My First Warhammer Tournament: A Biography: Part 1
After years of painting models for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and unsuccessfully trying to get my friends to participate in a game I barely understand, I have finally made the plunge and signed up to play a local tournament. This will be my first tournament ever. Honestly, it’s my first time really trying to implement the Age of Sigmar rules in a serious way. I’m going to document the process here for the next week or so; the tournament starts and completes on February 16th. This process of documenting my tournament play is going to be a bit autobiographical. There’s no TLDR recap here. It’s too long. You didn’t read it.
I’m also going to explain certain things about Warhammer that most non-Warhammer people wouldn’t know, not because I think they’re going to read this, but because I’m really sort of trying to explain it all to myself.
[And an editorial note: This blog is cut and pasted and carried over from a previous thread "My First Warhammer Tournament: A Biography."]
I’d like to start with my background.
I teach writing. I recently worked through a few fairly lucrative temporary teaching contracts, and have retained just one of them, an online gig. Consequently, I’m a homebody. I stay at home and work while my wife goes out and works at a theater. Honestly, I’m underemployed at the moment, living on savings and low overhead; my wife and I decided long ago we didn’t want kids, and we’re renting a cheap apartment on the caveat that we put a little work into it. I’m deeply embedded into middle age, and owning a house is a remote dream. I’ve just moved back to Chicago after 15 years away, and left a few good friends behind, so I’m a touch lonesome.
I warned you this was going to be autobiographical.
I used to like writing, and was very ambitious and passionate about it. Nonetheless, every writer I know feels, in the back of their mind, a gnawing sense that one day the passion for writing will fall away from the mere practice of it, and that one’s best work is behind them. Unfortunately, that’s me, and has been for a few years now. I fit snugly the cliched archetype of “those that can’t do, teach.”
I’m not a passionate teacher, though I think I’m fairly adept at it. I have an MFA in writing, no PhD, so my opportunities in academia are limited. Consequently, there’s no standing-on-our-desks-reciting-Shakespeare in any of my classes. It’s mostly just comp, and adult education. Since I’m the first member of my family to go to college, my most meaningful contribution is communicating to students like myself, walking them through their various impostor syndromes and letting them know they belong in college rather than forgetting to ask whether or not someone wants cheese with that. I’m told that I’m an easy B, but a hard A, and that’s especially true for my students who aren’t already working a job to pay rent while they take on debt for school. Oh, academia is broken, did I mention that?
By contrast, I really like painting models, and I own a lot of them. I guess I’m passionate about it. Some I’ve bought, some I’ve traded into my collection for commission work.
I never used to love miniatures. I didn’t play miniature wargames as a kid. There is not even an outside chance that my family would have been able to afford it, and in either case, I despise the blobby metal miniatures produced in my youth. I always have. I distinctly remember laboring over my first ASD&D character sheet when I was 13, sweating over every nuance of my character--his hopes for the future, his frustrations at the present--only to receive a lumpy borrowed stock miniature from my DM that looked as if it had been carved in prison out of a bar of soap. “That’s an elf.”
No, my recent passion for painting is partly for CAD programming itself, for the kind of computer-designed superminiatures produced within the last 10 years, and almost exclusively by Games Workshop. I’ve never built lists for competitive play before signing up for this tournament, in spite of owning 2000 points of models in each of seven different Warhammer armies, spread across their various lines. I have an additional thousands of points spread around at least five more factions. I keep these nestled in foamcore trays, mostly boxed up and spread across the house, under my bed, in closets, spilling out of closets, etc.
IN spite of their multitude, I know intimate facts about each model. I know that the armies of Nurgle are accompanied by scampering, fun-loving little daemons. I know that the Kurnoth Hunter Bowmen are attended by black quiver beetles whose shells are carved with the runes of sentient trees. I know that the elvish (sorry, Aelvish) Sisters of the Thorn fly through the forest on their leaping stags, firing arcane bolts from their open palms while speaking dark and echoing magic syllables. I don’t know any of this because I read about them in the sometimes-better-than-adequate lore. I know this because, by way of the magic of Thing Technology extant at the end of two millennia of Christian art and allegory, and of three centuries of capitalist fetishization of the object, that this detail is sculpted directly into the miniatures.
All right, I promise to start complaining about the rules soon. I’ve been running practice games at the Tournament space; next time, I’ll talk about how that went, and how my list has developed.