UKTC V -Blood Bowl weekends away

When you start playing Blood Bowl competitively, in order to guarantee consistent games at the right level you are more than likely going to need to travel and stay away from home. There are a vast amount of tournaments organised up and down the country, let alone the ones abroad. Within these events there are a select few representing the different regions of the UK which attract a huge amount year on year. For example the NAFC in Nottingham, The Waterbowl in Stockport and the UKTC in York. I cannot stress enough how important it is that all Blood Bowlers should attend one of these in their lifetime, book the weekend off, book a hotel and experience one of the most enjoyable aspects of Blood Bowl there is, The Weekend Away!…….

In this article I would like to talk about my recent experience at UKTC V in York and a general overview of why the weekend is so much fun.


The UKTC

The UKTC has been running for 5 years now, this event being its fifth, and is proudly the UK’s Biggest Team Blood Bowl Tournament. The way it works is that you enter as a team of four coaches, each with a different race. You will then be pitted against another team of four with the coaches with the best record playing each other and working the way down. This can lead to unexpected standings but we will get into that later.

This is actually my second visit to York for the UKTC and will not be last. It is something I look forward to now all through out the year. Last year didn’t go too well individually for myself or as a team. I ended up taking Pro Elves as the new Games Workshop models had just been released but what this meant was I had no time to get in any practise games with them causing many issues on the day. Also I believe my coaching ability has come on a lot in the last year due to playing more regularly in leagues and tournaments.

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So what team did we enter? This year an official ‘Team OTT’ took the plunge into its first tournament representation including Me, Chris, Sam (only plays Blood Bowl at the UKTC) and Ewan (a member of the DBL and in my division last season). All that we needed to decide on was what races we were each going to play, Sam’s decision was the easiest, he ONLY plays Skaven. It was then down to Me, Chris and Ewan to decide. As I said before, I am currently working my way through the NAF 26 so choosing a race I have never played before were the options and the fact that I had recently been successful in bidding on a Hungry Troll Jurassic Team (Lizardmen), My decision was fairly straight forward. Well that’s what I thought but as it is with any hobby, life can sometimes get in the way and I just couldn’t seem to get the time to finish painting the lizards in time. With a week to go and knowing I couldn’t get them done to the standard I would like, I had to try to find a team to play. Luckily Chris had a fully painted 3rd edition Wood Elf team I was able to borrow (I say fully painted, we had to spend the friday night in the house painting positional colours around the rims of the bases as I had to use a line elf as a catcher). So we were set, I was taking Wood Elves, Chris was taking Chaos and Ewan decided to power game and take GOBLINS!


The Journey

So as I mentioned above, weekends away to some people can seem like an expensive and time-consuming way to get your hobby fix, and yes if it is something that you do on a regular basis it can rack up on cost, time off work and your sleep. But if you narrow it down to 1 or 2 a year they can be the most enjoyable tournaments you attend. Naturally if you don’t live near the event there will be some travel involved, whether this be by public transport or car. For me there are 2 main events I attend each year, UKTC in York in January where I will take the train and The NAF Championship in May which we do by car each having their Pros and Cons. I wont go into which is better, i’m sure you understand door-to-door vs a more relaxed journey.

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So what were our travel arrangement/cost/activities

So when deciding how to get the event I normally look at what will be going on around the games themselves and with the UKTC it is a very social tournament. York being such an active and busy city we always end up going out both evenings and consuming maybe a few too many beers. This combined with two full days of high level Blood Bowl can lead to being very tired on Sunday evening. This is where getting home by train can be weight off the drivers shoulders. So this is what we did, we booked as far in advance as we could to get the cheapest tickets available. With Virgin trains I believe they release their tickets 3 months in advance with the cheapest tickets being sold within a week or so. Unfortunately due to one of team members dropping out and not knowing who will be replacing them we missed out on the super value tickets but still ended up getting them for a good price. It cost us about £65 each return which, although would have been cheaper to drive, is good value for the benefit of being able to relax on the Sunday evening.

