Monday: Beginning the Trip (11:45 - 12:10 p.m.)
I'm sitting here on Brian's couch typing this while ~10 guys are starting to pack and laughing about everything. My aunt on Facebook was asking me - what is this? That's a good question!
What is this trip about? John has wanted to go to this huge Warmachine tournament in St. Louis for a while called "Warmachine Weekend." It's the biggest Warmachine tournament in the country.
The game is kind of like chess - a tabletop game with pieces that you measure with a ruler. It's official name is "Warmachine and Hordes." There are seven Warmachine factions and five Hordes factions, each with their own armies, generals (called casters) and special rules that you can build an army out of and play against each other. Warmachine factions are more mech/machine/robot based. Hordes are all about beasts and magic.
Each faction has a certain style of play and many casters to chose from. Each different caster also has a style of play and completely changes how the army one takes will play, giving its units special rules and abilities unique to him. Casters also have different tierrs or upgrades of themselves - the next tier of a caster isn't necessarily "better" - he's basically a different "flavor" of the same thing, with slightly different rules - things that he does weighted slightly differently.
There are now three tiers: "plain," "epic," and the third tier, "legendary" or "three." Thus, casters will be denoted by a letter in front of their name to indicate their tier: "pNemo," "eNemo" and "Nemo 3" for example. People won't say "L-Nemo," so it seems the vocab is in the process of being switched to a "Nemo 1," "Nemo 2," "Nemo 3" idea, but people will use both interchangeably. Some casters only have one form. Most have two tiers. Some now have three.
Each unit has a certain "points cost" based upon its valuableness in an army. Armies are made by "building lists" of a certain total points. Most common point levels to play are 35 and 50 point lists - meaning, everything in the army has to add up to that point cost. This keeps the game balanced between factions.
Short Description of Warmachine/Hordes Factions (nickname in parenthesis)
*Hopefully my caster tallies are accurate - done on the fly.
Cygnar: My faction. 10 casters. Noble, followers of justice, heavy on science/tech. Known as best long-range shooting faction. Casters I play = pNemo, Nemo 3 (mad scientist based off of Capt. Nemo character) and Siege. May try eCaine in future.
Cryx: 11 casters. The undead, their mechanothralls and slaves. Known for its deadly troops.
Khador: 11 casters. Think, warrior Viking/Russian type people. Known for powerful mechs. Played by Steven.
Protectorate of Menoth (Menoth): 10 casters. Vigilante, zealots of Menoth who want to burn all heretics. Known for their ability to light most everything on fire. Brian's primary faction.
Retribution of Scyrah (Retribution/Ret): Has 8 casters. Think, "space elves." A newer faction, not quite as strong as the rest but still good. Our Matt of ATL was the first person to figure out how to use them effectively, making them competitive and is currently the best Ret player in U.S.
Convergence of Cyriss (Convergence): Has 3 casters. Newest faction. A race of robots from people who transferred their souls into machines because they view technology as perfection and worship math. Most focus efficient faction.
Mercs: Has 11 casters. This faction's units can be taken into other factions' armies. It is not often played on its own and the casters don't get used as often. Their casters are great but their units don't support them well.
Trollbloods (Trolls): John's faction. Has 9 casters. Trolls are ... trolls. They like to beat up things with clubs and brute force. Known for their toughness and difficulty to kill.
Circle Orboros (Circle): Has 10 casters. Think, druid-like spiritualist people of the woods. Known for their tremendous mobility. Most mobile faction. Walter's primary faction.
Legion of Everblight (Legion): Has 9 casters. People of dragons. I don't know much about them. Played by Chip.
Skorne: Has 9 casters. Sadist and masochist warrior killers who live off of pain and the pain of others. Known for their deadly beasts. Steven's primary faction.
Minions: Has 8 casters. Minions is the Horde's version of Mercs and acts exactly the same way. It is almost never played on its own but its units can be used in other armies.
Our Group and Their Skill Level (Updated, See Note)
Brian: In his 30s. Plays only Menoth. Best Menoth player in U.S. and arguebly the world. Among top 25 best all-around players in the country and top 25 in the world. Winner of the team 2nd place in the World Tournament! Computer programmer in real life. Known for being cool as a cucumber when he plays and somewhat cold.
Walter: In his 30s. Plays primarily Circle. Arguably one of the best Circle players in the U.S. One of the top 40 best all-around players in the country. Known for playing annoying lists that are difficult to kill. Enjoys dramatizing games.
Steven: Age 23. Plays primarily Skorne. Close to top 25 best all-around players in the U.S. Also plays many other factions, among them Khador, Cryx and Cygnar. He's been playing a lot of Cygnar this year, which is what he's playing in the tournament this weekend.
