I’m very aware how late this post is considering its about something that happened on December the 7th. Truth be told, Between burning myself out trying to keep up with Tale of Warlords and preparing for Christmas, I was struggling to think about much hobby related and totally got out of the habit of posting or even checking my WordPress feed.
Anyway I’m here now, so I guess the first question is…
What IS Purge The Pit?
Purge the Pit is a scenario for 40k and the brain child of @Dave_the_Dr on Twitter. I did not find out until after the event when he thanked me for my own involvement but he had been working on this idea on and off for the last 5 years and it had finally come to fruition. The other person heavily involved in its organisation was @Oftheaett. Andy has his own blogpost that went up prior to the even that will give you all of the game information and the flavour he wrote for it, go give it a read here!
Since Andy had all that stuff well covered, what I want to talk about is what actually happened behind the scenes and on the day. You see this went from something that was being organised that I knew nothing about, to something that consumed my weekly thoughts for months as I prepared for it.
My involvement began with the UK Hobbyists Meetup Discord group. I had organised a meetup for the 7th of December as the last one of the year. There was nothing special about this date, It was just chosen as the one that was the furthest away from other weekend events at Warhammer World people may want to attend and also the most people were free for in general.
At some point prior to the meetup( in about July or August I think), Dave got in touch with me an asked if it was OK that they piggyback the event on the back of the Meetup, to which I obviously said “Of course!”. After all, the more the merrier right? At the time the Event was going to be 6 players on a 6′ x 4′ Table, playing Dave’s Scenario. I started to help Publicise the event on my own Twitter account and through the Discord chat as part of the meetup and before long I was in a private group discussion with Dave and Andy about the event… this is where things started to get very interesting.
Andy was concentrating on the story behind the scenario and was also going to be using the post on his blog as the go to source of information, and also as a record of who would be attending. Dave meanwhile had organised all of the crunch, exactly what would be going on at the event. I came in simply to help round people up and build up some hype for it… but before long I started helping out where I could. I think that started when Dave said something about the rules and I made a suggestion, neither of us are competitive or even regular players, but Andy is primarily a Lore buff and painter so knew very little about the current rules. So Dave started running some rules and ideas by me and I would just give him someone to bounce off, after all no one else knew about the event at this stage and there were some secret elements involved we couldn’t tell anyone about.
At this point I felt like part of the team and also started making friends with Dave and Andy, becoming more comfortable sharing my thoughts about the event with the guys. Also, anyone knows me, knows I’m an excitable person… and if I get an idea in my head I struggle to let it go, I start thinking about it and want to develop it. I think it was the rules questions that did it… I freakin love game mechanics, understanding how things work and how a good framework can carry a cool narrative. The next thing was the talk of prizes…
Dave told us that he planned on getting some GW loot together to be won by someone at the table (this later turned out to be a bag of books donated kindly by Black Library Author Gav Thorpe). This wasn’t going to be advertised at any point, it was meant to be a cool and unexpected perk. The other thing that he wanted to do was some goody bags for all the players that had some bits in like a sticker for the event and stuff (which unfortunately never happened but we had a LOT going on). I thought these were cool ideas and I started thinking about bigger events and how they have other prizes available. I thought about maybe doing a trophy for the winner and since there was a high focus on the narrative and we were going to be promoting the creation of very unique and converted armies… a Best Army award seemed like a good idea. After some discussion we shuffled things around to include a “Best Player” and we decided that the coolest prizes should go to the Best Player and the Best Painted as this wasn’t meant to be very competitive event, but I could still try to sort out something for the winner of the event too.
So Andy published the blog post and we pointed people towards it in the hope that we could rustle up a few players.
The response was greater than we anticipated and we suddenly had to provisionally book 3 Tables at Warhammer World to cope with the potential interest. So I got to work on making 3 winners Trophies at work (Just in case) and Dave collected together the bits for the Best Player. I sketched up a simple design to work into some wood as Andy’s logo was a bit too complex for that. Part of the event would be that when the objective was scored, a Renegade Knight would bust out of the ground to defend it and surprised the players, so I based the design on the Knight faceplate that Dave used for his knight.
Progress of the winners trophies
Soon the numbers hit the new 18 player maximum and we booked a fourth table! this was going to be the last though, I was now horribly nervous about managing this many people, after all we only had myself and Dave as GMs to watch the tables… also… I had to make a fourth trophy, which was annoying because I had to find matching bits of wood! While I panicked at Dave over the organisation of the actual day over the private chat I had to think about something to do for the Best Army Trophy… an opportunity presented itself (as ambitious as it may have been) so I dived in as I usually do when I’m over excited about a concept.
