Sunday, 20 May 2018

London 40k GT 2018 Review- Worst Tournament I've Attended

This past weekend, I attended the London 40k GT for the first time. Here is my review of the event, needless to say from the title, I did not think it went well!

Since moving down to Oxfordshire, I have been fortunate to find a lot of local 40k tournaments to attend, as well as a couple of great gaming clubs. With my close proximity to London, I figured I would attend the 40k GT, one of the biggest 40k events in the UK, if not europe, and test my skills against other great Warhammer players. 

I normally do these reviews after all my battle reports from the event and my own army review. However, you may have seen some of the controversy regarding the GT this weekend, so I thought I would share my own opinions on how it went and my experiences at the GT. 

I shared some of these over the weekend as they were occurring on my facebook page, so be sure to follow and like it to keep up to date on all the info on the blog. 

Opening Woes
The GT was held at the Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

I set off from Oxfordshire at 7.00 am on Saturday morning. The satnav said it would take about an hour and a half to get to the venue, with registration starting at 9.15 am. I set off so early due to the Royal wedding and FA cup final being on the same day in or near London. I was unsure how traffic would be that morning, so wanted to give myself plenty of time in case it was bad. I needed have bothered. 

There was little to no traffic on the way, so I arrived at the car park I was using (there is no parking facilities at the venue itself) about 8.45 am and headed over to the stadium. There was already a reasonably sized queue of gamers waiting to get in. 

As the doors opened at 9 am, there wasn't much movement from the line. It turns out that security were carrying out searches of all bag and miniature cases. At the start of the day, there were two people at the front door carrying this out. For hundreds of gamers, each with at least one backpack and miniatures case. They eventually added more staff to help with this, but it didn't speed things up too much. 


I waited over an hour to get entry into the venue. This was a problem, as the first game was due to start at 10 am, the time that I first entered the venue. I heard from other attendees that they had to wait even longer to get in. 

During the whole time, there was no communication from the organisers about what was going to happen. Whether the first game was going to be delayed or cancelled. 

Once inside, I had to queue for my convention band. I hadn't bought one of these, having only purchased my tournament ticket. This was my own, fault, as it was clearly stated that you needed to also purchase a convention band for £10 on top of the tournament ticket (£40 or £50, I don't recall exactly). For me, this was a complete waste of money. I had a wander round while waiting for all the other players to get in. There were a few stalls and demo games, but nothing that I saw to justify paying an extra £10 just for attending the event, not even playing. Note, you still had to queue for the convention band, even if you had pre-payed, so it wasn't really saving any time to have bought it in advance. 

Once I had my convention badge, I again had to queue to register for the Best Coast Pairings app for the tournament (more on this below). 

Again, there was little communication from the organisers about when we would eventually be starting and what would be happening. Everyone just sort of milled around. I caught up with some friends I had made from attending various tournaments around the UK. 

Eventually we were told when it was starting, over an hour later that advertised. I moved to my first table to get on with my games. 

The Sunday was a bit better. They had more people doing bag checks from the start and there was no need to register on the app that day. However, the starting time was still delayed by about 15 mins on the Sunday. 

Hotel Woes
As a result of the long delay to the day, I was unable to play my third game of the Saturday. The third game was due to start at 16:45, but didn't start until just after 6 pm. It was due to end at 19:45, but there were still games going on at 21:30. 

I had to check into my hotel before 8 pm on the day. My intention was to leave and do it during one of the breaks, most likely the lunch break. However, this could not happen as I will explain below in the Food section. As it was, with the day running so late, I simply could not play my final game. 

I was pretty mad at this, as not only would I be missing one of my five games at the event, I would also be depriving my opponent of a game. I would automatically take a full loss, which was annoying, as I had had a pretty good day up till that point. 

Yes, I could have booked a later check in or stay on the Friday night, but this would have resulted in additional fees for me, on top of my ticket and hotel room for one night. 

I went to complain to the organiser about this. All I got was an apology and he asked if I had a friend who could handle deployment for me while I was away and I could play the game when I got back. Unfortunately, I had neglected to bring my 40k caddy with me that weekend! 

Gaming Tables
You may already have seen the photos of the GT tables at the weekend. If not, this is pretty much what every table looked like at the GT. 



