So if you are ever in the Pacific Northwest during July, and you happen to enjoy wargaming, and you just so happen to enjoy Warmachine and Hordes you really had better make a stop to check out Lock & Load. I’ve attended a number of gaming conventions over the years, and a fair share of tournaments as well in my more prolific 40k days. This was by far the best experience I have ever had as a gamer. At the end of every other exhausting weekend of dice rolling I have a strong urge to put my army case up on a shelf and not look at it for a good six months. I have moved all the tiny soldiers and tanks that I can handle in a 48 hour period and I want to do something completely different afterwards. After Lock & Load however, which was 72 hours, we all agreed that we were feeling the complete opposite! Our fervor for the game in all it’s aspects was completely renewed, and I left with an all new appreciation for my army after seeing the myriad forces available to play at the event.
The image above is of one of the two convention halls that housed all the gaming for the three days of the event. And i mean three. Straight. Days. The picture is of the tournament hall, where Masters, Champions, Team Tournaments, and the Iron Gauntlet were all located. Masters was close to capacity on Friday with about 60 of the 64 spots in both brackets full.
You will recall in my last post that we had entered into the Masters after finding out that the Active Duty Roster would be changed and we wouldn’t know what casters were available. Our group was in Masters B which didn’t start until 3pm on Friday so we had ample time to explore the event and check out the other tournaments. The one we had originally intended to play in was Champions, which had only 64 total spots available so we had assumed that we wouldn’t be able to get back into that group once we found out that our original casters were 100% going to be available to play after all. Once we got there however we saw that Champions only had 17 players!!! If we had all entered, the tournament would have had 22 participants, putting us far closer to being able to play in the final rounds on Sunday. We didn’t realize this until they had already begun, otherwise we would most likely have switched, but now we know how next year should go.
On the topic of tournament play at L&L, I have to point out that I went in with many mistaken assumptions. Every other event I have participated in was based around the tournament play aspect and while there was the option of playing some pick up games here and there, the main way to get games in was through the organized events. Not so at this one.
This picture is of the OTHER gaming hall, known as the Iron Arena. The arena is where the keynote address was made, trivia and costume contests were held, kids events were located, and the place where every table was available from 8am Friday morning until 5pm Sunday night for casual play. They literally never closed it. There was a section in the back right of this photo that housed three rows of 20+ amazingly crafted tables, and every other table you see, as well as dozens off screen, were there to be played on and at no time did I see them empty.
Another great feature of the Iron Arena was the Skulls reward system. Every game you played earned you skulls, which were currency to be used at a booth at the back of the hall. Here you could earn everything from focus/fury tokens, L&L exclusive dice, to limited edition concept art, to official PP game mats and army bags! Had we known that there was far more gaming opportunity than just the tournaments, we most likely would have skipped them all together and just stayed in the Iron Arena the entire weekend. As it was, after my three games in Masters on Friday, I played one pick up game that night, and 7 more games the next day! To put that into perspective, I usually manage one game a week at home, with some weekends taken up or sitting out due to odd numbers. That means I managed three months worth of Warmachine in two days, and didn’t get sick of it for even a moment. My plan for next year is to enter Champions like I planned, and then get 27 more games in by the end of the weekend. That will be 7 Iron arena games Friday, then the three rounds from the tournament, 10 on Saturday, then 10 on Sunday which if I do well on Friday will include the finals for Champions. The best part is that playing in the tournaments also earns skulls to use in the arena so it’s win-win!
I also had a chance to watch the Iron Gauntlet finals in person! This was great for me since the winning army this year was my own faction, Cygnar! The whole match is available to watch on Youtube, and I recommend checking it out.
Next post I will have pictures from my games, some of the other tables I saw, and brief summaries of all my battles!