Herr Fernseher, formerly known as the Artist Formerly known as the Indentured Servant - or something like that; I'm losing track of my thoughts already, so let me start over. It's one in the morning and I'm bitterly disappointed that Sonnen didn't win, though it was lovely to see Silva take a 20-minute butt-kicking. Anyway, Mr. TV himself was kind enough to post for Strictly Average during my weekend at WarGames Con and he's sent along an after action report. Read on, Hillary McDuff, and let loose the Warhounds... never mind.
CliffNotes: Herr Fernseher speaks.
Spending three days at War Games Convention last weekend meant I’ve just had a tough week playing catch up in my personal life. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
This morning has been a long, gradual climb up Highway 287 to Amarillo. The hum of the tires and the hiss of the maxed AC resolve into a hypnotic, reverie-inducing chord. The hundreds of miles of flat asphalt I’m crossing contrast sharply with the rounded curves of the Texas Hill Country I skirted last weekend. Then, I bummed around Austin: urbane Texas with a west coast vibe. Today, I sought succor at a “Safety Rest Stop” riddled with rattlers…
… watched my son play on grounds shared with snakes.
As we drive up out of the lowlands, the temperature seems to be dropping. The humidity certainly is. At 11 a.m. it is not even 90 degrees, and it feels great outside. If the sun is behind a cloud. Or you’re in the shade and the breeze picks up. It is still summer in Texas after all. Moving further down the highway and up onto the Llano Estacado, the arguments over the perfect AC setting begin, made worse by the fact that “3” on the blower switch no longer works.
Every trip always seems to have its hitch, and War Games Con was a trip. But at WGC, I couldn’t find the broken “3” setting. Rather, like the large state of Texas, WGC offered a wide variety of good terrains and climates. I saw people who like to play with snakes at the top tables, where competitors were tense, poised to strike. At the other end of the tables I saw people lounging and having more leisurely games.
What little leisure I had this past week, I spent trolling for news and comments on the Con. I was suspicious that my steady stream of Shiner had tinted my lenses rosy and my memory fuzzy, but my research never confirmed that suspicion. It was hard to find outright complaints or criticisms on the Con. I suppose I could infer one major concern: the brackets. People are always concerned with how a tournament is run. Any process of selecting a champion from a group of competitors will include many points of possible contention, and what is best is almost always a subjective matter. The only real given is that one cannot please everybody all of the time.
That said, I would have to say that the organizers of WGC ran a tournament that should have mass appeal for 40k and Fantasy players. If some of their decisions weren’t perfect, they all appeared at least reasonable. The scoring criteria were complex enough to reward efforts in all aspects of the hobby, but simple enough to be understood in advance, allowing participants to prepare to compete. While it baffles me that people who play a game so rife with chance should be so demanding of Tournament Organizers, I personally feel the fine folks at WGC did an excellent job. Like most of the participants, I am a big fan of spawning a second tournament on Sunday for the people knocked out of the running on Saturday. The only way I know to make a two day, seven game tournament “more accurate” (whatever that might mean) is to matchup players based on a supra-tourney player ranking. But we don’t yet have a mathematically rigorous, standardized, universal player ranking system.
Another word about the fine folks at WGC, both organizers and participants. There was a definite sense of community at the Con. It was hard to find a stranger. Most people’s love for the hobby spilled over onto their neighbors, making friends of people who hadn’t even had a chance to make each other’s acquaintance. I guess any friend of Calgar or Eldrad or Grimgor (etc.) is a friend of mine. We’ve all participated in a common story, and so we have mutual frames of reference. Any two people who have invested a portion of their live into this hobby have similar personal back stories and a context for getting to know each other.
One new friend of mine, Will, offered me a cigarette and before I could finish it, insisted I put another behind my ear for later. A spectator like me, he had just moved back to Austin (hating his 5 month exile), was just starting to play Flames of War, and was already looking forward to competing in WGC 2011. Like Will, I’d love to play in the next Con and have already started selling the idea to my wife. When Will and I parted ways, he told me to find him if I wanted more smokes.
