Whether part of Games Workshops’ sales strategy at the time, or perhaps a plot to rotate the gamers in store, or maybe just the natural evolution of hobbyists, my new friends & I soon ‘graduated’ from our local store. By graduated I mean we had enough models, rules understanding & regular opponents to start playing games in our own homes. Enter the brand new realm of battle board from Games Workshop, expertly upsold by (new) store manager Chris. We painted it (a bit) flocked it (a bit) and most importantly established weekly meet ups to play Warhammer at my flat down the road.
Before long, a second board was added & our summer campaigns began. We were a group of eight originally & everyone involved wrote detailed narratives from a central storyline that saw some fantastic armies including Bretonian peasant uprisings to the now infamous Empire ’Pigeon-Bombers’. Although over time our numbers varied we consistently continued to play regularly at my home. As the group shrank due to the inevitable changes to everyones’ real lives, a ‘friendly’ game with friend Will became the spark that ignited the gaming club itself.
Will & I were discussing the expense of being two hobby magpies & the impact not being able to game regularly had. While we agreed wargaming was no more costly than other hobbies we both felt that the best way to get value from our hobby was to commit to playing a regularly at least once every month. So we did just that! A few weeks later we found that there were too many willing warmongers to fit in my house so I bought some gaming mats & terrain & approached the local pub opposite my house to hire out their attic to host our first club night.
The first few were ropey, which only makes me even more eternally grateful to those that attended, many of whom are still with us today. The ‘attic’ was actually the acoustic stage of a live music venue so we had no square tables, stools instead of chairs, multicoloured disco lights (insanely difficult to game under but epic for photos!) and the occasional visit from other patrons popping up to see what was going on - usually a few pints in. Even though the boards were wonky under barrels & bar tables, lighting poor & privacy compromised we endured. The same unwavering club mates turned up every month and after months of persistence the club & equipment grew and we eventually found the clubs’ new home where we have been for three fantastic years.
It’s worth mentioning that the club was originally exclusively for Age of Sigmar players, and remains a Games Workshop only club today. The arrival of Age of Sigmar divided the Warhammer Fantasy community massively & also created many new war gamers so the club had great diversity in our player pool from the off. The AoS exclusivity of the club was (as mentioned in the earlier posts) largely due to wanting to create a gaming club for fantasy players that couldn’t get regular games and/or opponents at other clubs. A brand new game, rules system and models provided us with something completely new in our local area.
Today we have a 40k I.T.C league, a huge range of Age of Sigmar players from tournament organisers & winners to first-time gamers, as well as a host of Games Workshops’ games being played simultaneously under one roof. We’ve held a Bloodbowl league, run narrative scenarios regularly at club nights (thanks to participation in the fantastic Realms At War & Warhammer Achievement events) travelled all across the country attending Warhammer World & Independent events, supported the club with our own website & various social media channels, and also proudly host our own weekend events created by our Hammerers for a variety of Games Workshop games - complete with beautiful logo trophies designed by Dark Fantastic Mills.
If I wanted anyone to take anything away from these posts from my own journey it would be this: This is your hobby. And it is a wonderful, multi-faceted escapism that should be celebrated. I am immensely proud of all our Hammerers - who write amazing stories, create incredible conversions, detailed & exciting battle reports, support, advise & even council each other, and even real world network at our little club. A club we built from both positive & negative hobby experiences in my life. A club where everyone is made to feel welcome, paired up with the right opponent to play whatever game & style & narrative that helps them escape reality for two evenings a month. A club where everyone is free to be as involved in all our hobby as they wish. No-one is told what to play, or who, or for what time or points limit. Whether looking for advice on how to paint that first model, or help planning & running a national weekend gaming event, our club mates are a fantastic support to one another.
Even though we haven’t been able to celebrate our fourth birthday together due to the pandemic I am always so incredibly inspired by our Hammerers & the many great things we have done to keep our hobby alive before, during & beyond these crazy times.
So here’s to a great many more, with my unending thanks to all our club mates for all they do for the Hammerers, from the kid who bought the pump-wagon first.
See you on the ‘field,