and we all had a good chin wag on the way to the venue. All the better as a trip that was meant to take just under an hour took us near two due to some atrocious traffic jams.
After a worryingly long drive up the face of a mountain we eventually cleared the clouds arrived at what could only be described as a gigantic 1960’s ski hotel that had seen better days. After checking I dumped my stuff in my room, strapped on my camera and the weekend began!
The first night was very casual and as I walked in to small of the two gaming halls a lot of games were already under way. Between those warming up for the WTC or just enjoying a pint and some dice throwing there was a great atmosphere in the air. Dinner that night was a meat stew with a platter of cheese, meat and bread. Nothing special but it was tasty, filling and plentiful. After the dining hall closed two events kicked off: The first one was the ashes where the English and Australian teams squared off as a matter of pride and then there was the beermachine where just about anybody squared off as a matter of blood/alcohol levels.
Both events were very entertaining. In the ashes team England just won though after some very close and well played games. They went 2-2 until a nail biting final table which saw eKreuger (Eng) go up against a very unconventional (yet highly effective) eHaley (Aus) list. In the end a Stalker just managed to get to Haley and swing the balance in England’s favour for a 3-2 victory. The Australians put up a hell of a fight and I would imagine next years match will be just as close!
Now Beermachine…is kind of a game in its own right. For those of you who haven’t encountered it before here are the rules:
As you can see, its the Warmachine we all know and love with the rampant consumption of alcohol mixed in. As I stalked the gaming hall looking for the perfect subject to demonstrate Beermachine to the world I came across an American called “Chilly”. Now chilly cast pillars of malt 5 times in his second turn using shot glasses and a rapidly disappearing bottle of Jack Daniels. Needless to say the game was highly entertaining and only entered when he paid his opponent off to let him roll a 1-3 to win the game. No I couldn’t of made that up if I tried. For those of you wanting to have a good laugh, the video is just below. Sadly my battery went just before the dice roll so here’s the spoiler: Chillly won. I think he was carried back to his room just after.
I can’t remember who won the Beermachine but whoever it was should be commended for his peerless game play whilst inebriated and his indestructible liver.
After both events had died down, most headed away for an early(ish) night so I also made my way back to my room. Now the rooms, they were what you’d expect I suppose, sparse yet functional. The beds looked fairly comfortable yet I quickly learned that they were not. My feet hung over the edge by a good 20cm and the pillows were made of something like snooker balls wrapped in cotton wool. Lets just say sleep wasn’t high on my agenda after that first night, but hey it wasn’t in the first place anyway! Bedding aside the showers were scolding hot, the view was beautiful and the place was very clean so to be honest it was pretty good.
The sun rose on a foggy Saturday morning. At least that’s what I called it until I realised that we were so high up that wasn’t fog but rather clouds. Once breakfast was squared away, the opening ceremony began with words from the organisers, the judges and, as a surprise, the mayor of the town who came up along with the hotel manager to wish us all the best of luck!
Now a LOT happened that day. Sadly I can’t be everywhere at once and my mission was more of a general coverage of the event so this bit, whilst technically the most important, will be relatively short. There are loads of players who have started writing up their battle reports or if you want to check out the videos, Muse on Minis and Chain attack filmed a lot of them and are gradually posting them on-line.
All I can say is that there was an exceptionally high level of play being practised that day alongside some amazing models and most importantly: a wonderful sense of community. There were no major upsets and by the end of the day all the big team, USA, England, Poland, Scotland, Australia, Germany and others were all still undefeated and looking strong!
That night was highly entertaining as a majority of players took advantage of their high exchange rate and the stupidly low cost of drinks. I took the evening to catch up with my buddies from Sheffield, as well as meeting some new faces and all was well and merry in the world at which point team Austria challenged team England epic to a dance off and then it was on like Donkey Kong! I think we were all winners that night, and it didn’t stop there. Many drunken shenanigans went on but I can confirm that for the most part they were all good hearted and only further served to cement the spirit of camaraderie that reigns over the Warmachine & Hordes community.
After that night a lot of us, myself included, were slightly worse for wear. But we all soldiered forth as the day drew on and one by one more and more high level teams were knocked out. One by one they went until only the USA and Poland remained, a rematch of last year and boy were they both out for blood that round. Neither side was going to take no for an answer. After some amazing picks and table choices backed up by some solid playing, team USA stars emerged victorious, taking the polish team to town 5-0.
Following the awards ceremony where the victors were crowned as well as the best armies (check out that AMAZING mecha-legion army in the pics below), some had to leave in order to catch late flights home however for those who remained they took the time to wind down, reflect on the weekend and just have a good time now the hard part was over. There was a large gathering in one of the halls as the Muse on Minis podcast grudged the Epic Flail guys in a very entertaining match whilst groups of friends, both old and new, looked on as they wound away our final hours in Poland.
The day after we all bundled ourselves back onto the bus and headed back to the airport just after breakfast. A good mood was present in every one of us as was the overwhelming fatigue and the bus was almost silent on our way back if it wasn’t for the thrumming of the engines and the horns of annoyed, less lethargic motorists. I sat and chatted with the guys from America over Coffee as we waited for our check in to begin. Once in the departure hall I had to say goodbye to most of them for the flight back to Frankfurt but still managed to enjoy the company of a few until it was time for me to take my connection back to Paris. Needless to say I spent most of this time writing army lists and wondering how I was going to get a good enough to play in the next one!
Even as I was joyfully reunited with my own bed I reflected upon just how lucky we all are to have participated in such an event, how our community is one of, if not the best out there and how much I’ll be looking forward to it next year!
I want to say a special thanks to a few people:
– The Sheffield Honour guard: You guys are just as crazy as when I left the country. It was amazing to see you all again, don’t ever change!
– John Demaris & the Muse on Minis crew: Mate it was a real pleasure talking to you about the industry and spit-balling ideas. I already loved what you guys were producing but after having met you and seen just how devoted you are to the games and the community I can only say I admire you greatly.
– Florian Stitz: As I said in my Conan article just yesterday, I can only admire artists like yourself and your talents with everything you do for the community by bringing our world to life for us. It was both an honour and a privilege and I’m looking forward to seeing you again at Essen!
– Marcus Wikstrom: Thanks for helping me while away that time during and in between journeys! Its was great meeting you and I hope we get to play someday once you’ve got that new Ossrum list nailed down.
– Everyone who I met, you were all, down to the last, great people and it was both my priviledge and my pleasure to be in your company. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: YOU are what make this community what it is and it just wouldn’t be the same without every single one of you.
See you on the other side guys and in the lean time, enjoy the pics 😉