I know this sounds a bit sad, but I look forward to the journey. When there are  a group of you all going together it makes for a great day. This year Sam brought his copy of ‘Exploding Kittens’ which is a great small, easy to play game for the train. This combined with a few cans and cookies creates some great laughs and makes the 2 and a half hour journey fly by. Although we did get some strange looks playing this game (if you haven’t played Exploding Kitten I suggest you give it a go)

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The table is a bit small to play Blood Bowl 😉


Accommodation

Most likely to be your largest one-off cost when away for a Blood Bowl weekend is your accommodation. A lot of larger events will recommend a hotel or even have a hotel on site which make your decision easy enough, even if it is not the best value but a lot of the times you will have to do the work yourself, researching the distance and transport to the venue and also wherever you evening activities will be whilst weighing up the cost. Last year this took a bit of time as me and my team had booked separately, being harder to find a good deal when looking for two people. But this year, as all four of us were looking together and we were a bit more organised we were able to take advantage of ‘Air BnB’.  Now obviously sites like this have a higher risk than booking into a hotel, at the end of the day it is renting someones house, but the advantages of this are great! Putting aside the money saved on the house but also the cost saved in not being forced to eat out for all 3 meals, letting on Air BnB was great!. It really allowed for more freedom, you didn’t feel restricted in timings for breakfast etc. Not only that we were able to spend our evenings playing games with a crate of beer and not spending more down the pub when not needed. The cost for the house worked out at £75 each for 2 nights which wouldn’t even get you 1 night in a hotel at most places. This makes the overall one off costs for the weekend at roughly £190 for the travel, accommodation and ticket to the event. Obviously you will need a bit extra for spending money on your nights out etc.


So it begins, The Friday Night

So by the time we had got to the house, played a few games and had a few drinks, it was time to head out and explore what the beautiful city of York had in store. Where we were staying was just outside the city walls, in a local residential area roughly 20 mins walk into the town centre. Situated where we were we decided to try out a local pub on our way into town and boy did it not disappoint.

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We came a cross a small pub right outside the city walls called ‘The Minster Inn’. It was small but with a huge amount of character serving great beer and full of welcoming locals. It was the middle of January and they had the fire going which was great, really adding to the atmosphere, but the best thing was that they had board games to play. We stayed in here playing your typical games such as Jenga and Trivial Pursuit (what more do you want?) Seriously great pub, next time i’m in York I will be back.

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Although we had settled in quite nicely, it was time to move on to meet some other Bowlers. It has become tradition when attending the UKTC that coaches will meet in the Brewdog bar on the Friday night, a great way to catch up with others as people start arriving for the weekend. You get to meet some great people at these events, people you would never normally get to meet and people who you will come to catch up with if you continue to attend on a regular basis.

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This year there was a huge representation from the league I am involved in, The DBL. I believe there were about 5 teams with DBL coaches involved, 3 of which were pure DBL representatives.

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DBL on Tour

The atmosphere that evening was incredible, everyone having a great time, looking forward to a weekend of Blood Bowl and socialising, it couldn’t be beaten and its for moments like that why EVERYONE needs to experience a weekend away.


Day 1 – The Saturday

After an evening of preparation shall we say, Day one of the UKTC was upon us. We all woke early with the idea of booking a taxi to the venue (this year being changed to a conference centre on the University Campus) after cooking breakfast, one of the advantages of renting a house together.

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Normally does the trick!

As we are all based in London we are accustomed to the reliability and speed of being able to book a cab via Uber or Addison lee with no problems at all, but we had overestimated these companies abilities to meet demand in these smaller cities during non peak time i.e a Saturday morning. After we had finally come around after breakfast we decided to book an Uber to the venue but could not seem to get a driver. There we were, 4 Londoners standing in the hallway with a look of utter confusion on our faces as why we couldn’t get a cab. After 20 minutes with still no luck we decided to call a local company who arrived promptly and dropped us off at a reasonable price, maybe we CAN live without these companies, but maybe not who knows.

Fortunately we arrived on time with a brief 5 minute rest period before the first game kicked off. This post is meant to highlight the joys of weekends away playing Blood Bowl and not so much the games themselves so I will briefly go over days one games and results.