Matt: In his 30s. Plays primarily Retribution. Also Mercs and many others. Was first to make Ret competative. Best Ret player in the country. One of the top 40 best all-around players in the U.S.
David Kelley: 30s-40s. Plays Cygnar. One of the top 50-60 best all-around players in the country. Hosts the tournaments and runs the store at Gigabytes Cafe in Marietta.
John: Age 31. Mid-level Trolls player. He started with Cygnar, which he still plays occasionally, and is currently working on collecting and playing Menoth. His playing has improved dramatically, since he started 2 yrs ago since he plays against the best.
Max: In his 20s. Mid-level Trolls player. John thinks Max and Jesse are probably just above him in skill level. Max is known for drinking excessively.
Jessie: In his late 20s. Mid-level Ret and Khador player.
Frank: Age 52. Mid-level player. Plays mostly Cryx. About the same skill level as John.
Me: Beginner Cygnar player.
Note: I double checked my stats with John last night and this morning, updating them. He says, once you get to Brian's level, it's really difficult to determine top 10 to 20 players, because ALL the players are so good and it's in constant dynamic flux. Matt and Walter are closer to top 40 players rather than top 25. David Kelley is closer to top 50-60. Matt, Walter and Steven annihilated each other in his qualifier, which is probably why one of them didn't win it. Jesse plays Khador these days, not Cygnar. Frank plays Cryx.
And Continuing About the Trip
I really enjoyed sleeping until the sun came up this morning! We got everything packed up and got to Brian's house at 10:45 a.m. We were supposed to meet up at 11 a.m. Brian said, we were really early! Traffic was great. We sat around watching things while he dropped off his dog. Suddenly, everyone has now arrived at 11:55 a.m. Ha!
A ludicrous bet
Max, one of the guys, made a bet with ALL the guys that he wouldn't get drunk over the Warmachine Weekend trip. They all immediately took him up on it because they think he'll totally fail and don't know why he's even betting this. Several of them jokingly tried to "convince" me I should slip alcohol into his drink and get him drunk some time during the four days - this discussion has happened multiple times over the last month. I cannot even begin to describe how completely averse to this idea I am. I think they know this. That's why they like talking about it, maybe. I politely refused. John finds this whole thing intensely amusing. I kind of do as well. It's hard not to be amused. He's not betting so he won't offend me. Ha.
Observing and comments on some of the guys
I'm greatly looking forward to observing at this event and taking lots of pictures. Matt asked me if I was excited and said that yes, there'd be lots to observe. I really like Matt. Matt, Steven, Frank and Brian are my favorites, always are nice overall and try to include me in stuff. Jessie is driving the van. I don't like him so much. I'm going to try to stay away from him, more or less. Unlike Rolando, his teasing is not amusing. He tends to harp on people sometimes - repeatedly, nonstop, demeaningly in a silly, annoying fashion - but he doesn't really know how irritating he is. He's well-known from this trait. I've been the butt of his jokes before and learned to avoid him. He makes fun of everything and everybody - it's just what he does, but he's pretty nice overall. I like everyone else.
Amused and interested - this will be fun!
I think this will be a fun adventure. It's completely hilarious. I'm surrounded by nerd guys. I told John I feel really badly that I'm not more nerdy - I'm not sure I'm worthy to be in their company. John says don't worry about it - someone has to be the top nerd and it doesn't have to be me. I thought about that. He's right. I guess I feel competitive about everything.
Gallery: our luggage
Gallery: Brian's house
Monday: The Drive (12:30 - 11:00 p.m.)
We all piled in the car. It was amusing. Walter was the last to arrive. We were standing around in the driveway. Walter drove up rapidly, I dodged out of the way, he hit Frank’s car – a wack/thump – and got out as if nothing had happened. Brian was like – did he just hit Frank’s car? Everyone said yes. But apparently, Walter didn’t know until people made fun of him for it later. He denied it but eventually said well, everyone couldn’t be lying he supposed. He was just proud of not hitting me.
Traveling: not as bad as I thought
I was surprised. I was expecting the car ride to be more painful, but it was somewhat less painful than I expected. There were certainly plenty of threats to make it so, but everyone settled down in an hour or so and mostly talked about Warmachine. There was the expected lots of inappropriate humor. And terrible music. Fortunately, these earbuds James got me are truly great – they block all noise.
Traveling: silliness that did occur
We got out at a gas station early on and John and I, Brian and Matt stayed in the car. Jessie actually got out and plastered his face against the side of the van and licked the window! …. That was completely disgusting.
