I wasn’t too sure about going to the second open day, until both a DreadBall tournament was scheduled and the Nationals were postponed as the venue couldn’t host it anymore. It looked a little shaky, but we got babysitters sorted so both Jen and I could make it. Then we dragged Oli into it too…
Jen decided quickly – Season One Corporation. That’s her favourite, and they’re almost ready. Oli has his favourite too, the Season Two Corporation. He told me that he couldn’t get his team painted in time though, so I offered to paint my second Corp team for him and finished it just two weeks before (not including highlighting, which is going to make a big difference). I took a long time to decide – I had four teams to choose from that were ready to take. The Veer-myn, Marauders and Z’zor are all finished or nearly finished, and the Judwan (while basic) are ready to take at least. I heard that there might be painting prizes, so I would rather take the Z’zor (my best painted team) but given that I still don’t think that my best will be good enough I settled with the Veer-myn. I’ve only taken them to one tournament (the Welsh Regional) but I really enjoy the fast teams over the bashy teams. I definitely need more practice before I take a bashy team to a tournament again.
While getting ready to go, and ordering our breakfast, we found out that as well as ourselves, our hotel was also hosting a couple of tournament players, a pathfinder and both the Scottish and Irish regional winners – what are the odds, three regional winners under the same roof! If we’d known, we’d have shared our three-player Ultimate game with them (as well as the vodka, beer and prawn crackers). Next year, there was a suggestion of getting in touch with the hotel and trying to book as a group to get a discount.
Game One – Craig Johnson’s Vanaheim Vixens (S2 Corporation)
My first game went very well – a landslide win! It wasn’t easy, and Craig was an expert with Running Interference. He used a couple of tricks I’d never seen before – if you run interference on someone when they move into the ball space and win, you can attempt to pick up the ball yourself. He even managed to kill a rat, which is pretty good going for humans.
Craig went on to get second place and win best painted, and his models were so clean and clear I’m not surprised!
Game Two – Adam Cooper’s Marauders
I played Adam at the previous Mantic Open Day in May and it was good to see him again – it was also good to see his dice were on his team this time. Last time, he played Judwan while I took Marauders with an Offensive Coach. This time, he had Marauders with an Offensive Coach. The cards I picked up were almost useless, and the game devolved into a massive ruck behind my three point Strike Zone. For a fair portion of the game, there were no models on the opposite side of the pitch – including the ref and the ball!
Both of us used the referee to try and block avenues of escape – me to stop him getting to the three-point zone, and him to stop me getting the ball back to his half. A couple of times I did manage to break away and score to get a win.
Game Three – Matt Willis’s Marauders
After lunch, I played Matt and his Marauders. He bought an extra Orx, and lined up all four on the starting line. It didn’t look easy to break through. Luckily, they scattered fairly quickly and opened up the pitch. He played a heavy slamming game, and kept so many rats off of the pitch I had a tough time getting to the ball and scoring. For a couple of rushes, his Goblin held on to the ball and didn’t move at all, while the rats were being pummelled! In the end though, I managed to scrape enough points to get a win.
It was after this game, on table two, that I realised I might be in with a chance…
Game Four – Dan Porter’s Asterians
Table one, baby! This was the hardest game by far, and Dan had got here with three landslide wins. I got a bit of a pep talk going into the game, since of all 12 teams I’d not played with or against the Asterians before. Before taking any actions, he used Dirty Tricks and got my guard sent out of the game. That’s an incredible ability, and there is absolutely no defence against it (unless you are Zees).
Dan used Taking a Dive really well, and I soon had a Striker out of the game too. I did get a hold of the ball fairly often, and had five strike attempts – four at three points, and one at one point. Guess which one actually worked. Dan had four successful attempts at two-pointers, and one failed at a three-pointer. Despite losing by a landslide, I felt at every point in the game that I could have brought it back – at first, I felt I could get a win, then a loss, and finally in rush 11 it was all over, although Dan had to Sneak to be able to do so. I think I played well, and if my dice had just behaved once I could have got something like a 5 point loss, or possibly even better.
So Dan obviously took first place, with four landslide wins. Craig took second place and best painted, Oli got fourth, and I came fifth. Jen did fantastically – after getting Wooden Spoon in every tournament she’s been to, she had a perfectly even day with two wins (one being a landslide) and two losses (one being a landslide), putting her exactly halfway out of 27 players – fourteenth place. She managed to play two Nameless teams and a Teraton, as well as Marauders.
This time around, everyone had to provide their own pitch. This mean that I got to see a couple of Tesla Domes and the Mighty Dorx stadium, but unfortunately didn’t get to play on any of them. The Tesla pitches are especially nice, with a much better resolution than I expected – they are really clear and beautiful. If I didn’t already have three pitches, I’d be tempted!
There was a surprising mix of teams here – I expected more Asterians, like the Judwan flooded out in May, but there were only two teams. Void Sirens seemed strong again, and Nameless and Marauders were out a lot – which I honestly didn’t think that I’d see. I heard of one Forge Father player, but never saw them, and spotted Judwan and Robot players. There were also a couple of Teraton players. I was the only Veer-myn team. No Z’zor, no Zees – are people just picking teams alphabetically? The top five were a good mix of teams, with Asterians, two S2 Corporation, a Marauder team and my Veer-myn.