Game 1 – Orcs

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First ever game with Wood Elves, the pressure sets in

For the first round, Team OTT were drawn against a team who mainly play online, including one of DBL’ own, Jimbo. For my first game with Wood elves I was put up against a Troll build Orc team but due to a series of failed pickups from the Orc thrower with Sure hands, I was able to come away with a victory

3 – 0 Win

with another win, a draw and a loss in the team, we came out with an overall team win


Game 2 – Underworld

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Not sure who sculpts this Underworld team but they are great minis

I was quite relieved sitting down for my second game, Underworld can be a very competitive team at a certain level, but I have a fair bit of experience playing them so was confident in what I was doing.

3 – 0 win

once again with another win, a draw and a loss for the team we won our second round.


Game 3 – Amazons

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Roxanna Amazons Build

This had to be one of my most challenging games of Blood Bowl to date, my opponent was an extremely good coach and had me on the back foot the whole first half. It was only down to a lucky leap, 1 die POW and 6 plus catch from my Wardancer, followed by him failing to roll a POW on 6 dice on his next turn  that saved him from scoring. But then my lack of experience with Wood Elves came to light deciding to try to dodge through 2 tacklezones instead of leaping preventing a likely score in my turn 8 to go 1 – 0 up and receiving in the second half. The second half was straight forward, being a better coach he easily forced me to score early meaning he could run in an equaliser turn 16.

1 -1 Draw

Another draw and 2 losses for the rest of the team resulted in a team loss.

So that was the end of the first day of Games, 2 wins and draw personally and 2 wins and a loss for the team was a great start to the weekend and a lot better than we were expecting.


 

After a long day of playing it was time to head back, freshen up and head out to town a bit later on. This is why I enjoy these weekends, after your games you have the evening to socialise with like-minded hobbyists. These larger events such as the UKTC and NAFC attract people from all over the country and even internationally meaning the majority of the participants will be staying in the area for the weekend. This gives you the opportunity to get to meet new people who love the game you do, learn what they do differently, where they are from and share experiences, it really is the next level in your Blood Bowl journey.

I am not one of those people who can play more Blood Bowl in between the main event, I have seen it done often and can’t imagine anything worse but that’s just me, everyone is different. We decided to go back to the house and play a game Sam had also brought with him, ‘Coup’

 

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‘Coup’ was a very pleasant surprise, when the rules were being explained I wasn’t to sure whether it was something I would enjoy but I was proven wrong. Its is a very quick and simple game to play with a deck of 20 cards (4 of each of the characters above). The idea of the game is to gain as many ‘credits’ as you can by taking different actions. You each have 2 cards face down that only you know what they are. Each character has a different ability all of which can be used to knock out your opponents. The game involves bluffing, telling your opponents you have a certain card and them either believing you and allowing you to use its effect or calling you out and either hurting you or themselves. After this weekend it was another game to add the wish list.

After reluctantly dragging ourselves away from the game we headed out into town, this time with a quiet night in mind

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A big part of the hobby for myself is not just getting to play the game but where it takes me, being able to see these other parts of the country that I may have never got to do otherwise. On the Saturday evening we went for a walk around the town, stopping off in some the picturesque pubs and restaurants that it had on offer now and then bumping into a group of Bowlers discussing the first days antics. The evening ended a bit calmer than the Friday night with us getting back at a reasonable time ready for the next day of games followed by the late journey back home by train.

minotaurs-collection-004Did you know there are 4 Official Majors in the Blood Bowl Calender.

‘The Majors started life as the 4 Blood Bowl tournaments from the Blood Bowl rulebook, but this has changed over time.

  • The Blood Bowl, now known as the NAF Championship, took place at Warhammer World in Nottingham, UK until 2012.  In May 2013 it was still in Nottingham, but moved to a shiny new venue. The NAF Championship has its own page on this website.
  • The Chaos Cup is based in Chicago, USA, and full details can be found on its own website.
  • The Spike trophy takes place in Canada.  Spike and the Chaos Cup are scheduled within a week of each other, to encourage travellers to attend both.
  • The Dungeonbowl is the German Major, held each year in Dusseldorf.
  • CanCon is the Australian Major, introduced in 2005 to recognise the large Blood Bowl community who otherwise would not have access to a Major.’

from ‘TheNAF.net’


Sunday, a day of rest – I WISH!