Each table had 7 pieces of polystyrene "terrain" and some had a couple of squares of card on them too. Some tables had the foam painted, but many just had white polystyrene on them. 

One of the joys of a tournament is meeting new players and playing a game with two fully painted armies on a nice table with some good terrain. 

For me, the set up was absolutely pathetic. This was the worst set up for any tournament that I have ever attended. Each table did have a gaming mat, but the terrain was abysmal. 
It is pretty galling to have a minimum three colours, fully painted army requirement for the tournament, where the terrain is just bare polystyrene. If anyone did have unpainted models in the their army, I hope they refused to take them off the table if asked. 

On the subject of painting, the rules pack had scoring and requirements for a painted army. However, at no point did anyone involved in running the tournament ask me about the painting of my army, and as far as I am aware, no one ever came round to check on the painting standard of each army. 

Functionally, the terrain worked very well. It had some really good line of sight blocking pieces that made for interesting games. It's just a shame it looked so atrocious. 

I know this is a big event, but if you cannot cater for decent looking terrain for all the tables at your event, maybe you need to cut down on the number of attendees. Major events in the US, such as the LVO and Adepticon manage to host as many if not more players and still have fully functional and good looking tables. 

One benefit of the tables is that they did have a bit of space on either side to deploy models and keep rule books. There were also some areas with additional tables or seating near gaming table. Some areas of the arena were a bit tight for space, but no worse than any other tournament that I have attended in the past. 

Note that this only applies to the GT tables. The tables for the 30k, narrative 40k and Necromunda tournaments looked to be of a much better quality. 

Overall, if that is the impression that the rest of the world gets from the biggest UK 40k event and is the face of competitive 40k in the UK, it is pretty awful. The rules pack said there would be three different terrain set ups, but all the tables were pretty much identical from what I saw. 

Best Coast Pairings App
The event used the Best Coast Pairings app. This allows players to enter their own scores and the app generates the pairings for each round. This allows you to see your next game without having to cluster round a sheet of paper or listening to someone shout them out. I think the app is a fantastic idea and it has been used to great effect at many tournaments around the world. 

Unfortunately, it simply would not work on my phone. I could see the pairings that I had each round, but could not enter my scores after any of my games. You are also able to view your opponent's list on the app and upload your own list for others to look at. Unfortunately, this did not work for me either. Many of my opponents also had the same problem. 

Another issue was that we were given no guidance on what score to enter into the app. Were we to enter our total victory points or the calculated tournament points? Fortunately, I guessed the right one, but many players entered scores and then had to go change them after finding out it was incorrect. 

Food
No food or drink was allowed into the venue, not even bottles of water. The food and drink available in the venue was limited to one bar and was as outrageously expensive as you can guess (£3 for a bottle of coke, etc). 

The queue for food and drinks was always mobbed during the breaks. One gamer even told me that they had stopped taking food orders during lunch as they had too many already. There weren't even that many facilities nearby for alternatives, with the nearest shop a good 10-15 minute walk away. 

Overall
My first time attending the London GT was pretty awful for me. For ticket, accommodation and food for the weekend, I must have spent close to £200. That was for four games of 40k on lacklustre gaming tables and huge queues and delays on the Saturday. 

It wasn't all bad though. I did get to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. I also got to finally meet Reece and Frankie from Frontline Gaming who were attending the event. I've been writing for them for about 2 years now and communication by email the whole time, so it was nice to finally meet in person and share a beer. 

I also got "recognised" as a 40k blogger. One of the attendees (I think his name was Jonathan, but sorry if I am incorrect) heard me talking at the best painted tables about my hotel woes, and the Scottish accent, put them together and came over to introduce himself. It doesn't happen often, but it is great when someone takes the time to tell you they are a fan of your blog and that they enjoy the time and effort that you put into it. 

I also got to play four great games of 40k over the weekend. The battle reports will be coming up on the blog in the following weeks, so keep an eye out for them. 

I hope you don't think I have been too harsh about the event. If you were attending it yourself and agree or disagree, please comment below and tell me about your experiences. 