My boss kindly pays for me to do an evening blacksmithing course (with the goal of me being able to do it at the farm at some stage), so as part of me practising my existing skills experimenting with new techniques, I came up with an idea, ran it by the tutor and then went for it. the margin of error was very small… if I messed this up then I would not be able to try again, I would have to do something else. As it turned out, I managed it by the skin of my teeth… as in… after 7 weeks of work, I was literally welding and finishing the trophy at work and at home the day before the event. Phew!
The top jaw was a single shaped piece (I made a prototype out of lead first to know what shape to cut), and the lower jaw was made out of a horseshoe with the 4 teeth welded on.
So the clock ticks down to zero hour and I head off to Warhammer World on the at 7am on 7th of December armed with 5 trophies, a Surprise Knight complete with custom rules and some very questionable food for the journey.
I arrived in plenty of time and headed into Bugman’s Bar as main hall wasn’t open yet. There was also a Lord of The Rings event on at the same time and it was pretty busy in there. Once the doors were open I headed in and met up with @Sgt_Smudge, who had been drafted in by Dave that very morning, from being a player to be a GM for a table… clearly I had worried for nothing and Dave had it all under control (!?). Also Joining us as a GM was Recalcitrant Daze‘s @Rictus, and we set about orgnising the deployment zones for the missions across the 4 tables. Soon enough people started arriving, obviously not all at once but that can be expected, we wanted to keep things organised but casual so what we did was started games of 4 people, filling up one table at a time. It wasn’t long thought before we had 3 tables of 4 and 1 table of 5 and were ready to go (we planned to bring other players in as reserves when they arrived, but this was it)
So games went underway, we had people deploy their armies and we handed out little labels for people to use as name tags to help with chatting to the strangers across the table and identifying people for the Best Player award later on. The games went pretty smoothly even if there were some grey areas where custom rules left gaps for interpretation or created conflicting, exploitable scenarios. Throughout the game we made mental notes of these circumstances and asked for player feedback so that, should we do something like this again, we could refine the rules.
The games went well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! I had been worried about the wait between turns for the players, but even on my table where there were 5 players, because it was so casual, people could just chat to each other and it was a really positive atmosphere. We also had some in game surprises for the players, from turn by turn random events to unleashing the hidden Big Bad of the table after someone scored the central objective. after about 2-3 hours the games started coming to a close and we got everyone to put their armies on display at the table. People handed in their votes for Best Player and Best army, and Myself and Dave tallied them up. Voting for Best Player was a bit clunky as you had people only voting out of their own small table and it looked like we would have multiple ties for 2 votes (which I considered breaking with highest score, but that didn’t feel right either) but fortunately on one table, 3 people voted for the same player.
By this point the Lord of the Rings tournament players were eating lunch so the hall was a lot quieter, so we took advantage gathered everyone at one end of the row of tables for a bit of an awards ceremony and to thank everyone for participating. Everyone seemed happy with and in some cases were speechless with their awards, so we couldn’t have asked for more than that. It had been a lot of fun getting them together and no one even knew we were doing awards so it was a nice surprise for them all.
After that we all had some long awaited lunch and continue socialising, don’t forget that this was also the date of the meetup and so I think there were about 30 people between that and Purge the Pit. Just like the other 3 meetups earlier in the year and Warhammer Fest, I didn’t get to speak to everyone I wanted to and those I did, it didnt feel like long enough and I was almost there until closing time. After that I ended up trying to sleep in the back of a minibus, getting too hot and then driving home at 2am, completely wired from they day I had.
All in all it was awesome. The primary goal of everyone having a nice time had been achieved (as far as I was aware) and I also had an amazing time, catching up with some familiar faces and also getting to meet some great new people. The event was a little rough around the edges but organisation went well and people even told us they were glad it wasn’t perfect because it made them feel a lot more relaxed. Also, what was really great to see was that without any sort of special effort to organise it that way, we had a nice diverse group of people in the group, different levels of experience, ages, genders… it was really cool to see all these different people all playing and enjoying each others companies as equals.
People taking on the Big Bad of each table, and a whole bunch of awesome people that came along for the event and the Meetup!
The Best Army winning models
I honestly can’t overstate what an amazing time I had, even if I spent a lot of time worrying that that I was going to screw something up. Everyone was really cool and friendly, I met lots of nice new people and I was buzzing for days afterwards. I’ve even got really excited just writing this post! I’ve stayed in touch with Andy and Dave and we plan on seeing if we can organise something similar again with some tweaks for 2020. If you liked the look of what you saw and read about here, let me know! Even if you think you have an idea that could have improved the event, tell us about that too, I would love to give your feedback to the other guys to help us develop this fun, free, community project. In the unlikely event that you are one of the people that turned up on the day and are reading this obscure blog post then give us a comment and tell everyone what you thought!
…For now though I better get back to working on some minis, I haven’t posted any hobby in months, so I had better pull my finger out. hopefully the next one will be a good one. I have another (overdue) Christmas present in the works…
~Pandora’s Bitz Box~