2005-12-15: Where the geek doth roam
Tonight I broke the routine of going home and sitting in front of the computer with the sole aim of keeping myself entertained. Just as well too, now that I've finished Icewind Dale II there is no game for me to play. Instead I went to a local war gaming club to check out the 'action'. The club was on a road that has no public transport so I walked from town. I found the venue just after I'd given up looking, and the biggest clue was seeing guys walking in with GW miniature cases. However when I walked into the premises I saw it was a pub, not a games table in sight. This was a bit confusing until I asked someone just coming in if the club was in here and I was told it was in a room at the back.
I got in when people were still setting up. It was a decent sized function room and there war game tables for at least 12 simultaneous games. There were also a few role-players scattered about the room. As more people came in I got a fair idea of the sort of people that progress to war gaming adult-hood. Most are, politely, dumpy, almost all white and almost all have 'distinctive' features (where 'distinctive' would normally be shunned by cool society). I think the only way to find a more rag-tag ensemble of guys would be to go to a big LAN party. There was one person I thought was a really unattractive woman till I realized she was actually a he. There were only a few (three or so) women in the club, the other 40 odd people were all late twenty and up guys (and some were up into the forties easily). There were younger members who seemed to be more into the role-playing groups, they were distinguished from the war-gamers by there predominate preference for black jumpers with one of their favourite metal or rap bands depicted. As there was a pub next door many people had a beer with them (the rest all seemed to favour Coke). Smoking was allowed and it was odd to see people standing over games tables smoking cigarettes (think of what the ash might do to the scenery people!).
So what activities does this Mecca of geek-hood get up to. Sadly, it was mostly playing Warhammer. I was hoping to see lots of alternative games. One table set up a Full Thrust game that I was invited to join, however I felt that it would have been going longer than I was able to stick around for (and not surprisingly still wasn't finished as I left). I cruised about the Warhammer tables watching some games but mostly spent my time at a table with a Necron versus Tau game. The Tau lost. I left before the last unit of Kroot were destroyed just so I didn't get to see the poor guys face when his force was wiped out. Necron suck. There seemed to be a lot of Tau players and your standard tables full of Marines in all the colours of the rainbow (currently only grey and black though). Every Marine player had at least two Land Raiders on the battlefield. There were some nice fantasy armies too. I didn't disturb the role-players but they were all playing D&D. There wasn't a single card player in sight.
I left the group about 9:45pm and then walked home. Although no-one in the room was likely to end up on a hunky guys calendar (alas I was in the room too), I agreed with the comment expressed to me that in the club people can play the game without an 8 year old standing on tippy toes to look at the battlefield screaming out 'Can I have a go!!' or red-shirted staff yelling out 'Waaagghh' for any roll of the dice. Despite the social stigma even I would attach to a war gamer in a club I think I'll become one when I get back home.