The Open Day itself was pretty amazing. Enough time was left between games that if you finished early, you could get to a seminar. Oli got to one in the lunch break, but I was hanging around for the Regional Ultimate so I missed it myself. There’s been mention of an online seminar for those that missed it though, so I think I might get in on it anyway. Jen’s game went on a bit too long for her to be able to reach it too.
After the first game, we walked around the halls. Mantic had invited other companies to show off their toys – Dropzone Commander and Bolt Action were both in attendance. Deadzone had a big presence, and I was extremely jealous of the Kickstarters who were picking up massive, massive boxes of plastic. There were literally hundreds of wide-eyed gamers hauling massive boxes, with a slightly disbelieving grin on their faces. It’s hard not to want to buy the lot there and then.
Loka was a surprise to me. As we passed their table, Oli took a look. I’d not cared too much for it when it was released because I’ve never liked Chess that much. But Alessio invited us for a game and being a long time Warhammer fan I couldn’t pass up the chance to play a game on the same team as him! The rules were surprisingly simple, the game is really quick to play, and it nearly swayed me. Oli was heard through the rest of the day saying “I love Loka. I want to buy Loka. I can’t get Loka. Should I get Loka? Loka is amazing. What will my wife say if I buy Loka? I can’t buy Loka. I won’t buy Loka. I just bought Loka.” I have to admit, it’s a really nice game. I was told that they sold out a couple of times through the day, it was just flying off the shelves.
Before the final game, I asked James Hewitt (Mantic’s Community Manager) if there would be time to see the shiny new models at least after the last game. He made a quick phone call, then told us he’d come get us later. True to his word, he brought us to the main room where Silvain, Mantic’s sculptor, had just brought over some of what everyone else was drooling over for us to take a look at. I even got to hold the Zombie Troll Shaman, and I want that model so bad it hurts. I don’t even care what game it is for. We got close up to the resin masters for the DreadBall Convicts and Brokkrs too, and they look absolutely amazing. When the next round of Kickstarter comes around, I am going to be so out of pocket. So for that, unseen internet thanks to James and Silvain! Sorry to everyone else for not taking a picture. But not that sorry.
James clearly takes his role as Community Manager extremely seriously. When he was explaining how to get to the pub for post-Open Day chill-out, I asked “Is it walkable?” For the second time that day, he didn’t answer the question. He said “Hang about, and I’ll give you a lift.” He ended up making two trips to take happy gamers to beer! There’s a man who cares about the gamer community, and makes Mantic fans very happy.
Other people have already got their Open Day news up – I suggest you read the Daily Punter (who won second place in the DreadBall tournament), Tiny Tactics and Afternoon Tea, GMort’s Chaotica, see the Facebook event pictures, the new UK & Ireland Ultimate DreadBall Champion’s blog (and another one here) and read Mantic’s blog about the day. Beasts of War covered the day too, mostly interested in the new Deadzone stuff, and in the background of their video you can see the three of us many times (many, many times).
I found out more about the Regional Ultimate on the day, although only from another regional winner. It didn’t seem terribly well planned or publicised, and started 25 minutes late – meaning instead of leaving halfway through to get to my next tournament game, I wouldn’t even be able to start. I was told that it wouldn’t clash, but I preferred to go for the standard games than the big one.
The Regional Ultimate was a multiplayer game between the Midlands, Scottish, Irish and another English Regional Winners and in the end, Ireland won!
I did get the opportunity to pick up my metal pitch – it is awesome! I have made two rash promises that I don’t know if I’ll keep yet – first, that only painted models can go on it; second, that it will not cross the border into Wales. Hopefully that will convince some Welsh people to come out to win it next year!
Mantic are apparently moving into the abandoned hospital, hopefully they’ll get plumbing, lighting and heating in there throughout next year. With the offices in the same space getting a studio tour should be easier for us hardcore DreadBallers, and the lighting in some of the rooms was only barely adequate. It was clearly only temporary, and will be better next time. They have a rough plan to hold an Open Day in May again, and maybe next November too. If they make it a DreadBall tournament too, we’ll be there!
It was an improvement on the last Open Day in that there was time for the tournament players to see some of the other stuff, it looks like Mantic are definitely listening to feedback. It’s a shame that the DreadBall tournament was off in a side room this time but after the first game, I didn’t notice it.
I met so many lovely, amazing people. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly and welcoming gamers are, and how I never see any of the real horror stories of tournaments. Even the top tables of the DreadBall tournament were, in my opponent’s words, just like club games. Jen found people giving her advice during and after games, and gave some herself, and we all learned a lot from our games. I cannot stress enough to anyone on the fence that they should drag themselves to a Mantic Open Day tournament – whether or not they have been to a local tournament or not, and whether or not they liked it. They’re such fun, and everyone is wonderful. Don’t worry about being new, I played a guy in his seventh game ever and a couple of the players had only played once or twice before. They had a blast!
Next time, I’m going to have to either convince a real photographer to let me borrow their camera, or to come along themselves. A camera phone really doesn’t do justice to some of the awesome stuff on display.