 

One thing I have to say about these events is, if you are going to take full advantage of them and make the most of it, they are very tiring. By the end you will feel like you need a day to recover, or maybe that’s just me whining.

We were a bit fresher on the Sunday morning and more prepared when it came to organising transport to the venue. After sorting the house out and leaving it in a suitable state we headed out to see if we could continue our run of good luck from day 1.

Before I give  a brief overview of the second days games, I would like to mention the level of hobbying involved in these events. With most tourneys there were prizes for the best painted/looking team and the standard was extremely high. Here are some pictures of some of the entrants and I’m sure you will agree on the high standards.

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Game 1 – Vampires

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For the first game of day 2 I was drawn against Vampires, the draw was published the night before so I had all evening and morning to dread this game. I have a bad record against Vamps, being notoriously unreliable and a lower tiered team it should have been ok but this roster was different. Not to mention having Willhem Chaney, he also took Pro on all his Vamps meaning he only failed 2 blood lusts all game. When this is the case Vampires all of sudden become a frustratingly hard team to play against. Due to a badly timed quad skulls and some ones, the game ended in a loss

0 – 2 Loss

The team also faced more losses meaning an overall loss, the high days were over.


Games 2 – Skaven

The day went from bad to worse very quickly, things were all of a sudden going against me. With the Wardancers not being able to roll a 3+ all game lead to some failed turnover opportunities and a failed chance to score resulting in the second loss for the day

0 – 1 Loss

Again the team were struggling with another overall loss on the board, this weekend was really a game of two halves.


Games 3 – Skaven (AGAIN!)

The third game was a very close game, evenly matched with things going right for both of us. I managed to get the lead in my turn 16 leaving him a One Turn Touchdown attempt to equalise. Kick Off – quick snap! He only went and done it with no re rolls. I just could not catch a break on day 2, Ironic really

1 – 1 Draw

another loss for the team resulting in a serious plummet after a great day one.

After some great results on the first day I cam away with a 2 – 2 – 2 record which I was a bit disappointed in only because of the start. The UKTC is a very high level of Blood Bowl and if I was offered that result at the beginning I most likely would have taken it. There’s always next year!


Homeward Bound

So there you have it, a great weekend of Blood Bowl and it was time to head back. After chatting to some others about the results we made our way back to the station ready for our 3 hour train home expected to get in at 11pm. Although everyone is shattered, the journey back can be just as enjoyable as the way up in a different way. Sharing our ups and downs of the weekend and laughing about our mistakes makes for a great way to unwind as you head back to reality.

The reason these events are so successful is mostly down to how well they are organised and the community that attend them. The guys that run them put a huge amount of effort in for your benefit and it really does show. If I had to choose one event I could go to every year it would be UKTC without a doubt, sure some events maybe better on the day but as a whole and a weekend away nothing beats it

I know when I was first contemplating going, the one thing that put me off was not being good enough at the game and if you are reading this, have never been and are on the fence about going for the same reasons fear not. Yes these events have some of the best players in the world attending but they also had 240 coaches, believe me they are not all veterans at the game, just look at me for example. If you have not been I highly recommend it as something to do at least once, you will be hooked.

This post (and blog actually) is inspired by the great guys over at The Tackle Zone who wrote a post about playing Blood Bowl abroad. This without a doubt my next step forward and something I am seriously looking forward to. If you are a regular Blood Bowl weekender and are considering expanding your reach check out their post here.

http://thetacklezone.net/first-time-blood-bowling-abroad-and-why-you-need-to-give-it-a-go-too/

We would love to hear about any great weekends of Blood Bowl you have had as we are always open to trying new events.

OTT Attempts – just the one against me for the equaliser in game 6. DAMN!

 

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