45 comments:

  1. i just want to echo your statement about this being the impression people travelling to the UK will have about our events. This was by far the worst event I've ever seen from afar. Every event I've attended or seen run has had far better terrain, organisation and accessibility. Very disappointed that this will be the image put forward.

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    1. Yeah, after some of the fantastic events I've been to in the UK, it's sad that this will be the impression to many. No one I spoke to at the event was happy about it.

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  2. Did you see the guy playing topless?

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  3. I was planning on going to this but I couldn't get time off from work....I'm mightily glad I didn't waste a holiday on it now. Two of my mates went and their experience matches yours.
    One was playing in the narrative event and said the tables were fine but the organisation (lack of food/water, he paid £15 for a burger with chips) was disappointing. The other played in the main event and walked out after the first game....his words were "What the hell am I doing squeezing between tables with nothing but lumps of polystyrene on them in this weather, when I can sit outside a pub and enjoy the the sunshine!"

    I know how you like your Tournies, so try the Ribble Rumble at Stockport ( https://www.facebook.com/events/187964435354999/191497258335050/?notif_t=admin_plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1526835778029763 )

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    1. Thanks for the tip on the tournament!

      I had some good games, so it wasn't completely all bad. However, didn't feel to be worth the cost and effort involved in going.

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    2. I paid £7.50 for a bean burger (£5) with cheese (£1) and chips (£1.50). I can't remember the exact cost of the other burgers, and I'm not claiming that's cheap, but it is somewhat less than the £15 your friend is claiming.

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    3. The cost wasn't any worse than I would expect to pay at a sports stadium to be honest. The main problem was the lack of options, only one bar serving food that stopped serving food at lunch as they were too busy, being unable to take in your own food without any prior notification.

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  4. It's a real shame that things haven't worked out well for the tournament. I hope that the organisers take some of the criticism on board and improve for next year. Hopefully things will improve for next year as they can continue to build and improve, maybe a different venue would be an idea. If your not going to allow people to bring on food and drink then they should provide sufficient places to buy stuff at reasonable prices.

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    1. From talking to others, I think last year's event was pretty poor on the terrain front too. Not sure about the venue, as it was a new one this year.

      Yeah, only a single food outlet with no option to bring your own. If you didn't like burger, chips, hotdogs or sweets you were out of luck. No real healthy options there.

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    2. I could understand many of the issues if this was the first time the tournament had been run.

      Security seems over the top for a 40k tournament but I guess if they weren't allowing food or drink in that was probably what they were looking for more than security.

      If terrain was poor last year and again this year, then someone needs a good talking too!

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    3. As an American gamer who is trying to avoid getting fat and developing type 2 diabetes, I refuse to go to events that won't allow outside food. Sorry, I'm not going to eat disgusting microwave burgers so that your vendor can charge 4x the price.

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  5. Hi Michael, sounds a bit poor. Shame. As for it being the biggest 40K event in the U.K. aren't the GW Throne things the biggest? This seems like an amateur hour type affair. Anyroad, good to hear you out there. James (St.A Warriors)

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    1. Yeah, GW may actually have bigger events. Never been to one of theirs, really need to sort that out!

      By St A Warriors, do you mean St Aidan's Warriors in Clarkston? I actually used to play there many, many years ago, long before I started the blog.

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  6. Wow I'm glad I didn't go. That sounds bad even by London standards as far as food and drink go. I hope Frontline gave some feedback too.

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    1. I would hope so. Any advice they can get for improving it would be beneficial.

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    2. Hi Mike, sorry to hear about things down at the tourney, all I could think from whatwiwha have seen and heard from peopepeat the event, could only be described as "shameful".

      Rob was also hinting at memtom join hillfort the LGT and tbh I'm glad we saved the money. Not to place any disparadisp comments on your opponents or games (I'm sure they were awesome) but the look land feel of a tourney also has a big impact. I can't see GW jumping at the bit to endorse this event again.

      Hopefully you can make it up to Double Trouble, planning to be there myself 👍

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    1. Yes, definitely not the best first impression for me.

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  8. Totally agree with your review - was by far the worst event I’ve attended in 20 years of gaming events.

