I had to get up at 4:30 so that I would be showered and ready for 5:00, when Gary was due to arrive. Our taxi was booked for 5:15 to take us down to the local Games Workshop store, where we would meet up with our fellow gamers.
The coach was due to leave at 6:00 so that it could zigzag it's way across the region and pick up more players from different locations. Everything went smoothly until we hit our first pick-up point.
Two people weren't there.
We waited 30 minutes until they showed up. Never mind, we thought, we'll make up time on the road.
We had a 3 hour journey ahead, which would get us to Warhammer World for 9:00 in plenty of time for our first game at 9:30.
During the journey we chatted about our armies, tactics and previous games. I talked at great length to Gary about my lack of range, and my counter-charge tactics. Gary worried how his Dark Eldar Raiders would survive long range weapon fire. We were both a bit nervous because neither of us had any experience of playing competitive games. What would I do if I came up against an argumentative rules lawyer? How would I handle a cheesy army? Would I get slaughtered in every game?
We hit Nottingham at 9:00 but discovered that we weren't supposed to go into the city, but to Lenton on the outskirts, where Warhammer World was situated. It turned out that the driver didn't know where that was and our GW staffer had never been there before. We were going to be late. After several circuits of Nottingham's one way system and numerous mobile telephone calls we eventually arrived at 10:00.
All of us rushed through the registration process at breakneck speed and were given ID badges to wear. Inside the main hall the rest of the competitors had already arrived and were waiting to begin.
It was the first time I had visited the place and I have to say I was impressed. I immediately recognised some of the battlefields from a White Dwarf battle report (the gigantic ruined Cathedral) but I was unprepared for the sheer number of tables. There were dozens and dozens of them, all organised in 6 long rows. There were snow tables, desert tables, swampy tables, urban battlefields and simple green grass tables. Half of them were for the Fantasy tournament while the other half were for 40k players. There was one thing common to them all, though, and that was that there was very little terrain. Shooting armies definitely had the advantage here.
An A4 sheet was posted up with the first pairings and 50 gamers crowded around to see who their first opponent was. As it was a Swiss style tournament, the first game would be allocated randomly while the later games would be chosen on performance. Initially I misread the sheet and thought my opponent's ID number was the table number, so I ran over to the table and began to take my models out of their case. It was only when a Warhammer Fantasy player began to deploy his High Elves that I realised my mistake! He was unconvinced by my idea to play a game anyway (I fancied my chances with my hellguns versus his spears), so I had to quickly ram everything back in my case and locate my real opponent.
Of course, it was Gary.
I drive for 3 hours and 300 miles and I end up playing my regular gaming buddy.