As Will and I were enjoying the early morning cool in one of the hotel’s few smoking oases, refuges from the stale atmosphere of social acceptability and government regulation of the very air we breathe, I met Sam. Sam looked disheveled and sleepless. And in his element. He had left the Fantasy tables and was sitting down to a fine, midmorning cigar. Will asked Sam if he had won his last game. Sam hemmed and hawed before we all agreed that having a fine cigar was a victory in and of itself, and then left it at that. Sam toasted our health before tipping back his oversized, insulated coffee mug. Which was full of gin. I believe that Sam was the mastermind behind the fabled midnight beer pong tournaments I failed to attend. (Just wait till next year, Sports Fans!) It sounded like Sam had spent the night in a hotel room—we don’t know which hotel, as many people, myself included, slept at different hotels—with fifteen other people. Nevertheless, Sam seemed pretty sure of his chances in the tournament. I’ll have to look up how he fared. (Ok, I just did and had a laugh. Sorry, Sam, but that was funny. That said, you and I both know that if “Having Fun” were the area of competition, you were winning!)
It was nice to meet some of the people I’ve read or read about. Nick (Darkwynn) seemed like a good guy. I felt a little sorry for him, that he couldn’t play in the tournament being an organizer, but when I think that he is at the ETC right now, I’m a little jealous. Also ETC-bound, was John Willingham, who looked and talked like he had consumed even more Red Bull than Brent. I’ve since gathered that he’s either made excitable in tournament situations, or he’s always like that.
Another character I kept running into seemed to enjoy slipping “1500” into conversations as if he were enjoying an inside joke. However, it started to have an effect on me: I’m contemplating writing a pamphlet call “Have You Found 1500?” Anyway, this character was called something like Pasty. Apropos, as he may be an even bigger honky than Brent. But he was friendly.
Everywhere I turned people were friendly. All weekend long I found the company of the people around me to be pleasant. (Probably didn’t hurt that I spent large chunks of time to myself with notebook, camera, or laptop.) Not once did I feel the need to unpack my customary misanthropy. (I’m sure the Shiner helped too.) Even hotel staff and unsuspecting hotel patrons, rather than being put off by the geek-factor that comes with a good Con, were actually quite impressed with what we were doing. We must have been a good group. The positivity was undeniable. The stars aligned, complex personal medications regimens reached equilibrium—it was a regular hippie-love-in in the heart of Austin! Okay, perhaps I’ve strayed into hyperbole, but seriously, a convention centered on playing war proved, somewhat ironically, to be a great vacation from hating my fellow man. Yes, Dear Reader, I hate you. (Really, it’s more like a strong irritation and usually only when you’re acting like a dick, but still, I’m already waist deep in hyperbole, so let’s just say that I hate you. If you were paying to read this, I might like you more.)
After seeing what a good event WGC was, I went home and read all the requirements, fees, and scoring criteria for 2010, just to get a rough idea of what I could expect for next year. While I’m about to kick off a seven month buildup for ‘Ard Boyz 2011, I’m actually more likely to take my Orcs and Goblins to WGC than to an ‘Ard Boyz qualifying tournament. Especially since my wife and I are going to try to paint and learn this army together. I’ve never played in a doubles tournament; it looked like fun. Even if she’s not down with competing, I know she’d enjoy lounging around the hotel. (I saw plenty of significant others and family doing just that.)
I know she would also enjoy the Doubletree’s kitchen. They served me the best wrap I’ve ever had (Buffalo shrimp?). Moreover, I don’t even like French fries and I found myself craving theirs. I swear those sweet spuds were fried in liquid crack cocaine. With the Doubletree sandwiched between Pappadeaux’s and Pappasito’s, there is no reason not to eat well at this Con. Unless you are one of those pasty vegetarians, in which case I highly recommend a trip to south Austin’s Mr. Natural. Who knows? Perhaps at War Games Con 2011, I’ll have an indentured servant I can dispatch to fetch some Mr. Natural. And some more of those tasty Masala spice chocolate bars that were so good I couldn’t even save a square for my wife to try.
War Games Con 2010 was a smashing success as far as I’m concerned. I’m laying plans to attend a future one even now. Maybe I’ll see you there. And I’m sorry if this has been a long read. Poor what’s-his-name has twice-glazed eyes. I knew I should have cut this off at 1500 words…
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