    Whacked up a post on their Facebook describing my experience and telling them what I thought:

    https://www.facebook.com/LondonGrandTournament/posts/1883334971717269

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    1. Thanks! Just been to your page and commented as well. I would urge everyone unhappy to complain to them. That is the only way they'll know how massively they have messed up.

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  9. Can you tell who are top 3 generals?

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    1. Don't think they've posted the results yet.

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    2. Such a shitty organisation OMG

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  10. Oof. That is just awful. I'd seen some muttering about it over the weekend, but no details.

    I've had similar issues with BCP. It just does not function right on my phone, and won't run on my tablet at all. Very frustrating, because it is a great concept.

    I hope you don't have to go through anything like that again.

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    1. I think I'll be avoiding their events in the future. Not worth the money and effort.

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  11. As a three year veteran of this event I thought I’d share some past experiences:

    The venues have always been rubbish. Year 1 180 people got crammed into 2 rooms. Neither had air con. Neither had doors open. Neither had fans. It was in the middle of nowhere. Terrain started well on the top tables. But by the time you got to the bottom ones they were just whatever junk was left over. (2-3 pieces at best)

    Year 2. More attendees. Bigger venue. Middle of nowhere. No air con. 2 doors open to let air in. Hottest days of the month. Again. Similar terrain problems. This time they had clip together mdf scenery though.

    This year. Well. It’s all covered above.

    Announcements about what is happening have always been pretty poor. Though this year they didn’t announce where the voting for the painting was, where the voting for best player was (or how to do it) and things the tournament pack promised didn’t happen. For example the losers raffle.

    He comeback king award that was on offer was for a person who lost their first 3 games and then won the last 2. We figured this to then mean the person who achieved this, finishing highest in the rankings.

    No. They switched it so that the person had to have had 0 tournament points day 1 and then just win 2 on the last day.

    As for prizes. When they pulled the raffle no numbers were recorded against what prize. So people were going up to claim them and taking whatever they wanted. Not what they had won. You can imagine this didn’t go down well...

    I dis have fun in my games. Meeting 5 great guys to play against, a laugh was had even if we were suffering similar event woes.

    Given the propensity of big name companies there (den of imagination, frontline gaming etc) it was a really poor showing and will no doubt hurt their reputation.

    A quick note on the bag searches. I heard more than one tail of woe of security opening a case to look. Closing the lid but not lockong it and handjng it back, the models immediately falling out. This happened to a number of people. Including a guy from den of imagination whose army was up for best painted...

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    1. That sounds horrendous. I have no idea why they keep running such big events to a poor standard.

      I didn't stick around after my last game, didn't see the point. Sounds like a big hassle in all.

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    2. Re: the raffle. Did you happen to see a Magnus the Red? I am a commission painter and LGT approached me and asked for a model for the raffle, I've since found it on ebay and the organisers are ignoring my emails. If someone won it and is now selling it, fine. But I was promised a few pics of the draw for my own promotional needs. Trying to ascertain the facts before I take action.

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    3. I didn't even know there was a raffle, I'm afraid, so never saw any of the prizes. I hope you get some answers about your donation.

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  12. I'm totally amazed at the poor standard of scenery on the tables, it's clear that they didn't have the resources to provide basic level terrain for the amount of tables. I don't know how many 40k players took part in the event but it's clear that there should've been fewer places allocated (say no more than 50). That way the organisers would've had a better opportunity to provide a better level of scenery for the tables. I myself am a tournament organiser, ok it's only for a local tournament & not for anything on this scale in terms of players but at least my gaming club that I'm a committee member of (who help me by providing scenery) made sure that every table had good quality terrain on it. By the way, the tournament I run had 32 players in it as this was pretty much the limit to provide the same standard of scenery for all the tables. I hope the LGT organisers look back at what clearly a poorly run weekend & reconsider how many players to have in each event so that they can provide a better level of terrain etc.

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    1. I think there were simply too many people at the event. However, they have known since December how many people were attending, so had almost 5 months to prepare for it.

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  13. I think they just need better organisers and venues overall to be honest. What a bad image it's currently giving :/

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    1. Yeah, from comments above, it seems like it has been the same the past three years. I would hope they learn their lesson from such a public backlash.