Apparently, John threated to put a hot tamale down Brian’s nose (Brian hates cinnamon in all forms) and as a result, Brian crushed two chips in his hand and THREW the crumbs all over John. I was VERY annoyed and made exclamation about why the heck this was done.
Steven was like – Brian! Don’t do that!
Brian: It was aimed at John.
Steven: But you got some on Jess. She will actually get upset and then you’ll feel bad. […] You don’t feel bad, do you.
Brian declared he did not. What Steven does not realize is that crumbs thrown at John and not hitting me is just as annoying as them being thrown at ME. They’re crumbs. *headdesk* I hate crumbs wherever they are. I chose to ignore them and got rid of them later at another gas station. Brian sneaked a chip onto my seat later, hoping I’d sit on it, which I managed to throw out the van door just before it closed.
We ate at a Kentucky Fried in Kentucky. I thought we’d get to St. Louis faster. It took until 11 p.m. pretty much. Jessie’s GPS kept saying that we had 3.5 hrs left to go for about 4 hrs. It was very mysterious. Frank told me not to worry – on the way back, all the guys would fall asleep. I told him, so far, I was ok.
Frank and David Kelley are actually normal folks who happen to also be nerd Wargamers – both married with kids. David Kelly has a young son. Frank is a much older guy, actually – in his 40-50’s somewhere I’d guess. And yet he fits in right along with everyone else here. At the Kentucky Fried, we discussed chocolate for some reason and Walter talks about how much of it he eats. It’s true. He beats me by a LONG shot. It’s unbelievable how much he eats just in general.
Arrival: the Doubletree hotel is nice!
We arrived at 11 p.m. or so and immediately signed up for the event. I really like this hotel. They gave us cookies when we checked in! The cookies were amazing. They even have a cookie award. Ha! It’s deserved.
Gallery: traveling and the fireworks sold in Kentucky
Gallery: the Doubletree hotel and registration
Friday, Day 2: The Last Chance Qualifier
The big event today is the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) - the winner of which will get the 16th spot in the Warmachine Weekend Invitation - basically, the championship tournament in the U.S. It's expanded tremendously from the 96 players of last year to 146. John's playing in it and is pretty nervous. It's about to start at 9:30 a.m. We're on central time. He says it's going to be a pretty brutal eight rounds all day with no breaks, what with the numbers.
We all went to McDonald’s this morning. Jessie has been attempting to herd us about somewhat like cattle – yelling for us to get out! Get in! We’re getting everything to go! He drives the van like a maniac – too fast, slinging us around corners, charging into parking lots like a bull and saying “America!!” while he does it. John threatened to take his keys after today. I really hope he does. I feel like, he makes our entire ATL cohort look like we must ALL be idiots. It’s ok though. Ignoring it is best option so as not to invite worse.
Setup and Other Things
I saw a guy from St. Louis who came to our qualifier at the Gigabytes Café that David Kelley hosted here in this tournament. Ha ha – I never expected to see him again.
I asked why David Kelley is called “David Kelley” – was wondering if it’s a double name. But no, it’s just there used to be five “Davids” in his vicinity and so people also called him by his last name. Now, he’s the only David, but the name format stuck.
Fortunately, there is internet here. I’ve setup on a couch just outside the last chance qualifier room and am going to try to grade orgo TA papers. Then, I’ll see what else I can work on. I’m not going to play today probably. I might play in the young blood’s tournament tomorrow. I met another girl here sitting beside me who wanted to talk and said she’s played the game for five years and would love to play a game with me tomorrow. So I guess I can’t get out of it now. That’s ok. It’ll probably be fun.
FIN for now
I’m enjoying observing this event so far. I always hear about our ATL friends going – now I get to see it all happen in real time! This is probably one of the biggest if not the biggest Warmachine tournament in the country. I'll be observing throughout the day, taking pictures and posting more notes up here as I have opportunity.
Gallery: Last Chance Qualifer and Morning Stuff
Gallery: Last Chance Qualifier at Noon w/ Videos
30 sec pan of the room from the back
Links to More Videos
Video: John discussing his first game with Matt. Walter and Steven in background. 22 secs.
Video: Shot of John's 3rd game against eCaine. 32 secs.
Friday: Afternoon - Evening Update
They cut off the LCQ short last night after round 5 and are just playing the undefeated people today. Steven is one of them!! We all know he has a shot at winning this thing, but he's GOT to beat Flanzer's Trolls to do it. *shudders* And he gets nervous under pressure, unlike Brian. Pray he doesn't get nervous. I really want him to WIN! Take that 16th spot! Proper update coming a bit later when I get a chance.
I updated our group's skill level stats after talking to John last night and this morning and he gave me the more accurate low down on it. I never get it quite right.