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  14. Sounds like a horrible experience. I’m currently organizing the Dallas Open in the states, and I can tell you that we are up to our eyeballs in terrain construction. Putting on an event is definitely a lot of work, and you have to put the time and dedication into it. If you all have the chance, come on out to Texas and play with us. Dallasopengt.com

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    1. Good luck! I have no doubt that it is a mammoth effort to put on such an event.

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  15. Sorry to hear that your experience at this GT was bad. Reading all the feedback on Twitter and Facebook you were not alone! To spend a lot of money and give up your time for something that seemed very below par is disappointing.

    Any poorly organised events can give a bad name to all similar events. Unfortunately, they are not just limited to the Warhammer universe. I have attended plenty of poor ones and generally they all have the same issue, POOR PLANNING!!

    Putting event on of this size is a major undertaking and on one hand it is commendable that they organisers have given up their time to put this on, but if are going to do it you have to do it properly.

    I have a feeling that a little bit of their ego got in to wanting to run “The biggest event in the UK” and unfortunately didn’t give themselves enough time at the planning stage and then everything caught up with them in the last week or so.
    What the organisers need to do now is offer a full un reserved apology and maybe some refund. The apology doesn’t need to be anything long winded, but highlighting things were not great and that they will be undertaking a full review of the event and will publish that in a few weeks.

    The issues that I think need addressing are:

    Venue – sounded cool to have it at the Olympic stadium (and probably local for the organisers) but is it the right place for a Warhammer tournament? I appreciate security is paramount but surely either a warning that the people coming will be having lots of cases etc and as such do they need to update their check policy or get more people involved? Personally, I don’t see the Olympic stadium security policy changing soon. Other venues, probably not in London, may offer similar facilities but will be “lower risk” and as such will have less checking. Security check is out of the control of the organisers and they can’t be held responsible for it. The same goes for venue food facilities. If the venue offers to be able to host X number of people, they need to be able to support that. It does seem as though the organisers and the venue operator didn’t speak to each other and understand what this type of event would entail and how it would operate at the venue.
    Food and drink – unfortunately, this is the same for all big venues. They like to have a captive market for their own food vendors. I normally take an empty water bottle and fill it up once I am in there. However, the organisers should be thinking if this is a suitable for its players. I do like to snack during my games.
    Scenery – by the sounds of it, it worked well for the game it just looked rubbish. It is very unfair that as a player you must abide by the “painted” army rule but the event doesn’t. I am guessing they just ran out of time to produce it all, as expected as the only started the week before. Also, there is an expectation on the quality of terrain. Most game clubs have spent years funding and building a decent collection of terrain. I don’t see how they could have created that many great gaming tables in such a short period of time and within a sensible budget. It would be good to know what the big events in the states do. I have heard stories of them only having 3 bits of scenery which is why you got leaf blower lists of the 5th edition!
    Hotel – I found it odd that you couldn’t phone the hotel and let them know you were running late. Plenty of people get stuck on their journey and run late for check in.

    Summary – I do hope they respond accordingly as I have suggested, as it would be good to have a mega event in the UK. If they want to run an event this size they need to plan next years now. It sounds like they need a lot of help from various places to smooth these issues out. But I say good luck to them. It’s a very difficult thing to do especially when you have a normal job to do to, it still doesn’t mean is should be a shambles but send them constructive feedback and tell them to sort out a better event next year!

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    1. Nice analysis. Yeah, it was just a bit galling to go to a "premier" tournament and spend all that money for such a poor effort.

      I did phone up the accommodation, but they said there was nothing they could do. Not their fault really.

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  16. Sounds like they couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery!
    What a poor showcase for the hobby. You should try one of the events at Warhammer World. You'd be paying about the same, and be having a much better event.

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    1. I've actually bought at ticket for the GT Heat 1 at warhammer world this morning!

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    2. Sweet. Hope you have a cracking time.

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  17. Blimey I am so glad I did not bunk off work to attend this!!

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    1. Yeah, you might have been a bit disappointed.

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  18. You would think that with all the big events in the US, which GW is attending now, that the scene in the UK would step it up.

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    1. That's the thing, we do have some fantastic events over here. It's just that this is the impression the rest of the world now has of UK tournaments.

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